We dissect and discuss your options for the Best Biscuit Joiner & Domino Joiner for your woodworking projects.
The one you ultimately decide will likely depend on how serious you are about your craft and how much you value your time, and yes, your budget. Festool domino joiners are superior in every way but they will cost you — but the long-run, they save you time and frustration.
The answer will be obvious by the time you finish reading this article.
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Best Biscuit Joiner & Domino Joiner
I first came across a biscuit joiner in the late 1990’s. Although these tools had been around since the late 1960’s, this was something entirely new to me. I was truly amazed at how simple it became to join two pieces of wood with complete accuracy and incredible strength.
The name biscuit joiner may seem strange in the US. That’s because in the UK, a biscuit refers to what Americans know as a cookie. So you can think of it as a small ultra-thin cookie (biscuit) that is used to join wood in a similar way as on would using a Mortise and Tenon joint, though it’s not quite as strong. Perhaps you might be more familiar with the term plate joiner – it’s the same thing.
Anyone doing woodwork will find a biscuit joiner to be an incredibly valuable addition to your shop. So we’re going to be reviewing a few of the best biscuit joiners. These are all models from top brands, including two from Festool.
Pro-Grade — Festool DF 700 XL EQ Plus — Domino Joiner
I’m sure professional woodworkers will agree that Festool is the undisputed champion when it comes to woodworking tools. Their Domino Joiners do much more than the traditional biscuit joiners and are, therefore, in a league of their own. Their price also sets them apart from the crowd. Festool products are never cheap, but are generally considered to be the best. Even then, the price difference between the two Festool Domino joiners is way higher than the DeWalt or Makita models that I’ll also be reviewing.
These offerings from DeWalt and Makita are traditional biscuit joiners. I guess only a select few will see the sense in paying that much extra for the Festool products. Though I think, as I review these biscuit or Domino joiners, it will become clear why they are an incomparable tool. The Festool Domino Joiners are the only tools of this kind (as far as I know) that can make joints that can truly compare to old-fashioned Mortise and Tenon joints. So we can’t really say that these are the best biscuit joiners, because they go way beyond any of the normal expectations that we have for this type of tool.
For a more general type of traditional biscuit joiners, the DeWalt DW682K and Makita PJ7000 are probably among the best. These are top brands and, like many, I have a huge selection of tools from both of these esteemed manufacturers. Both Makita and DeWalt have earned enormous respect for building high-quality, user-friendly tools. So if you find the specialized Festool joiners to be on the expensive side, these two will probably be exactly what you’re looking for. They’re absolutely great tools and, while not the cheapest, they’re still quite affordable. I have no doubt, that most serious tool buyers recognize the value in choosing either of these brands.
Some of you may be new to these tools and the concept of what makes for the best biscuit joiner may be foreign to you. So after reviewing the products, I’ll go into more detail regarding biscuit joiners. I’ll explain how they work and why they are such amazingly useful tools for any woodworking shop.
Review of the Best Biscuit Joiners
I’m going to start off with the crème de la crème of biscuit joiners, the two Festool Domino Joiners. The fact that that they’ve decided to call these tools Domino Joiners as opposed to biscuit joiners is not a simple marketing ploy. These are much more versatile tools in that they can cut a wide variety of sizes and have joiners (Dominos) to match these various depths and widths. So you can make strong joints for thick pieces of wood.
The Festool Domino Joiners are, in all likelihood, more expensive than most DIY enthusiasts or general cabinet fitters would want to pay. If you’re looking at a conventional biscuit joiner for basic tasks, you might want to scroll down to the DeWalt and Makita reviews. Though, if you’re interested in seeing how the other half live, take a look at the two Festool options. They are definitely in a class of their own.
Festool DF 700 XL EQ Plus (57447)
The absolute best Domino Joiner which does far more than any biscuit joiner can do. Fast, efficient, easy to use, but it will cost you for the convenience.
