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Hollow Chisel Mortiser Vs. Festool Domino XL

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Forum topic by Ben posted 11-18-2016 10:26 PM 2956 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ben

356 posts in 2691 days


11-18-2016 10:26 PM

Hey Gang,

This has probably been debated before. I’ve found some threads online and the consensus seems to be pretty well split. I wanted your feedback.

I sold my Powermatic 10 mortiser (dedicated floor standing, heavy duty 3 phase) about a year ago. At the time I was pinched for floor space and had no immediate need for it. Now I regret it.

I’ve also played with a friend’s Festool Domino, the smaller one. I was amazed by the speed and accuracy. However, there are some things that seem “cheesy” about it, such as the build quality (at least compared to a vintage, cast iron floor mortiser). Also put off by the cost, as well as the cost of the dominos, and then the somewhat required vacuum.
Also, there are many times where I would want a tenon thicker than 14mm and would seem a nuisance to achieve this with the Domino.

I’m in the middle of building a traditional workbench with mortise and tenon joinery and was wishing I had the HCM. I wouldn’t use the dominos on something like this.

I also build cabinets, the occasional passage door, occasional furniture, architectural elements like structural brackets for roof overhangs, etc…
So I’m torn about which one to by. For many things the HCM seems obselete. But I am a traditionalist. However I also like to get things done quickly! The Domino obviously takes no floor space, and can bring the tool to the work.

I have leads on three chisel mortisers:

Oliver 194-D (good size for my shop) – $900
General 220 (much newer machine and pristine shape) – $1400
Oliver 91-D – Enormous, but restored, pristine condition with tooling. – $1500 Don’t really have room for this, but insane to think it’s the same cost as the Domino Xl.

What would you guys recommend given my needs here?

Thanks!


23 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

9608 posts in 3482 days


#1 posted 11-18-2016 10:38 PM

Mortisers generally won’t end-mortise so you
need an efficient way to cut tenons to maximize
joinery machines in the shop.

I dunno. I have a mortiser but I dowel a lot
of joints.

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Ben

356 posts in 2691 days


#2 posted 11-18-2016 10:39 PM

Right, that’s a point I forgot to mention. Still have to cut the tenon!

I find this fairly easy to do with either table saw, shaper, or router.

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Loren

9608 posts in 3482 days


#3 posted 11-18-2016 10:58 PM

I haven’t used a domino but I have a Hoffmann
dowel joiner… kind of similar except it drills
2 dowel holes on 32mm centers. The cutters
get pretty hot in use and it’s fatiguing to push
it in to cut…. you don’t have the leverage of
a long handle to push the cutter in like on
a hollow chisel mortiser.

A horizontal mortiser is not so tiresome to use
but again, you have handles for the X-Y table
so there’s a leverage factor at play.

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endgrainy

251 posts in 1722 days


#4 posted 11-19-2016 12:20 AM

The Domino XL is a great tool, it is much more substantial than the smaller Domino. If you’ve wanted a tenon > 14mm, you can just rout two adjacent (with a small space between) mortises and then use two tenons. Pretty easy to do and reproducible with the stop pins.

But the Domino is really a different tool than the HCM. If you’re a self described traditionalist, the HCM makes a more tradional mortise. Some other Domino XL limitations: can’t make through-mortises (unless you like the look of exposed dominos), harder to use on thin/small pieces (although there are enough after market/Festool accessories that can make things much easier.)

I own the Domino XL and I do not own a HCM. If I want to make traditional M&T, I use a router for the mortise and the table saw for tenons. But I find myself reaching for the Domino whenever I can as it’s such a pleasure to use. German engineering and all. I also would not use the Domino for a workbench build – except maybe for alignment on the top glueup.

I use a regular old shop vac and adaptor for the Domino and it works just fine.

I think the decision is ultimately based on what type of work you do and which tool you enjoy using more. Both are good options, but differ in many ways, most of which you’ve identified.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

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AHuxley

652 posts in 3156 days


#5 posted 11-19-2016 12:23 AM

I had a gorgeous General 220 for many years, absolutely great mortiser, and there is nothing like a foot actuated one!

However, when I bought the 500 i only used it on occasion when I bought the 700 I sold the 220 about 2 months later. The rare time when I need a huge tenon I have handsaws, shoulder planes, forstner bits and chisels. If one does a lot of exposed tenon work and/or simply has an aversion to machine cut tenons or floating tenons in general the Domino will see little use. For anyone that is interested in speeding up the process or getting high accuracy with almost no thought the Domino is a potential game changer and I have heard that term more from other woodworkers that own one than for any other tool.

The buy in is high for a handheld power tool but it delivers what it promises for far more people than it disappoints. The cost of Dominos is insignificant if you compare them to the cost of wood in a project, in fact if you do the math you have to be using pretty inexpensive lumber for Domino project to cost more than those extra inches of wood you use for every tenon… try the math.

Note the Domino needs to be used with A vac but certainly does not need THE vac. If you don’t mind a screamer then it is no issue just use your shop vac. My Dominoes has never been hooked to a vac or “extractor” but I have a Dust Cobra for whole shop high static pressure low volume dust collection. Set up with auto tool on and variable suction plus a cyclone and HEPA filtration it is better than any dust extractor for a shop but it costs a little more than a Festool CT.

If you are interested just try it out for 30 days, ride it hard and put it up wet and if you don’t like it return it. It is simply one of those things that the majority of people who poo poo it have never owned or used one extensively.

