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Thread: How to minimize breadboard seam

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Eagle, WI

    How to minimize breadboard seam

    How do I create the narrowest possible seam between a table top and its breadboard end? My repeated efforts to create straight and matching edges on the table top and end cap are less than satisfying.

    Thus far, my method consisted of scoring a line on the table top faces and edges and using chisels to trim/pare down to the tenon. I’ve quadruple checked the squareness of the edge of the breadboard that mates with the table top. My best attempt thus far creates a gap that is approximately 4 sheets of paper wide, or about 1/64 of an inch. When looking at other pieces of furniture, there is no gap.

    I’ve considered fitting the end cap to the table top and then using my tracksaw to cut the table top and the breadboard edges simultaneously. But I worry that method might create even more woes.

    I am considering creating and using a filler made of sawdust and shellac to work into the gap. But I suspect this approach will create an obvious and apparent line after I apply the Rubio Monocoat oil plus 2c finish.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2
    A well tuned shoulder plane should give a clean shoulder to the tenon. If the joint is tight on one face and gapped on the other, plane the shoulder on the tight side. Make sure the corners between the tenon cheeks and shoulders are clean and square and the tenon(s) is not bottoming out in the mortise/groove. Filler will always be obvious.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Do you know which surface is not straight? Does a straight edge against one, or both, surfaces show a gap? I am assuming one is not quite straight.

    Or your mortise is too shallow for the tenon on that end (or tenon too long).

    If you can never get it right, you could add a “flourish” to the seam. Perhaps chamfer both surfaces to “hide” the gap.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    Peter, two methods:

    1. Use a straight edge along the tenon shoulder to check that it is straight. Knife along the shoulder, undercut with a chisel, and then plane down to this with a shoulder plane. I am assuming that the breadboard end is straight and the mortices are square.

    2. If the table top was sawn square to start, a cutting gauge could run along the tenon end and scribe a line parallel to this. The gauge could also be used to slice the end grain, deepening the line until you remove the waste with either a chisel or plane. This is a great method to ensure the top- and lower cheeks are aligned.

    Regards from Perth


  5. #5
    Is it that the shoulder line is not straight or that the tenon is not pulled tight enough?

  6. #6
    Honestly that looks pretty good to me. Are you sure the other pieces of furniture are real breadboard ends and not veneered MDF or whatever?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Eagle, WI
    It’s clear that using filler or a tracksaw isn’t the way to go.

    Your advice and suggestions encourage me to amp up my determination and persistence to get this right.

    The mortise is deeper than the tenon, so I’ll focus on making sure shoulder lines are straight. I like the idea of using a straight edge to check all surfaces and undercutting the shoulder a bit. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that this is a perfect situation for a shoulder plane.

    Getting as close as possible to a seamless joint is important not just for aesthetics, but because a gap on this kitchen table would likely trap detritus of all sorts.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    SW Florida
    I'm always hesitant to comment in "how to do things" threads because I'm still learning, but figured what the heck. I made a farmhouse table (and matching bench) with breadboard ends and used dowels to help with attaching them. The holes were very slightly offset so when I drove the dowels in, it helped pull the breadboard in to the table. The holes in the outer tenons were elongated to allow seasonal movement and the dowels were not glued, except at the very end/tip to keep them from coming out. The seam is minimal and it was made out of 2x?'s from the Orange Store, so nothing fancy at all. Just an option to assist if your overall design will tolerate some exposed dowels. Feel free to ignore the suggestion if it doesn't!
    A wannabe woodworker!

  9. #9
    My suggestions:

    - Undercut the show face tenon shoulder as mentioned above.
    - Overcut the tenon shoulder on the bottom of the table to take it out of the equation. It can have a minor gap so focus can be kept on fitting the show face.
    - Can you get a clamp on the breadboard to close up the gap? The drawbore pegs will close it a bit.

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