- Unique, patented cutting action that rotates and oscillates to create perfect, clean, and repeatable mortises every time
- Mortise width adjustment with the turn of a dial allows for easier alignment when joining panels
- Indexing pins for quick alignment against the edge of the work piece for accurate placement
- Tenons up to approximately 5-1/2-Inch in length for large scale projects
- Includes optional trim and cross stops for narrow stock and edge joining
- Pivoting fence : Fence creates angled mortises from 0-90 degrees with positive stops at 22.5 degrees, 45 degrees, 67.5 degrees.
- Depth control : Quick, precise adjustment for five different mortising depths, relative to the size of the tenon required for the application.
- Patented routing principle : The spiral cutter rotates and oscillates to create perfect mortises.
- Mortise width adjustment : Adjusting the width of the mortise allows for easier alignment when joining panels.
Includes : Domino Cutter (12mm), Support Bracket, Wrench, Trim Stop, Cross Stop, Plug it Cord, T-Loc Systainer 5
One look at the Festool 574447 XL DF 700 Domino Joiner and you can see immediately that is no average biscuit joiner. In effect, it’s not a biscuit joiner at all, though you operate it like one. If you’re familiar with a biscuit joiner, you’ll know that they use small flat oval discs (biscuits). The Domino Joiner uses something they call domino tenons. These are like flattened dowels and come in a variety of sizes. Basically, Domino tenons are precut Tenon pieces, they fit perfectly into a slot that is cut by the machine. They are stronger and much more versatile than conventional biscuits.
VIDEO OVERVIEW | Festool XL DF 700 | Learn More
Have you ever attempted Mortise and Tenon joints on two mitered edges? This is something that’s usually reserved for skilled, experienced woodworkers. Even with all the skill in the world, this is an extremely time consuming process and it takes a lot of patience to get it perfectly accurate. This is where the Festool Domino will make all the difference. You line up your wood and mark it, just as you would using a conventional biscuit joiner. Then the real difference comes into play. The Domino Joiner use cutters that look a lot like drill bits and they match domino tenons that are used to join the wood.
Select your bit and domino size according to the thickness of your wood and the Domino you’ll be using, set your depth, width, and cutting angle on the Festool, line it up to the marks on either piece and you have a perfectly accurate Mortise and Tenon Joint as strong as the best of them. The whole process is as quick and easy as it is with any biscuit cutter. So you’ll be doing a job that once took an hour or more to complete in a few minutes.
The selection of cutters and matching domino’s allow you to make mortises from 8mm – 14mm (⁵/₁₆” – ¹⁷⁄₃₂”) in width and a depth of up to 140mm (5½”). So this means that basically any type of joinery is possible, using wood of any thickness. You achieve 100% accuracy without any difficult measuring. You have a miter adjustment of between 0 and 90° with accurate and easy to use markings. Hey, it’s a Festool so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Every position is precise and easy to adjust using the adjustable fence angle, adjustable cutter, retractable stops, and precise mortise depth stop. Quick mortise offsets are made super-easy using multiple indexing pins. The set includes cross and trim stops that make everything easier and more precise. Basically, it’s an effortless way to achieve perfectly accurate results, cut after cut.
There’s no denying that Festool products are the best quality available. At least that’s my opinion and I know many high-end cabinet makers that will agree. So the 720W electric motor, providing almost 1 HP at 21,000 RPM, will make even large deep cuts into hardwood a breeze. Dust extraction is something I’d naturally expect on a tool of this caliber and price. Though the Festool automatic dust extraction system is not something that you find on any tool and it’s really cool.
There’s a power output on the Domino cutter, into which you can plug your shop vacuum. It will switch the vacuum on every time you start the tool and switch it off automatically when you stop. Just another great practicality that you get when buying a high-end tool like this. The 27mm (1”) port for the dust extraction hose is situated directly behind the cutter tool and removes just about all the dust that’s created when working.
It’s an incredibly robust tool, made from high-grade metals and yet it weighs only 11.5 LBS. It has great handles at the back and front of the tool. It’s easy to obtain a comfortable grip on the machine and this makes it all that much easier to work with complete accuracy. The rails are smooth and there is absolutely no lateral movement. The result is perfect plunges with the absolutely no margin for error. You can be sure that it’s going to continue to work with this level of accuracy for thousands of cuts. Festool machines always come with a fantastic carrying case and this one is no different. Thy also offer a great selection of portable storage solutions for extras, like the Domino’s that you’ll be using.