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Loren

9608 posts in 3482 days


#6 posted 11-19-2016 12:33 AM

I’ll note too that the way the Domino and Hoffmann
work are basically derived from plate joiners except
they have deeper mortise penetration and less
width. In the case of the Domino, it goes narrower
than 32mm centered dowels. I do not think these
applications are really a matter of strength but
of width.

I have a dowel boring machine with one spindle
and a pneumatic plunge… standard cabinet shop
equipment before pocket screws came into style
for face frames. One can drill paired dowel holes
on tight centers with accurate marking and an
attentive eye. The machine clamps and plunges
with a press on the foot pedal.

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waho6o9

8026 posts in 2411 days


#7 posted 11-19-2016 02:26 AM

Sure is a nice coffee table you made!

From what you’re saying I’d get the Domino XL.

Good luck now

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 1944 days


#8 posted 11-19-2016 02:29 AM

I have a Domino 500 and PM719…

Since I bought the Domino, the only time I use the stand up mortiser is when I need to “be traditional” or when though mortising. The 719 has a lawn and leaf bag over it that hasn’t moved in at least a year. ;^)

What I haven’t seen mentioned about the Domino, is the time savings at several points:
- Planning… Cut your parts to exact size and join them. No accounting for joinery. A 20” table apron gets cut to 20”, not 20 + two tenons. It’s so much easier to work right off a drawing, pencil or Sketchup…
- Joinery layout… There often isn’t any with the Domino. Draw a line where the two pieces meet, align the tool on the line, move on. In situations where tenons might interfere, like a table leg, it’s really easy to modify Dominos on the fly. You can even cut one side, glue in a Domino, and cut the other.
- Joining… The Domino not only cuts fast mortises, there are no tenons to cut. No fitting or futzing either. Keep some sanded Dominoes around for test assembly, and things will come apart easily.

Unless you’re timber framing, even the smaller Domino can make joints just as strong as the traditional version. Just add more Dominos.

Mahogany Dominos are available for exterior work. I’ve used them with great success on gates and outdoor furniture.

I enjoy making traditional joinery more, it’s far more satisfying work. But I can make things a whole lot faster with the Domino, with zero quality concession. The thing is so fast, accurate, and easy to use, I’ve even started using it where it really doesn’t matter, even replacing pocket screws in cabinet boxes and face frames.

If you do go with a Domino, treat yourself to good quality 150mm and 300mm metric straightedges, or better yet, blades for your combo squares. It’s so much easier when working with the Domino just to measure in metric when setting up the tool, especially when centering in a thickness.

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runswithscissors

2558 posts in 1859 days


#9 posted 11-19-2016 05:20 AM

It shouldn’t be that hard to make your own tenons, using a router table or shaper for the rounded edges. Make them as long as convenient, then cut to length.

The Domino is appealing, but I’m waiting for Harbor Freight’s version. Should come in at about $79.95, minus 20% discount.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 1944 days


#10 posted 11-19-2016 02:03 PM

The Domino is appealing, but I’m waiting for Harbor Freight’s version. Should come in at about $79.95, minus 20% discount.

Mine will have paid for itself by a factor of 50 by then… ;^)

Have you ever used one? There’s a tad more precision to them than meets the eye and what I see on HF power tools. I’d most definitely want to select my example in person, as for the system to work properly, everything needs to assemble as tight as a traditional M&T. More than a tiny bit of play in the face plane of the tenons will greatly reduce the strength of the joint.

Also, part of the seemingly high cost of the two Domino examples comes from being made in a first world country.

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runswithscissors

2558 posts in 1859 days


#11 posted 11-19-2016 08:56 PM

Haven’t used a Domino. But there was an intriguing U Tube video a while back that showed the designing and building of a homemade version built out of wood. It actually looked like it worked quite well. I believe it used a die grinder as the motor. Appeared to be similar in size to the big Domino.

It was done, I believe, by a Russian or Ukranian. The whole presentation was done silently, with carefully shot video of the build process. All communicated via gesture and demonstration. That was a real treat for me, as so many of those U Tube things have way too much talk, and barely any demo. Sometimes I find myself shouting at the screen,”“Shut the hell up and show me what you say you are going to show me!!”

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1172 posts in 1632 days


#12 posted 11-19-2016 10:43 PM

I have a Domino and it’s a great tool nothing Cheesy about it.
I’m surprised no one mentions that with a Domino you bring the tool to the work instead of he work to the tool.
Ya just don’t realized how good a tool is till you have one.And it does take time to get the most out it.

Aj

-- Aj

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

331 posts in 794 days


#13 posted 11-20-2016 12:07 AM



I have a Domino and it s a great tool nothing Cheesy about it.
I m surprised no one mentions that with a Domino you bring the tool to the work instead of he work to the tool.
Ya just don t realized how good a tool is till you have one.And it does take time to get the most out it.

Aj

- Aj2

It has it’s + and – uses. It shouldn’t be used for everything because it’s easy. Use traditional joints when in stressful applications….

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5457 posts in 2647 days


#14 posted 11-20-2016 12:32 AM

I do a lot of traditional joinery and use a Jet floor standing mortiser. If I could only have one, I sure wouldn’t trade it for a Domino. I need to have the ability to make square mortises and through tenons.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 1944 days


#15 posted 11-20-2016 01:37 AM



Use traditional joints when in stressful applications….

Bull crap…

‘sez the guy who has the tools and skills to make either. Those of you who have never used a Domino and think it makes weaker joints than traditional M&T are fooling yourselves.

There are valid reasons to use traditional M&T over a Domino, but strength isn’t one of them.

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