Mortiser or Domino

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Rob D

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Hi all
I’m trying to make a decision between a morticer, preferably a bench top model but I could possibly accommodate a floor standing version or a domino.
I’ve been woodworking for around 5 years and have built things such as tool chest’s, blanket chests and dining tables using solid timber and these have had mortise and tenon joinery which I’ve done with chisels but I’m now building 2 pairs of wardrobe doors using tulip wood for the stiles and rails and plywood for the panels. With a young family I don’t have time to hand cut 24 mortise’s so am wandering on the best alternative to hand cut mortise and tenon work.
I do enjoy working with real timber the most but I have also built the wardrobe carcasses and a large tv unit out of plywood and will no doubt be building things in future made out of both sheet materials and real timber. I work out of a small shed 2.4m x 4.2m with some overspill into my garage where I have a thickness planer, due to being tight on space I was leaning towards the domino.
Any thoughts or opinions would be most appreciated.
 

robgul

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I would suggest the mortiser as that's hard work with a chisel and you still get the same quality of work - and for other stuff from sheet materials consider a biscuit jointer as being a "poor man's Domino" at not much money.
 

Daniel2

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I would also recommend the morticer.
It just turns morticing into a pleasure rather than a chore.
Especially when you have a number to do.
 

Doug B

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You don’t say which domino but I think of the domino tool as a portable mortiser, I can cut traditional mortises with it just removing the corners with a sharp chisel.

I sold both my mortiser & biscuit jointer not long after buying the Domino & I’ve never regretted that decision many years later.

I cut these large mortises a while ago on quite large sections of timber, for me it was so much easier to take the tool to the timber than vice versa particularly in a small workshop

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as for cabinet work I tend to do most of that with the domino system it makes like so quick & easy.
 

Doug71

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I have both Dominos and a mortiser. If I'm making furniture, cabinet doors etc I tend to use the dominos. The mortiser only gets used for full size house doors, windows, gates etc, these could be done with the domino but it just feels right doing them with the mortiser and wedged tenons.

You can cut mortises with the domino and square up the ends with a chisel if you want to use a traditional tenon.

If space is tight the domino makes sense as you take the tool to the work.

Only thing against the Domino is the price, it would be cheaper to go down the mortiser route (although Dominos do hold their value if you were to sell it on).

If you do decide on a domino next question is which one 🤔
 

Ollie78

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Morticer for doors and windows and larger framing for table legs, gates etc.

Don't waste your time with a " benchtop" one, get one designed for 25mm chisels then it will be great on a 12.7mm, the benchtop one I had before was supposed to be for up to 16mm chisel but wouldn't push a 12.7mm into anything harder than redwood without serious protest. Just a waste of time, I have a proper old wadkin now which is much better.

Domino 700 is great for a lot of stuff, I use it for panel glue ups like table tops, cabinet building, sometimes I use it to cut out the bulk of a lock mortice etc. etc. You can do big mortices like breadboard ends by just repeating the process.

I have both but actually think the domino might be more versatile if I had to have only one. Sounds like for your current purposes it may be the way to go, you won't lose much money on it if you sell it anyway. I would say the 700 is a more useful sized machine.


Ollie
 

Rob D

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Ok, thanks for so many reply’s and info. I have to say I’m leaning towards the domino and that’s purely because of space, if I was going to get a mortiser it would very likely have to be a bench top, the only decent one I’ve seen online is by Axminster at around £1,200.
With the domino, I’m considering getting the 700 as I can get the adapter for using smaller tenons and I’m pretty sure the larger size will come in handy for internal doors and a bed looking ahead.
 

