I hate that I have to make this video

Taking a look at the brand brand-new Jessem Pocket Mill Pro system and comparing it to the Domino and the Tianli Handheld Mortiser. I have actually been on a quest lately to discover a budget-friendly substitution of the Domino to suggest to my audience. is among the fastest and strongest techniques for joining 2 boards together. Is the Jessem Pocket Mill Pro the tool we've been waiting for? I had high expectations for this as Jessem makes some of the very best jigs and tools you can buy.

Check out my introduction video on the Tianli Handheld Mortiser:

Tools Used in the Video (Amazon links are affiliate link).
Jessem Pocket Mill Pro:.
Tianli Handheld Mortiser:.
Dewalt Router:.
Festool Dominio Jointer:.
Jessem Miter Gauge:.
Jessem Stock Guides:.
Table Saw:.
Router:.
Router Lift:.
Little Bandsaw:.
Hand Drill:.

Lincoln St Woodworks video:.

#woodworking.

I hate that I have to make this video

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28 Comments

  1. The bit with the instructions in the beginning of the video….pretty funny. Especially the “plus mine were ripped” comment. That was great.

  2. I’ve got old festool items and I use them atleast every other day. Even though they are plastic they have held up and stand the test of time for me.

  3. I would pay a $1000 extra just to go back in time and not have to watch the struggle with that jig. It gave me the heebie jeebies to think how long it would take to do the 500 domino mortises I did on my last project.

  4. Thank you for another unbiased review. It seems like the extra $200 for the jig is needed…which is not an insignificant amount of added cost.

    1. That brings it to close to half the cost of the Festool. Bring in the awkwardness of the Jessem, it seems the Festool would be better to save up for.

  5. It seems like a good alternative but I agree with you that it would be better with the jig. That being said, this makes price almost half the price of the 500 domino which would make a strong argument for me to go ahead and spend the rest and get the domino. I actually just purchased my very first ever Festool at age 63. I got the ct15 and the etc125 and the edge guide. The quality is insanely good and I do plan on more. Love all of your work but these cheaper tools and alternatives are really good.

  6. Thanks for the review, Dave! 😃
    For me, if I could buy it, it would be more than enough. But, again, woodworking is just a hobby for me, so… 😬
    Anyway, stay safe there with your family! 🖖😊

    1. I see your comments on a lot of the same woodworking channels I watch, including lesser known ones. Keep that passion going!
      If you really want a higher end joinery system without a huge cost, consider the jessem or dowelmax jigs. The jessem is cheaper, but the dowelmax is easier to use since it has integrated clamping.

  7. Let’s say you want to make a door and need 12 domino joint to put it together. That means you need to cut 24 mortices, which can be done very swiftly with the Festool, while you would still be fiddling with setting up this drill jig. If you make a lot of doors, or windows, or table tops, or furniture with floating tenons, it really does make a lot of sense to get the Festool because even if it is a big investment it is just such an efficient tool to work with. If you only need to cut floating tenons once in a blue moon you can of course not justify to pay the price of such a premium tool, and for those people I would recommend to either go old school and do hand cut mortices and tenons – taking your time and enjoying the process – or use a biscuit joiner, or a basic dowel jig depending on the application.

    1. I agree with this. I really don’t see what niche these other floating tenon jigs are trying to fill. Sure, you get to use Dominos for less than half the price, but also half the usefulness, convenience, safety, etc. If you’re not in the market for a Festool, go with a solution that doesn’t try to be a replacement — dowels, pocket screws, traditional M&T, and glue will get you everything you need with less headache.

    2. I was thinking the same thing. While this is technically an alternative, it is absolutely not an alternative as far as time goes. If you are doing any kind of production work, the domino pays for itself in time saved for sure.

    3. I kind of agree. I think each tool definitely has a place. As for using a biscuit joiner or dowel jig in place of a floating tenon, I disagree to a degree. Biscuits are good for alignment but don’t really offer any strength. Dowels offer good strength but don’t have any wiggle room so it is much more difficult to line things up. With the horrible instructions aside a lot of the issues he faced in the video could have been solved by either getting the workstation (expensive for what it is IMO) or simply screwing the jig to the workbench. He was trying to wrestle the board and the jig at the same time compounding the issue. I personally feel this is well suited for the hobbyist teetering the line of being a startup business where you can’t yet justify the domino but need something quicker and more precise than old-school techniques that take years to master. All that said I do hope to own my own domino one day.

