Author Topic: Domino for window sashes  (Read 1003 times)

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Online MVWood

  • Posts: 13
Domino for window sashes
« on: January 15, 2019, 10:57 PM »
I just got commissioned for a job to build 10 sets of wood window sashes. I was able to grab one of the existing sashes to use as a template. Of course these sashes being 80 yrs old are made with through tenon joints. Out of curiosity would domino joints work for this type of construction or should I stick to the traditional mortice and tenon joinery?   

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Offline ninedude

  • Posts: 6
Re: Domino for window sashes
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2019, 12:51 AM »
I restore and rebuild sashes.   Occasionally we will get a job like you are talking about.   Partially it depends on how deep down the rabbit hole of window sash building you want to go, and what the budget of the job is.

Two books that I found super helpful on the topic are The Window Sash Bible and Save America's Windows by John Leeke.   If you want to do more work like this, they are probably worth reading.   Especially the one by Leeke.   Plus there are some affiliated forums on his site that can answer all sorts of questions like this if you use the search.

Those books will give some perspective on why things were built the way they were.    There are quite a few advantages to traditional mortise and tenon construction that may or may not come into play on this particular job.

The first sash I ever built, I used a window sash bit set from Infinity Tools and I used a Domino for the joinery.   It will definitely do the job.  These sash in particular were fixed in place, so they weren't likely to be subject to some of the abuse a double hung window might be.

Also worth considering is repairability down the line.   If you are trying to build something that could last well over a century with proper maintenance (and material selection), then the mortise and tenon method has some advantages.   Basically you don't need to use glue if you get it right, and you can pin the sash square with a finish nail or a peg.

With a domino you are likely going to want to use some waterproof adhesive, which usually means epoxy though I would not be surprised to hear of people using other products.    But once you seal a joint with epoxy, there's not exactly a clear path -- certainly not an easy one -- for the guy who might be tasked with maintaining the sash down the road.   Then again, if you use a domino and some epoxy, the joint will probably last at least 50 years (from what research I have done), and would probably be less likely to go out of square.

The gist of it is, if you start getting into doing sash work, you're going to have to become super proficient in all manner of mortise-and-tenon joinery.   Mortise machines, router jigs, hand chisels, rasps, and yes even the Domino will all be necessary tools for different repairs, or at least they are for me.

So, at that point, if you've got the time and the kids aren't starving (or existant), it's probably not a bad way to learn how the old-timers did it.    One benefit I haven't talked about is that if you use a through mortise, the end grain will 'poke through' the vertical sides of the sash (stiles).    This will allow the wood to breathe / dry out, which could give it a fighting chance if the maintenance is not kept up with.

If you want a good hybrid approach that will get the job done quickly without needing too much tooling, you could use a domino to make the mortise (I purchased a proper 3/8 bit from Seneca Woodworking for this, but 10mm is very close), and then make the tenons on the Table Saw (or whatever you want, that's just what I use).   So there wouldn't be a loose tenon, but the most time consuming part of the operation -- and the trickiest part if you aren't used to using hand tools -- is getting that mortise dialed in.   So the domino would save quite a bit of time there, potentially.    I've seen videos of guys like Paul Sellers doing very accurate mortises in almost no time at all.   They make it look easy.   Depending on how much material you want to waste and where your skills are at now, this may or may not be the project to learn on.

Hope that rant was at least peppered with some relevant info.   Let me know if you have any more questions.   Not sure if they are on this forum, but there are some other websites where some very proficient -- like, leagues above me -- sashmakers dwell.   They can occasionally be roused from their dark lairs.   But from what I know of those guys, they are probably not using festools.   Many of the best tools for sashmaking -- machines, really -- were made in the 1920's and before, I believe.   

Essentially there are two camps.   Guys kind of winging it in their garage and guys who hunt down the old machines that were designed to churn out huge numbers of sash efficiently.    Pretty much everyone starts as the former, and some chosen few follow the shaving-laden path toward the latter.





Offline Farming_Sawyer

  • Posts: 124
  • Sawyer, builder, winemaker, farmer, chef
    • Foley's Custom Sawmill
Re: Domino for window sashes
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2019, 07:02 AM »
I've built over 100 double hung, casement and sliding windows in the past five years. I've used a shaper, or router table, dedicated mortiser, drill press mortis attachments and chisel. Some were built using hand methods and a lot of patience. All windows were multi pane. A thousand panes later and I'm only just getting ok at glazing and cutting glass....
All windows were glued using exterior glue. All windows were treated with linseed oil prior to owners painting.
I am currently planning on working on domino only windows for myself to test methods. I can't wait. Build the frames with square stock, router the Profile and rabbit later. I am looking to bring the cost of my windows down from $500 for a barn window to $200. Traditional windows are a time suck  with very little gain. Quality wooden windows can and should be made with a domino I'm sure.
CT 26E, RO125, sys-mft, sys-toolbox, a bunch of 30 year old tools I'm looking to replace.

