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Forum topic by Scotty Stepp posted 12-10-2010 07:40 PM 4198 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scotty Stepp

25 posts in 3561 days

12-10-2010 07:40 PM

I am embarking on my 1st breadboard ends for a large dining room table. I have no problem with the concept of the breadboard ends themselves. My problem is the wood movement I am having now.

1. table top milled and glued together (lumber moisture % is good)
2. spend several hours flattening table top
3. not able to visit shop for a month (work keeps getting in the way)
4. table top is now drastically cupped (but glue joints holding together!)

What do I do now?
-Can I simply clamp the top flat and proceed with adding my breadboard ends? (fyi…using the domino)

To avoid this in the future?
-I’m guessing I should add the breadboard ends asap after the glue up.

Do I have to worry about wood movement between the table top/breadboard in relation to my finish? I have read that I should tape off the joint and do them separately or finish the table top/breadboard separately before assembly. Is my finish going to crack if I don’t do this?

Should I apply some finish to the bottom side of the table top to help with the amount of moisture being absorbed?

I am located in southern Indiana and the humidity here fluctuates from 0-100%. The table will not be in a central air controlled environment. I built a coffee table as a warm-up to this project but without breadboards. The table top has moved drastically with the humidity changes but is holding up fine.

Thanks for any help!

7 replies so far

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3684 days

#1 posted 12-11-2010 12:50 AM

I think you need to straighten out the top as much as you can first. I’m sure someone here will come along shortly and give you some tips on that.

You don’t say what kind of wood you’re using, but it sounds like you are having a lot of movement in your top and your coffee table. (By the way—quarter sawn wood is more stable that flat sawn)

Also, you don’t say what type of finish you will be using. If it’s oil, then I wouldn’t worry about the seam between the top and the breadboard end. If you ARE worried about that, then you could “show it off” by making a small v-groove in it like I have done in the past. You can check out the pictures in my projects of the dining table I made. (pictures 2 and 4 show it off pretty good)

Good luck.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View cabs4less's profile


235 posts in 2762 days

#2 posted 12-11-2010 01:49 AM

1. i glue my tops up then attach my bread boards as soon as i can and then flatten everything.
2. me i would clamp the top down flat and attach my breads and see what happens yu can always cut them off and try something else.
3. always finsh both sides of anything always
4. i’ve never finshed tops and breads separately and never had any problems
good luck sounds like your luck is like mine lol

-- As Best I Can

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3043 days

#3 posted 12-11-2010 03:50 AM

Generally, if you are getting a cup on top, that would mean the bottom got more moist and swelled. If the cup is towards the bottom, the bottom dried out and shrank. I get the impression you have already put finish on the top. If the cup faces the bottom, I would wipe the bottom with a really moist raise, then clamp the top to try to get it to flatten out, and once it straightens out I would mill for the breadboard ends, then apply finish to the bottom . If the cup is facing up, you can either strip off the finish on the top and follow the apply or try to get some moisture out of the bottom while you clamp it to try to bring it back to straight. If you had applied finish to the top and laid it on a concrete floor bottom down, I would try to dry out the bottom, since moisture could have entered from the concrete. Think about whether your design will allow putting some stretchers across the bottom with slots and screws to hold it flat once it straightened since I don’t think the breadboard ends will do all that much to keep it straight if it is a big table.

View mfike's profile


100 posts in 3665 days

#4 posted 12-11-2010 05:01 AM

If the cup is really bad I would rip the top into 3 or 4 pieces, run them through the planer, then glue them back up. I wouldn’t want to clamp it flat to add the bb ends hoping for the best. I think that would end up being a mistake. Once you flatten the 3 or 4 pieces in the planer, edge joint them and make sure your jointer fence is perfect 90 deg. When you clamp up the top, place your clamps on bottom and top alternating. Sometimes if all clamps are on one side and you crank them pretty tight you can cause a cup in the panel. After going through all that I would play it on the safe side and attach the bb ends asap and like was said above if you can, it would help to add a couple stretchers across the underside.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3050 days

#5 posted 12-11-2010 07:06 AM


I think the problem comes from leaving it lying flat for a month allowing the top to dry faster than the bottom. If time is not a factor (you’re too late for Turkey Day anyway), try flipping it and leaving it to equalize. I’d just stand it on end so that air can move freely around it. Clamping flat won’t help. If this doesn’t work in a reasonable time (I’m betting it will), do like MFIKE suggests and rip it down, plane it, joint the ends and try again. To prevent this, don’t leave a piece lying flat on a bench or such for a long time. Stand it on end or sticker it. Now get it done for Christmas and make sure you have a happy and SAFE holiday.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2850 days

#6 posted 12-11-2010 04:45 PM

I’m with MFike on this—there’s no future in trying to make it right when the wood is under stress to go where you don’t want it to go.

I am a little concerned about your attaching the BB ends with the Domino. Is there a way with that tool to allow the top to expand and contract and still stay attached to the BB ends?

Typically BB ends are grooved and a tongue is milled on the ends of the top. Dowels are used in holes in the center part and the holes are made oval for the extremities. One glues only the center ten inches or so.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Scotty Stepp's profile

Scotty Stepp

25 posts in 3561 days

#7 posted 12-12-2010 12:04 AM

Thanks everyone for the help. I can’t believe I didn’t sticker the table…idiot! I am very good about doing this after I have finished my first milling but didn’t think of doing after the glue up. I haven’t applied any finish and still need to sand the top. I just wet one side of the table and stood it up on end in hopes of it flattening out. I will also add stretchers to the bottom once I get it back to flat. I am using 4 1/4 white oak for the top. I have read a couple of articles on how to breadboard with the domino and I don’t think there will be any problems (famous last words).

Thanks again!

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