Protect Your Health | Festool CLEANTEC : CT 26 E HEPA (583492)
The way I go on about Festool products you may think that I work for them or that they’re paying me some sort of commission. Well, the answer to both of these statements is no. I’m just a truly committed fan of these tools. Engineering like this is awe-inspiring, and it really speaks to me. If you’re one of those people who value precision engineering and expect those kind of results from the tools you use, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The Festool 574447 XL DF 700 Domino Joiner is not for everyone, it’s incredibly expensive. For those few that get my enthusiasm about this tool, it will be money well-spent. One thing I know about Festool is that this is an investment for life. You have expert service at your disposal and they take their customers seriously. To this end, their 3-year service all-inclusive warranty is probably the best in the industry and they also offer a 30-day money back guarantee. Though I can’t see anyone wanting to give up a tool like this after they’ve used it a few times. I’m definitely not the only person who feels this way, it has received an average rating of 4.8-stars from Amazon customer reviews and that says a lot.
VIDEO | See A Master Woodworker use the Festool Domino Joiner
Tech Specs (Festool XL DF 700) :
- DOMINO Slot Cutter Diameter : 8, 10, 12, 14 mm
- Miter Routing : 0-90°
- Movable Stepped Stop : 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 mm
- Power Consumption : 420 watts
- Routing Depth Stop : 15 – 70 mm
- Routing Height Adjuster with Scale : 5-30 mm
- Hose Port Diameter : 27 mm
- Weight : 11.5 lbs.
Festool DF 500 Q Set (574432)
Best Domino Joiner that will handle everything a traditional biscuit joiner and much more. Perfect if you want a Festool with a little less power than the XL DF 700 model.
- Unique, patented cutting action that rotates and oscillates to create perfect, clean, and repeatable mortises every time.
- Mortise width adjustment with the turn of a dial allows for easier alignment when joining panels.
- Pivoting Fence allows you to create angled mortises from 0-90° with positive stops at 22.5°, 45°, 67.5°.
- Indexing pins for quick alignment against the edge of the workpiece for accurate placement.
- Multiple cutters and tenons available – create mortises from 4x20mm to 10x50mm
- Precise Positioning – Utilizing an adjustable fence angle, retractable stops, adjustable cutter height and precise mortise depth stop
- Superior dust extraction keeps the work piece and area almost dust free
- Includes Cross & Trim Stops eliminate witness marks, guess work and allow for precise mortises even in thin stock
- Cutter spindle speed: 24,300 RPM
- Domino slot cutter diameter: 5/6/8/10 mm
- Power consumption: 420 watts
- Routing depth stop: 12/15/20/25/28 mm
- Weight: 7 lbs. (3.2 kg)
The little brother to the Festool 574447 XL DF 700, the DF 500 (574432), has all the same amazing features and is just as versatile. This is simply a less powerful version of the same Domino Joiner. This means that you won’t be able to cut mortises that are as wide or deep as the large model. It also means that this model is quite a bit cheaper, though it’s still more expensive than conventional biscuit cutters.
VIDEO | See How the Festool DF 500 Q Set (574432) Works
With a 420W motor, the DF 500 is more limited in the cutting tools that you’re able to use. These are the same drill-like cutters as the large model and the dominos are the same Tenon-type joiners. So it will do the same job, but you are limited to a mortise width of 4mm -10mm and a depth of 50mm.
Other than the reduced capacity, it does everything that the larger Domino Joiner does. You can adjust it for miter angles from 0° – 90° with positive stops for common angles – 22.5°; 45° and 67.5°. It also has the same trim and cross stops. You have the same ease of use and total accuracy as you do with the DF700. This model has a dust extraction port, but I’m not sure if it has the same automatic on/off function. Because this is a smaller and lighter machine (7LBS), it doesn’t have the dual handles. You hold the back by gripping the body of the motor and there is a small grip at the front to help you guide it more accurately. This is a common setup on tools of this size and works well.
