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Trestle Tables, Videos, and the Moisture Monster

I spent the first 15 years of my working life as a cameraman for—and then producer of—television commercials. In that career, your “film reel” was more important than your resume. It was a collection of a dozen or so of your best TV spots. By the same logic, when I finally switched over to woodworking, and started my own cabinet shop, I found that I would land more jobs when I could show a potential client photographs of our work. Over time, I carried an increasingly larger photo album in my attaché.

Eventually, our commercial listing in the phone book became a less and less effective means of advertising. The World Wide Web was becoming a far superior way to search for local businesses, and it had a much better format to showcase (and describe) our services—we could use more (and better) pictures, there’s no limit on copy, etc.

So, I contacted a friend who was capable of writing HTML (“Web page language”) and began designing a website I believed would impress the hell out of people. I worked my ass off configuring that site, and drove my friend crazy getting the layout just right (much like we used to do when creating a print ad for a magazine). Of course, I included a large photo gallery of our work, and even though the site became a great place I could “send” people to, we still weren’t getting the hundreds of new phone calls I had imagined we would.

We continued that way for a few years, while still running our small (4-in. high) advertisement in the phone book (which now included our website address); but as the competition increased, with more websites coming online every day, I discovered that I needed to learn what was being called “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO). There are too many elements involved to fully describe it here, but, simply put: the more people that visit your site, the more likely Google is to list your website on (hopefully) the first page of search results for your category (“carpenters,” “cabinet makers,” etc).

Stick with me here . . . I’m actually leading up to something.

Statistics show that spending on video marketing is up. The supposition is that, just as photographs inherently attract more searchers to a Web page than one consisting of copy (words) alone, video is even more of a magnet than photos. Videos are entertaining, and they are about as close as you can get to actually being there.

Last year, we were commissioned to design and construct “A Trestle Table with Built-in Seating,” and I decided to record the project from beginning to end. I kept my camera loaded and ready to go, and I ran into the shop and shot a couple of “takes” whenever my sons were at an important stage of construction. I even took the video camera with me when we installed the pieces in the client’s home.

After the project was complete, it was time to put together a video that would hold people’s attention. I spent a lot of time getting the voice-over just right, and even added some classical background music. When I felt that the “story” required lengthier explanation than I had footage for, I used the initial renderings I had drawn for the client, and (while the camera was running) used a pencil to “point out” the different parts of the drawings I was referring to.

Here’s the finished video:

When editing a video, it is important to strike a balance between going slow enough for viewers to understand what you’re describing, but never so slow as to lose their interest. Like anything else, it requires some time and effort to do well, but a video has the potential to act like a salesman for your company; and, once completed, it continues to spread the word, for a long time to come.

Trestle Tables

I thought this might be a good place to include a few shots of a trestle table I built for my own kitchen. Although it looks like an antique (worn/aged), and it’s heavy in girth, its details are more purposely “worked,” looking perhaps like a piece saved from an ancient European castle or monastery. I love the character really old pieces have, so I began by obtaining enough reclaimed wood (from a place about an hour north of us that specializes in 100 year-old-plus material) to construct the table.

(Note: Click any image to enlarge.)

I found some extra-thick pieces for the table top. These old “ten/quarter” (2 1/2-in.) pine planks were the second story floor boards of a dairy barn, erected in the 1790s, that was located just outside Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Apparently, the dairy was on the first floor and the second floor housed some heavy machinery—horse drawn wagons and such—hence the need for such massive floor boards. There was a “white wash” coating on the bottom of the boards because they also acted as the ceiling of the ground floor dairy.

Anyway, for the table top, I arranged these thick planks to establish the most handsome surfaces on the top faces and outside edges, trying to sand as little of the aged patina as possible.

Using some thicker timbers from the same building, I designed and cut corner blocks, legs, and feet with an assortment of curved profiles I felt were fitting and handsome.

 I’ve included this table of mine to help demonstrate the range of looks that can be achieved, from a “Colonial Revival” farm table to (perhaps) a nobleman’s dining surface.

Shrinkage

While we’re on the subject, I’d like to describe a single aspect of these tables that bothers me to this day. It’s about the breadboard ends. I love to incorporate breadboard end caps—they help keep the surface flat, they “dress” the end grain on the top’s planks, and they just look cooler (one man’s opinion). BUT . . .

As the boards in the center expand and contract through the seasons (and they will move), I’m left with an edge that no longer aligns (see photo, right).

