Joining Ipé - Choosing pocket hole versus tongue and groove - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Joining Ipé - Choosing pocket hole versus tongue and groove

Hi all - first post here!

I'm preparing to build some patio-style tables for a sunroom. I've made my drawings and bought my ipé wood. I'm all set to get started except for one thing: I can't decide how to join the table slats at the ends where they join the cross pieces.

Here's a picture of one table so you can see what I'm talking about. See the vertical yellow "cross pieces" or rails, and the three horizontal green "slats" (mullions?) that join them. Those are the joints I'm asking about. The rails and stiles will be joined use pocket holes.

-screen-shot-2019-11-15-11.03.00-am.png

I have the tools to make either a pocket hole joint or a tenon-in-a-groove joint. I've used my Kreg jig for several projects and my tenoning jig and tablesaw for a window frame project. (In other words, not a lot of tenon cutting, but some.) So I could choose either type of joint.

My thoughts on the two choices:

Pocket holes:
+ Less sawing of ipe
+ Easy to achieve precision length cut of mullions
+ Easy to achieve precise alignment of joints
- Lots of repetitive drilling, four holes in each mullion
- Glue suitable for ipé ?
- Joints not floating, a disadvantage for expansion/contraction?

Tenon-in-groove:
+ No drilling or gluing
+ Floating joint, an advantage?
- Lots of precision tablesaw cuts required
- Harder to get precise alignments, lengths, etc.?

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 01:40 PM
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Wood expands and contracts across the grain and little to none along the grain. Across the grain in most cases is the narrow part of a long board and along thegrain would be the long direction. Si if wee look at your sketch, the 3 horizontal boards will expand and contract across the total 12 " width. The long direction, for all intents and purposes will not change in dimension.
Typicall, wood will expand and contract approx. 1/8" per foot.. Your 3 boards total is 12' or 1 '. So that section will move seasonally approx 1/8" in width.The yellow board in th middle will not move at all in its length. So something has got to give.Your yellow board in the middle will expand and contract also along it's width. As it does, expand slightly outwardon each side, the ends might pop or break. also the joints may fail along the outer 2 boards.
Hopefully you haven't started yet because there is a solution. These ends are referred to as breadboard ends. A breadboard end is made to allieviate the tensions involved.
Unfortunately I am not at my laptop and dont have any sketches to show how this all works. Maybe someone here can post it for me. In the meantime, look up "breadboard ends" to get a better understanding.
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post #3 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:12 PM
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Tony - here are two examples that I pulled from the net (this forum, I think).
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post #4 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:20 PM
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If covered, I'd highly recommend pocket holes. I wouldn't wish manually working Ipe on my worst enemy.... It looks like it'll all be hidden, and mechanical fasteners do a good job in allowing for wood movement, unless youre REALLY bolting it in. A good way to prevent cracking is drilling out just a bit to make the holes oblong and more oval than round. This allows for movement. Gluing ipe is always an enormous pain in the #@%. Good luck, would love to see this when done!
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post #5 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
Hopefully you haven't started yet because there is a solution. These ends are referred to as breadboard ends. A breadboard end is made to allieviate the tensions involved.
Excellent point, and a strong argument for using a tenon at the end of each mullion instead of pocket holes. In other words a breadboard end, which I'd never heard of before but is exactly what I was thinking of doing

It's not clear in the screen capture image I posted but I've allowed for 1/8" gaps between all the mullions and the stiles. So in a sense each joint of every stile and every mullion to the rails is "isolated" from the others by those small gaps. Would it still worry you to make solid joints of the 3-1/2" rails (yellow) into the stiles (long green on either side of the table) with pocket hole joints?

Here are two nice articles I found on breadboard ends. Exactly the issue that brought me here and I didn't even know what it was called! Gotta love the internet.

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/t...dboard-ends-2/

https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodwor...ery/breadboard
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post #6 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob493 View Post
If covered, I'd highly recommend pocket holes. I wouldn't wish manually working Ipe on my worst enemy.... It looks like it'll all be hidden, and mechanical fasteners do a good job in allowing for wood movement, unless youre REALLY bolting it in. A good way to prevent cracking is drilling out just a bit to make the holes oblong and more oval than round. This allows for movement. Gluing ipe is always an enormous pain in the #@%. Good luck, would love to see this when done!
So your approach would be pocket holes without glue? That would solve my quandary over choosing a glue. And maybe even an oval hole? Interesting. Everything would indeed be hidden, so that could work.

