16 Replies

I don’t have one but I know Charles Neil got one earlier this year and loves it .The must have factor depends on each persons budget and need,it is spending like all of Festool’s products.

-- woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

I just bought a used one a few months ago. They are extremely useful and really speed up M/T construction. Is it worth it…probably not; UNLESS you do this to make money. Not only is the tool expensive, but the tenons aren’t all that cheap either. Ditto on the “must have”….if you can write it off on taxes it probably is something to put real high on the shopping list. So why did I buy one? I am a hobbyist and do not fit those categories….well, I did get a fair deal on it and have no other tools on the shopping list. I also have a project coming up where it should be quite useful….

-- "I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd

Marc, The Wood Whisperer is giving up his Festool tools but he is keeping his Domino … kind of tells you something :). Definitely on my want list.

-- WC (Bruce)

You can approach this question from several perspectives, with the overriding one being Festool products themselves; and then the specifics of the Domino – I’ve owned the Domino for many years.
I’ve long held that when Festool competes with other brands (Bosch, Fein, even DeWalt), they are over-priced for a given functionality. They may use better motors, better bearings, or high-performance Brushless motors (Vacs, Drills, for example), and maybe the ergonomics are better – I don’t know; but I find within a competitive product, the other brands offer a better value.
When Festool makes a category-defining product – the Domino, Track Saw System, maybe the MFT/3 – their engineering and systems-approach warrants the higher price-tag: they have to recoup the tooling and engineering costs before every other manufacturer reverse engineers it, and sells it for a true market value. I don’t begrudge them high-profits on innovative products. If the tool-buying public doesn’t want to pay the price – then it’s not a value to them.
The Domino is a frequent go-to tool for me, and not just for its Mortise & Tenon capabilities. I often use it as a ‘locating device’ for domino-dowels (Rocking Chair arms & headrest, rather than screwing the joints); as a precision (depth) spacer (DVD Holder and Executive Desk), and within its designed function of M&T (the Outdoor Bench & Coffee Table both use Integral and Domino M&Ts, and a Teak Shower Bench). The Domino’s functionality trumps its cost, for me: I’m not a commercial shop – I consider the Domino a versatile, unique method of joining boards.
For me, I’ll buy Festool when their products change the game; otherwise, they’re overpriced.

I think you nailed the concept, Whitacrebespoke. If you need one, then the cost is not important. If you don’t need one, then the cost is not important.

Consuming for the sake of it drives the economy for everyone but you.

-- -- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I just can’t justify $950 for a one trick pony. Two or three dowels do the same job, with tools I already have.

Festool discussions tend to polarize woodworkers.

Often, I have found that those most opposed to Festool products have not used them, or have purchased them thinking that they’ll improve their woodworking skills, then put them aside when they realize the products, themselves, don’t change skills – tools provide alternate methods-of-work, nothing more or less.

A Domino is no more like a Biscuit Joiner than a Circular Saw is a Tablesaw. For me – and I’m not a Festool devotee, the Domino allows me to bring the tool to the work, rather than hauling the work to a stationery mortiser or Drill Press. And the simple fact is that every tool is a ‘one trick pony’ – a tablesaw cuts wood in a straight line, and why would anyone pay for a Powermatic when a spitting-image Chinese knockoff can be purchased for half the price…

Lastly, I’m not trying to sell anyone on Festool – they’re doing fine without my help; and while I do consider their accessory pricing… outrageous, everyone has their own value-proposition – we need only to justify it to ourselves.

That’s what I was saying. If it works for you it’s worth the investment.

-- -- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

Well, you are right. I have never used Festool, but I do believe that I have analogous experiences. My job requires me to turn wrenches fairly often to keep equipment running in the field. As you might expect this leads to quite a few of my coworkers being devotees of snap-on, Mac, Matco, and the other high end tool makers. I am not. Yeah, there is a slight, marginal difference between a Mac socket set, and my Craftsman set, but my set gets the job done at 1/2 to 1/3 the price. Heck, I’ve found that so long as you buy the high line versions, Harbor Freight tools get the job done just fine too. Just don’t buy the cheapest version they offer.
I see where the Domino might be useful, but Rockler’s beadlock joinery system does the same thing for a way lower price, and let’s you bring the tool to the work too.
When Festool is willing to sell that Domino for under $300, I’ll be willing to consider it. You just can not justify $950 unless you are setting up an assembly line where a guy is going to bang out the same joint over and over 8 hours a day.

