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Domino vs Biscuit vs Shop Made loose tenon

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 04-15-2015 03:22 PM 1888 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


04-15-2015 03:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: biscuit joiner joining

I just wasted an hour of my life reading through the very old festool thread that recently resurfaced.

The one thing I got out of that is that while there are folks who balk at the price of festool’s “domino” system, there doesn’t seem to be the same level of distaste for it on the basis of usefulness as there is for “biscuit” joinery.

I say this just because whenever I see a “most useless tools” list, the biscuit jointer seems to come in at number 2 just below the scroll saw. Clearly it is a generality, but “people” just don’t seem to like biscuit jointers or using biscuit joinery, or somehow buy one and just never choose to use it.

By comparison, “people” seem to think the domino system would be perfect if you could get one at HF prices.

So, purely based on the pros and cons of the type of joinery (not opinions about the cost or the company), can somebody explain to me either what is wrong with biscuit joinery, or what is right about a domino?

While we’re at it, are either of them better for low-quantity hobby work than a shop made regular mortise and tenon or a shop made loose tenon?

Leaving the company/cost/tool-quality issues aside, I find it hard to understand the differences in the general attitude towards the three different joinery methods. To me it would seem that they ALL have very similar usefulness for holding wood together.

I say this from the very naive position of never having used any of these three techniques and ask so that I might be better informed about the differences.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.


20 replies so far

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#1 posted 04-15-2015 03:35 PM

I really dislike biscuits. I bought my first ( a PC) when I was 17 or 18. After 20+ years of use I find it loathsome. After professionally using a double dowel boring machine for similar joinery there is no use for a biscuit jointer in my shop. Some people will say that is is beneficial with alignment only. I would even challenge this. Biscuits are really not that tight. and they dont penetrate that deep. This is just my opinion. If you need your glue-up to be good and flat then joint the boards on 2 sides, rip then plane them. If you want strength to go along with the edge gluing, dowel it. But as has been said many times before, to which I agree: the glue is stronger than the wood.

I havent used the domino because I cant see me parting with over 1K for a hand held gadget. My opinion, again. Maybe its the best thing since left handed screwdrivers but I will get a mortiser for 400 first.

I have a biskit jointer for sale if anyone wants it.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2280 days


#2 posted 04-15-2015 04:09 PM

I think people put a Domino joiner up on a pedestal. Not many people own one, so they assume it is great. I have not used one, but the small version is pretty limited by the domino size it can cut.
For me, I like through mortises and square pegs so a mortiser was the obvious choice. I paid less for a floor standing mortiser than the XL Domino. I see the value in specialty tools, but the Domino doesn’t cut the type of joints I like.
As far as biscuit joiners… I stand in firm defense of them. I use a few biscuits on nearly every project. I don’t use biscuits for panel glueups, but often use them for end grain glueups such as web frames for case goods and chairs. Biscuits are an excellent method to attach corbels… giving adjustment in one direction, while firmly registering the correct position in another direction. I even use them to make slots for locking drawer hardware.
Do I use biscuits? Yes. Do I use pocket holes? Yes. Do I use mortise & tenons and dovetails? Yes.
The more joinery options you have at your disposal the better.
If I had a cabinet shop I would certainly have a Domino joiner.

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

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1425 days


#3 posted 04-15-2015 04:37 PM

As an owner of a domino joiner (500) and a Rolex, I can tell you that the domino joiner has a lot more use than the watch. My phone is my watch, the Rolex is jewelry when for some stupid reason I think vanity matters.

Everyone agrees that the Festool pricing is nuts, but a lot of people spend that money on other big tools just to spend hours/days/weeks to get them to work right. The domino is accurate immediately and will still be in a couple years. I used to sell Crestron Electronics. They are the most expensive home automation products you can buy. Without exception they are also the best. But a lot. When you buy them, you are paying for the R&D that went into it, and the next components they will release.

We cannot give every company grief when something is not perfect and bash another who builds quality and R&D into their future product lines.

My suggestion is to read this: http://www.emercedesbenz.com/lifestyle/tools/festool-domino/

It is an extremely biased or overstated article but maybe one of the best overviews I have seen for domino joiners. It will answer your last question.

Contractors and cabinets shops buy these because they get their money back. Everyone else just has to decide if the tools are worth it for their hobby. Do you love woodworking and do you want to have something special, even if it is hard to justify only looking at the price?

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View Deycart's profile

Deycart

444 posts in 1724 days


#4 posted 04-15-2015 05:01 PM

I have been doing joinery by hand and router for years and picked up a used biscuit joiner for 20 bucks at a random yard sale. While I agree it is not perfect for everything and it has a small learning curve, I find it great for rapidly gluing up wide panels from narrow boards. As the first guy points out this is not a replacement for poorly prepared wood. However if done right you can get panels reasonably flat without having to use a pile of clamps and cauls. With a few swipes of a plane BAM your done. I work on a budget and find I can get more done with less time and money spent on clamps with a biscuit joiner.

Do I want a Domino?? Hell yeah! I’m sure if I ever got around to making serious money with my crafts it would be one of the first “PRO” tools I would add.

