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Festool Domino to focus on decking

comments (16) March 16th, 2010 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

Video Length: 3:18
Produced by: Embedded from YouTube, video by mdwmow2

Although it's currently available only in Europe, Festool is working on some adaptations before bringing their new Domino Decking System to the US market. This is a very deliberate crossover from the world of woodworking to the world of homebuilding. Sure, their drills and saws had some crossover appeal, but a specific hidden deck fastening system? That's a big (and exciting) step for us homebuilders who are also fans of Festool.

Unfortunately, we didn't hear about Festool's Domino Decking System until after our latest newsstand-only issue of Decks & Outdoor Projects had already gone to press. But Editorial Advisor Mike Guertin, author of "Putting the Fast in Fastener"--a new feature in that same issue, which highlights the latest additions to the world of hidden deck fastening--has samples on the way and plans to give the system a thorough test drive.

Festool doesn't have any videos available yet, but we uncovered this short tutorial on YouTube.

posted in: Blogs, deck, Decking, hidden fastener, Festool, domino
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Comments (16)

denvertoolguy denvertoolguy writes: I am also a bit late to this conversation. I am not sure about all the rebranding issues that are being talked about, though if that is the case, it is certainly an importnat issue. i was reading the comments and saw a post that suggested that this is not a tool that is "designed" for decks but rather for fine wood craft. I guess on some level you make a point, that it would be silly to by this tool just for building decks, but really this only makes sense if you were to buy it to build one deck. I am just dubious of this idea that tools are for certain builds or projects and that if something works well (really really well in the case of deck building, i mean a deck with no top side exposed screws...) for other stuff, use it.
just what i was thinking...
Posted: 3:18 pm on June 17th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: I am late to this discussion but I wanted to chime in after seeing "new" Festool levels made by Stabila. Straight to the point: The Stabila 48" level costs $100 while the Festool 48" level (the same level painted black and badged Festool) costs $150. Does the extra $50 - that's a 50% price jump - equate to better quality? I think not.

I searched the net and found that there are several other occurrences of this Festool re-branding price/hiking happening. For instance, their 6" hand sanding blocks will cost you an extra $10 over the original Norton version as will the Festool tape measure over the $15 cost of the original OSI Vuse tape measure. There are more examples if you care to look.

I'm not attempting to say that all Festool tools are knockoffs, I am also not saying that I don't like Festool tools. But I am trying to indicate that many Festool owners try to use the "Better Quality" excuse to justify their Festool purchases. While Festool may have a high quality standard, there is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that they are "higher quality" than any other [respectable] tool brand.

Two typical scenarios come to mind, and both are mentally based.

First is "Branding". Imagine paying $200 for a pair of blue jeans. What if I told you the blue jeans were Dolce & Gabbana? Would they actually be higher quality just becase they have a D&G label? An extra $175 worth of quality? Obviously not, but they may have "superior" style or a better fit or a better pocket placement, or an original color, etc. For the most part though, the buyer wants the name brand and uses the differences and extras to justify the over expense. The same principle applies to higher priced tool brands such as Festool. Then after succeding in creating the justification within ones self, they cannot be swayed by one who doesn't agree with that persons self-justifying reason. Thus a social gap is formed between them and the Festool lover is viewed as an "elitist" and the Festool hater is viewed as "cheap".

I would like to note at this point that even though I have chosen Festool to pick on today, there are many other examples. For instance, Mafell tools cost even more than Festool but are often the exact same [looking] tool with a Mafell badge.

A second scenario (most often started by the company selling the goods) is the method of creating hype (overhype) for a new/better product which may in fact not be a new or better product. I liken this to the "push to talk" cell phone service. I know that lots of people [still] really like this feature, but for many it has run it's course and given way to texting. Nevertheless, when we look at this product and the marketing behind it we see now that it isn't better, and is certainly not the great advance in technology as it was hailed to be in its beginnings. In my opinion it was actually a technological devolution; causing the user to go from full simultaneous conversation to short one way back and forth statements. My point is that sometimes that new "great" product is not better or lead to better quality. It's just another gizmo that years from now will be buried under the bench next to other gizmos. The Domino....there I said it. It's a $700 gizmo. It's not worth $500 more than a plate joiner, it doesn't produce a noticeably higher quality than dowels or other loose tenon joints. It's just cool and "new" and to the chagrin of it's owners, over-hyped.