Spectric

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I do enjoy working with real timber the most
If this is the case then I would suggest your choice is either a morticer or the Domino XL700 simply based on the fact that the smaller Domino 500 can only plunge to 28mm compared to the 700's 70mm and is the obvious choice for sheet goods and especially the MDF brigade. The 700 can use larger domino's and is more suited to real wood of larger section but takes some getting used to. A bonus with the 700 is that you can use the smaller 500 cutters by getting the Sennaca adaptor BUT remember NEVER to plunge more than 20mm, I have just done loads of 6mm domino holes with mine as part of my learning curve to get to grips with the 700 and have had none of the issues that Festool would like you to believe will happen, but they could if you exceed the 20mm plunge depth.
I have not used a morticer but they do look like they have the ability to cut deep mortices with ease if you have a decent tool but still leave you with the task of cutting the tennons. I brought a 700 domino on the basis that it could replace my dowelmax, but bottom line is that I wanted to use a method that better suited my skills level, (Not a long time skilled woodworker) so thinking how easy a biscuit jointer is to use then a Domino sounded good, the rest of my Domino story will be posted later once I have collated all my info!
 

baldkev

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Or save a packet, drill out the majority of the mortice and just clean up with a chisel.

Failing that a morticer is a great option.

Or a domino 😆

I guess it depends on your finances. If morticer, go second hand, cheaper and they often have chisels with them
 

johnnyb

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I don't reckon any joinery shops exclusively use domino's even 700s. but they are Conservative though. preferring traditional joints or use of spindle "tooling" for speed.i have successfully made stuff using domino's outside they are strong at full depth. make some sapele domino's and away you go.
but it's not traditional...sorry
 

cowtown_eric

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I've got a tiltable mortisng machine that was used for two jobs in 15 years.

Baldkev said just drill them out with a drill and use a chisel to clean them up, but I'm gonna take that up a notch and suggest that you can buy a suitable sized mortice chisel and with a simple jig, use it to square up the sides true and square, simply drivin it in with a hammer- the top will get mushroomed..

Ya it becomes sacrificial, but it is inexpensive so who cares.

Word of warning, if it's hardwood, the cheaper square mortice bits will flair out, and if you drive it all the way in, you may have trouble removing it, so frequent removal and honing the tips flat again (as they do flair out)

Eric
running and ducking!
 

JobandKnock

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... I'm gonna take that up a notch and suggest that you can buy a suitable sized mortice chisel and with a simple jig, use it to square up the sides true and square, simply drivin it in with a hammer- the top will get mushroomed.
That's pretty much what you see being done with some CNC routers built for joinery production - they hog out the majority of the waste with a spiral cutter then drive an unpowered square chisel in to square the ends
 

Jacob

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Space not such a prob with a morticer as even a a powerful floor standing model has a small footprint - less than a typical bandsaw. The main thing is instant access - it's always ready and available.
Happy new year! A bit warm this morning things are hotting up!
 

pe2dave

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The stupid (wise?) answer is both?
Big stuff (you define big) - the mortiser saves hours.
Smaller stuff, a domino seems swift and ideal.
What do you see the future holding for you? Big or small?

Another thought, one youtube guy uses 'home made' loose tenons and cuts the mortise with a domino (IIRC)
 

JBaz

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I'm not convinced about dominoes, but then I don't use them.

I use a biscuit jointer for sheet materials and a morticer for solid wood. They seem to cover everything I've wanted to do for the past 40 years, and I like the "wiggle room" you get along the length of a biscuit to align joints. The morticer has done everything from 6mm into Tulip and pine up to 30mm into green Oak without a problem. Just keep the bits sharp.

There's a Sedgewick 571 morticer on eBay at £575 Sedgwick 571 Chisel Morticer | eBay which is the same as the one I have and about the same price that I paid 40 years ago. Looks in good shape as well.
 

Jacob

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The stupid (wise?) answer is both?
Big stuff (you define big) - the mortiser saves hours.
Smaller stuff, a domino seems swift and ideal.
What do you see the future holding for you? Big or small?

Another thought, one youtube guy uses 'home made' loose tenons and cuts the mortise with a domino (IIRC)
My big morticer goes from 5/8" to 1/4" so is good for small stuff too. It's very quick and easy to use and always ready, except for changing the chisel if you have to - 5 minutes or so.
 

HamsterJam

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I have a morticer and have been looking out for a DF500 (they seem to resell for nearly new prices) as in a small workshop it isn’t always easy to get longer pieces into the morticer.
However, I am thinking about trying one of Peter Millard‘s router jigs to cut domino style mortices. These are about 10% of the cost of a DF500.
 

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