Offline JD2720

  • Posts: 1083
Re: Domino for window sashes
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2019, 07:42 AM »
I started making window sash over 40 years ago. I always made them the traditional m & t way until last year.
The sash pictured were made with dominos instead of m & t.
Each sash in the arched set were about 4' square. These were for a church & will have stained glass installed in them. The wood was pine. The sash were 2 1/4" thick
There were 5 of the white sash. They were storm windows for port hole windows in a downtown building. The wood was redwood. The sash were 1 1/8" thick.
I used 14mm sipo dominos.
 
 

 

Online MVWood

  • Posts: 13
Re: Domino for window sashes
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2019, 08:32 AM »
Thank you for all the info so far keep it coming. The sashes I need to replicate are double hung with counterbalance weights. They measure about 40”x40” for each sash. The bottom and top rails are about 3”x1-3/4” stock and the stiles are about 2”x1-3/4” and they are single pane. If I do invest in a domino would the 500 be adequate? or is this a job for its bigger brother? I do have a shaper, and router table. I don’t plan on turning this into a business but I do want to make a decent window and I thought the domino would allow me to do that proficiently.

Offline Straightlines

  • Posts: 22
Re: Domino for window sashes
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2019, 05:33 PM »
I restore and rebuild sashes.   Occasionally we will get a job like you are talking about.   Partially it depends on how deep down the rabbit hole of window sash building you want to go, and what the budget of the job is.

Two books that I found super helpful on the topic are The Window Sash Bible and Save America's Windows by John Leeke.   If you want to do more work like this, they are probably worth reading.   Especially the one by Leeke.   Plus there are some affiliated forums on his site that can answer all sorts of questions like this if you use the search.

Those books will give some perspective on why things were built the way they were.    There are quite a few advantages to traditional mortise and tenon construction that may or may not come into play on this particular job.

The first sash I ever built, I used a window sash bit set from Infinity Tools and I used a Domino for the joinery.   It will definitely do the job.  These sash in particular were fixed in place, so they weren't likely to be subject to some of the abuse a double hung window might be.

Also worth considering is repairability down the line.   If you are trying to build something that could last well over a century with proper maintenance (and material selection), then the mortise and tenon method has some advantages.   Basically you don't need to use glue if you get it right, and you can pin the sash square with a finish nail or a peg.

With a domino you are likely going to want to use some waterproof adhesive, which usually means epoxy though I would not be surprised to hear of people using other products.    But once you seal a joint with epoxy, there's not exactly a clear path -- certainly not an easy one -- for the guy who might be tasked with maintaining the sash down the road.   Then again, if you use a domino and some epoxy, the joint will probably last at least 50 years (from what research I have done), and would probably be less likely to go out of square.

The gist of it is, if you start getting into doing sash work, you're going to have to become super proficient in all manner of mortise-and-tenon joinery.   Mortise machines, router jigs, hand chisels, rasps, and yes even the Domino will all be necessary tools for different repairs, or at least they are for me.

So, at that point, if you've got the time and the kids aren't starving (or existant), it's probably not a bad way to learn how the old-timers did it.    One benefit I haven't talked about is that if you use a through mortise, the end grain will 'poke through' the vertical sides of the sash (stiles).    This will allow the wood to breathe / dry out, which could give it a fighting chance if the maintenance is not kept up with.

If you want a good hybrid approach that will get the job done quickly without needing too much tooling, you could use a domino to make the mortise (I purchased a proper 3/8 bit from Seneca Woodworking for this, but 10mm is very close), and then make the tenons on the Table Saw (or whatever you want, that's just what I use).   So there wouldn't be a loose tenon, but the most time consuming part of the operation -- and the trickiest part if you aren't used to using hand tools -- is getting that mortise dialed in.   So the domino would save quite a bit of time there, potentially.    I've seen videos of guys like Paul Sellers doing very accurate mortises in almost no time at all.   They make it look easy.   Depending on how much material you want to waste and where your skills are at now, this may or may not be the project to learn on.

Hope that rant was at least peppered with some relevant info.   Let me know if you have any more questions.   Not sure if they are on this forum, but there are some other websites where some very proficient -- like, leagues above me -- sashmakers dwell.   They can occasionally be roused from their dark lairs.   But from what I know of those guys, they are probably not using festools.   Many of the best tools for sashmaking -- machines, really -- were made in the 1920's and before, I believe.   

Essentially there are two camps.   Guys kind of winging it in their garage and guys who hunt down the old machines that were designed to churn out huge numbers of sash efficiently.    Pretty much everyone starts as the former, and some chosen few follow the shaving-laden path toward the latter.

Good reply, lots of important bases covered.

Some thoughts:
  • One could further hybridize the Domino by gluing the Domino into only one of the mortises, and then pin the other mortise, would result in something more like a traditional mortise and tenon.
  • If one glues the Domino joint with waterproof glue, then it seems the “need” to dry out the joint ceases, right?