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Nineteen sixty eight was a pretty momentous year. The first Boeing 747-100 rolled out in the USA, Apollo 8 orbited the moon and ‘Hey Jude’ got to the top slot in the charts for a couple of weeks. It was also the year that Herman Steiner’s company produced the first hand-held biscuit joiner in Liestal, Switzerland.

We’re all familiar with the company today under the name Lamello and it was Lamello who first invented the idea of joining two adjacent panels with thin wafers of wood. The idea grew and was adopted by woodworkers around the globe as a quick and effective method of joining together not only panels, but also carcase work. Some years ago, I bought a C2 biscuit jointer, a fairly basic machine and one which has now been superseded by far more sophisticated models. Nonetheless, the accuracy with which Lamello equipment is made means that it’s possible to join two pieces of material together with pinpoint precision.

Lamello's vintage hand-held biscuit jointer made in 1968
Lamello’s vintage hand-held biscuit jointer made in 1968

Roll on a few decades and German company Festool introduced another new jointing machine – the now famous and highly acclaimed Domino which set the woodworking world alight. Although the technology was brand spanking new, the methodology wasn’t as it’s just a very swift way of producing a traditional ‘loose tenon’ joint.

However, it was now no longer necessary to mark out and cut a laborious mortice and tenon. Here was a machine which could do the same thing in the twinkling of a cabinetmaker’s eye. I lusted after one of these little beauties like miser’s gold and eventually managed to buy a really decent second hand one a few years ago, complete with several cutters and a big box of doms. I now use it for most construction work and wouldn’t dream of even thinking about making an ordinary mortice and tenon joint.

The Lamello biscuit jointer and Domino machines are fantastic bits of kit, no question. They can be used for similar purposes and they both complement one another, even though they each work on a different principle.

The million dollar question is…
…which is better, the Domino or biscuit jointer?
If you would like to join in the debate, please leave a comment at the bottom of this Blog entry or, alternatively, join in the fray on our Facebook page.

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