It’s been my experience that our table top’s center section will invariably shrink, leaving a protruding breadboard end. This is because my shop is always more humid than my clients’ kitchens, and, quite frankly, it’s too difficult to keep my shop any drier.

On a 36-in. wide table, whose planks will shrink by a quarter inch (on each side), I suppose I could build a table whose breadboard is a half inch smaller, so that when the planks shrink (to match the moisture content of the home), the edges are never more than an 1/8 in. misaligned one way or the other through summer and winter. I’ve seen a lot of commercial work (factory-made tables, cabinet face frames, etc.) that round-over/ease the edges where two surfaces meet to minimize the look of the inaccuracy, but . . .  1) I dislike that look (for instance, I refuse to do a V-groove where a cabinet’s side wall meets its face frame edge), and 2) when I first present a finished table to a client, I’d be in the unenviable position of having to explain why it appears like I’ve made the breadboard too short.

So, although I consider myself a high-end woodworker, the learning process never really stops.

I can’t help but wonder if one of you guys (or girls, for that matter) had a way to solve this problem without having to compromise too much on the table’s appearance. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment below!

• • •

AUTHOR BIO

Russell Hudson with his sons (from L to R: Brian, Russell, and Russ)

Russell Hudson is the owner of Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc. He began his career in television advertising and switched to woodworking because of his love of design and building things. His father had a shop in the basement and, he suspects, that’s where the seed was planted.

Hudson Cabinetmaking specializes in high-end cabinetry and furniture. Both of Russell’s sons (Russ and Brian) have become highly skilled cabinetmakers, and share their father’s desire to make it an art form.

Through photographing, video taping, and writing (in blogs and articles) about the projects for their website, Russell finds himself in advertising once again. Apparently, “no acquired skill goes to waste.”

Besides filmmaking and woodwork, Russell plays guitar and piano, loves fishing (he makes his own rods, and ties his own trout flies), loves the wilderness and indigenous cultures, has rebuilt every square inch of their home, is still crazy about his wife, and doubts he’ll ever find enough time to do all the things he’s interested in. He is also, perhaps, clinically insane, but doesn’t consider it a drawback.

Comments/Discussion

50 Responses to “Trestle Tables, Videos, and the Moisture Monster”

  1. David Tuttle

    That is a great article and I do wish video’s were are around when I was doing furniture. the web opens up a whole new realm of clientele. Thank you for the “food for thought”

    Reply
    • David Tuttle

      Oops I want add that in Canada my one four foot wide breadboard top sticks out almost 1/4″ in the middle of winter, and is close to flush in the summer (they keep doors open and A/C off when they can).

      Reply
  2. Dan Ackermann

    Thank you so much for the video. I just love that table! Just what I need, another project idea. Luckily I have access to some antique lumber from an old barn.

    Reply
  3. Russell Hudson

    David-
    exactly… when you heat up your place in the winter, it sure sucks the moisture right outta the air. … and thanks for the words

    Dan-
    Good luck with it / write to the website if you need any help when you make it.

    Reply
  4. Sonny Wiehe

    Russell,
    It appears to me that you have already solved your “problem”. You just need to have trust in implementing your solution. Here’s what I mean by that:

    You’re not clinically insane; you just suffer (like many great craftsmen) from perfectionism. It appears you study your client’s relative humidity (as well as your shops) conditions very fastidiously as an integral part of your job. That’s fantastic; use that knowledge. By making your breadboards appropriately short (or long as the case may be), you could look at this as just another (delayed) level of perfectionism and opportunity to indulge your insanity. While you point out that you might be in the “unenviable position of having to explain why it appears like I’ve made the breadboard too short” when you first present your finished piece, you will also eventually be in the position of looking like the genius you are when your clients discover your breadboad length matches up perfectly with your table top width 6 months later.

    Sonny

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      Sonny
      Appreciate the support / When I deliver the next trestle table to a client, I’m calling you up so can go with me if the short breadboard requires any explanation (LOL)
      thx, Sonny

      Reply
  5. Rick Danforth

    Russell, thanks for the time you took to show us ( all of us who make our living making wooden items for others, from cabinetry to furniture to houses) how much we think about and care about our craft.
    I have come up against the same situation and tried securing only the end boards to the ends of the bread board piece, of course this presents as a line between the table top sections at some time or another- didn’t say it was a great solution but sometimes you just have to try things out. We make choices all the time as to how to solve the problems presented by what we try to accomplish.
    Rick

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      The edge stacked planks that make up the majority of the table’s surface will change width over time and the breadboard’s length will not. Securing the ends will only cause some part of the joinery between the two to give way (fail). hence the need for an expansion joint / one that allows movement. But, I agree with you about trying things out. Almost everything I know comes from having done it wrong at least once…

      Reply
  6. David Collins

    Russel,
    This video is an amazingly artful piece of work besides being very educational. What a terrific lesson for all of us! Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Eric Temte

    Russell.