Now back to an overview of the tool brand Festool, am I against them? No. Would I use them? Of course. Would I buy them? Some. I look at tool company offerings I look at them one at a time and [usually] from a need based perspective and applying a cost vs. value equation. We all do this similarly but some of use have more time or money or other principle to allow further freedom of choice. By that I mean if money were no object then why wouldn't all my tools be Festool? Heck If money were truly no object then I would just have each tool custom made just for me. But I'm a carpenter not a politician, so I gotta balance my budget and buy the tool that meets the demands of my usage, fits in my budget, lasts long enough to pay for itself and still provide me with enough profit to live plus some. That said, I would make the rather broad and unfounded speculation that only maybe 3% of Festool owners buy based on need (buy because it is the ONLY tool to produce the specific results), furthermore of the 97% of non-need based purchasers, probably 73% of those don't use those tools as their primary source of income; AKA hobbyists and woodworking enthusiasts. Finally, out of those 73% hobbyists, probably 90% live above the US median income (about $45K/yr). What's my point? I would probably buy more expensive but not substantially higher quality tools if I had the money to waste and the purchase didn't interfere with any of my needs. But the same goes for anybody concerning any product. Surplus equates to waste, but a socially acceptable waste. To some, economical surplus means they buy a new vehicle, probably a Ferarri over a Festiva if money prevails. Sometimes "Fine Homebuilding" is wasteful; even if it is labeled "green" do they really need 5000 sqft, stainless appliances, and custom cabinets, etc.

While nothing I have stated here is secluded to the Festool company, to a carpenter like myself [who often converses with other carpenters in various tradesperson/tool lover web forums such as Breaktime here at] I often run into overly devoted Festool fans who tend to have an unhealthy obsession with the tool brand, of which I don't see amongst other tool brand lovers.

I think I've said enough but maybe our Tool Hound blog host Mr. Justin Fink could address this issue at at some point in some sort of upcoming blog article. I would love to hear Justin's opinion on the subject as well as my fellow blog following tool hounds.

P.S. The Festool deck system seems just plain ridiculous to me; many higher quality, cheaper, faster, and just plain better ways out there. But I am sure the Festool system will hit their target buyer just fine.


Posted: 11:14 am on May 23rd

UCLAfan UCLAfan writes: First off let me disclose I am a huge festool fan (and a proud Mac owner as well) I think Festool is reaching with this product. I own the Domino and it is a great tool no doubt. However, I would not buy one as a deck building tool. The system is really meant for fine woodworking and is a huge waste of money for deck building. Since I already own a Domino if the parts are priced close enough I might try the new system on my next deck job. BTW Pabs the iPad will prove to be one of the major shifts in the future of the computing paradigm. Festool does have a few shiny over priced tools BUT most of them do a better job then their cheap competitors. Macs are the same way. Once you use these advanced systems you never go back. Now I do somewhat agree with the paraphrase of the old adage "when you buy a drill you are really just buying holes" but there are limits to that. Sometimes the drill does matter and is worth the "shiny new fangled-ness" expense. According to what you have implied a $20 tricycle from walmart is just as good as a shiny over priced Corvette. As the young people say "hate the game not the player" :-)
Posted: 2:48 am on March 29th

randychom randychom writes: looks easy standing on the floor and not 15 feet in the air. Just another tool to drop and clips to drop .
Posted: 11:02 pm on March 24th

Airen Airen writes: First lets speak of the comments about "overpriced/overvalued" merchandise. Yes, Festool, Fien, Macs, & Harleys are much more expensive than other brands. But if you have used any of these you would realize it is about quality. Something that comes at a cost. There is no way your ever going to get quality engineering at Walmart prices. Same goes for our work. If a customer wants a $100,000.00 deck, they expect to get what they pay for and visa versa, your not going to build a $10,000.00 deck for $5,000.00.
Secondly, as many have pointed out, there are many of these "clip" type systems and every comment has merit to the issues. In my years I personally have found no system better, where money is no object, than the one Pabs describes. It has the option of stainless, screws are completely hidden, boards are easily changed out (compared to clips).
Lastly, this is "Fine Homebuilding", it is not Black & Deckers tips and tricks to home construction. You are not dealing with your "average" customer when you get to this level of home construction. They will not accept "bline" nailing or components that will fail in a few years. I would like to get my hands on some of these to test them out. But I have never used anything by Festool that was superior in construction.
Posted: 8:54 am on March 24th

Pabs Pabs writes: and...if that slot expands (due to deck movement or simply the wood shrinking and expanding)... then suddenly the slot is no longer tight... you could end up with numerous lose boards and no way of tightening them...(other than drilling through the top)

I liked the comment about Festool being the Macs of power tools! it's true... they do make some nice shiny over priced tools..
but in this case I would have to give it a failing grade...sort of like the iPad! just cause a great company makes something new, doesn't mean the new product is gonna be great!

this of course is based on what I've seen and speculating on how it will behave over time..
the true test would be to build one and see what happens after 5 or 10 years...but like most of you I don't have the extra 5000$ to "test" my theory so I'll just go with my gut instinct!

