Breadboard potential alternative?

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Forum topic by Ronwm posted 12-12-2017 02:23 PM 1498 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1094 days

12-12-2017 02:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: breadboard table bread board joinery tip question joining

Hey ive had this idea rolling around in my head on breadboard alternative for indoor tables and I wanted to get some opinions.

Say you have 4 5” x 10’ boards 1” thick and before gluing them up you drill a .5” hole a few inches from the end on each board, run a dowel through them then clamp everything up like normal and move on. Would this be strong enough to stop the wood from cupping or eventually cracking? Instead of one dowel maybe cut one up to allow a little more movement?

7 replies so far

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1480 posts in 1588 days

#1 posted 12-12-2017 03:34 PM


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#2 posted 12-12-2017 03:39 PM

It would work in theory, in practice it would be very hard to pull off. The holes would have to be in perfect alignment for each board. If the dowel was glued in place it would not allow for movement, then the top could crack. I think it would be hard to glue up with out getting glue on the dowels. Breadboard ends are not strictly necessary for all tables. I wouldn’t think that cupping would be an issue on a 20” wide table if the stock was selected and prepared properly. I would just glue them together edge to edge and if attached to the base to allow for movement cracking will be a non-issue.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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3778 posts in 1994 days

#3 posted 12-12-2017 03:46 PM

If I understand correctly, you are considering basically a rod running crosswise through the interior of the top instead of the “traditional” breadboard treatment for a large/wide table top?

The top will be glued together along the board sides (long grain to long grain), so no problems with splitting, etc. on properly dried wood. A breadboard end is used to dress up the end grain and also help keep the top flat, but since this joint is long grain to end grain, allowances must be made for movement. Even with a dowel, the same allowances must be made. You could glue the dowel permanently to the hole drilled into the tops center board or just let it float without any glue. The top requires no additional measures to keep it together. As to the dowel preventing cupping, it will help some, but not has much as a proper breadboard end which is larger and therefore stiffer. To be effective, you need something very ridgid, probably multiple dowels of a stiff hardwood or even something metal.

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1243 posts in 2767 days

#4 posted 12-12-2017 05:14 PM

Getting a straight hole that long will be a real trick. You’d be better to use a hole metal tube of whatever size instead of a dowel. Metal is obviously stiffer than wood, and tubes are stiffer than rods.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5797 posts in 3081 days

#5 posted 12-12-2017 06:34 PM

Is this your Idea?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Ronwm's profile


3 posts in 1094 days

#6 posted 12-12-2017 07:09 PM

Thanks for all the reply’s so far this is exactly what I was looking for.

To clarify each boards would be pre drilled maybe 5” from the end on each side (assuming they are the same length) then a dowel or rod would be sent through dry. The last 1/4” of the rod would be glued to keep it secure.

I would think metal would be to rigid unless a smaller diameter was used. Im thinking walnut boards with either walnut dowel or hard maple dowels would look good. Even doing a dowel Every 5” or so along the length would look good and provide support throughout the table top.

Is this your Idea?

- AlaskaGuy

Yes at least for assembly i think using a threaded rod then bolting them down would be to restrictive. Then again im just a novice and am really good at being wrong lol.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6153 posts in 3585 days

#7 posted 12-12-2017 07:25 PM

Don’t think in terms of stopping the wood from cupping or cracking.

Think about letting it move across its’ width.

A tabletop with no breadboard ends lets the wood move, so long as it’s attached through slotted holes, or figure 8 fasteners.

A tabletop inside a frame is the worst thing you can do. Again, the table wants to expand across the width, but the frame won’t expand across the length. You haven’t stopped wood from moving. But since you haven’t allowed for it either, it may cause a crack, warp, or bow.

Good breadboard designs simple let the top expand and contract with seasonal changes.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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