    First- thanks for sharing your marketing solutions! Very well done!

    To expand on Mr. Danforth’s suggestion, I’ll explain my process producing breadboard trestles.

    I also secure only the outermost boards near their outside edge, usually with drawbored dowel pins of a contrasting species. Within the tabletop, all the top components get a tongue and groove milling like flooring, with a slight 45º chamfer along their top edges to ease them and prevent obvious misalignment when the joints are tight in winter. We then finish all boards prior to assembly to avoid any unfinished wood coming into view seasonally. Basically, seasonal movement is accounted for within table between the slightly loose boards, thereby never changing the external dimensions or alignment between the breadboard and the rest of the top.

    The obvious downside of this method is the “cracks” within the table, which can collect food and dust. This may or may not be acceptable depending on application. For my clients using the tables in a dining room, it hasn’t been a problem. They’ve covered their tables with a tablecloth prior to gatherings.

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      OK I get it now. maybe this is what Rick was describing above. Leaving a tad of room between planks and lining up & securing the outside edge like that would do it. I’m not crazy about the cracks but if a client was going to use a table cloth anyway and was OK with that… I guess I can always give them that option.
      Asking this question at the end of the article is starting to pay off already.
      Thanks!

      Reply
      • Eric Temte

        As an additional aside, of course one could use quartersawn lumber to greatly reduce the seasonal movement of the top.

        Reply
  8. john r graybill

    When the first picture scrolled up, I though ‘ bread board ends’ and waited for the obvoius second picture. The clue was in the article title ‘Moisture’. Ernest Joyce’s book has a nice detail around this look.

    I built a sideboard along these lines and since my shop was in a warm dry county (Marin) and the client live along the coast in a wet (Mendocino) county. I figured the moisture levels for teak etc. and built in the margins/revels in the to be tight in summer fog and open in the winter from gas heat and the fireplace.. They immediatley complained of the shoody workman ship (The inertior designer) and demanded that I fill the gaps or rework the piece. I did and it split. Never heard from them again.

    By the way I always get paid before I deliver or unload my work.

    Reply
  9. j watson

    Hi Russell–

    How about etching or burning a greeting or logo or even a kilroy that only reveals itself each winter?

    It would show the table to be “living” and show that the seasonal movement was anticipated.

    JW

    Reply
  10. Sonny Wiehe

    Russell,
    I have been thinking about your breadboard detail all day since initially responding. Mostly because your photograph of overhanging breadboard edge on your own table top stuck with me. This photograph prompts an “ouch” response that I , you, and perhaps many others have with this detail. I feel that the “ouch” response comes from the breadboard breaking out of its normally perceived limits of table top. I have been thinking of how to address this visual, flesh, or clothes snagging detail while avoiding an entire longitudinal gap in the center of table top or at each board joint (which Eric points out as another viable solution with T&G detail).

    While your solution of cutting breadboard short and having it equal eventual width of equilibrated table top would work, it mostly likely would deviate an 1/8″ or so as you indicate if calculations are not spot on. It also does not address the fact the table may be relocated to another site that will render initial calculations useless in terms of achieving flush condition. So, really, my initial response was not a lot of help with your insanity… and I owe you another shot.

    As an architect and builder I, too, obsess over these type of small details; the way we view an object, and interact with it’s tactility. What I have come up with is another detail that combines allowance for movement of table top about the center axis of table and eliminates the need for a gap in board along the whole length of table. See attached sketch. I am not trying to re-invent the wheel here (and this may have already been executed by someone else–I don’t know)I but what I I feel it achieves is the minimization of any expansion gap (that food debris may become trapped in) to bare essentials while never changing the perceived outside “limits” of the table tap. The only real change from your detail is the return miter that allows you to carry the gap to inside envelope of table instead of in space. I also don’t think this would be too hard to achieve from a woodworking perspective. Might this be a good alternative solution?
    Sonny
    [img]http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/breadboard detail II.jpg[/img]

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      Wow! Very cool idea.
      When the slots adjacent to the bread boards ends are open the most… is that more disturbing looking than the misalignment on my table??? That’s the question. And I’m not sure actually. The lines are cleaner on my table but it might be very interesting looking joinery doing it your suggested way.
      I know one thing. You’ve just required me to charge another 400 (or so) to make the table that way, but that might not make a difference if a client really wants us to build one.
      I have to repeat this… very cool idea!
      Thx,