I'll definitely take and post photos as this progresses. I've already built myself a new fence and outfeed table for the tablesaw, and hung a new LED shoplight over the saw to give myself a better, safer workspace. I can't procrastinate any longer!
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post #7 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:32 PM
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I normally work with mahogany. I have worked with Ipe only once.
only because the customer had it and that is what he wanted to use.
like Bob said: I wouldn't wish manually working Ipe on my worst enemy.
please document your build as you go along and share your journey with us.
oh - and WELCOME ABOARD !!!

.

.
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post #8 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayneh View Post
So your approach would be pocket holes without glue? That would solve my quandary over choosing a glue. And maybe even an oval hole? Interesting. Everything would indeed be hidden, so that could work.

I'll definitely take and post photos as this progresses. I've already built myself a new fence and outfeed table for the tablesaw, and hung a new LED shoplight over the saw to give myself a better, safer workspace. I can't procrastinate any longer!

I think I "see" what youre showing, and I would absolutely not use glue with pocket holes in this situation. When I say oblong holes, I dont mean go absolutely ham with the drill, just cock it over a few degrees to give the bolt some wiggle room. The pocket hole screws are pan head and have plenty of face to bite into still. End grain gluing ipe is uh... lets call it "difficult" at best anyway lol.

Another option to look at would be lap joints, thats how I would do it personally. If you have a flat kerf blade on your table saw, you can knock that out real fast. Gotta resharpen your blade after, but it would be easy

Looking forward to see it!
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post #9 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 02:49 PM
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Thanks John
A vast improvement from my hand drawn Rum and Coke influenced sketch.
You da man
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post #10 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 03:08 PM
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@wayneh

I definitely would not use pocket holes and screws. Pocket holes are pretty much what they were designed for - making face frames. Many people I know are using them for projects they were not designed to do and are astonished when the joint fails.
Also keep in mind that the breadboard end design with that middle strip running across it is not in itself a very strong joint for the center of a table. This can be overcome by a slight design change in the leg/frame configuration. The upper stretchers for the frame work will have to be pulled in a little to come under the that whole center cofiguration to support the load on the joints. if the table is to be used by guests, it would have to be made wider so as not to easily tip over due to the narrowness of the frame/legs

If this is the design, you really want, it could all become a lot simpler if it were veneer over plywood. If you could cut all of the top strips at 1/8" or less thick. Then it would be able to be glued to the plywood sheet. The thinner the better. It looks like your widest board is 4". That can be run through your table saw with the board edge-wise and the blade at 2 1/8 high. Then flip the board over to the other edge and finish the cut.

I think if you look at most manufactured tables with that design, you will see that the surface is veneer approx. 1/32".

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post #11 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 03:23 PM
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@wayneh

Your idea of using a 1/8" gap is a very good idea also. You would only need to plan for 1/16" gap and if you do it that way, you can use tongue and groove boards. If you cant find them in the size you want, that can easily be bade on the table saw and easien if you have a router. I would still make this whole top to fit over a sheet of cabinet grade plywood. mainly because if the table is used to have food or drinks, someone eventually stand up putting their entire weight on the center of the table.
If you decide to go this route, there are simple ways to do it. Let us know in this thread and myself and many others will be glad to chime in. with help.
Also if you dont use a plywood sheet, there are certain ways the table top should be connected to the stretcher, very simple, but should be addressed before assembling the legs and stretchers.

Also agree that Ipe would not be my first choice, or 2nd, or 3rd etc. My experience with it it is very hard, rough on your tools andtends to shatter near crack lines. Will alsi wear out a lot of sandpaper. A relatively inexpensive wood is Luan, AKA Phillipine Mahogany, which is actually a cedar. Characteristics are light weight, easy to cut, machine and sand. Takes stain like a champ. It is softer than a lot of hardwoods but still would work well with what u are doing. Better than that is what @John Smith_inFL said - what is usually referred to as genuine mahogany, which is usually Cuban or Honduran mahogany. Working it is like a dream come true. It was the furniture manufacturers first choice 50 to 100 plus years ago. That was when the price was competitive and readily availabe. It is still relatively available, but kind of pricey to some

We will help no matter which configuration you go with.

