When building a large solid-wood panel, such as a tabletop, you might be tempted to cap the ugly end grain by simply gluing another board across the end. Don't. The problem: Seasonal wood movement will cause that panel to cup at best, and self-destruct at worst, because the panel and cap expand and contract at different rates. The solution: breadboard ends that hide the end grain without hindering wood movement across the panel.
Here's how to plan a panel with bread-board ends.
- When you figure the overall finished length of the panel, take the breadboard ends into account.
- The breadboard ends are usually 2" to 3" wide, but you can make them wider or narrower for larger or smaller panels, if you wish. In either case, make the mortise depth about two-thirds the width of the end piece.
- Cut the tongue on the panel about 1/4" narrower than the length of the mortise in the end piece, and drill the dowel holes through the approximate middle of the tongue length.
- The length of the breadboard ends equals the width of the panel at its widest, which occurs during high-humidity months. If you build the panel in the winter, when the air is relatively dry, make the ends a little longer than the width of the panel.
Follow the steps on the following pages to add this classic -- and functional -- finishing touch to your glued-up panel.