So if you’re not working with large, heavy projects that need heavy-duty Mortise and Tenon joints, the Festool DF 500 will work just fine and will cost you less. It’s a thorough-bred Festool, so it’s of the same high-standard and you get the same incredible 3-year service all-inclusive warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.
Best biscuit joiner for the money. It’s hard to beat DeWalt quality. Great balance between price, quality and features.
- 6.5 amp, 10,000 rpm motor provides power for working in the hardest woods
- Integral one-piece fence is adjustable and tilts 0-90°
- 45-degree locating notch in fence allows indexing off the outside surface of a mitered joint
- Retractable, anti-slip pins help hold work in place
- Dual rack and pinion fence ensure blade and fence are always parallel for accurate joints every time
- Flush cuts can be made at 0° without removing fence
- Non-marring, heavy-duty aluminum shoe allows joiner to be clamped for stationary work
- Preset depth stops for all common biscuit sizes
- Adjustable, integrated fence for precise positioning
- Three-year limited warranty, one-year free service, 90-day money-back guarantee
Includes : carbide blade, dust bag, heavy-duty kit box, Torx key, vacuum adapter, & wrench.
✓ View or download the MANUAL for the DEWALT DW682K biscuit joiner.
The DeWalt name may not carry the same Rolls Royce prestige as Festool, nor might it have the same OCD German precision in its engineering. But the DeWalt brand is recognized as one of the best in the business for over a century. Many a workman and DIY enthusiast may see the DeWalt DW682K as one of the best biscuit joiners based purely on their respect for the brand. It is certainly a worthy contender for this title. It is a traditional biscuit joiner and will accommodate most biscuit sizes with ease.
The DeWalt DW682K biscuit joiner utilizes a 6.5A electric motor providing 10,000 RPM, this gives it the power to glide through hardwood without any effort on your part. This power, combined with a ¼” carbide blade makes for a perfect combination of heavy-duty cutting ability and long-term durability. It’s an exquisitely easy and accurate tool to use. The dual rack and pinion fence provides for perfect accuracy and a smooth operation.
Making joins on miter cut are made easy with a fence adjustment of 0° – 90° and flush joins made at 0° are even easier with no need to remove the fence. The fence adjustments have clear angle markings with an easy to use locking knob, ensuring the greatest accuracy with the least amount of effort. A locating 45° notch simplifies indexing when working on the outside of a mitered joint.
To hold the workpiece in place, it has retractable, anti-slip pins. To help this along even further, the heavy-duty aluminum shoe can be clamped to the workpiece. The shoe is perfectly machined to a smooth surface that won’t scuff or scratch the surface of the wood. With a perfectly visible center line and preset depth stops for most standard biscuit sizes, it’s super quick and easy to work with.
DeWalt has made it simple to work in a clean dust-free environment. This means you have a choice of using the dust collection bag that’s supplied with the biscuit joiner or connect a vacuum to the dust extraction port. So you get the best of both worlds. It’s small enough to handle easily and a large handle at the front, with perfect grip, allows you to guide it with great accuracy. It weighs only 6.6 LBS and has a height of 6.75”.
If you’re already a DeWalt fan, I wouldn’t need to convince you of the greatness of this brand. While these are not the cheapest tools you can get, the DeWalt DW682K is competitively priced among the best biscuit joiners. Quality is of the high standard that we’ve come to expect from the brand, as is the ease of the use.
If I were to look deep enough to find any kind of imperfection on this biscuit joiner, it would be the small amount of play on the fence. This is something that seems to be common on most DeWalt rack and pinion systems, though the discrepancy is so minute that it shouldn’t affect your accuracy. Other than this, it’s as close to perfection as one could hope for. You also have the DeWalt team behind you, meaning that you get superb after sales service and their great 3-year warranty, 1-year free service plan, and a 90-day money back guarantee.
One of the best biscuit joiners for the money, on par with the Dewalt DW682K. Well-made and affordable.