      Reply
      • Sonny Wiehe

        Yes. I understand your concern Russell. Which is the lesser of two evils to look at is definitely a subjective call. However, theoretically you would shoot for a joint that would close up the gap when top shrinks ( maybe 1/16″ or 1/8″ more on each side to adjust for error in calc.so binding never becomes a problem) just as in first scenario. Ultimately though I don’t think even an 1/8″ would be objectionable because it’s a short interior gap and not an edge that sticks out or can snag on anything. Also, since your breadboard would have a tongue on each end to reinforce and keep the corner miter joint aligned (as well as covering end grain), the depth of gap is only as deep as the top rabbet and thus no thru light at joint. Another point is that you never had to worry about accounting for a top that swell; except that you want to make a tongue on breadboard big enough to handle expansion without “dropping off” mitered ends. But I would think that would be a severe case of moisture content change not normally having to be considered.

        Good point also on additional work (and thus cost) for this detail; mostly due to what is essentially a long notch cut at both ends of top top . Certainly more difficult to make than straight cut off after glue up. But I think this would be a perfect condition for the use of a Festool T-55 or 75 track saw with its precise and clean plunge capability. You could even position this saw to make the short miter cuts (I’ve done this easily and successfully on large projects that I could not bring to a table saw or miter saw) and finish up mitered notch with jig saw or Japanese trim saw. After that, the routing for breadboard is the same as before except that now you are putting tongue on ends of breadboards and rounding off the outside corners to mate up with inside radius of table route.
        Perhaps this detail is worth a mock-up in pine or cheaper grade wood?? It could also be acclimated to different humidity environments to test it’s pros and cons in action. It could turn out to be a really nice detail.
        Sonny

        Reply
        • Russell Hudson

          I could make a few samples of the table’s corner for each approach (6″X6″). They’d be left lose to help show what happens with the movement. I could also use this article to explain what happens / might give it more validity for those doubtful clients.
          Upon second viewing of your sketch, I think I’d like your method but w/o the 45 degree miters. Making small samples of the corners would help everyone (clients AND us) get a better reaction as to it’s aesthetic merits.

          Reply
          • Hartley Edmonds

            I like the idea of including the clients in the process.” Managing their expectations” is at least as important as the actual detail.

            Hartley

  11. James

    I build a trestle table for myself of reclaimed barn boards with breadboard ends. I like pointing out to company(table is left uncovered except for center runner)the misaligned breadboard ends and give them an explanation of woods reaction to moisture. Everyone has found it interesting and run their hands over the joint. So, if you build a table for my relatives, I’ve already got you covered!

    Reply
    • j watson

      It IS interesting, it gives personality to the family table. I get people all the time that want “solid wood”. To them it’s synonymous with quality. You can’t HAVE solid wood unless you accommodate its’ life. ( Marketers seem to call everything solid wood.) Many people want to bend nature to their will, but solid lumber and dimensional stability are mutually exclusive. Most people I’ve explained this to have opted for veneered ply.

      While plywood and veneers have their place, they mask the true character of wood. Solid wood’s movement is like slow-motion breathing.

      I wasn’t kidding (except maybe for the “kilroy”); no, the kilroy would work at my house.

      JW

      Reply
      • Russell Hudson

        The great majority of tables we’ve made for clients consist of veneered, furniture grade ply with solid stock (matching specie) bordering the outside edge. Stable, appealing and the outside edge holds up to abuse better. Can’t get something as ‘earthy looking’ though unless I use really old (reclaimed usually) lumber.

        Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      I’m the same way. When my friends were over last night to play dominoes, I was explaining the different comments on this article and they couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to see the surface (no table cloth) and my wife said she couldn’t live with thin slots between the planks. Easier to eat/play games on when it’s a continuous, uncovered surface.

      Reply
  12. Jeff

    I really like this entire body of work with video and text explanations.

    I’ve experienced both extremes with breadboard ends. Both tables were 42″ wide.

    #1 was SPF from a local big box store because it met my friends budget; the top shrank about 3/16″ -1/4″ at each breadboard end in his daughters home. The initial EMC was probably about 15-18% so no surprise there.

    #2 was reclaimed longleaf heart pine sawn from old beams and kiln dried. The EMC recorded was 6-7% coming in the door of my garage shop. That top expanded about 1/16″ at each breadboard end in our home in NC which was at about 45% relative humidity. No surprise there either.