View Jorg Zimmermann's profile

Jorg Zimmermann

24 posts in 1073 days


#5 posted 04-15-2015 05:15 PM

There are all very usefull tools indeed. The great thing is you can experiment and find uses beyond the biscuit or Domino. Just be creative. However there are worth there money if you have to live from your days labour. Don’t get me wrong I love the traditional joinery but I also love it if a job gets done easier, quicker and in good quality.
So there is nothing wrong with a Biscuit jointer provided it is a good quality machine, Biscuits make a very strong joint. However The Domino 500 and the BJ might overlap in their uses but certainly the XL is a different league alltogether.

-- Jorg

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#6 posted 04-15-2015 05:23 PM

I see them them as different tools. There is obviously a need for M/T joinery, whether you choose loose tenons or integral ones, it’s pretty much filling the same need. There is also a place for biscuits, and I don’t personally see them as a substitute for tenons (though a lot of folks do, I guess). So I’ll keep my biscuit joiner, and the handful of methods I use for M/T and be glad I can choose the right one for the job. At the moment, that does not include owning a Domino…someday (maybe), but it will be a used one.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3940 posts in 1971 days


#7 posted 04-15-2015 05:30 PM

Bronco Brian gets two ratings…
☆ because he is full of himself and wants everyone to know he only buys the best. I’m certain the phone he references in para 1 is an apple.
☆☆☆☆ because he has produced a well written response.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Rob's profile

Rob

704 posts in 2538 days


#8 posted 04-15-2015 05:36 PM

JeffP, don’t forget about beadlock.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1425 days


#9 posted 04-15-2015 05:40 PM



Bronco Brian gets two ratings…
☆ because he is full of himself and wants everyone to know he only buys the best. I m certain the phone he references in para 1 is an apple.
☆☆☆☆ because he has produced a well written response.

- DKV

Not sure if I am supposed to thank you or not.

I am definitely not full of myself, and I am cheap enough on stuff I cannot justify value. I just get tired of complaints about something being expensive when we all have other things in our lives that are not necessary and were justified somehow.

Guilty, the phone is an apple. But I build technology for those things for a living, so consider it a business expense.

I hope I was not sounding like a prick or a spoiled hobbyist. I really struggle with the same decisions and don’t have a lot of the tools and jigs most of you have because I cannot afford to buy them. Just trying to defend a high-priced superior product.

Point taken DKV. I appreciate your response.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

2406 posts in 1776 days


#10 posted 04-15-2015 05:54 PM



JeffP, don t forget about beadlock.

- Rob

Bead lock is fine if you have all day and night to make mortises. People who like to get things done use dominoes.

This in not a bash on you or bead lock, just the facts.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View TimberMagic's profile

TimberMagic

114 posts in 646 days


#11 posted 04-15-2015 06:14 PM

BroncoBrian,

You don’t owe anyone an apology. Last time I checked this was America, and we have the right to make choices. Why is there always Apple bashing? Heck, you can probably spend as much on one of the tablet-sized Samsungs. But that is not the point, the point is don’t feel guilty for spending whatever you want on whatever pleases you.

And to clarify, my wife and I have iPhones, she has an iPad, we have Windows-based PCs (and trying to decide if our next will be a Mac …), and I just bought a Domino …

Guilty as charged, I guess.

:-)

-- Lee

View Rob's profile

Rob

704 posts in 2538 days


#12 posted 04-15-2015 06:32 PM


JeffP, don t forget about beadlock.

- Rob

Bead lock is fine if you have all day and night to make mortises. People who like to get things done use dominoes.

This in not a bash on you or bead lock, just the facts.

- AlaskaGuy

Really, all day and night? I didn’t realize it was that much of a pain. I don’t have one so I wouldn’t know, but I figured I would throw it out there since the title of this thread says, “Domino vs Biscuit vs Shop Made loose tenon” and I figured beadlock is along the lines of a shop-made loose tenon but seems like it would be closer to a domino than a biscuit in terms of strength.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert - http://woodworking.stackexchange.com

View JeffP's profile

JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#13 posted 04-15-2015 06:35 PM

Thanks all.

So far, the most clear example of a place where one of the joints being discussed here is where you have end-grain to edge, with either a breadboard end or constructing a face frame as good examples of that.

Taking the face-frame example, it seems there are so many choices for this common “difficult” joint.
- dowels
- biscuits
- domino
- pocket-hole screw (sorry Mathais)
- some sort of routed mortis and tenon
- beadlock? (haven’t checked this out yet)
- I suppose even a blind dovetail

This is a type of project coming up soon in my own shop, and will have to make a choice soon. Would love to hear some pros and cons comparing the choices above for this specific joint if you have them.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#14 posted 04-15-2015 06:48 PM

For money in a production environment: pocket holes. Been there. Got the pocket hole shirt.

For the craft: M&T. I want to get a mortiser for just this.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View BroncoBrian's profile

BroncoBrian

435 posts in 1425 days


#15 posted 04-15-2015 07:09 PM

Jeff – there is something beautiful about this picture.

-- Bigfoot tries to take pictures of me

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