- Powerful 5.6 AMP motor delivers 11,000 RPM for quick, precise cutting in a variety of woods
- Cast aluminum pivot fence with three positive stops at 0°, 45° and 90°
- Six depth settings with one-touch stops for most common biscuits sizes including #0, #10, and #20
- Large and easy-to-operate cam locks for angle guide and fence adjustments
- Rack-and-pinion vertical fence system engineered for accurate fence adjustments
- Large top grip handle for improved handling
- Slim and ergonomic body design for added comfort
- “Tool-less” blade cover and shaft lock for fast and easy blade changes
- Non-marring rubber inserts on shoe engineered to prevent material from slipping
- Cast aluminum front body for added durability
- Designed for making strong plate joints in a minimum amount of time
- Double insulated
Includes : 4″ Carbide Tipped Blade for Plate Joiner (A-95118), Angle Guide (123148-2), Dust Bag (123150-5), Set Plate (415579-2), Lock Nut Wrench (782401-1), Tool Case (821509-7)
Choosing between Makita and DeWalt can come down to flipping a coin. Most of the tools in my shop are from either of these brands. I find them to be very much on a par and are generally well-priced for what you get. They’re never the most expensive, but compare favorably with any of the top brands. Then again, I don’t go for cheap tools. I’m always looking for the best that I can get, but still consider value for money as being important.
VIDEO | Learn more about the Makita PJ7000 biscuit joiner
If I’m going to place the Makita PJ7000 alongside the DeWalt DW682K, I really couldn’t tell you which is the best biscuit joiner. Their prices are very similar, though you’ll probably be paying a little less for the DeWalt. Because these tools are so similar, it might make the cheaper DeWalt the more favorable option for some. Though a saving of 10 or 20 bucks wouldn’t affect my decision too much.
In fact, some may find a few of the features on the Makita worth paying a few dollars extra for. The cam locks for the angle guide and fence could be one of these, it makes things a little quicker and easier. Another convenient feature on the Makita PJ7000 is the tool-free blade cover and shaft lock which simplifies blade changes. So the Makita biscuit joiner has a bit of an advantage as far as time-saving convenience goes.
It’s slightly less power than the DeWalt, with a 5.6A motor. Though this shouldn’t make much of a difference and the ¼” X 4” carbide blade has a faster rotation (11,000 RPM) and this helps to compensate for the few watts of power difference in the motor sizes. In essence, I’d say that both the Makita PJ7000 and DeWalt DW682K are capable of doing pretty much the same job.
The Makita rack and pinion fence is perfectly accurate and incredibly easy to adjust for miters with positive stops at 0°; 45° and 90°. The solid cast aluminum shoe is as smooth as silk and won’t scratch or mar your work-piece. In addition to this, they’ve included rubber pads to prevent the tool from slipping. It has positive depth stops for most biscuit sizes.
The slim design of the Makita biscuit joiner makes it comfortable and easy to work with and a big handle at the front provides an excellent and comfortable grip. It weighs only 8 LBS, which is a little heavier than the DeWalt, but I can’t see this being a big deal. It also has a dust bag for a clean jobsite when you don’t have a dust extraction system.
I really can’t fault the Makita PJ7000 in any way, nor can I find any customer reviews that can suggest that it isn’t a truly wonderful biscuit joiner. Many owners seem to feel that this is the best biscuit joiner. Then again, there just as many who feel the same way about the DeWalt. I really can’t tell either way, they’re both fantastic tools and each have their merits.
What I know from years of experience owning both brands, is that you are assured of equally great service from Makita and that counts for a lot. Even though the 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee isn’t quite as impressive as the DeWalt warranty, free service plan and guarantee, I don’t feel that this is any reflection on the quality of the Makita PJ7000. It’s a Makita tool and that means you could easily get a lifetime of perfect service from this biscuit joiner.
Tech Specs (Makita PJ7000) :
- Blade Diameter : 4″
- Max. Cutting Depth : 3/4″
- No Load Speed : 11,000 RPM
- AMPS : 5.6
- Overall Length : 11-7/8″
- Net Weight : 5.5 lbs.
- Fits biscuit sizes #0, #10, #20 : Yes
- Max. no load speed : 11,000 RPM
- Power Type : Corded
- Shipping Weight : 8 lbs
The Makita PJ7000 is built with high quality components, as all Makita tools are. It’s a solid tool and one of the best biscuit joiners on the market.
