Breadboard Table Top Ends

Tips on the mortise and tenon joinery for a breadboard table end. October 2, 2005

How do you make a tabletop breadboard-style end float? I've only built tops with the endgrain exposed.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
Lots of ways to do it. The key is to have a strong connection while still allowing the tabletop to shrink and grow with the seasons. My favorite is to rabbet both edges of the top back about 2", leaving a tenon 1/3 of the top's thickness. Then, depending on the width of the top, I notch the tenon back to .5" from the rabbet shoulder, leaving 3 or 4 evenly spaced tenons at the full 2" length. After mortising the breadboard end to the depth of the full tenons, I install it, gluing and tight pegging only the center tenon. The remaining tenons get pegged as well, but the holes in them must be elongated to allow the top to move. Only the center tenon should be glued; that way, the top will shrink and grow on both sides of the center.

Fine Woodworking #106 has a detailed article on making these.

Don't forget to elongate your holes toward the tabletop slightly. This will pull the breadboard tight against the top as it expands/contracts.

I prefer to use a sliding dovetail in this application. Mill a dovetail slot in the breadboard edge and the dovetail itself in the field. A dowel pin glued in the center up from underneath will keep it from sliding without restricting movement, and the dovetail keeps the end from moving away from the field.