Author Topic: Updating the Domino Thickness Gauge to Imperial for better use in the USA  (Read 1567 times)

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Offline Grizzable

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  • Posts: 39
The domino is one of my favorite Festool tools but the height gauge being in metric always bothered me since I could never get perfect centered joints in the US without having to dial it each time so I spent the past week designing a imperial gauge so I can quickly adjust the height for imperial based boards here in the US.

It works great and spent a bit of time making it, tried to stay as true to the original as possible and just wanted to share with you guys.


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Offline Josh2

  • Posts: 52
This looks great!

Senecawoodworking is making a version of this: https://www.senecawoodworking.com/collections/all/products/imperial-thickness-gauge-df500

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2015
Quite often, I make an effort of not centering the mortises so I can easily tell if I have a board oriented wrongly (e.g. upside down) when doing the glue-up.

3/4" boards (or any thickness for that matter)  are seldom 3/4" thick exactly especially when we work with boards from different batches or vendors. Same even for materials I mill myself with the thickness planer.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2020, 05:47 PM by ChuckM »

Offline manuc

  • Posts: 45
I ordered mine and it came in today. I took it for a spin on 3/4” plywood and it worked great. Look great as well. Highly recommended!

Offline JimD

  • Posts: 484
I kind of like the fact that my XL is limited to 10mm (without a spacer).  That offsets the mortise a little in my normal 3/4 stock and helps during assembly.  This could be handy when I work on other thicknesses but that is not often.  I prefer imperial dimensions but can work with metric to use my domino. 

Offline afish

  • Posts: 80
Im not sure why no one has come up with a fixture for setting the fence height from a dial indicator.  I use the depth finder on a 6" caliper before if you want exact since as others have mentioned the wood plywood, mdf etc. is often slightly different thickness. but a nice simple engineered fixture for a dial indicator would be nice.  I dont think I have used that gizmo once on the side of the domino for "accurate" centering.  Just down and dirty.

Offline Mike Goetzke

  • Posts: 570
Im not sure why no one has come up with a fixture for setting the fence height from a dial indicator.  I use the depth finder on a 6" caliper before if you want exact since as others have mentioned the wood plywood, mdf etc. is often slightly different thickness. but a nice simple engineered fixture for a dial indicator would be nice.  I dont think I have used that gizmo once on the side of the domino for "accurate" centering.  Just down and dirty.

When I saw this I thought the same thing. I have gauges I could probably use but would be nice to have it built into the tool. I was thinking calipers but shortest ones I could find are 4".

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2207
I dont think I have used that gizmo once on the side of the domino for "accurate" centering.
The key here is not "accurate", but repeatable (precise). You can go back and forth between settings within the course of a project and that "gizmo" will land you exactly on the same depth every time. Whether it is true center or not is not important, given you are referencing from correct face. Using caliper to set depth is too fiddly and slow.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 06:34 PM by Svar »

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2015

The key here is not "accurate", but repeatable (precise). You can go back and forth between setting within a course of a project and that "gizmo" will land you exactly on the same depth every time. Whether it is true center or not is not important. Using caliper to set depth is too fiddly and slow.

You're right; repeatability (I call it consistency) is what really matters. Some people will sooner or later find that "true center" isn't really true all the time when they flip one of the mating boards around and can feel that two boards are not seamlessly flat. But it won't matter as long as the (off center) reference sides are used to put the two boards together.

Just like the minute difference in the scales among measuring tapes, the 3/4" on the machine/gauge isn't necessarily the same 3/4" manufacturers use to produce their products. That's why for consistency, we use the same tape (even if it's not accurate) throughout the one project when we build furniture. As long as the same Domino Joiner and the same height setting are used, centered or not, the result will be the same. (In the DF500 manual on mid-board butt joinery, it gives an example of why the mortises should preferably not be cut centered.)
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 06:57 PM by ChuckM »

Offline rmhinden

  • Posts: 357

The key here is not "accurate", but repeatable (precise). You can go back and forth between setting within a course of a project and that "gizmo" will land you exactly on the same depth every time. Whether it is true center or not is not important. Using caliper to set depth is too fiddly and slow.

You're right; repeatability (I call it consistency) is what really matters. Some people will sooner or later find that "true center" isn't really true all the time when they flip one of the mating boards around and can feel that two boards are not seamlessly flat. But it won't matter as long as the (off center) reference sides are used to put the two boards together.

I completely agree.  Also, while I usually try to center the mortices, there can be advantages to making them off center enough to avoid glue up mistakes.    When making the mortices, I am careful to mark the side that references the Domino fence to get consistent results.   If I sand the parts before glueing them up, these marks are gone by the time I do the glue up.   Having them be offset avoids making mistakes in the glue up.