I don’t make many large pieces. When I do, the dominio is priceless. I make small pieces. I can make a miter, anything I need for them. They don’t need mortise and tenons. Large pieces do. That is why I own it.

-- Berta

I can sure see the advantage of Domino for professionals where time is money and it is probably a lot faster than other mortising and tenon operations, but I can see that for larger constructions it would be too small and for most hobbyists too expensive.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

yes, this. it’s a niche tool, worth it if your in the niche.

-- -- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I have 2 tools from Festool. The smaller Domino and the plunge saw. They’re the most used power tools I have along with my band saw and drum sander.

I purchased mine in 2006 when they came out. It is one tool that I can say truly improved my woodworking as most of my cross grain joinery then was pocket screws. In discussing/justifying this purchase with my wife, she said something very profound. She said that “Hobbies and monetary return on investment can’t go together…otherwise it’s work. Capital for hobbies are happiness, pride in the outcome and in my case with power tools, safety”. Now she may have been trying to justify her $7k sewing machine and untold dollars worth of quilting fabric but the point was made. The Domino makes me smile.

Plunge saw:
I only use my table saw for horizontal storage ;‘) . Truth is, it scares me. I’ve used a table saw since I was in the 7th grade and I’m retired now. The plunge saw takes the place of a miter saw, panel saw and table saw. I get very smooth, chip out free cuts from it.

Coming from a manufacturing background where we consciously decided not to offshore, it doesn’t take a CPA to figure out why Festool’s pricing is so much higher than all others. Their products are made in Germany and the Czech Republic…both democracies, both in the EU. They, Protool (division of Festool) and Mafell are the only full line, pro-sumer power tool makers not offshoring. All others (Bosch, Dewalt, PC, Makita, Milwaukie, etc) offshore. Festool and Mafell pay EU market rates for utilities, facilities, raw materials, living wages, benefits, transportation, etc. They have to pay taxes. They get no subsidies on raw materials, utilities or other handouts from their government.

If you can find a Domino used, buy it. Chances are you’ll have a hard time finding one and they hold their value. Buying new gets you a 3 year guarantee.


Thanks for the post.
It happens that I am a CPA, and hold a Masters in Finance – your post is spot-on: all other brands, save Mafell, and perhaps Fein and Hitli are farmed-out where least-cost is king, corners are cut, engineering and parts (motors, bearings, stamped metal or moulded plastic) are consumer-grade. I was a Porter-Cable guy, then a Bosch guy, and have given-up on both of them.

Progressively, I’ve demanded higher tolerances, cleaner cut (and more non-traditional cuts), and more hours from my tools – the old adage “Quality is Expensive Once”.

As you do, I own the Track Saw and the small Domino, and these are two go-to tools for me (my Table Saw sits idle, mostly). I’m not bashing the other brands, and I’m not here to sell, justify, or argue for Festool. Individually, we choose where and how to invest our hobby dollars. For me, I’d rather invest once in a well-engineered, precision friend.

I have to say that I heartily endorse Mark’s wife’s philosophy. If a tool makes you happy and you can afford to splurge then why not? The high quality tools I splurged on will never bring me any cash since I don’t sell anything, but they do bring me joy whenever I use them. That said it’s probably not worth splurging on a fine tool that would not get much use, less use = less joy?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

Tools are cool to have and the better they are at what they do the more value they have. I’ve seen folks online saying how great their Festools are and thinking of course they have to say that otherwise they will feel like they made a mistake buying whatever it was they bought at those prices,but now after investing(a word used when you want something) in a Domino I have to echo what other Domino purchasers have said,this is a quality tool, its weight coming out of the box really surprised me plus see all of the features it has and engineering ,I’m truly impressed. I still think it cost to much ,but after all, they are the only game in town for a hand mortisers.
I second Mike’s comment it is nice to treat yourself every now and then.

-- woodworking classes, custom furniture maker