breadboard ends; some questions

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Forum topic by marc_rosen posted 04-24-2014 01:52 AM 925 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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76 posts in 2601 days

04-24-2014 01:52 AM

Hello Gang,
Long time no visit but I wanted to tap in to the knowledge many of you possess. I am making an oak desk top, 67×31, 1&1/4 inch thick. The breadboard ends are 5 inches wide. The tenons are 1/2 inch thick, 2 inches long and there is a 1/2 inch stub tenon running contiguous (or continuous?,.... who cares?) front to back. The front and back tenons are 3 inches wide and the midway tenons are 2 inches wide. Since this is a desk top and not a table I would like the breadboard to be fixed at the front edge and not the middle as most of the articles I’ve read have stated. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or even if it is necessary since the desk will be in a very competent climate controlled environment (an administrator’s office where I work).
Anyway, some questions and thoughts.
Would you vary from the norm of fixing the breadboard in the center? Would you use screws or drawboard pegs to keep the ends tight against the main top? I used strap clamps to draw the ends tight for test fitting and they really draw it up tight, but I was not sure if screws would keep it there over the years. If I did use drawboard pegs should I make the peg channel the same diameter or slightly narrower than the peg diameter?
As far as finishing the surfaces, would you apply finish to the tenons (except for the fixed or glued tenon) before attaching the ends or leave them unfinished? Do you think putting finish on the tenons may cause them to stick in the mortises and defeat the process of allowing the top to move within the ends? Am I worrying too much about all this? (And finally, why does Lumberjocks spell check tell me that “tenon” is spelled wrong?)
Thanks in advance for all of your comments and I hope to be visiting the site more once things settle down at home and work. Marc

-- Windsurfing, Woodworking, Weaving, and Woodducks. "Most woodworkers are usually boring holes"

2 replies so far

View Loogie's profile


100 posts in 3200 days

#1 posted 04-24-2014 02:18 AM

You can definitely push all the movement to the back by pegging the front, but just realize that you will double the amount of movement at the back by doing so. Do not use screws, drawbore the ends on and they will be tight. offset the drawbore holes by 1/32” and the same width as the peg – make sure you offset the right part in the right direction or you’ll have an un-drawbore! Don’t ask me how I know this. Make sure you allow for enough expansion and contraction with the slots in the tenons – especially if you pin the front solid. I would use 1/2” dowels for your pegs – anything smaller will look diminutive. I would also chamfer the edge of the breadboard end and the desktop where they come together. This will provide a natural point for the finish to seam so it won’t crack. If you make them flush the finish will act like a continuous layer and it will crack and flake at the breadboard seam.

-- Mark

View marc_rosen's profile


76 posts in 2601 days

#2 posted 04-24-2014 11:35 AM

Hello Mark,
Thank you for this informative response and it’s a pleasure to read from you again. Hope all is well with you, your family, and the other Woodpeckers.
I did not give thought to chamfering the edges of he top and breadboards but I’m certain this will give it a better appearance than butting squared edges against each other. With your following sentence are you inferring that I finish the top after it’s assembled?
As for the finish, I have used Tried and True’s Varnish Oil for other projects for this same person and he said he would like this on the desk top. It is now my “preferred” finish for a variety of reasons but I have not had the experience of seeing how it holds up on a desk or table top. Do you – or anyone else – have experience with this stuff on a wearing surface like a desk top? Should I go with a heavier film finish? The desk top contents will be a computer, its keyboard and display, some books, a phone, and an occasional lunch and coffee cups. So there can be some abrasion, liquid, and heat on the surface. If I use Tried and True I can easily go back on weekends (when I sometimes go into work) and reapply subsequent coats if the need arises.
Once again it’s nice reading from you again, Fly Safe, Marc

-- Windsurfing, Woodworking, Weaving, and Woodducks. "Most woodworkers are usually boring holes"

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