Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus

Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus

Manufacturer: Festool
Model number: DF 500-Plus
Price: 925.00
Power source: 120 volts
Motor size: 420 Watt
Weight: 12.3 pounds

Domino DF 500-Plus Joiner Review

The strength of a mortise-and-tenon joint in a hand-held tool is what makes the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus unique.  No other manufacturer makes a portable mortising machine like the Domino.  Many folks confuse the Domino with a biscuit joiner as the tool looks, and works, much like one.   But don’t be fooled: the Domino is NOT a biscuit joiner.

Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus

 

How The Domino Works

The Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus creates a slot for a floating tenon.  A floating tenon, unlike traditional mortise and tenon joinery, is an insert-able tenon in two opposing slots.

Mortise and tenon joinery take time, set-up and a stationary machine to accomplish.   The Festool Domino Joiner brings portability, speed and a dead-on accuracy system to tenon joinery.   The Domino cutter bit spins and oscillates, wobbling side to side, to cut a full mortise in a single plunge of the tool.

The Festool Floating Tenon

Festool tenons are used to join two mating mortises.  The tenons are mostly made from Beech for interior work, and come in various sizes.   [Note – Festool offers tenons for exterior work as well.]

The Festool floating tenon is designed to fit precisely into the mortise created by the tool.  It has “raised,” fine lines for improved gluing and press into the mortise slot for a snug fit, expanding slightly when glue is applied.

These tenons are also rotation-proof, have a large gluing surface area and are stronger than a dowel or biscuit.
The Festool floating tenons come in three thicknesses, each requiring a different bit.

Tenon sizes are available in the following thicknesses:

  • 4 mm
  • 5 mm
  • 6 mm
  • 8 mm
  • 10 mm

Domino DF 500-Plus Joiner Review  The strength of a mortise-and-tenon joint in a hand-held tool is what makes the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus unique.  No other manufacturer makes a portable mortising machine like the Domino.  Many folks confuse the Domino with a biscuit joiner as the tool looks, and works, much like one.   But don’t be fooled: the Domino is NOT a biscuit joiner.

First Impression:

Like most of the Festool products, the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plusis an engineering masterpiece, and it looks a bit intimidating, but its not once you dig into it.

The instruction manual is difficult to navigate and I found the best resources to be Festools online tutorials and videos.

The Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus comes with a removable 5mm cutter, a Systainer box, removable ‘Plug-It’ cord which is interchangeable with most other Festool tools, an auxiliary fence attachment, a pair of cross-stops that will let you quickly reference off other mortises, and a trim-stop that holds narrow pieces in place while plunging.

Domino DF 500-Plus Joiner Review  The strength of a mortise-and-tenon joint in a hand-held tool is what makes the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus unique.  No other manufacturer makes a portable mortising machine like the Domino.  Many folks confuse the Domino with a biscuit joiner as the tool looks, and works, much like one.   But don’t be fooled: the Domino is NOT a biscuit joiner.

Using the Festool Domino Joiner:

“Easy to adjust,” was my first thought when I started using this tool.  Settings for depth and width of cut (oscillation) are precise and easy on this tool. We found it easy to reference off a movable front fence to get different slot locations and angles. The Festool’s movable fence is nicely designed, with detents at common angles and a series of vertical stops.

The Domino incorporates an spring loaded, indexing system that allows you to quickly reference off of the edge of the material or an adjacent mortise. This dramatically increases production since it requires no measuring, yet offers excellent accuracy on repeated applications.

Domino has a window with center line and offset marks. The fence has triangular holes that also aid with alignment. When working in a vertical orientation when the fence cannot be used, center line marks are cast in the sides of the Domino for simple alignment.

The fence adjustments are quick and intuitive.  We could easily change the height or angle of the fence with simple adjustments.  A graduated step block setting lets you choose common fence heights quickly. The fence handle is positioned in a manner to make sure that the fence is stays firmly pressed against your material.  This is a must:  to get best results,  you need to make sure that your work parts are in contact with the bench top before plunging.

The Domino offers two positioning methods: aligning the tool by sight with reference lines scribed on the workpieces, and using retractable pin stops to position the tool at a fixed distance from a reference face, edge, or end.

Dust collection hooks up easily and works extremely well at keeping the air, tool, the mortise slots and surrounding area dust free.

Domino Applications:

We use the Domino mostly in bookcase and cabinet applications with furniture grade plywood and hardwood materials.   Basically, anything that you would use a tongue and dado, biscuit, pocket screws or mortise and tenon on, this slot machine will make quick, easy and accurate fastening.   Applications such as:

  • Panel
  • Frame
  • Face
  • Slab
  • Timber
  • Beveled joints

Improvements:

Likely the biggest flaw of the Domino package is the lack of documentation.  We’ve never been a fan of the Festool manuals as their instructions tend to read awkwardly We’ve had better results using Festool website and referencing their online and video content.

We were also disappointed that the domino does not come with a sampler of 5mm Dominos to get the new user started.

Domino DF 500-Plus Joiner Review  The strength of a mortise-and-tenon joint in a hand-held tool is what makes the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus unique.  No other manufacturer makes a portable mortising machine like the Domino.  Many folks confuse the Domino with a biscuit joiner as the tool looks, and works, much like one.   But don’t be fooled: the Domino is NOT a biscuit joiner.

Overall Impression:

Overall, the Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus is an impressive tool that will change your finish carpentry or woodworking production speed and quality of joints.

With speed, quality and unmatched engineering comes a price, these tools are not for everyone. The downside for some woodworkers will be the price, estimated at $920 for the basic kit with one 5mm cutter, and another $295 for a starter kit that includes five cutters (5mm through 10mm) and over 1,060 tenons in various sizes.

If you won’t be using this tool more than once or twice a year, or don’t really need accuracy and speed, then I suggest you spend your money elsewhere.   The take away here is accuracy and speed, if time is money for you then this tool will save you time!

Ultimately we found that the domino gives us a  better product at a lower labor cost.  The Domino provides a superior joint, is faster to install, and more accurate than other joining methods, and as a result save me time, money and makes me more competitive.

Domino Features:

  • Domino DF 500-Plus Joiner
  • DOMINO cutter D 5mm
  • Support Bracket
  • Trim Stop
  • Cross Stop
  • Plug-It Power Cord
  • T-LOC Systainer #2 storage container
  • 420 watt motor
  • Cutter spindle 23,400 RPM.
  • 3 mortise width adjustments
  • 11/16″ dust port
  • Retractable stop pins for quick and precise positioning
  • Five catch positions at 0, 22.5, 45, 67.5, and 90 degrees
  • Variable mortising angles from 0 to 90 degrees.
  • Precise mortising fence height adjustment (with scale) offers stops for locating mortising opening in the center of material thicknesses: 16, 20, 22, 25, 28, and 40mm.
  • 5 different mortising depths.
  • Uses pre-fabricated, solid beech domino tenons
Festool Domino Joiner DF 500-Plus
925.00

 

About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

http://www.aconcordcarpenter.com/@https://twitter.com/robertrobillardRob Robillard

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2 Comments

  1. […] used a Festool Domino machine, which installs floating tenons. A floating tenon, unlike traditional mortise and tenon joinery, […]

  2. 420 domino

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this information.

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