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Table top without breadboard ends??

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Forum topic by scottcewing posted 05-29-2018 10:04 PM 1468 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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scottcewing

9 posts in 427 days


05-29-2018 10:04 PM

I’m designing a coffee table (square – 35” x 35”) and I’d like to just use 6- 6 inch wide pieces of 4/4 cherry for the top. I don’t want borders, breadboard ends…just the 6 pieces of cherry jointed and glued together.
My question is, does anyone even make this kind of table top anymore? I’ve searched the web for some examples of what I’m looking to make, but all I can find is where people have made breadboard ends (thousands of those!) or else a 2-3 inch mitered strip around the outside. I’m just trying to find out if it will look odd with end grain showing on two sides. I just can’t find any examples. Which leads me to believe it’s just something that isn’t done. Anyone have an ideas about this?


14 replies so far

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#1 posted 05-29-2018 11:36 PM

No need for breadboard ends unless that’s the look you want. Plain ends will look great too. I like to use Z-clips to be able to pull it down tight to the base (allowing for cross-grain movement of course) and that will ensure it stays flat. Also, don’t fall for the alternating ring nonsense. It’s easier to pull a arch flat than a washboard.

Since there are uninformed members who will call me out on that, here’s the word from Tage Frid himself:

Tage Frid on Alternating Rings

Another thing most books tell you is to alternate the wood to compensate for the cupping caused by shrinkage. This would be fine if you wanted to design a washboard. But if you want to use your wood, for example, for a tabletop, it will take a lot of screws to hold it down, plus every second board will usually have a lot of sapwood, especially today with the shortage and high cost of wood, where every piece must be used. But, if we don’t alternate the wood, it will work together and form an arch that will be very easy to hold down with a few screws. Also, we will have the center of the wood facing up, meaning less sapwood, better color, harder and usually fewer knots.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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WhyMe

1159 posts in 1980 days


#2 posted 05-29-2018 11:54 PM

I join my wood with the grain face up that I like and plane it flat. I don’t like mechanically pulling it flat unless I have to because of stresses it creates in the panel. I use sealer on end grain to keep it from staining too dark.

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#3 posted 05-30-2018 12:24 AM


I join my wood with the grain face up that I like and plane it flat. I don t like mechanically pulling it flat unless I have to because of stresses it creates in the panel. I use sealer on end grain to keep it from staining too dark.

- WhyMe

Naturally that graphic is exaggerated to make his point. If you glue it up right it’ll be flat and the Z-clips will keep it that way. The bottom line is that it will be easier to hold flat than if the rings were alternated.

BTW, that quote and graphic is from Fine Woodworking, Spring 1976, Volume 1, Number 2. The complete article by Tage Frid that it was extracted from contains a wealth of information on wood movement and was a real eye-opener that changed my whole thinking on the subject (I used to be an alternating ring guy). It even matters which way you orient quarter-sawn boards when gluing them.

Those early FWW issues were very academic, unlike the fluff that gets rerun these days. I have the entire collection and go back through them from time-to-time and always find something new that I missed earlier.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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Woodknack

12842 posts in 2799 days


#4 posted 05-30-2018 01:18 AM

Breadboards come and go in popularity but are optional. I’ve never done a breadboard. Sand the end grain and it looks fine.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Woodknack

12842 posts in 2799 days


#5 posted 05-30-2018 01:21 AM

Rich I’m glad you found that quote by Tage Frid, validates what I and many others have been saying for a long time. Alternating growth rings is a myth.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#6 posted 05-30-2018 01:37 AM


Rich I m glad you found that quote by Tage Frid, validates what I and many others have been saying for a long time. Alternating growth rings is a myth.

- Woodknack

Feel free to use it anytime. I’d be glad to send you the entire article or issue. I converted them to PDF long ago and OCR’d them so they’re searchable.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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TheFridge

10858 posts in 1905 days


#7 posted 05-30-2018 03:41 AM

I did some simple walnut table tops with end grain showing. Looks fine to me.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Woodknack

12842 posts in 2799 days


#8 posted 05-30-2018 04:03 AM

Yep, walnut end grain looks fine to me too. Sorry, for the bad pic, had to use the flash.
Tried to get a picture of mahogany end grain but the flash was washing it out.

Walnut engrain

pine end grain

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#9 posted 05-30-2018 04:14 AM


Yep, walnut end grain looks fine to me too.

- Woodknack

Beautiful work. That should convince anyone that they don’t need breadboard ends.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5452 posts in 2770 days


#10 posted 05-30-2018 01:22 PM

There is nothing wrong with end grain. Breadboards on a small table are just a design element and are not needed. Too many people go to extremes to hide end grain and leaving us to wonder if was made of plywood. The mitered strip border is a real mistake unless it is actually made from plywood.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2357 posts in 2408 days


#11 posted 05-30-2018 04:22 PM

I prefer endgrain to messing with breadboard ends. BB ends are ok as part of certain designs/looks, but are not a requirement from a design/structural perspective. For coloring control, sanding several grits higher works, but I like to burnish the end grain with polished metal – anything polished smooth works. It collapses the endgrain openings and it will color like edge and face grain. Easy to blow out the endgrain when edge routing.

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bobasaurus

3599 posts in 3603 days


#12 posted 05-30-2018 05:29 PM

For something like a cutting board I would still go alternating rings/grian to avoid having it form a wobbly surface on the countertop. But the logic makes sense for a table top, thanks for the description.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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mahone

5 posts in 490 days


#13 posted 05-30-2018 05:52 PM

Last year I did a 65” x 65”, 2” thick solid cherry table with breadboard ends, but only because the customer wanted to hide the end grain. Breadboards can be a fair amount of extra work depending on the technique chosen, and you must account for the cross grain movement in the breadboard construction. I ditto what others have suggested, in that leaving the end grain exposed is a very acceptable option as long as you prep it properly, and I would shy away from mitered edging with solid plank design.
Not sure why you had trouble finding pics on the web. I seem to recall plenty of antique pine, walnut, and other species illustrated with exposed end grain.

Good luck
Jesse

-- Jesse, Texas, Willow Creek WoodWorking

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scottcewing

9 posts in 427 days


#14 posted 05-30-2018 09:56 PM

Thanks for all the replies. I’m going to forge ahead as planned…just end grain. I think it will work out nicely.

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