    Simply an affirmation that real wood lives and breathes. I don’t do commission work so I don’t have to attempt explaining my “lack of craftsmanship” to anyone else other than the immediate family and they’re learning to understand real wood.

    Reply
  13. Russell Hudson

    The table made in the video was for a good client that has had us do a number of projects for them. They just asked us to sand down the protrusion on all four corners. The stain took nicely and you can’t tell it was worked on subsequently, but they were told that now they’ll have a smaller mis-alignment (long AND short) from summer to winter. Like everyone has said here. It’s the nature of the beast (solid wood).

    Reply
  14. teeg merchant

    Greetings Russell,
    My two cents worth of solution to the seasonal shift was a something I tried on a v.g. fir desk top. I joined up a longer length than needed and cut 45* angles and turned the ends down 90*. After clamping and gluing was complete, I carefully trimmed the wild ends to desk top thickness. I repeated, ever so many times, “It’s just as if it’s still flat, they’re all the same pieces” to myself as I did this. No problems so far (2 years) but with a design using something other than kiln dried 1″X fir and for somewhere other than S. Calif. ????? What do you all think ?
    Thanks for the nice video,
    TGM

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      Either your description is insufficient or I’m not terribly bright (which is entirely possible). Could you do a sketch or two and post it so I could better understand, Teeg?

      Reply
      • Michael Kellough

        Russell, sounds like he didn’t use a breadboard end. Instead, he folded the ends of the table down to avoid exposing end grain. That avoids the expansion differential and still adds a little stability.

        If I were making a bib table with nice old re-claimed lumber like yours I’d forgo the breadboard end and let people see the interesting end grain.

        I was asked to trim a large walnut table where the breadboard end was about 1/2″ proud on each side. In that case it was semi dangerous since the long joint was a dovetail and the edges were sharp. The table stock had been too moist at the time of construction and after spending a few years in the client’s home it was pretty stable. Trimming the ends in late Oct. has resulted a pretty good fit year-round.

        Thanks for a great article!

        Reply
        • Russell Hudson

          So that’s what you mean by ‘folded down’. Makes sense actually.
          I still like the looks of the straight breadboard though. I think it’s because this look is a couple hundred years old (at least). It’s appearance seems ‘authentic’ to me. Hard to know exactly WHY each of us likes one look vs another. Something about having ‘stood the test of time’, maybe.

          Reply
  15. Maurice Viens

    For the bread board ends. Each end could be in two pieces with round pinholes on the ends so they don’t move, slotted for the others. Leave the expansion gap in the middle that’s routed out to accept a loose piece of wood so it’s only about 3/16″ to 1/4″ from the surface. That way its not a dark crevice. Be sure to prestain the loose piece of wood before installing so you don’t see unstained wood when things shrink.
    The way it was done in the video is fine if you pinned the middle and slotted the outside holes. That way the expansion and contraction is equal on both sides. The owner would still have to live with the ends sticking out when the table contracted. The ends would just stick out equally.
    If the tongue and groove were stopped short of being seen on the ends and if square tapered pegs were used on the legs it might look better depending on your point of view.
    I think folks should keep in mind the selection of materials is what makes this table work. Old, old growth oak boards or pine that were minimumly worked. If you built this table the same way with new flat sawn maple it would probably cup horribly.
    Impressive video.

    Reply
  16. Michael Kellough

    Maurice said, “If the tongue and groove were stopped short of being seen on the ends”. That’s what I’d do too. A proud square edge is a lot less annoying than a jagged joint.

    Reply
  17. Wagner Meters

    What was the moisture content while you were building it? Did you calculate the equilibrium moisture content for your client’s home?

    For most people it’s going to be possible to dry out the wood before you start working with it in the shop, and unless it’s a very long project, it won’t soak up very much moisture before it ends up in your client’s home (which hopefully has AC so the equilibrium moisture content won’t change too much during the year). The harder the wood, the longer it will take to absorb moisture. Here’s an old video about some useful rules of thumb and some suggestions about how to set up your projects so you don’t have to worry as much about shrinking and swelling.
    http://www.wagnermeters.com/metervideo3.php

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      Good Vid. Now I know what Eugene Wengert looks like.
      I was trying to find the old forum post I did about building that cherry table (see comment #17) because Dr. Wengert (calls himself the ‘wood doctor’) responded a few times (we must have had 40 responses) during the course of the thread. Everybody had something to say about cupping of solid table tops… moisture, wood grain type AND direction, clamping, specie, thickness, etc., etc..
      I have a small shop (below ground) and turn on a small dehumidifier at the end of each day now. I think I might have to break down and by a meter.
      (BTW, is your name Eugene or Mr. Meters?)