That said in my last project (the side tables) two of the top pieces ended up too high.  Still not sure what I did wrong.  A least it was solid wood so I could plane it down flush.   

Bob

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2015

That said in my last project (the side tables) two of the top pieces ended up too high.  Still not sure what I did wrong.  A least it was solid wood so I could plane it down flush.   

Bob
Fence drift due to fence not locked tightly? Debris on the board when the machine/fence was set down on the board?

Offline afish

  • Posts: 80
The calipers are actually pretty fast. First measure the thickness of your material since it will most likely be something odd like 16.84 or whatever but Ill use 16.84 as an example.  We know the cutter is centered at 10mm from the bottom plate.  So take your 16.84 and divide it by 2 = 8.42 + the 10mm from the bottom so zero your caliper depth since this is typically a few thousands off of having the jaws zeroed. then set your caliper depth at the 18.42 and use that to set the fence height resting the main body of the caliper on the bottom plate and bumping the fence up to the depth slider piece.  Its actually very easy and precise, If you want your domino's centered.  If your looking for just repeatability and not precision then doesn't the factory stop already provide that ?  not taking anything away from your hard work.  Just saying for those that do want their domino's centered thats the easiest and most accurate way I have found.  Some may like their dominos offset. I prefer mine centered most of the time that way I dont have to think so much about layout, left and right handed parts and I also make domino drawers so there isn't a lot of room to offset the domino in that situation. Different strokes I guess... I did also make some "L" shaped jigs out of scrap plywood with the short leg of the "L" set at the correct offset and the long leg of the "L" presses against the bottom plate.  I made these for my more popular material used but I often just go back to my caliper method.   

Offline afish

  • Posts: 80
Im not sure why no one has come up with a fixture for setting the fence height from a dial indicator.  I use the depth finder on a 6" caliper before if you want exact since as others have mentioned the wood plywood, mdf etc. is often slightly different thickness. but a nice simple engineered fixture for a dial indicator would be nice.  I dont think I have used that gizmo once on the side of the domino for "accurate" centering.  Just down and dirty.

When I saw this I thought the same thing. I have gauges I could probably use but would be nice to have it built into the tool. I was thinking calipers but shortest ones I could find are 4".

Hey mike, any standard 6" caliper will work as long as it has that little bar that slides out the back for measuring depth.  You can pick up a cheap digital caliper at home depot

Offline afish

  • Posts: 80
Just incase my wordy description didn't make sense to someone.  Here are a couple pics.  This method gets me within a couple thousands of center every time.  You just have to add 10mm to the half thickness measurement of your material.  Luckily even with my poor math skills I can usually easily add 10 to just about any # and get it right.  [unsure] If you need repeatability then you can make the wood fixture block as shown out of a couple scraps of the material you are using for quick setting if you are switching between different thicknesses often. I dont usually have that issue in my workflow but some might.  This is of course you "want" your Dominos centered as the original poster wanted.  I pretty much stopped making the stop blocks because the caliper is almost as fast and just in case there is any variance between batches of material it also acts as QC check.  If your using something that isnt dimensionally stable as ply it wouldn't hurt to double check with the calipers more often.       
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 12:07 PM by afish »

Offline fshanno

  • Posts: 1008
This gets added to the list of justification for a 3D printer. 
The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2207
This gets added to the list of justification for a 3D printer.
You miss spelled "excuses"  [big grin]

Offline JimD

  • Posts: 484
I will never use metric to design projects because I cannot relate to metric dimensions.  I know rails and stiles for cabinet doors look good to me when they are 2 1/4 to 3 inches wide.  But if you asked me to comment on metric dimensions I would have to convert them to metric to comment.  I guess its about 56 to 75mm but I have to convert to provide this.

With that background, I kind of don't understand the value of this quick set gauge.  The plunge depth is still metric.  The scale for the fence is still in metric.  The bits are all metric.  So I have to think in metric a bit to use my domino.  I am OK with this.  It is all small dimensions and I can see the result. 

My domino is also a 700 so my minimum setting is 10mm.  If I want less I have to put a shim on the fence.  I use the 10mm setting with 3/4 material.  It does not center the mortises but I like that because it helps me keep the face side straight - although I have also messed up and had to take a joint apart (I noticed before the glue set).  But an imperial gauge would not change the fact that my minimum setting is 10mm.

I am not criticizing anybody else's way of working.  If this gauge helps you then by all means use it.  I am just struggling to see how it would help me.