This is the big joinery episode. I’m at the part of my one-day table project where I can finally cut all the mortises for to join the legs and aprons. I used the Festool Domino XL for all 32 mortises and I was very happy with not only the final results, but in the sheer speed with which I was able to cut all the joinery. What took me about an hour to do with the Domino XL would have taken me probably 3-4 hours to do with traditional mortise and tenon joinery.
Since I started this project, Festool has set pricing and a shipping date. The joiner itself will sell for $1200 (or $1,250 for the Domino XL Set which will include the trim and cross stops). Some of the initial reactions I saw online were that this is a fairly big pill to swallow. And I’d agree that if you are a hobbiest cutting a few dozen mortise and tenon joints a year it may be hard to justify. But for me, if I can save 3-4 hours per project this would likely pay for itself inside a year. (For the record, my best payoff was the Festool TS 55 track saw which paid for itself in a single project).
In the end, my only small concerns with the Domino XL are the heat it generates on the bottom after extended use, and the sheer weight of the tool. If you primarily work in ¾” stock, the original Domino DF 500 is likely all you'll ever need - and it will save you about 400 beans. However, Shane at Festool suggested to me that a lower grip on the back handle puts the arm more in-line with the plunge mechanism and should reduce the likelihood of the tool rocking at all during operation. I would just caution that the handle shape and placement makes this less than obvious to most first-time users.
To offer full disclosure, I was given this tool for test use for a 3 month period with an option to buy at a discount after the test period. If I already owned the original Domino, I’d likely have a much harder decision to make. However, I feel the Domino XL is versatile enough to handle most if not all of my mortise and tenon applications so I do plan to take advantage of the discount and keep this bad boy. I already have a really unique (albeit challenging) project in mind that will take advantage of the Domino XL so it’s already giving me some creative new ideas.
This is the last episode in the project that really features the Domino XL, but there is still more to come on the one-day table. The next episode will demonstrate a quick, easy, and safe method I’ve come up with for tapering legs so you won’t want to miss that.
Right click to download the HD version of this video