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Hand tools for making breadboard ends

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Forum topic by Matt posted 06-22-2015 01:11 AM 943 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt

137 posts in 1349 days


06-22-2015 01:11 AM

My fiance’s next furniture order for me is a coffee table with breadboard ends. I’ve never made breadboard ends but am excited about the challenge. I’m most likely going to tap into my 8/4” cherry stock for this. We both like heavy, thick, “farmhouse” style tables.

One of the perks about this project will be that I can use it as an excuse to get some specialty planes to make the breadboards. I’m under the impression I need a tongue-and-groove plane to make the groove on the breadboard. Does anyone know what specific model I’ll need to cut a groove onto 2” thick stock? It looks like different models are used with different thicknesses of stock. Resawing the thickness is a last-ditch option as I’d hate to have to waste any of this lumber.

What other tools can be used to cut this joint? I have a router plane to help true up the tongue and tenons, and chisels of course, but I’m trying to explore different ways and would like to see what you all recommend.

(A router is always an option; I have nothing against power tools but like to collect old hand tools.)


12 replies so far

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JayT

4786 posts in 1678 days


#1 posted 06-22-2015 01:17 AM

I have nothing against power tools but like to collect old hand tools.

- Matt

If you like vintage hand tools, then a combination plane like a Stanley #45 or equivalent is a great choice. Gives you lots of options for blades and can do grooves, dados, rabbets, beading, tongue & groove and more. They look far more intimidating than they actually are.

There’s a good thread here about them.

If you do decide to buy one, make sure it has the cutters (should have anywhere from 18-23, depending on year it was made). A complete cutter set by itself on ebay will generally go for just as much as a listing with the plane & cutters together.

Edit: Here’s a pic of my 45 being used to make a groove similar to what you would need to do for a breadboard.

45’s are so much fun, if you aren’t careful, you won’t be able to stop. :-)

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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bandit571

14625 posts in 2150 days


#2 posted 06-22-2015 01:20 AM

Keep an eye out for a Plough Plane. Use it to make a groove in the end. A Stanley #78 can do the tongue. At least that is how I’ve done mine..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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Richard H

489 posts in 1147 days


#3 posted 06-22-2015 01:46 AM

I have used the 45’s and they are good planes but a little uncomfortable in my hands. I much prefer the smaller size of the Veritas Plow plane or the record antique it was modeled after. As a lefty the Veritas plane was a easy choice for me although I do use a lot of planes right handed and it’s not that hard to adjust either way.

If you don’t want the groove to show on the ends of the table you will need to use chisels to create a place for the body of the plane to cut into. Depending on how long the groove is it might be easier and faster just to cut the whole slot with mortise chisels and clean up with a router plane. If you want the tongue and groove to show though the end than a plow plane is a great choice.

Is just the breadboard end going to be 8/4 or the whole top? Generally I use about 1/3 of the width for the tongue or maybe a bit more but in 8/4 stock that’s around 5/8”. I might cut it down to 1/2” and make the shoulders a bit thicker of which a Stanley 45 has the irons to do it as does the Veritias. 1/2” mortise chisels are beefy things but not that rare to find.

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Matt

137 posts in 1349 days


#4 posted 06-22-2015 02:04 AM

Thanks all for the replies so far—

I’m considering the plough plane & rabbet plane or the combination plane approach…a bit of the decision will be dependent on what I can find at antique stores or eBay in the near future.

Richard- I’m planning on concealing the tongue at the end and most likely the entire table will be 8/4, but milled down further from its current rough-sawn state. The width of the table will be 24-28”, so it’s not too long of a joint, but I imagine its harder to control the depth of the groove with chisels across that length. I’ll try it if I have to, though.

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JayT

4786 posts in 1678 days


#5 posted 06-22-2015 02:18 AM


I imagine its harder to control the depth of the groove with chisels across that length. I ll try it if I have to, though.

