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Forum topic by Larson posted 12-21-2017 12:53 PM 436 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 929 days

12-21-2017 12:53 PM

I have 17 exterior tables to build and I’m using 1×4 Red Balau decking for the lumber. These tables will be left outside all year being exposed to lots of rain and direct sun exposure. My thought is to go ahead and allow a 1/4 expansion gap between my boards and add a breadboard end to maintain the stability of my tops. I was thinking to do a pinned loose mortise and tenon between each board and the breadboard. My question is because I am allowing that expansion gap on each board, do I need to allow a loose fit and if so how do I attach the breadboard end? My thought is to glue the table side in a tight fit and the breadboard would only be held on by the pins. I know if I had a solid top I could do the same but glue the center and allow those outside loose tenons to float. Since they will be exposed to so much rain I want the expansion gap.

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1692 days

#1 posted 12-25-2017 12:38 AM


A breadboard end on a top consisting of individual 1×4 planks that are not glued one to the other could be attached to the breadboard with glue at center or even across the entire width of the tenon of each 1×4 plank. As each plank expands and contracts, it does so independent from any other planks and could therefore freely expand or contract outward from the plank’s center. I see nothing wrong with using stainless steel pins in lieu of glue to attach the breadboard, but it may be a weaker joint than if glue were used.

One potential problem occurs to me for an outdoor table with a breadboard design as proposed. If the breadboard has a groove or a portion of a mortise exposed to the elements, water could accumulate in the exposed groove or mortise and perhaps cause some problems. If the planks swell the moisture could become trapped. I suppose this entry point for water could be eliminated if the mortises are narrow enough so that the mortise will never be exposed. Eliminating a groove that typically runs the full length of the breadboard could further reduce water penetration of the breadboard. Taking these precautions would probably compromise breadboard’s ability to stabilize the end of the table, at least to some extent.

It was not clear how the individual planks will be held together so I assume with battens screwed to the planks from the underside of the top. If so, then perhaps battens located at the very ends of the top could substitute for the breadboard. I would probably use nylon washers as spacers when attaching the battens. The idea is that the nylon spacers would allow some air to circulate so that most of the moisture between the batten and the planks can evaporate and dry out the batten and the underside of the top quickly.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4420 days

#2 posted 12-25-2017 12:56 AM

Check out Smith and Hawken patio tables.

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