Posted: 7:56 am on March 23rd

TheRedDragon TheRedDragon writes: This is not a new technique in the US. Tom Silva was using this process in a recent This Old House or Ask This Old House episode.
Posted: 4:04 pm on March 22nd

papaT papaT writes:

I'm with Pabs, here. I think this system will result in premature failure of the decking boards. Sure, it looks nice, but there are better systems out there that provide the same effect without dramatically compromising the decking integrity.
Posted: 3:39 pm on March 22nd

JimCherry JimCherry writes: If you can't replace a board easily, no matter how pretty it is, it come back to bite you later. By the beach these fastners would have to be stainless. I would hesitate to guess how much more that would cost. Nope, back to the drawing board Festool.
Posted: 3:38 pm on March 22nd

JRWHomebuilding JRWHomebuilding writes: On top of the issue of replacing a board someday, what about that fact that all the decking is now going to cup downwards...concave. The edges of the boards are held up off the joists by the thickness of the steel Festool clip, but the center of the board is not. Over time, they will all sag and cup.
Posted: 2:40 pm on March 22nd

palealien palealien writes: Wow, good luck with this one, Festool! Elegant and a joy to used and overpriced as usual. They are without a doubt the Macs of the power tool world.

Still, I can't see too many people willing to spend the extra $$ this would demand - maybe the ruling class, but for us commoners, it's hard enough to make a buck using con common and screws.
Posted: 2:40 pm on March 22nd

Pabs Pabs writes: neat system.. I screwed all my deck board from underneath
much more work to get the decking on but makes for a nice clean flooring that will outlast one screwed from the top.

I used those metal brackets to do it.. they look like long angle brackets full of holes.

my only concern with the clips shown here is the fact that you are drilling huge holes/slots in each board... holes that will eventually saturate with water and cause the board to rot prematurely.

for me the number one reason for screwing from the bottom was to avoid rot (due to the screw holes) . the aesthetics was a nice bonus feature.
plus if you need to tighten a board in the middle of the do you get to it!!
in my case, I slide a piece of paper near the area and go under the deck and tighten all nearby screws... it's fairly easy and can be done fast
these clips...seems like you would have to go all the way to one end to remove the boards! now that would be a pain! I guess that would give you a chance to shake the water out of all the holes! hehe

humm..the more I think about these the less I like them...ah well, easy come , easy go

Posted: 2:32 pm on March 22nd

Sharkbait Sharkbait writes: Seems like a big waist of time. A router with a slot cutting bit and tiger claws will do the same thing (much, much, faster). Maybe you could pull out the Kreg pocket jig for the trim board. Just my opinion.
Posted: 2:25 pm on March 22nd

texastom texastom writes: wow i have bin doing decks for a long time and i do some realy big and hard ones and having to use all them tools and hard ware is very hard. the less tools i have up in the air then just the ones i need the less it will cost me. i use the tebo nailer and have bin bline nailing my deck for many years it is the fastes way i have found and i have tryed alot of diff tools

Posted: 2:24 pm on March 22nd

spinoza2 spinoza2 writes: I think that is what is meant by the crossover from woodworking to homebuilding. You can build a quick and dirty cabinet in a couple of hours... or you can take a couple of weeks. It all depends on what level of detail and build-quality you want. For someone who can afford it, I can easily see the advantages (and beauty) of such a Festool-built deck. Will it be a functionally better deck than otherwise? In some ways yes--using the Domino System will definitely insure much tighter tolerances and precise joining. Is it worth the extra cost and effort? That depends on the homeowner and where I live there are definitely homeowners who would appreciate this.
Posted: 10:26 am on March 22nd

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: Is it me or does the system seem a bit cumbersome? If I'm running decking, I want to cruise through the process, not worry about having to use what amounts to a biscuit cutter twice for each joist, before attaching my fasteners.

I suppose the clips can be used with pre-grooved boards?
Posted: 1:34 pm on March 19th

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