Help with bread-board ends?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by JoshuaJCox posted 05-17-2013 09:36 PM 6730 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JoshuaJCox's profile


16 posts in 2091 days

05-17-2013 09:36 PM

Hello Jocks,

So I find myself in one of those “face-palm” moments with a farm table I’m working on for a client. The sent a few pictures of basic farm tables with bread board ends, and said they wanted one roughly 40” x 86.” Cool, no sweat.

The problem is, though, that when trimming the glued-up slab for the main portion of the table, I trimmed without taking into consideration that I’d need to leave a bit extra for a tennon. I’ve already cut the bread board pieces and assembled the legs/frame, so I’m sort of in a sticky situation in which I can’t really take off too much length without having to redo the aprons as well (as well as making the table shorter than what we talked about.)

So my question for you is whether or not you guys can think of a sturdy way to attach the breadboard ends that may still allow for wood movement, but wouldn’t require taking a few inches off each end? My gut reaction is that I’m just going to have to make it shorter and hope for the best, but I figured I’d throw up a quick post to see if anyone had a miracle suggestion.

Thanks in advance!


18 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2978 days

#1 posted 05-17-2013 09:42 PM

Perhaps not ideal, but what about a floating tenon?

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#2 posted 05-17-2013 09:55 PM

If the seating arrangement will allow it, I would just cut tenons on the tabletop as usual. It will only shorten the table about 2” on each side. I would rather remake an apron, as opposed to a tabletop.

I like Brandon’s idea of a floating tenon glued in the tabletop. I can’t think of a good way to cut the groove in the tabletop though. For instance cutting a groove in a breadboard end is easy because I can take the workpiece to a router table or mortiser. However, I can’t do that with a large tabletop. I guess you could use a plunge router and spiral bit to make a deep mortise. You might need to clamp a board to the tabletop to keep the router from tipping.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2270 days

#3 posted 05-17-2013 10:12 PM

Guess you could redo the breadboards and make them longer for the same overall length… Or cant you just add an inch of material to the existing breadboard ends?

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1975 days

#4 posted 05-17-2013 10:21 PM

I would put the tenon on the BB. You could make a dowel like a domino just drill and chisel the slots.

View knockknock's profile


447 posts in 2200 days

#5 posted 05-18-2013 12:46 AM

Going along with Brandon’s floating tenon.

Grove Park Inn, Arts and Crafts Furniture (author Bruce E Johnson) page 106:

In 2008 Stuart Crick made his Blue Collar Table, it features an ebony splined bread board top (oak):

If the link works(google Stuart Crick table)?

View JoshuaJCox's profile


16 posts in 2091 days

#6 posted 05-18-2013 03:50 PM

Thanks for all the help guys!

I think I’ll go with the floating tennon idea. At this point, nothing is really “ideal” but I think that I’ll give that a shot and hope a hippo doesn’t decide to sit on the end of the table. : )

Thanks again!

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2996 days

#7 posted 05-18-2013 04:13 PM

If you were unscrupulous, you could ‘buy’ a Festool Domino jointer, use it for this job, take it back for a full refund within 30 days saying that you weren’t happy with.
Or you could make a rig up for loose tenoning the ends of the table with a plunge router. As you’ve already glued up the slab for the table you could either support it vertically to work on it which is probably easier or make a jig to hold the router horizontally and work that way.
If you have been given a size to work to, work to that, because if you deliver it two inches short and they don’t like it, you won’t have a leg to stand on.
That bit about the Domino is said in jest btw.

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3604 days

#8 posted 05-18-2013 04:13 PM

Hi Josh
The loose tenon or spline sounds like a good plan. All you need to do is use a router with a rabbiting bit from the top and bottom of the table top to make a mortisies/slots. If you haven’t done a bread board end before it’s important to have several separate tenons on for the table top to go onto and to peg the bread board ends with elongated holes in the tenon but not glued directly to the tenons,just a little glue on the pegs to connect the pegs to the bottom of the bread board ends. This allows for lots of wood movement.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3156 days

#9 posted 05-18-2013 05:21 PM

Think about making the floating tenons as long as possible – People can put quite a load on the end of a table when pushing themselves up out of a chair. I still think it is a good idea (and your best option) – just beef them up!

Maybe a couple long screws in slotted holes that keep things extra tight …

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2949 days

#10 posted 05-18-2013 06:00 PM

How about a not-so-loose tenon? Cut a mortise in the top that is just the right size and glue the tenon in. Then make the breadboard end the usual way.

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3604 days

#11 posted 05-18-2013 06:45 PM

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1883 days

#12 posted 05-18-2013 07:01 PM

On the table that is pictured next to my name I did the floating tenon with quarter inch plywood. I glued it in the center and then at the ends I used six inch screws to screw into table top. On the interior side of the breadboard I drilled the hole coming through the breadboard oversized to allow for movement. I had to deal with the fact that the legs came all the way through the top. I also put a screw in the center. I then plugged the holes where the long screws were. Hope that helps.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View JoshuaJCox's profile


16 posts in 2091 days

#13 posted 05-18-2013 07:47 PM

This is why I love this site – everyone is so friendly and willing to help.

Renners, It’s funny you mention that about the tool “borrowing.” I may or may not have done that in the past. However, the only place near me that sells the Festool is owned by a friend, and I don’t think it’d go over well. : )

Jim (and various others of you) who suggested the floating/loose tennon idea – thanks for all the insight! I spent most of the morning getting the mortises routed out, and will probably finish it all up Monday. One of these days maybe I’ll be rich enough to get a Festool and be able to do it in a couple hours, but for now I’ll make do with some ingenuity.

For those of you that may be interested, I’ll post a picture of what I came up with (for better or for worse) when I get it all situated. Thank again for the help!

View JoshuaJCox's profile


16 posts in 2091 days

#14 posted 05-23-2013 05:37 PM

Hey guys,

For those of you that were interested, here’s how the whole process turned out. For my first time doing bread board ends I was actually pretty pleased. Since the boards were reclaimed they weren’t perfectly straight, so I’ve got a good bout of hand planing ahead of me, but I need the exercise.

Here are a few pictures.

Thanks again for the help!


View Willeh's profile


228 posts in 2366 days

#15 posted 05-24-2013 01:44 AM

Here is a great article on doing breadboard ends:

-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics