Breadboard Table End: Through Tenon + Sliding Dovetails?

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Forum topic by Will_Wood posted 03-18-2014 03:53 PM 3361 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 3258 days

03-18-2014 03:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining question breadboard

Fellow Lumberjocks -

First, thanks for all the great advice I’ve received and project inspiration I’ve gathered from hanging out on this site. I’m a little behind in posting some of my own projects, and I’ll try to remedy that soon.

I’m building a hard maple table top for a fly fishing utility table. It will be approximately 1” thick, 36”x44”. I’m contemplating breadboard ends as a design element and to help keep the tabletop flat. I don’t expect a lot of direct weight (such as elbows) to be frequently applied to the breadboard ends. I’m considering the following design and wanted to request your feedback on the idea, esp potential pitfalls I haven’t considered.

Breadboard ends with a single through tenon and sliding dovetails.

The table top will be a glue up of an odd number of boards. I would like to attach the center tabletop board to the breadboard ends using a through mortise and tenon and use sliding dovetails to connect the other tabletop boards to the breadboard ends. I believe this will firmly locate the breadboard ends, while allowing the remaining tabletop boards to expand/contract along the ends

I believe I could accomplish this through the following process:

Design a tabletop glue up from an odd number of boards.
Glue up all the left side tabletop boards, and glue up the righ side boards as two separate panels.
Joint the inside edges of the two table top panels and the center tabletop board.
Attach the center tabletop board to the breadboard ends with a through mortise/tenon.
While the glue is setting, apply glue to the edges of the center board and each tabletop panel.
Slide each tabletop panel into the breadboards via the sliding dovetail.
Apply clamps to securely glue the two tabletop panels to the center board.

Am I missing anything? I know there are lots of other considerations related to each type of joint, but is there anything problematic about this combo?

Thanks for your feedback!


4 replies so far

View Will_Wood's profile


28 posts in 3258 days

#1 posted 03-21-2014 02:37 PM

Just bumping to the top to see if anyone has any feedback on my process. I’ll start milling next week and post up the results.

View jdh122's profile


1186 posts in 3739 days

#2 posted 03-21-2014 02:47 PM

The traditional method involves tongue-and-groove and three mortises and tenons, with drawbored dowels in elongated holes to hold everything flush. The method you propose would work, I think, but I’m not sure it offers any advantages. I find sliding dovetail joints difficult to get really flush and (with my skill set) I’d get a closer joint between table and breadboard using the traditional method (you’ll also have to make sure that all three boards are exactly the same length and glued up perfectly flush to each other, although I suppose that the dovetail breadboard should pull them into alignment).

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Will_Wood's profile


28 posts in 3258 days

#3 posted 03-25-2014 12:15 PM

JDH122 -

I appreciate your reply. I agree my approach doesn’t offer much advantage. Fewer pegs necessary and a different aesthetic perhaps. Maybe leave a woodworker scratching his head in seeing both the sliding dovetail and the through tenon? It would be lost on most observers.

I’ll probably stick with the traditional approach this time around and get a little more practice on accomplishing an appropriate fit on sliding dovetails first. If I try the above, I’ll come back and post here.


View kjoowens's profile


10 posts in 1786 days

#4 posted 01-31-2017 10:25 PM

I am just curious if you tried this method of using the dovetails and how it worked?

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