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As fellow attendees were exiting the Festool Editors’ Event, I was lucky enough to hang around. I’m glad I did because Steve Bace, Festool’s Training Manager who opened the United States’s first training center in Henderson, Nev., started  explaining some of the finer points of the Domino.

To begin, there are three areas that Domino owners can and should adjust on the tool. The first is the clear plastic-like plate (the site gauge) that’s attached to the fence. Two small screws loosen the piece and adjustment is side-to-side to align the centerline of the plate with two other marks on the tool , one is the v-shaped ridge on the tool, the other is the point of the center triangle. And here’s a neat tip: When you have the retractable locating pins tight to the edge of your workpiece, the edge of the workpiece is directly in line with the point of the closest triangle (the triangle is called a verification window). This is a great method to double-check that you have the tool positioned correctly.

The second area to which to make adjustments is the correlation of the adjustable fence to the baseplate of the Domino. Bace suggested using a couple pieces of brass bar stock to check the relationship. Loosen the screw just above the gauge pointer, set the fence on the brass stock and push the tool’s baseplate flat to the bench. Make sure there’s no junk under the baseplate or you’ll get a bad reading. Once everything is lined up, tighten the screw.

The last adjustment is to one retractable pin. The key to accuracy is having the distance from the center of the cut to the inside edge of the pins equal. If that distance is off, the slot locations are off, so pieces won’t line up. To change the relationship simply , and carefully, I might add , use a screwdriver to turn the pin housing. That housing is eccentric. Small adjustment is all it takes if your pins are out of alignment. Bace stated that he’s seldom had to be concerned with that fix.

For adjustments other than these, it’s suggested you return the tool to Festool to have it repaired or adjusted.

Now here’s one misalignment that you may cause without even knowing. Many of us are big burly-men. We tighten the dog out of our tools. I’m guilty. I don’t want a router bit to slip or a fence to move ever so slightly. But, if you change the Domino cutters and really tighten it so it won’t move, you may be affecting the accuracy of the cut. Over-tightening can cause the turret-like mechanism to slightly shift on the four screws. That changes the cut of the mortising bits and that’s not good. You would really have to be going at this with force to affect the mechanism, but if you’re that burly-man, it might happen. So, finger-tighten the bit and let the Domino do the rest.

I’ve got one additional quick tip. If you use the Domino for loose tenons set into a 45Ã?º cut, set the adjustable fence angle from 90Ã?º to 45Ã?º, then set the fence to its lowest setting. Reversing the steps keeps the fence higher (and the resulting cut lower) by almost 6mm. That’s enough to plunge through 3/4″ stock depending on the depth of cut. In addition, Bace recommends using 5mm x 30mm Dominos for any angled joinery.

I was given another neat tip involving the Domino and particleboard. If that’s of interest to you, I’ll send that your way, along with a bit deeper look at the routers that Festool showed us, in my next Festool entry. Also, I picked up a neat idea from the Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo, about routers and inlay. Check back for that.

In the meantime, if you have a neat trick or tip for Domino users, add a comment to this blog. As I get more in tune with the tool, I’d like to have the extra knowledge too.

And for more in-depth information on the Domino adjustments mentioned above, check this link. It’s not from Festool so neither Festool nor I guarantee the information. But what I see looks good.

, Glen D. Huey

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  • Ron Miller

    Helpful indeed. I just had to do the "seldom concerned with" fix. Way off, but now just fine. I’m also very interested in whatever tips they gave about particleboard since I’ve just begun a black melamine desk/shelving project for a client.

  • Marc Spagnuolo

    Nice write-up Glen. Most Domino’s come out of the box perfectly tuned, but obviously some don’t. I haven’t had to re-calibrate mine yet but I will refer to this article when I do.
    One of the most powerful uses for this tool, one which is seldom focused upon, is the ability to drop your mortise anywhere you want simply by using centerlines. When experimenting with new designs, you can’t always prepare properly for every situation you run into. I can think of many occasions where I cut a piece into an odd shape, only to realize that I should have added a mortise while the piece was still square. Using the built-in reference lines, you can line the Domino up (face down) on a flat surface with just a vertical and a horizontal center line for reference. Plunge down and you got your mortise.

    I recently made a very odd-shaped step stool that was wider at the bottom and angled in toward the top. The sides already had an odd shape to them and I still needed to add the steps. I just drew the center lines for each step, set the domino the the proper angle, and boom! I had steps connected to the sides with sturdy loose tenons. A very versatile tool indeed.

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