- Matt

Depth isn’t as much of a concern, a little too deep won’t hurt, you just need to have a nice fit on the width of the groove with the tenon. For a stopped groove, I would chisel it out and then clean up the depth with your router plane.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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TheFridge

5765 posts in 953 days


#6 posted 06-22-2015 02:20 AM

Rough depth with chisel then finish breadboard with router plane I think he means.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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bandit571

14625 posts in 2150 days


#7 posted 06-22-2015 03:07 AM

Might have a blog or two about these…

My plough plane quit working right as I was working on this table.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Matt's profile

Matt

137 posts in 1349 days


#8 posted 06-22-2015 03:10 AM

I imagine its harder to control the depth of the groove with chisels across that length. I ll try it if I have to, though.

- Matt

Depth isn t as much of a concern, a little too deep won t hurt, you just need to have a nice fit on the width of the groove with the tenon. For a stopped groove, I would chisel it out and then clean up the depth with your router plane.

- JayT


Rough depth with chisel then finish breadboard with router plane I think he means.

- TheFridge

That makes sense. And, I suppose it’s a good idea to use what I have before I jump further into handplane addiction.

View upchuck's profile

upchuck

540 posts in 1132 days


#9 posted 06-22-2015 03:44 AM

View Matt's profile

Matt

137 posts in 1349 days


#10 posted 06-22-2015 03:44 AM



Might have a blog or two about these…

My plough plane quit working right as I was working on this table.

- bandit571

I skimmed your blog and will read it again; I’ve got a couple Shaker end tables on the list after this coffee table.

By the way, I dig the shop cat. We were going to get one a few months ago when we bought our house and I had to clean several pounds of mouse poop out of the shop. A black snake moved in in April and put in some work, but I haven’t seen it in weeks and just spotted a mouse out in the shop…maybe it’s time to get that Maine coon I was thinking about…

Back on topic, rabbet planes look quite afforadable off eBay.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#11 posted 06-22-2015 12:19 PM

Matt,

I haven’t done any using only hand tools, but I always use hand tools to dial them in.

Router plane:
I like to use a router plane is to to get the tenon flat and parallel to the mortise. If its a wide tenon use another piece of wood to keep plane level. Have to be super careful (planning both sides=double=don’t try to go to final thickness with router plane). I take down to final thickness with rabbet or shoulder plane.

Shoulder plane:

Touch up the shoulders (and tenons).

Plow plane:

I would think just about any plow plane will cut a groove.
Not a big fan of the 45 it doesn’t fit my XL hand very well.
I would check out the Veritas.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1147 days


#12 posted 06-22-2015 07:00 PM


Thanks all for the replies so far—

I m considering the plough plane & rabbet plane or the combination plane approach…a bit of the decision will be dependent on what I can find at antique stores or eBay in the near future.

Richard- I m planning on concealing the tongue at the end and most likely the entire table will be 8/4, but milled down further from its current rough-sawn state. The width of the table will be 24-28”, so it s not too long of a joint, but I imagine its harder to control the depth of the groove with chisels across that length. I ll try it if I have to, though.

- Matt

I really enjoy using a plough (or is it plow?) plane and find for one or two joints it’s just as fast as using a router table given the setup time I have to spend to get my router in place and even if it’s more than that I commonly find myself using it just because it’s a much more peaceful option and I really hate routers in general. They have their place but I find no joy in using one at all. Having said that for a short stopped groove like you describe I would probably use mortise chisels to rough depth and clean it up with a router plane. It’s not like anyone will see the bottom of that groove anyways.

As for the tongue you want a plane with a nicker plus ideally a fence and a very sharp iron like a moving fillister plane or a rabbet plane with a nicker on it. You could also saw the shoulder, rough in the tongue with a saw or chisel and clean up with a router plane to fit if you wanted to which I have done for stopped rabbets before and works well as long as the grain behaves. The funny thing about hand tool woodworking is once you get a handful of basic tools for marking, sawing and cutting everything else is about efficiency. It can be hard to justify sometimes new tools for any other reason than you just want them as there are almost always more labor intensive alternatives to the specialized tools.

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