Domino XL Joining System Review

22nd January, 2015

Author: Damion Fauser - Australian Wood Review Magazine

Festool Domino XL Joining System by Damion Fauser from Australian Wood Review magazine

I recently built a set of three Roubo-style workbenches for my students. Not wanting to spend too long on their construction, I purchased the Festool Domino XL DF700 for the framing joinery in the base structures.

This tool is the larger sibling of the well-known DF500 and utilises the same principle of a cutting tool that concurrently spins and oscillates to create round-ended mortises for tenon joinery. The primary difference is that it operates on a larger scale, cutting mortises for tenons that range from 8×50 to 14 x 140mm. As I made this investment for the construction of my workbenches, the larger tenon sizes very much appealed to me.

Having owned the original domino for several years, this tool was extremely intuitive to use right out of the box and has many of the same functional features. These include a fence that pivots 0-90º for mortises on mitred faces, an adjustable stop to set routing depth 15-70mm, and a height adjuster for setting the distance of the mortise from the reference edge.

I was initially a little cautious about the amount of vibration the 14mm bit would produce, however I was pleasantly surprised to find the tool is extremely stable at startup, Thanks to a soft-start mechanism, as well as during full speed operation.

At a little over 5kg in weight, this is not a tool you’d want to be holding all day long. With a little careful planning however, you can utilise your workbench as the reference surface, which means not having to support the weight of the tool during operation.

Cutting mortises this size produces an enormous amount of chips, so it is essential to use this tool with an adequate extraction system. I used my Festool Cleantec and after cutting nearly 200 mortises for the largest tenon size, I barely covered the surface of my dustpan when I swept up the waste that had not been captured.

By using a story stick and a set of spacers, I was able to lay out and cut nearly 200 mortises for my frame joinery in around 90 minutes. And every mortise was incredibly accurate, both in terms of how the tenon fitted into the mortise and how the joints came together.

Accessory trim and crosscut stops are available, allowing fast repetitive cutting of tenons into the endgrain of narrow stock, or at a constant distance from a known reference point. These very much add to the utility of this tool and are well worth the extra investment.

For those that need to do big framing joinery fast, you will find this tool very hard to beat. Mine has paid for itself in the time saved making three new benches alone.


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