Craftsman Bungalow Restoration #27: 165 Mortises (Domino-ed Cabinet Boxes)

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Blog entry by gizmodyne posted 01-19-2010 07:20 AM 9479 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 26: Making Solid Cabinet Panels and Preparing Ply Parts Part 27 of Craftsman Bungalow Restoration series Part 28: Making Window Sashes with Loose Tenons (dominos) 1 »

Last time I built cabinets, I used my biscuit joiner. I thought about going with it again, but since I have a Domino I said what the hey: Go for it.

Solid panel waiting for mortises

The cabinets have 5 identical rails: Two at the top for attaching the counters, one to act a a face frame nailer, and two at the back for securing to the wall during installation. There is also a bottom shelf.

I start by marking the approximate locations of the rails so that I put them in the right place. The sides are of course mirror images of each other and it is important to keep them straight.

x marks the rail spots

Accurate Mortise Placement
To use two methods for placing the mortises. The mortises for the “drawer rail” and “Bottom Shelf” are referenced off the bottom of the machine. I ripped guide rails that place the mortise in the correct location.

I set the rail with a square and held it with some clamps.

I carefully register the base of the Domino against the rail.

Since I am using 5 mm x 30 mm tenons had to set the depth to 12 mm on the panels and 20 mm on the rails. This prevents the mortise from cutting all the way trough the panels, but allows the full length of the tenon.
I cut the mortises to exact width. You can see the settings in the above photo.

The middle panel on one of the cabinets receives through mortises.

For the bottom shelf I created a marked guide rail that allows me cut matching parts by marking quickly. It is a basic story stick.

I only use the three center marks and then register the first and last cuts using the built in guide pin.

A short video showing how quick and dust free it is to use this tool as I cut 5 mortises in a minute.

Ten Mortises

For the remaining cuts I rerenced off of the Domino’s fence. In order to support the cuts on narrow boards I attached the aux base.

Cutting the ply:

Here is the panel with all of its 15 mortises.

The rail mortises are cut with the boards clamped to the table and the mortiser set at 20mm depth and an oversized slot.

I cut the larger cabinet first in about 3 hours or so(105 Mortises). This included a lot of thinking and inefficient moves along with making the spacers. The second cabinet only too 1 hour(60 mortises). Cool tools.

I dry assembled the cabinets to check the fit and see how they looked with face frames. I set a piece of fir on the top to simulate a cab top.

The solid panel is looking good.

Next Time
Cabinet Backs

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

11 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4330 days

#1 posted 01-19-2010 01:59 PM

Now that is fast and I agree with Notottoman’s comment. The Domino looks like a cool tool but, now that you have embarked on the hand tool route, don’t you feel a bit guilty on missing out on the joy of hand cutting all those mortises? :)

By the way the cabinets are coming together nicely.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View botanist's profile


167 posts in 4046 days

#2 posted 01-19-2010 04:28 PM

Great job with the cabinet construction. As a fan of the Craftsman style, I always look forward to your posts. Keep up the great work!

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4034 days

#3 posted 01-19-2010 05:36 PM

An excellant write up and the photos are super! Thank You!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4199 days

#4 posted 01-19-2010 08:39 PM

Wow thats a cute little toy you got there very nice

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4607 days

#5 posted 01-19-2010 10:45 PM

True Domino Joy!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4181 days

#6 posted 01-20-2010 12:09 AM

Nice work!

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3993 days

#7 posted 01-20-2010 01:36 AM

Seems like I’ve noticed here lately a fairly new tool in each of your blogs. I appreciate you are working under the theory of -new project needs a new tool. We of similar thought need to support each other in this matter. By the way, I really enjoy reading your blogs and watching you progress (and looking at your new tools). I owned a 1911 Craftsman kit home in the old towne section of Orange, Ca back in the 90s. I loved it and did quite a bit of work inside and out. It was a wonderful neighborhood to live in. Totally worth the effort. Looking at the original woodwork is some of those homes on tour were worth the price of admission. Thanks for sharing.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4597 days

#8 posted 01-20-2010 03:31 AM


Thanks for the comments.

David: I like to stop in Orange and wander around the neighborhood. They have a great little hardware store and a good Cuban place.

I have had the Domino for almost three years now. Pocket screws would really be faster, but I like to keep the modern fasteners mostly hidden on vintage style cabinets. Though my drawer slides will be modern and these are made of ply. So who am I kidding?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View John Daugherty's profile

John Daugherty

33 posts in 3944 days

#9 posted 01-25-2010 04:43 AM

John, I just found your posts. I’ve spent the last hour catching up on your project. I look forward to your next post and you and your wife have done a great job on the restore.

View Greg Elam's profile

Greg Elam

29 posts in 3548 days

#10 posted 02-15-2010 04:09 AM

Hey gizmo,
I have enjoyed looking thru your blogs getting some good ideas for my kitchen cabinet assemblies. Correct me if I am wrong but I dont see any kind of screws just bisuits or domino, is that correct? I have never seen carcassas assembled in this manner. I believe this will be the route I take for assembly on my cabinets, it seems to be much quicker. Thanks for posting


-- Greg Elam - Berea, Kentucky

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4597 days

#11 posted 02-15-2010 04:54 AM


You don’t need screws. Many people make cabinets this way. Screws would be faster. I could pocket screw the cabinet much quicker. The glue up stage takes about 1 hour per cabinet. I just did not want to see many fasteners.

Let me know if you have any questions.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

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