      Reply
  18. Rob Potter

    What an interesting conversation.
    I guess I always thought that the breadboard end function was to allow the top to move while still dressing up the end of the table. I’d say this is an old idea, probably been around since the first tables like this were built. I can understand that it might be bothersome to the builder, and troublesome to some clients, but wood moves and a solid wood table top is gonna move a good amount.
    I think trying to determine the appropriate breadboard end length factoring the expected wood movement is a great idea. But I’d suspect your always going to have some movement.
    Thanks for the article. I look forward to watching your video now.
    – Rob

    Reply
    • Rob Potter

      Russell,
      Just watched the video. Great job with the production. Nice to see the whole project come together.
      I especially wanted to say that I like your design, particularly how the table and the built in bench kind of contrast and compliment each other. I really like the contrast of the panels with the reclaimed wood top.
      Thanks again for sharing your work and experiences.
      – Rob

      Reply
  19. jonathan

    Hey there Mr. Hudson,

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video! It was one of the best I have seen
    as far as production wise, maybe because of the music.

    Who was the composer? It sounded like a Vivaldi piece….

    Reply
    • Russell Hudson

      Vivaldi, it was.
      I enjoyed editing the video. Hope I can spend the time on the next one to maintain that level of quality (story telling).
      Thx,

      Reply
  20. Rod Johnson

    Yes, any mixing of a grain direction on an absolute finished surface of solid wood will display differences in shrinkage. As you’ve noticed the length of the wood remains unchanged. Oh well, sometimes we are forced to accept exposed end grain. An option may be to mortise the bottom of the table, perpendicular to the grain at various points throughout the length and let-in a 1″x1″ piece of material into the bottom side tightly fitted without glue, also cut short for movement and a finish end cap (glued)at the end into the table edge. This may also require a retainer for the 1×1 to keep it from slipping out. Over time, through movement, the let-in may have to be knocked back in, without the use of a retainer. I’ve noticed when I fit tightly a piece of wood without glue, at times, I will hear a loud pop sound made from the wood trying to move. Similar to a wood boat, as soon as you take it out of the water the shrinkage becomes automatic, and will have to re-caulked with a bitumin soaked canvas product, or rope at each plank, or put it back into the water and pump it until the wood swells again.
    Unfortunately, the thicker the material, the more shrinkage. Nice job overall.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  21. Steve McGill

    Haven’t you guys ever heard of a board stretcher?
    Sorry bad joke.
    I’ve never made a breadboard end table, but know of the shrinkage problem that comes with this design. As a woodworker I’ve always strived to achieve flush joinery. However, as a contractor, I’ve learned the value of a revile. It can allow for a transition between different materials.
    My thought for a solution to the breadboard table is this; use a stop tenon joint. By using the a stop tenon, the ends can remain flush at proper humidity levels, and when the top shrinks, it may look like a purposeful detail. With out the tenon profile being projected on the side, a observer would not as easily draw the conclusion that the two should line up. Mind you I’ve never tried this, and if anyone does, I would like to know the outcome. Just a thought as I’ve had this discussion with several woodworkers in the past.

    Reply
  22. mike christie-fogg

    Two ways to prevent the breadboard ends from moving: 1. Make the top from an engineered wood product. You’ll have to glue real wood to the edge to disguise this fact, easily done with a mitered or V-shaped joint along the edge. 2. Saturate the wood with PEG to prevent wood movement.

    I’ve never used either one of these methods but in theory they work.

    I make my breadboard ends by putting the tongue on the end of the long boards, which results in stronger grain, then also leaving a series of tenons which are the same thickness as the tongue. These are fitted into a groove and also a series of blind mortises cut into the breadboard end. The center mortises are tightly fitted but the ones near the edges are wider to allow for expansion and contraction. No glue except for the very center. The tenons are draw-bored and pegged (either all the way through or blind-pegged from below) with slotted holes near the edges as well, again to allow for wood movement. The reason the tenons don’t go all the way through the breadboard is because they are wider than the tenons to allow for wood movement and the gaps would be visible.

    By the way, another way to attach the base of a trestle table to the top is to use a sliding dovetail. If you don’t want to see it, you’ll have to cut blind dovetails into the edge boards and glue them to the rest of the table after everything else is assembled.

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