Breadboards and Leaf Tables

Thoughts on how to handle a request for a table with breadboard ends and a center leaf. June 30, 2007

I am about to build a dining room table with 8" wide pine and breadboard ends. I am confident in building it on its own but my client wants a leaf and I am concerned with cutting the top in half. How should I treat the edges at the center of the table? I would prefer not to disrupt the boards with more edging. Maybe I'm overthinking it and just leaving it alone is fine. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
If you follow historical precedent, you will see there are no designs that have both breadboard ends and a leaf. The leaf typically runs the short dimension of a rectangular table, as do all the boards that make up the top, eliminating the need for a breadboard end.

Always follow historical precedent as a starting point - your proportions will be better, and your work will look familiar to your customers. Ignore good design precedent at your own peril. One doesn't have to go far to see awful looking work, well executed.

Explain to your customer that, as a professional, your opinion would guide things this way or that. The customer doesn't rule - most have no idea what they are talking about or any knowledge of wood as a material.

From contributor A:
Remember the old twist and flip table tops? The top turned ninety degrees to the base, then hinged open to twice its size. Just a thought...

From the original questioner:

Thanks for the advice. I have reoriented the boards and will present the design to my client. It definitely makes it a simpler design to build.

From contributor U:
I build several of these every year, and haven't had a problem with any of them. I always glue up my center panel long enough to allow me to cut the leaf off of one end before I put the breadboard ends on. This takes wood movement out of the equation, because your leaf is identical to the center panel. I then fasten a 1-1/4" x 2" cleat underneath each cross grain edge of the leaf and main top to keep everything flat. I cut the cleats about 2-1/2" short of the aprons to leave room for the slides.