Joinery. Doors, windows, frames, and stairs… If you work in joinery you are probably already familiar with the Domino Joiner system. If not, we are going to give you a little information in regards to this Festool Domino and potential alternatives that might be used if you are considering a similar system for your work.
So, how does it work?
The Domino tool is very specialized. It can cut mortise and tenon joints that fit with their proprietary tenons which are referred to as ‘dominos’. This allows someone to create specialized joining at up to 90 degree right angles. This gives the user a wide array of options that they can implement in their joinery that would be quite difficult without.
Wait, so why doesn’t everyone have a Domino Joiner? What is the best Domino Joiner?
Not so fast. While these tools are pretty amazing they are also very specific in what they do and very proprietary. For instance, this is an example but at the mid-range of expense for these tools.
The Domino Festool 574432 DF500
This lovely piece of machinery comes with a number of features. Such as:
- Perfect mortises each time
- Precise mortise depth stop
- Clean mortise holes through dust extraction design
- Fast alignment through the use of their indexing pin system
- Creates joints quickly and easily
Sounds good, no? The price can be a little prohibitive for the Hobbyist, however. At around $1000 this is more of a purchase that you might prefer as a business expense unless you are very serious about your hobbies.
So, is there a Festool Domino alternative?
Well, yes and no. The problem with a highly specialized piece of equipment can sometimes simply be that they are proprietary. This is not completely unfair, of course. This device was the brainchild of someone or a team of someone’s who had an idea for improved joinery work and they have made it happen. So, what can you do as an alternative?
Domino Joiner Alternative
While there is not really an alternative, there are workarounds. For instance, there is information on the web about converting a Triton Duo Dowel Jointer/TDJ 600. This is a unit that costs a little under $200. That said, the modifications would need to be made by you and at best you are only emulating the Domino by a small percentage.
So what comes with the Triton TDJ600?
We’re glad that you asked. It’s a good little tool with a number of useful features and if you enjoy a good do it yourself project you can make yourself a tool with a little customization of your own. Will it rate the same as a $1000 Domino? Well, no, but be sure to review the modifications video. You might find that what it CAN do with a little ingenuity and elbow grease is very worth the end-results. So, here are the specs on the Triton TDJ600:
- Creates joints spaced to specification
- Has anti-slipping pads to keep it firmly-footed during work
- Has a dust port for easy extraction
- Includes a Dowel Jointer, a hex key, your manual, and 2 5/16 inch drill bits
- Works great for edge-to-edge and miter joints as well
So what would be the best Domino joiner out there?
Depending on the size of your projects you are going to be dealing with one of two Domino models being the best fit for you. The DF500 is going to be better for small to medium sized projects such as cabinetry, boxes, and other small furniture. The DF700, however, it an immense upgrade which works for beds, large tables, entry doors, and more. We’re including some of it’s more general specs here as well for better comparison to the DF500:
“If Joinery is your career then either of these units are going to let you work faster.”
Festool 574447 XL DF 700 Domino Joiner
This model is in the $1500 price range and is definitely excellent for your large projects. Features include the following:
- Light enough to take with you so you can take the machine to the workspace and not the other way around.
- Removes the guesswork from your mortise work.
- Tenons to approximately 5 1/2 inch for larger projects
- Mortise width adjustment is dial-adjustable as in the DF500
- Indexing pins ensure perfect placement
As you can see, it’s a very scaled up version of the DF500 that can get your larger projects done. While this might be a it steep of an investment for hobbyists if Joinery is your career then either of these units are going to let you work faster than you would normally be able to achieve.
So which Domino Joiner is the best?
While the larger DX700 is going to give you access to work for larger projects, unless you have the kind of work volume to support that investment then the DF500 is probably going to be just fine for your needs. It can increase your work speed and ensure that you are producing quality Joinery with the minimum of fuss. Best of all, with it being portable it isn’t going to take up your workshop. While the Domino from Festool really has no direct alternative, as we have mentioned before with a little modification you can do some very interesting things with the Triton, so this might also be a project of some merit for you. Each person’s workshop is going to be an amazement assortment of various means for the craftsman to shape their imagination into something practical. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have a Domino AND fiddle with the Triton. After all, it can’t be ALL work and little projects such as these can really put a sparkle in your weekent.
The Domino DF500 should be more than enough Domino for the things you will need to do. We still recommend the Triton experiment as well because you can get something similar to the Domino and yet all it’s own. Who can say no to more cool tools?
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