Festool Domino vs Kreg Pocket Hole vs Incra Dovetail

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Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 10-04-2013 10:13 PM 21741 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 1988 days

10-04-2013 10:13 PM

Lots of different ways to make a joint. Which is best?

The Festool Domino is very quick and quite expensive. It makes very fast mortises to use with Festool’s tendon inserts. It has very good registration and the joint is totally hidden.

The Kreg tool is moderately fast and inexpensive. The joints are strong and secure. It requires clamps to hold registration.

Finally there are traditional dovetails, a symbol of craftsmanship. The Incra fences can do very intricate dovetails and can be quick in semi-mass production; note stacked boards in the picture.

Note: I have the Kreg tool and the Incra fences (combined table saw/router table)

21 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#1 posted 10-04-2013 10:27 PM

Dovetails are very strong joints, but not really used the same way or for the same reasons as Domino and Pocket Screws are.
A closer analogy here might be mortise and tenon joints compared to Domino or Pocket Screws.

I’d vote #1= mortise and tenon, #2= Domino, and #3- Pocket Screws.

Not saying Pocket Screws are bad, they just come in last due to the visible hole they leave that limits their applications somewhat, IMHO.

There are other loose tenon systems/machines out there also, like Jessem Mini Mortise Mill II for instance.

View josephf's profile


197 posts in 2091 days

#2 posted 10-04-2013 11:49 PM

i see them as all different .i often use tenons [domino] or biscuits with pocket screws .Pocket screws pull joint tight ,tenons ,biscuits line it up and once glue dries makes a strong joint .Though not knocking the strength of pocket screws . I tend to use the domino’s [there are two machines] over the biscuits now .I like the line-up ability I get from them . my work doesn’t call for many dovetails

View Loren's profile


10377 posts in 3642 days

#3 posted 10-05-2013 12:17 AM

I think pocket screws are probably the strongest and certainly
the easiest, but I seldom use them because I find the holes
ugly and I do not often do the type of work where the
holes are not a problem.

Domino penetration is limited by the tool. It’s appropriate
for tables and casework perhaps, but for chairs I think real
mortise and tenon is better, even though it’s a hassle
to execute well.

Dovetails are case joints mostly. Door frames can be dovetailed
as a slip joint though,, a short sliding through dovetail, and
it’s probably as strong as any frame joint and visually interesting
to look at – but overkill of course, like a lot of fancy joints
considering how good modern glues are and how well machined
joints can be made to fit.

View JAAune's profile


1797 posts in 2311 days

#4 posted 10-05-2013 12:34 AM

I use all of those joints depending upon the application. Dovetails are the least frequently used of the three. Dominos I use (or biscuits) where I want to add some shear strength to a joint or alignment. Pocket holes I put in hidden locations or inside some types of cabinetry.

-- See my work at and

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 2022 days

#5 posted 10-05-2013 12:47 AM

I can’t find any comparison relevant. They have different purposes. I love My Kreg jig for building everything from mobile tool stands, basic carpentry, etc, but would never use it to build a drawer. For that you need something like dovetails, that I’m just now learning to do on a PC jig. For a really strong joint like legs and rails on a workbench I would go with mortise and tenon. Kreg Jig shines whenever the holes will be hidden. I’m kind of old and feeble sometimes and not very good at toeing in nails in tight areas, so when working with 2×4 framing like when I was building a new closet I found the Kreg a great alternative to traditional nails. Those holes cover nicely and easily with Sheetrock. Also, for painted apps, bondo works great at filling those holes.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#6 posted 10-05-2013 01:09 AM

when you already know the answer

why ask the question ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View WoodDweller's profile


36 posts in 1726 days

#7 posted 10-05-2013 01:21 AM

Fine woodworking the magazine did a joint strength test a while back (joining two pieces at 90 degrees). If I remember correctly the biscuit, domino and dovel joints came in close to last. They are simply too small a joints. For strength you want large joint areas to give the glue more to bind too. Half-lap and bridle won for this reason. Splined mitre surprisingly was also stronger than many mortise and tenons (they tested different sizes)

Just thought id throw that out there. Too bad i cant link to the article, so the teaser video will have to do:

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#8 posted 10-05-2013 03:09 AM

more bs

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View SteveKnnn's profile


66 posts in 1883 days

#9 posted 10-05-2013 03:59 AM

Is he still here?

-- Steve in Richmond, VA

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 1988 days

#10 posted 10-05-2013 04:21 AM

I found the Fine Woodworking articles. They did two, one in 2001 one in 2009. While the articles require membership, I think this video of the second test doesn’t:

The first had dovetails, tendons, and biscuits. Tendons weren’t directly compared to the dovetails…really for different purposes.

The second had a variety of joints but the key seemed to be the size of the glued area. A miter joint with nothing else finished 3rd. They didn’t test the pocket screws, domino, etc on a miter.

Mortise and tendon where just behind the large glue areas. A large tendon did best, whether floating or on the piece. The second was stronger, but just a little.

The Dowelmax (3 dowels), Domino (10mm x 24mm x 50mm), pocket hole (2 screws) where stronger than a butt joint without the devices. They all broke at the end of the dowel, tendon, screw. It seems the Domino XL would have been a lot stronger with a Domino XL 10mm x 24mm x 100mm tendon.

It also seems all would have been stronger with a miter joint rather than a butt joint. The 45° miter has 41% more glue area than the butt joint. Part of that could be the test which would have been in tension for the butt joint but shear and tension at 45°.

The Jessem Mortise Mill comes in two sizes for $100 and $250. It looks like a slow process and doesn’t have the registration of the Domino. But they are hidden.

Kreg sells pocket hole plugs in a variety of woods and plastic and can be tapped flush with a mallet. Not as good as no hole. When they are inside of a cabinet with draws, under a counter top, on the bottom, back, etc. they are hidden. Ditto the back of a draw or on the sides with the draw guide. But the pocket holes don’t give the registration of the Domino and the Domino is faster. Not necessarily because it makes the hole faster, but because the guides setup on the piece faster. But then it is $900 or $1200 vs. $100-$150 for the Kreg pocket hole jig.

One problem with the Domino is that the big one doesn’t use the bits smaller than 8mm (5/16”). Seneca Woodworking does have adapters to use the smaller bits…but the Domino XL is a big tool.

View roundguy's profile


62 posts in 2679 days

#11 posted 10-05-2013 04:38 AM

They all have their purpose. Thats why I own all 3. :-)
Well, I have a Leigh jig instead of the Incra..

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#12 posted 10-05-2013 05:26 AM

mastering all 3 and some

is a whole new ball game

which one is better takes decades to explain

which one is better ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#13 posted 10-05-2013 05:34 AM

looking forward to time, as it has a way from separating fat from fiction

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#14 posted 10-05-2013 05:38 AM

it will remain a tough choice

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#15 posted 10-05-2013 05:45 AM


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

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