Breadboard question - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Breadboard question

Hello all,

I live in Brooklyn around the corner from an old factory that's being gutted and picked up enough 130 year-old Eastern White Pine beams with original saw marks to make a table. They're between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 wide and I had them resawn down to a more manageable 1 1/4 thickness. The finished piece will be roughly 35 x 82.

I'm doing a basic 4-board width table with breadboards on each end and since humidity is high in NY summers I want to allow for expansion, but I work on my roof and only have a drill, orbital sander, hand planer, pocket hole jig and dowel kit (a friend around the corner is nice enough to saw things for me.)

I think I could dowel & glue the center then do a ghetto version of a floating tenon using the drill and a chisel to make the mortise and making oblong holes in pre-purchase tenon stock (which would be slightly smaller than my mortise) before screwing from underneath, but which would work better in the attached pic? A or B? A. would certainly be easier as I think I can manage 4, but I'm not sure about 12.

Or am I totally over thinking all of this and I should just use pocket screws with slightly larger holes that aren't tightened all the way? The pine is very soft, but since I can't just buy historic boards at Lowe's I don't want to mess them up!

Thanks for helping a novice!
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 02:25 PM
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You made a statement.....".... The pine is very soft, but since I can't just buy historic boards at Lowe's I don't want to mess them up!....". This is true and I myself would advise you to take some time and learn to correctly do the mortise and tenon BB ends to give the historical aspect the courtesy lumber deserves. It's a little more complex than just saying B is the way to go. It can all be done with simple tools...your friend has a table saw which helps with the tenons as they need a little more than what's drawn.

IF I understood your post you are going to put a screw into the tenon???? maybe through the slot???? the screw in the tenon locks it back up and a screw through the slot wouldn't hold up.

It's NOT as complicated to do correctly IT just appears that way. Take some time to read up on them here. there's several threads regarding them, some good some bad info. the pics will help a lot.

It's not a quick write up so that's why I won't go into details. You took the correct step in asking first AND you have enough knowledge from somewhere NOT to glue it all up.

Jay White Cloud here has mention several books on the older techniques.

Enjoy your project AND we like pics of projects !!!
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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I'd use a screw through the bottom to go through the breadboard, up through the slot in the mortise as opposed to a dowel so it could also anchor into the top portion.

I'd like to stay away from anything that's going to lose me length since I'm under 7ft as it is.
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 04:40 PM
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What a breadboard does ....

If you understand what a breadboard does, it will help with your approach. It's intended purpose is to keep the ends of the boards level across. It does this by one of several methods, dowels, loose tenons or integral tenons. Which one suits your limited capabilities? Probably doweling is best in your case since you don't have a router or tablesaw.
If you could use a table saw, you could make tenons on the boards BEFORE assembly. You can use a router to make BOTH tenons and mortises. You can drill dowel holes using a centering jig to maintain alignment, their whole purpose, since without alignment the ends are free to move up or down. We are trying to contain their movement to expansion or contraction while limiting the movement vertically.

So, back to doweling. All the dowels need to be spaced identically in both the ends of the planks and the edge of the breadboard, no easy task. On top of that, the holes need to be elongated to allow for expansion, again no easy task unless you have a jig that will allow moving the hole slightly laterally, but also keep it centered. A Forstner bit is probably the only type that will drill next to an existing hole without wandering. If all this seems like TOO much, I agree.

So, maybe a router is available or in the budget? There's a few approaches I could describe, but it's rather lengthy. So check back in and let us know your approach preferences.
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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I do have a dowel kit with a jig to drill straight down and the pins that mark the opposite location, which is likely what I'll use in addition to glue to assemble the main portion of the table

So what you're saying is to drill two dowel holes right next to each other, forming an elongated hole so that each dowel can move horizontally correct? How many dowels would you use on each side and what length?

Even with a router I'd hesitate to route tenons because I'd end up losing close to 6in of the finished length (the perils of working with found lumber.)
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-21-2018, 07:19 PM
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You want 3" tenons?

You don't need 3" long tenons. You can also make loose tenons and achieve the same result. Use the router to make individual mortises on the breadboard edge and on the ends of the boards, a bit tricky, but not an impossible operation. It would require an router edge guide to register off the face of the boards and the surface of the breadboard end. The tenons can be made from 1/2" thick stock and round over the edges with a sander or a file. The center tenon should be glued and the outboard ones left unglued.

You can see that what you are attempting is an "advanced" woodworking process, requiring some tools that are not in your toolbox. It is not a highly skilled operation and would just require an accurate setup and measurements and good manual control of the router, maybe some stop blocks.
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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My breadboard is 9 1/4 wide and I think I read somewhere that the joining supports should be 1/3 of your width, hence 3 inches. Wouldn't it sag if I used something shorter?
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 03:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapphiresiren View Post
My breadboard is 9 1/4 wide and I think I read somewhere that the joining supports should be 1/3 of your width, hence 3 inches. Wouldn't it sag if I used something shorter?
There are many ways to do BB ends on slabs and glue ups...Quite a few on the web...Unfortunately many are not accurate at all...