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post #12 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Just to be clear about other aspects of the project, I though I would add a few details. The graphic shows just the coffee table. There will also be 2-3 end tables of similar design but with 18" square tops with legs a couple inches taller. All lumber is 3/4" ipe except the legs, which I haven't sourced yet. The design is intended to be "beach house" more than "grandma's parlor". In other words, simple and clean if not "rustic". It's for a 3-season room and will not be exposed to weather other than a bit wider temperature swings than if it were indoors. That said, I chose IPE in part so that if a piece gets taken outside and left out in the rain, it's no big deal. I don't plan to finish the wood at all. Maybe oil, but probably not even that.

I'm not very concerned about the load bearing of the coffee table, no matter which joint I go with. I would consider additional braces underneath if anyone thinks that's important but my gut says no.
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post #13 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 04:35 PM
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Considering everything, and especially being left outside, I'd definitely go lap joints and call it a day then.
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post #14 of 25 Old 11-15-2019, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Considering everything, and especially being left outside, I'd definitely go lap joints and call it a day then.
I hadn't considered that but I like the simplicity compared to tongue-in-groove. How would you connect the joint to hold it in place? And how long would you cut the laps, the cheeks? I'm mentally picturing a ship-lap with the lap maybe 3/4" long and 3/8" deep (half the stock thickness).
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post #15 of 25 Old 11-16-2019, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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I played around today with making a tongue and groove joint. I'm a lot more confident now that I can probably make that technique work for this project.

I used pine scrap and my "free-at-Menards" saw blade, so results aren't the prettiest, but OK for play. I can see I'll need a jig or some setup for precisely cutting the shoulders. I'll also need to chamfer all the edges for a more professional finished look.

The groove was cut with a 1/4" router bit. First I ran it over the saw blade to remove a good portion of the wood and then made two passes over the router bit, raising the bit to full height in between.

The tongues were cut with a tenoning jig for the cheek cuts, and then with the table saw for the shoulder cuts. I gather some folks recommend cutting the shoulders first but the manual for my tenoning jig says cheeks first. Is there any consensus around here on that?
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post #16 of 25 Old 11-16-2019, 07:01 PM
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@wayneh
Your quote................ but the manual for my tenoning jig says cheeks first. Is there any consensus around here on that?

I'm not really sure what you are asking but if you are referring to the side walls of the mortise as cheeks I can answer. Traditionally , the mortise was always cut first. Reason being, Whether a mortise (slot) is cut with a chisel, a table saw with dado, a router etc, All of those bits have fixed sizes. The only 'customized' size would be the tenon to fit in it.
Especially easier if the mortise was cut first because with a tenon jig you make the first cut somewhat larger than the needed size. Then with progressive cuts and test fitting, you inch up to the final cut. If you made the tenon first, then you would have to 'customize' both parts.
So, the tenon Manual is correct. Other than that, I see no other reason to pic one over the other in pecking order.
I am probably not explaining it right, but I hope you can figure it out
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post #17 of 25 Old 11-16-2019, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not really sure what you are asking...
Here are a couple comments from the manual that show their preference for cutting the cheeks first (with the jig) and then finishing it with the shoulder cuts. I guess I'll stick with that unless I hear a good reason not to.
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post #18 of 25 Old 11-16-2019, 10:14 PM
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OK, I think I just broke through the language barrier.
What they call a cheek, I call a face. The face is the longer or wider part of the tenon.
The short way is called the edge.
The shoulder is the shoulder.
The Cosmetic Shoulder to me is the edge shoulder and is also a structural piece.

So, now for my reply.....I dont know, it may have something to do with tear-out on the edge side.
From habit, I always cut the long sides first. The go back and cut the short sides. Also note that I dont always cut the short sides to the same depth as the long sides. Usually, I cut the short side a little deeper. Gives better stability with with the short side having a bigger shoulder resting against the mortise.

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post #19 of 25 Old 11-16-2019, 10:26 PM
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BTW

This table project is getting to be quite an education and you are doing just great.
Your next project should be a lot easier now that some of the basics are out of the way and you are getting to use your tools.

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post #20 of 25 Old 11-17-2019, 10:06 AM
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Wayneh, since you have indicated these pieces of furniture are to be sort of rustic I suggest the following. Make the top using tong and groove joinery as though you were making a frame and panel door...where the center rail and the end rails will be glued to the stiles, and the panels (6) consists of non glued floating panels within the frame, using gaps between each individual (6) panels. The panels would also use tong and groove joinery to provide alignment. This solves all the movement problems. Fasten the top down using figure 8 fasteners.
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