Making Floating (Domino) Tenons

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Blog entry by MJCD posted 11-10-2013 04:21 PM 7210 reads 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Festool Domino Tool created a large step-up in tenon joinery – I won’t get into the cost/benefit of the Tool, nor the pitched-camps debates from Festool lovers and distractors – the Domino is what it is; thank you Festool for thinking out-of-the-box, and I’m sure that you make massive profits along the way.

Floating Tenon joinery exists with and without the Domino Tool – there are any number of ways to make mortises: from the sublime (the Domino, itself; the Pantorouter; the JDS Multi-router, Drill Presses and their close cousin – dedicated mortisers) to the basics (a router and edge-guide, and a few stop-blocks; and the fallback – hammer and chisel). It’s the tenon which creates most of the virtual ink.

Making Tenons:
My procedure is to start with straight-grain hardwood from the scrap wood pile which is thick enough to fill the mortise – I use the Domino Tool for virtually all of my M&Ts, and usually the #10 (mm) and #8 – these have set dimensions.
Typically, I try to make at least 20 in a batch, though this is just an economy of scale consideration. If I’m lucky, I can find a 2’ or longer scrap, about 1/2” (for a #10), or 3/8ths for a #8 in thickness.
(1) – Table Saw – I rip the scrap to rough width and thickness – for a #10, this is approximately 1” by slightly less than 1/2”.
(2) – Router Table –
(2a) – Using a straight bit, offset the infeed/outfeed fence to shave the piece to both width and thickness, ensuring not to dimension the piece below the required levels.
(2b) – Align the fence, straight, and use a round-over bit to cut the four shoulders – it’s important to reference from the fence, not the router bit bearing, as cutting the round-over eliminates a reliable reference for the bearing.
(2c) – Switch to a V-bit, lower the cutter to where it will make a heavy scratch on the piece; then run the faces and edges of the piece across the bit – this provides both glue troughs and an enhanced binding surface for the glue. At this point, I’ll push a razor knife edge in the trough, to clean-out any wood fuzz left by the V-bit.
(3) Bandsaw – cut to required length
(4) – 150-grit sandpaper – during dry assembly, the sandpaper will knock-down any slight overage from the machining process.

This sounds more complicated than it is; though, the process does take time. For the commercial shops, it becomes a question of whether the time is better spent on higher-value tasks (just about everything would qualify); and for the serious hobbyist, whether it’s simply expedient to buy the Tenons from Festool (the difficulty here is, in the US, all of the non-Festool cutters are Imperial scale).

YouTube has excellent videos on this, if you can find them – HalfInchShy (Paul Marcel) is a master at this.

For those interested in making your own tenons, this is one process – I’m sure there are many, many more.

3 comments so far

View mcase's profile


450 posts in 4583 days

#1 posted 11-10-2013 05:45 PM

I just run wood through the planer and cut it into tenons.

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5031 days

#2 posted 11-10-2013 06:18 PM

Like you say it’s not that hard , I make mine for my Multi router too. I’m sure there’s got to be a big savings over factory made Domino’s.


View MJCD's profile


624 posts in 3825 days

#3 posted 11-11-2013 03:29 PM

The only time I use the Festool tenons is when I’m working with a visible M&T: a through or surface tenon, such as a large pegged tenon – the factory tenons fit perfect.

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