Tool Talk #4: Festool Domino DF 500 Q

Well over half of the emails sent to me are on the subject of tools. I have no objections to responding to them but I thought it would be beneficial to start a video library of sorts to briefly touch on what I think of a particular tool or set of tools. These won’t be in depth tool reviews as I know very few people are interested in that kind of thing and I really don’t want to go over all the details. Instead I’ll just focus on the things I like about the tool, things I don’t like about the tool, and would I buy it again. I have a huge list of “episodes” that can be made and plan on releasing one per week. Hopefully this will be helpful to some people.

Festool Domino DF 500 Q

Specifications found here: https://www.festoolusa.com/power-tools/joiners/domino-df-500-mortise-and-tenon-joiner-set-574432

The DF500 Q retails for $950 as of this article in November, 2015. I purchased it along with the CT 26 dust extractor for about $1,500 in June of 2015.

What I like:

  • It’s fast. The actual time it takes to cut a mortise with this machine is super fast which means the time needed for mortises in an entire project is drastically reduced than typical ways of cutting mortises.
  • It’s precise. Mortise after mortise after mortise will all be identical. When the manufactured lose tenon Domino stock is used you will get constantly good results over and over. You can make your own lose tenon stock as well.
  • It’s easy to use. Adjusting the fence height and angle, the plunge depth, and physically using the machine are all really easy.
  • It accepts different size bits. 10mm, 8mm, 6mm, 5mm, and 4mm bits can be used depending on what size stock you are working with.
  • Dust collection is flawless. The more I continue woodworking the more emphasis I put on dust collection. Dust is just annoying. You don’t have to use a Festool dust extractor for dust collection. You can use a regular shopvac as well.
  • It can be used as a biscuit jointer to align boards in a panel glue-up.
  • Completed joinery with this tool is really strong.

What I don’t like:

  • The cost. It’s pretty expensive. I suppose that can be a dislike for just about every tool purchase though.
  • Only one cutter is included and purchasing individual bits is pretty expensive. The best value is to purchase the domino assortment kit that comes with all the cutters as well as some Dominos of each size. I would have liked to see the machine come with all five cutter sizes.

 

Would I buy my Festool Domino DF 500 Q again?

Let me say real quick that when I decided to buy this tool I narrowed my decision down to the Festool Domino or the metal pantorouter. They are similar in price, have similar purposes, yet have different capabilities/limitations. I ended up going with the Domino for a few reasons. First, in this situation I like the portability of bringing the machine to the tool. Just thinking about it, I think it would be much easier to position the domino on a chest of drawers side panel rather than positioning and clamping an entire chest of drawers side panel to the pantorouter. Second, the domino seemed like it would be quicker and easier to setup and use. And third, dust collection is flawless on the Domino and every time I see Matthias use either one of his pantorouters it looks like it’s snowing. I definitely don’t want to downplay the potential of the metal pantorouter though. In fact, I really want to buy one once the dust collection situation is resolved or greatly improved. So back to the Domino. Yes I would definitely purchase the Domino again if I had to do it over. If someone offered me the amount of money I have invested in it I would say keep your money and I’ll keep the tool. Do I regret purchasing the smaller DF 500 over the larger DF 700 (Domino XL)? No I do not regret getting the smaller Domino instead of the Domino XL. There are aftermarket cutters available for the Domino XL that allow it to do everything that the DF 500 can do but I haven’t found a project of mine that required the more expensive Domino XL.


 

12 COMMENTS

  1. I went with the larger 700 version a few Years ago when I started full time in my shop I really love it especially now that I bought the Seneca woodworking attachments to let it do the 500 version size stuff as well most versital and useful tool in my shop

  2. Seems like you could just use your recent router jig and router to get the same result. It would be an interesting side by side project demo comparison.

  3. Thanks Jay; great review.

    I was wondering about how safe that freehanding was (i.e. holding the pieces with one hand while cutting). In over 30 years of woodworking, the only accident I’ve had that sent me to the ER was holding a short piece of wood and plunge cutting into it with a biscuit joiner (the joiner caught and ran across my hand, slicing the back of two fingers).

  4. The last mortise and tenon project I did was several years ago before I discovered pocket screws. Even though the Festool is very expensive I can certainly see why you like it. I might justify the purchase in the future. Thanks for a great to the point review.

  5. My my wife was shocked when I told her how much I had spent but when I explained it was an American expert that had pursuaded me she said it was alright. You’re OK she doesn’t know where you live! Regards from English Ron.

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