Thus far on this post, I think you are getting some sound "basic" advice, yet it would seem you have a plan and a method you want to use and are looking perhaps for validation of it? Applologies for how blunt that sounds, but it is late, and I do want to be helpful if I can, so cutting to the heart of it from my perspective seems the most prudent...

BB ends have come up quite a bit lately. Below are two of the most recent conversation that should be helpful to your understanding of this system of joinery application.

Glue up table top question

10 Foot Long Dining Table Design Question

I will stress again, for a vast majority of the traditional BB ended tables and like large Harvest/Farm tables, they would not have been glued, screwed, dowel or otherwise treated to cut corners on the system as it originated. For a BB as large as you are describing you would need (in my view and experience) at minimum... a 70mm tenon, and if you are trying to save board length, then these should be a free tenon system. Below is a direct link to someone well suited to the craft utilizing them in one of his designs.


I would offer, unless you have done quite a bit of woodworking, and really read grain patterns well in wood, utilizing a BB end much wider than 100 mm can be a real challenge to pull off properly. Doable, but not an easy task unless one is really use to doing large mortise and tenon work. Dowels will not cut it for this unless working in concert with large tenons as well. Even then that is a redundancy usually out of context for such projects...unless well experienced in design and application of them...

Good luck and keep asking questions if you have any more...
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm maybe I'm looking at this wrong and your post gave me another idea. Since I'm using the breadboards more decoratively rather than for their intended purpose perhaps I could run 1x4 the length of the table, (minus 3-4 on each end), glue to to the long grain and the attach it to the underside of the breadboard with oblong hole and lag bolts/washers. Then the long grain boards would be able to move and the breadboards would be supported.

If I used three 1x4, centered over the glue joints in the long grain I believe the center support could be glued to the breadboard and the other two would need the lag bolts correct?
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 01:40 PM
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I'm gonna go out on a limb here .....

After watching that great hand tool video by Mr Chickadee, showing many types of joinery from wedge tenons and dovetails to a sliding dovetail I've come up with this "solution". You want these things to happen on your 9" wide bread board:
1. you want to attach it without support showing underneath
2. it should allow for movement of the top
3. it should be fully supported and strong enough to have weight placed on the end without breaking or sagging
4. it should have a tradition breadboard look with the grain running opposite the length

My solution:
Use a sliding dovetail that runs the full length of the end of the top. You can make the tail on the top and the recess on the breadboard. This can be done using a router and some sharp hand chisels and planes. You may have to add some hand tools to your collection if you choose this method, however .....

The video above shows some sophisticated hand tools including a dado plane, a wood body plane or two, a jack plane, mortising chisels of various widths, dovetail and crosscut saws, and a slick which is a long bladed and handle chisel. I would wager a guess that the cost of the tools involved in making the Red Oak table including the great workbench, is well over $3000.00, maybe more? I have several slicks that are worth from $300 to $400 each, Japanese white steel.

Doing it this way will result in a strong joint and a traditional look.


Here's an example of a very long sliding dovetail used on a slab top table:

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Last edited by woodnthings; 01-22-2018 at 02:00 PM.
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Cool thanks. I actually don't care what you see from underneath. Only my cat will be looking at it and she hates everything anyhow :)
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-22-2018, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapphiresiren View Post
If I used three 1x4, centered over the glue joints in the long grain I believe the center support could be glued to the breadboard and the other two would need the lag bolts correct?
Modifying any system within a discipline (like woodworking) before it is understood and mastered to some degree is very often a formula for disaster and dissatisfaction with the outcome...

I can also share that anytime you stray away from..."what"...something is..."suppose to do"...in the means, methods and materials of it... and start trying to reinvent ways of doing things out of context or just because they look good in one area and not really concerned with what it loolks like in another area that isn't seen...things tend to go wrong really fast.

The beauty of wood working (particularity traditional woodworking...from my perspective) is that the original craft of it was designed to its fundamental elements. This intrinsic "form following function" is what make the honest nature of it so stunning.

If you don't need 9" BB ends...don't use them. If, however, (like in your case) you have a want that can also fit a need, then they can have a purpose. Again, wide BB ends are not easy to facilitate and they can warp. Because I work in green wood, I have to be particularly sensitive to all this and to the grain orientation, species, and other factors. I would not ever begin to suggest using a 9" wide BB end to someone without knowing much more about the design, skill sets of builder and other generalities dealing with means, methods and materials. At minimum I would start with strongly recommending that the BB" only be fully quarter sawn lumber with very straight grain...The list expands from there...

I feel, because of the nature of this project parameters, I would need to know a lot more about the wood itself, and also have a 100% clear understanding of the final design...typically from a CAD model of a really good plan, elevation and isometric drawing...

But that's just me...
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