What is a Biscuit Joiner?
If you’re new to woodworking, a biscuit joiner may not be something that you’ve discovered yet. You may have heard of these tools, but don’t really know what they are, how they work, or what they’re used for. I’ll help you understand this better and, to do this, it would be a good idea to look at the history to see how the biscuit joiner came into existence.
During the first half of the 1950’s a new and revolutionary material came onto the market. The invention of chipboard changed the way we look at wooden crates, construction, and cabinetry. Today it would be hard to imagine a world without chipboard. It’s cheap, lightweight and almost as strong when compared to solid wood. Yet, for many applications, it serves just as well as traditionally used wood types. The main issue with chipboard is that it is very brittle and chips easily. So conventional wood joining methods didn’t work too well when working with this new material.
The challenges of joining chipboard sparked the imagination of Swiss national, Herman Steiner. As the owner of a successful woodworking shop, Steiner wanted to develop a method of joining chipboard sheets in a way that would not be negatively affected by its tendency to splinter and be strong enough to equal traditional Mortise and Tenon Joints.
This led to the development of the Lamello joining system, followed later (in 1968) by the biscuit joining system for Lamello grooves. Both the tool and the biscuits are a simple, yet very effective way of joining any wooden boards of any size and at any angle. While not as strong as traditional Mortise and Tenon joints, the biscuit joints are suitable for most woodworking applications.
The biscuit is a small flat disc, shaped like a football. They are generally about ¼” thick and vary in width – usually 2” – 4”. The tool used to cut the groove uses a small, rotating circular blade that can be set to cut into the wood surface to the exact depth and width of the biscuit. A groove is cut into the corresponding edges of each piece that is to be joined. The biscuit, made from beech or composite wood, is then glued into the slots, thereby joining the pieces. Because the biscuit is so thin, it’s possible to cut into thin sheets without the edges breaking off, even when using a very brittle material like chipboard.
Because the biscuit joiner makes it very easy to accurately join any type of wood, they grew in popularity and are now manufactured by many well-known tool brands. In many instances, biscuit joiners are preferred over any other type of joining because of the time saved and the strength of the joint.
VIDEO | How to Use A Biscuit Joiner using the DeWalt DW682K
How to Use A Biscuit Joiner
The real beauty of the biscuit joiner is the ease with which the user is able to make any number of joints with complete accuracy in the shortest possible amount of time.
You start by aligning the two pieces of wood that you wish to join. Once the pieces are in position, you draw a line along the two pieces at the point where you want to place the biscuit. By drawing a line along both pieces, you get a corresponding point indicating the center of the biscuit. You can place as many biscuits as are needed along the length of the join.
You then separate the two pieces, each will have the marks along the edge where you’ll be cutting your grooves. You set the width and depth of the cut to match that of the biscuit that you’ll be using. Most of the best biscuit joiners will have positive stops for typical biscuit sizes, so it’s virtually impossible to make a mistake.
Then you set your depth or cut height to half that of the thickness of the board that you’ll be cutting into. This allows the biscuit to be positioned exactly in the center of the edge of the board. So if you’re using a ¾” board, you’ll set your depth for ⅜”. By doing this, there will be an equal distance between the faces of the board on either side of the cut, ensuring maximum strength.
If you’re cutting into a mitered edge, you’ll set the fence to match the angle of the miter. The biscuit joiner has a line marking the center of the blade and an opening in shoe that allows you to match this line with the mark that you made on the front of your board. Line the biscuit joiner up with your mark and press it into the surface of the wood to make the cut. Because you have set the tool to match the biscuit that you’re using, it will cut the exact width and depth to ensure a perfect fit.
You then apply glue to the inside of the groove and cover the biscuit or biscuits with glue. It’s best to also put glue onto the surfaces that will be joined as well. Place all the biscuits into the grooves on one piece and then line them up with the grooves on the corresponding piece. You the press the two pieces together so that the join is 100% flush and wipe off any excess glue. It really is as simple as this. Most 6th-graders could easily perform this task and achieve perfect results.