Breakfast Bar in Hard Maple

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Project by Brit posted 11-13-2010 11:00 PM 3818 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few years ago we splashed out on a nice fitted kitchen in hard maple with galaxy black granite worktops (black with bronze twinkly bits in it). The only thing we didn’t have was a breakfast bar. Now we do.

I drew a design in Sketchup and showed it to my wife. Initially it had tapered legs which she approved, but later she changed her mind (she’s good at that) to straight chunky legs.

The legs are 891mm tall, 84mm square with a 1/2” roundover on each corner. The rails are 100mm in height x 30mm thick. I had to get the height bang on so that once the granite top went on, the top of the granite would slide in nicely under the dado rail on the kitchen wall. The size of the granite slab will be 1285mm long x 750mm wide.

The two legs are joined to the rails using hand cut haunched mortise and tenon joinery, which I also drawbored for added security since it will be taking quite a weight. The other end rail which is bolted to the wall is joined to the two long rails using hand cut half-blind box joints reinforced by two 45 degree glue blocks.

I finished it with Ronseal Diamond Hard Matt Varnish to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets. This is a water-based varnish that looks white in the tin and doesn’t change the colour of the maple. I applied two thin coats using a synthetic brush. Being water-based it raised the grain, so I hand sanded with P320 grit then applied two more thin coats. Once the final coat was dry I rubbed out the finish with P600, then P1200 grit to remove all brush marks and leave the surface silky smooth with the same sheen as the kitchen cabinets. I call this part of a project lushing it up.

Just waiting for the granite slab to arrive now which should be here just in time for Christmas. Thanks for looking.

Update 15/01/2011 – Granite arrived yesterday so I’ve added a couple of pictures of the finished project.

-- - "The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks to the hand." Frank R. Wilson

10 comments so far

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 2797 days

#1 posted 11-14-2010 05:17 AM

Neat idea. And since I am just now getting into M&T joinery, I have to check out all I find. I love the clean dovetails and Mortises. Are matching chairs in the future? Rand

View Brit's profile


7092 posts in 2533 days

#2 posted 11-14-2010 12:26 PM

@lilredweldingrod – Thanks for the comment. Luckily I don’t have to build matching chairs. We have four leather and chrome stools that we’ll be using.

Regarding the joinery, I probably should have used half-blind dovetails at the end that gets screwed to the wall, but since I’ve never hand cut any dovetails yet, I thought a half-blind box joint would be easier. Thinking about it though, dovetails wouldn’t really have been any more difficult.

I’ve only ever cut a handful of M&T joints, but if you are going to try to cut them by hand, I would say the important things are:

1. Sharp chisels.
2. Cut the mortise first, then make the tenon fit the mortise. I bored out the waste using a brace and bit, then pared back to my lines. I used a guideblock to reference my chisel against to ensure the walls of the mortise were square. When drilling out the waste, rest your forehead on the end of the brace to keep it vertical.
3. Good saws (rip and crosscut) and the ability to cut to a line. Let the saw do the work.
4. Accurate marking out. Use a marking knife or gauge to scribe the shoulder line of the tenon.
5. Carefully pare away the waste side of the shoulder line all around the tenon so the saw has a small shoulder to guide it. This undercut should be deep enough so that the teeth of the saw are below the surface of the wood and therefore less likely to damage it.
6. Once the tenon is cut out, pare the shoulder to give it a slight undercut to ensure the outside edges of the shoulder meet the mortise component without any gap.

-- - "The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks to the hand." Frank R. Wilson

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2546 days

#3 posted 11-14-2010 12:34 PM

Andy, that is a nice and neat unit.
Will the top be fixed or glued on?

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Brit's profile


7092 posts in 2533 days

#4 posted 11-14-2010 01:12 PM

@Alba – The top will be very heavy so all it needs once it is in position is to epoxy some small granite blocks to the underside so that they butt up against the inside of the rails. They won’t be fixed to the rails. This will keep the granite aligned and prevent it moving should anyone fall against it.

-- - "The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks to the hand." Frank R. Wilson

View mafe's profile


11537 posts in 2779 days

#5 posted 11-14-2010 05:02 PM

Very nice project, and some wonderful tools also…
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Brit's profile


7092 posts in 2533 days

#6 posted 11-14-2010 07:39 PM

Thanks Mads. I’m slowly building up my collection of tools. I don’t have a lot of spare cash to spend on tools, so it takes me quite a while to buy anything. I refuse to buy crap tools anymore though, as using good quality tools increases the enjoyment of woodworking for me. It does frustrate me though, that most of the good hand tools are mainly manufactured in the US or Canada and that just makes it even more expensive for us to buy them once you add shipping and import tax.

-- - "The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks to the hand." Frank R. Wilson

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2345 days

#7 posted 10-19-2011 08:58 PM

Yep, that’s what I was thinking on the blind drawbores.

So agree with you on the crap tools thing (although I have a soft spot for my superchharged $10 sears dovetail saw.).

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View lysdexic's profile


5211 posts in 2313 days

#8 posted 06-26-2012 07:40 PM

Very nice. This is the table where you filmed the the vintage brace video. Cool.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty

View helluvawreck's profile


26764 posts in 2557 days

#9 posted 06-26-2012 07:56 PM

Brit, you did excellent work on this. Well done.


-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Brit's profile


7092 posts in 2533 days

#10 posted 06-27-2012 04:06 AM

Thanks guys and yes this is where I filmed the hand brace vids.

-- - "The hand speaks to the brain as surely as the brain speaks to the hand." Frank R. Wilson

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