Square Dominos in a Round Mortise

Some people have often asked how I get my square looking Domino tenons in my draw sides, without the use of a chisel to square the mortise up…

First I start with contrasting timber home made Domino tenons, I usually make them the 5mm size for small drawers, and 6mm for large drawers (because the 6mm cutter does not have the flare-out and you can go deeper into the sides for a stronger bond.

After you have made your drawer, glued and clamped it up, and when dry plunge your Domino mortises to full depth according to the cutter used.

Example – If you plunge 28mm (Red line on the Domino) then cut your home made Domies around 32- 35mm lengths (Yellow line) Scribe a line all round 25mm up from the bottom (Blue line) and with sharp chisel, from the blue scribe line back down to the bottom, round over the edges to fit in the mortise. The 3mm left above the scribe (between Red and Blue) remains square, and that will force a square edge into the top of the round mortise, giving the illusion of a hand mortised joint.

Two tips –

1- On the rounded sides (green) chisel them round in both sides an extra 1.5mm, and just before you are going to fit them into the drawer mortise, put the Domi into an engineers vice (about 3 or 4 mm below the blue line) and give it a ¼ turn to slightly compress it. As it compresses for easy fit into the mortise, the sides expand slightly in width, that’s why you remove the 1.5mm from each side so it won’t get stuck.

2- Don’t forget to put a clamp either side of the drawer where the mortises are, so when you tap in the Dominos the drawer sides don’t split. This is a must because if it splits it’s easy to glue, but the glue line sticks out and looks terrible.

It looks so much better than a rounded machined Domino look. You still get a slight round if you look close, but it’s a great illusion for the casual observer for not much extra effort 🙂


How to Domino a T-join, using the Festool Domino.

1 – Set your depth on the scale (red line) to 25 that will centre the mortise 25mm down from the top. Plunge the rail using the plastic centre scale on the Domino (yellow line) to centre the mortise.

2 – This part of the Domino (red line) is the marking for the exact centre of the mortise (regardless of what size cutter is used) so with Domi in place, mark that position on the timber rail so you can transfer that later. Plunge the mortise, then flip the rail around and repeat the process the other side.

3 – Mark the exact centre of the rail, then drop the Domino down (fence up) and mark the rail from the Domino centre point, then plunge the mortise.

4 – The finished mortises (note they are a little out of whack, that’s because im using a thick Texta for clarity, and rushing it for the purpose of the demo)

5- Place the rail onto the leg that has a centre line already marked, so the join will be evenly spaced.

6 – Transfer you rail markings to the leg, then with a square mark them across the leg.

7 – Get ready to plunge the leg mortise using the Domino centre point as your reference (red line)

8 – Use a small square as a guide to ensure the mortises are square and in-line (and that also helps with the stability of the Domino when plunging.) Align the Domino base plate centre line, with the leg centre line (yellow lines) and plunge all three mortises.

9 – The finished joint. It’s very quick and accurate and incredibly strong.



Old CD/DVD holders make the perfect ROS paper storage.



Centering the Trim Stop the easy way.

For those who remembered way, way back when Domino was new , i had shown how i removed the black plastic dovetail stops on top of the fence (Also shown below in the T-Join Domino joint) I did it mainly to get an extra 30mm height for the fence and to make cleaning and maintenance easier. The other bonus is it makes it so much easier to adjust the trim stop quick and with great accuracy.

Pic 1 Shows the fence removed from the Domino body and fitted with the trim stop. Place the timber to be morticed in a vice, and losen the lime knobs, and with a spring clamp secure each side of the movable stop to the timber.

Pic 2 Shows the fence which slides easily left to right over the timber. Just use the scale to center the cursor line over the exact center line scribed on the timber.

pic 3 Once positioned, tighten the lovely lime green knobs, and presto… quick and perfectly accurate. Now its just a matter of taking the spring clamp off, and popping the fence back onto the body for more happy Dominoing.



Rob from Damn Fine Furniture in Melbourne shows his excellent run down on friction polishing using a Festool Random Orbital Sander



Pic 1. Shows the sanding discs Rob uses for sanding and friction sealing using Scandinavian or hard burnishing oils. The grits he uses are 100, 120, 150, 180, 240, 400, 800, 1200, 1500, 2000 and 4000#.

Rob finds the more effort you put into a finish, the better it turns out. Good sound advice.

Pic 2. Shows the board, which is to be a panel in a cabinet door, before sanding.


Pic. 3 Shows Robs Festool ETS150/3 Random Orbital Sander which has a 3mm stroke and gives a clean finish without “swirlies” for each grit. I also use the same sander and in my opinion the finest sander yet to be made.

Pic. 4 Shows Rob sanding the work piece. Rob sands with the grain and uses a back and forward motion crossing the surface 4 times before moving on.

Pic. 5 Shows the work piece sanded to 400#. Note how much shinier the piece is when compared to the unsanded photo. Rob stops dry sanding at 400#, then washes the timber with mineral turps and allows it to dry.

Pic. 6 Shows the turps washed timber.

Pic. 7 Rob now floods the piece with the oil of choice, either Wattyl Scandinavian Oil or Organ oil Hard Burnishing Oil, either will work well. The hard burnishing oil has the advantage of being food safe and not needing any further finishing after friction sealing to give a resilient lustrous shine.


Pic. 8 As the surface is sanded, a slurry will develop, which should be quite thick. A thin sloppy slurry means you have too much oil on the work piece. The slurry shown here is present after sanding with the 800# disc. Do not remove the slurry. It provides a grain filler and will also fill any small imperfections left over from construction.


Pic. 9 and 10 After sanding through from 400 to 4000#, this is how the timber will look. You can see the delicate parts of the grain and there is a high sheen to the piece. Note how the reflection of the plane stands out.


Allow the oil to dry for 3-5 days, and then you can finish with anything you like. Wax, or a few coats Shellac etc.



All Festool products used in my work and demonstrations, have been purchased from

 Posted by at 11:23 pm