I need to quickly make a new table top for our kitchen table. It will be
about 30x60" and needn't be "fine furniture" at all. I am considering what
to do with the ends. I've got some 4/4 red oak, that I'll probably rip into
I'm considering breadboarding the ends (and I'm also thinking about *not*
doing it, just leaving the planks alone and deal with the movement. Living
in Denver is likely an advantage here.)
I see some techniques for using splines to attach the breadboards.
My question is - wouldn't biscuits accomplish the same thing?
Biscuits allow for lateral movement - assuming I just put a small dab of
glue on the biscuit center, right?
I need to whack this thing out quickly and am tyring to strike the balance
between moving fast and having something worth keeping longer than a few
Probably a dangerous assumption. Oak expands and contracts substantially in
width, not length. You must allow for the expansion of the ends of the
table/breadboard interface or you'll end up with cracks or other problems.
I really don't think Denver's climate will help.
I have done this. However, I did it with an 8/4 Oak coffee table top which
allow more design latitude than 4/4. I'll try to describe this. If you
need a sketch I'll work something up and email.
Imagine looking at the end of a 8/4 x 22" slab:
1) I placed 12 biscuits in three groups of four. Each group of four
consisted of two each 1/2" inside of the upper and lower surfaces. A
visualized rectangle of four biscuit centers was roughtly 1" x 4" - again
1/2" inside of outside surfaces.
2) One group was centered in the middle of the slab. The other two were
placed, with outer biscuit slot edges, about 1" from the end of the slab
(after slots are elongated, below).
3) The slots for the center set were cut as you normally would - tight fit.
Also I placed two 1/4" lag screws at approximate center of the biscuits.
The breadboard end was drilled to match and partially mortised to accept a
4) The EDGE groups of biscuits:
4A) In the TABLE SLAB, the biscuit slots were cut normally - tight. Also
located one 1/4" lag screw in the center of the group.
4B) In the BREADBOARD, the biscuit slots were elongated to allow 3/8"
slippage, in each direction, at the bottom of the slot (3/4" bottom flat
slot). Also, the matching lag screw hole was elongated to 1/4" x 1". Again
a mortise for decorative plug was cut at each location.
5) Important - ONLY THE CENTER LOCATION IS GLUED. On this project I glued
the center biscuits in place and surface glued approximately the center 6" -
8" of the table/breadboard interface. These two lag screws were fitted with
washer and lockwasher and tightened to moderately hand tight.
6) The outer groups were LIGHTLY GLUED INSIDE OF THE TIGHT BISCUIT LOCATION
only (table slab). The oversized slots were left dry. The lag screw at
each location was similarly washered, moderately tightened, and backed off
about 1/4 turn.
Here again, the 8/4 stock allowed some latitude by allowing me to place the
bolts inside of the biscuit patterns. Also, on the unglued end, the bolts
are really providing a large part of the strength. Since I was already
using contrasting hardwoods, I plugged the bolt mortises with curly grained
walnut to match similar wood used elsewere. With 4/4 stock you'l have to
arrange differently. Don't depend on lightly glued biscuits alone to hold
things together. You're liable to end up with mashed potatoes in you lap.
I'll post a pic of the table at ABPW to give you an Idea of what I'm talking
about. If the gibberish above isn't clear enough let me know and I send you
a sketch (quickly, I'll be gone a for a couple of days.)
Well... Red Oak does tend to move a lot. I make coffee tables and end
tables wit 4/4 tops. I don't bread board. Most glue ups do pull some.
I'll usually let them settle for a week or so before I dimension sand
them with a wide belt. That fixes some.
However, I can fix most of the coping, etc by pulling the tops down to
the apron. I use table irons. On bad tops I'll add a few extra to help
yank them flat. Might be bad form but it works. I've even shimmed the
center and pulled down the edges although I usually end up removing
the shims because it actually humps the middle but I'll leave it in
for a day to pull out the warp.
If you bread board, you should use elongated dowles holes, strateigc
glue locations, etc. You have an opposed movment to deal with and
that's much worse than just some cupping. It can really break stuff.
All this being said, I seal all side with laquer or poly. That really
helps minimize the problems.
If interested you can see some of my work at www.sonomaproducts.com
Hi Patrick- I think biscuits are swell(tee -hee)but not in this
I use them all the time Bu--For a Quick but permanent Breadboard End
of any species/dimension I would consider Pocket Screws.
No Glue---no Spline---just 1-1/2"(for 4/4 stock) Pocket Screws.
I don`t personally own or use a Kreg Jig,but have used pocket joints
for all kinds of Furniture construction where movement is an issue and
the joint is invisible and bullet-proof.(I use my Drill Press and a
3/8" Step-Bit--15degrees off plumb).A Million Cabinetmakers couldn`t
be wrong----could they?
Same principal applies for adding a Tabletop/Cabinet Tops-Pocket Holes
along the apron works just the same--quick/cheap.
I'd cut a full width tenon (- 1" on each end) on the table top. Mortise
(groove) in the breadboard. Glue it in the middle. Cut elongated holes
on the tenon for pegs out from the center. This isn't an "off the top
of my head" plan. It sits in my dining room, has for about ten years.
No problems so far. Breadboard does extend beyond the sides in Winter
indicating that all that crap they give you about expansion and
contraction is based in fact.
Got router and edge guide? Seems to me about the same amount of work
to make a traditonal mortice and tenon style breadboard end, with the
added advantage of considerably more strength, since the tennon runs
the whole width of your table. Just remember to make the "mortice"
longer than the tenon by more than the expected expansion. Use three
screws, with the hole in the center of the tenon just pilot sized, and
the two at the outer edges of the tenon elongated. Plug the holes and
I use breadboard on pine because the end grain is tough to sand smooth and
then really absorbs stain and goes much darker than the rest. Red oak
different story...hard and not that absorbent. Given your need for speed
and no desire to make a museum piece, think I'd simply sand smooth and stain
with the rest of it. I built a very nice mission style oak table and it came
out great with naked end grain.
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