    4. Waiting for the patent to expire in late 2024?…that’s the year I heard. Then more companies will make the domino or they’ll have to do something innovative to it and apply for another patent.

    5. @David P you’re probably going to continue waiting. It’s been about to expire for years and years and they keep altering something on the design to extend the patent. But hey, anything is possible.

  8. This video was way more honest about the limitations with the Jessem than the other one I watched. Totally understandable that people don’t want to pay for the domino. It just comes down to how much you value your time

  9. “plus mine’s ripped” got a good laugh out of me. It’s a really neat device, and it’s going to be helpful for someone out there. I don’t need a Domino in my life currently, but when I do I’ll put in the money for one rather than get the “like a Domino” stuff. Sometimes the ease of use is worth the price (plus the engineering). But for now my biscuit joiner is good enough for me!

  10. Every domino alternative I see makes me realise just how easy we really have it 👍🏻

  11. Good review, valid points, and props for mentioning Lincoln St. He did a good job too. PS, I bought my Domino last month after borrowing a buddy’s for a project last fall that made that project’s build-time cut in half…or more. Domino for the overall efficiency.

  12. I appreciate this. You pointed out some of the exact issues I thought I might be seeing on Lincoln’s vid. I bought a similar “ebay” jig years ago, and it served me very well once I got familiar with it. The jessem looks cool, but clunky without the fence option. So I’d call this a necessary part, so a 550 tool. Still much better for a hobby shop than a festool, but I think they’ve got to refine it a good bit.

  13. I can’t afford the domino and while I think its a really cool tool, I’d rather use the plethora of other joinery options than trying to futz with some hobbled together alternative that does the same thing. So many other joinery options out there. I do appreciate your time putting together videos on them, it’s worth the content to do them. thank you for putting these out there for people who wish to try them out.

    1. I’m with you, Joseph. As a weekend woodworker, I could quickly and easily use my inexpensive dowelling jig or almost as easily create a spline to join these two boards. Since I am a rank rookie who builds small, easy projects, I can’t justify spending all of that cash for any of these tools. Heck, I could spend that cash on lumber instead.

  14. I think it’s wise to hold off and wait until Jessem releases an upgraded version which hopefully will address the set-up and alignment issues. I’m sure their reply to complaints is that they offer the set-up jig as the solution. I suspect/hope the router based based system will be upgraded to include dust collection and a flip up guard over the router bit. For the $$ the router system makes more sense for weekend woodworkers. I’m sticking with dowels until improved domino units are offered.

  15. Terrific unbiased video David! It all comes down to preference & what one can afford. Obviously, a professional would choose differently than a weekend warrior woodworker! 👍👍🔨🔨

  16. Great video. Would have liked to see you using it with the option fence jig. It looked very frustrating watching you using it in your bench vise. The other video I saw they had the extra jig, and the experience looked completely different. I also have the Jessem miter fence and stock guides and love them. As well I have the Jessem dowel jig, which I bought before owning my Domino, and highly recommend.

  17. I guess the good thing is they give you an option to not spend an extra $200 if you are will to put the work into a shop made jig. Depends on how you value your time though. Seems worth the extra money to just get a Domino if you can, it just works so well.

  18. The more I see videos on less expensive alternatives to the Festool tool, the more convinced I am that if I ever wanted to make a project with floating tenons I would save up to buy the more expensive tool. I learned an edict a long time ago and it is to always buy the best tool available that you are able to. It has not let me down in 40 plus years of working with tools.

  19. I’ve got the Tianli and they forgot the limiting screw. Not hard to replace but this set scores with your Jessem. The Jessem looks so painful to put in place tbh. There are other very simple jigs for loose tenon (10min workshop) that would be better in many aspects. The Tianli is fantastic and as an amateur who installs tenons once in a while the Domino would be an overkill. I like that I don’t need to fiddle with it: once it is setup there’s hardly any change needed unless the thickness of the wood is drastically different. And I put the makita cordless router in it so no cable. It does make a lot if dust but I work outside for this.

  20. Always good to see you stick to your upper Mid-west values and honesty in your reviews. Thanks for another good video!

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