Fit the Joint

Try fitting each breadboard end onto the tabletop. Chances are that it won't go without force, and that's fine. It's better that the fit be a bit too tight than too loose at this point. (If it's too loose, you can shim the tenons with glued-on veneer.) Don't strike the end piece with a hammer; if the fit is that tight, you'll have a very hard time getting the piece off. Typically, the tenons must be shaved a bit thinner. The best way to figure out how much to take off, and where, is by using a short test piece (Photo 11).

Pare the tenons as needed (Photo 12). You can use an electric router, a router plane (see Sources, below), or a rabbet plane. An electric router is fast, but you must be very careful not to cut into the joint's shoulders. A rabbet plane won't harm the shoulders, but you may create another problem: inadvertently leaning a rabbet plane from side to side will cut a taper on the tenons. A router plane works best-and is a fun tool to use! You can't cut into the shoulders, and the tenons will always be parallel to the top. Shoot for a somewhat loose fit for the breadboard ends. You should be able to push them home with hand pressure alone.

Use yellow (PVA) glue to secure the breadboard ends to the top (Photo 13). In the Titebond series of glues, use Titebond Original, which may provide more stretch than Titebond II or III. If you expect a large amount of movement in your top, don't glue the outermost mortises and tenons. Even up the top and breadboard ends using a hand plane, scraper plane, or random-orbit sander.

B Apply yellow glue across the entire joint. When dry, this glue has enough give to allow the top to slowly expand and contract with the seasons.

Sources

Freud, www.freudtools.com, 800-334-4107, Top bearing flush trim bit, 1" dia., #50-112. $30. Lee Valley, www.leevalley.com, 800-871-8158, Veritas Router Plane, #05P38.01, $135.

Cut the waste between the tenons using a coping saw. Twist the blade so it's at a right angle to the saw's frame.

nTest each tenon's fit using a short piece of wood that has the same groove and mortise as the end pieces. Ideally, this test piece should slip over the tenon with very little effort.

1 < ) Use a router plane or rabbet plane to pare the tenons 1 < thinner, if necessary. Support the router plane with the test piece you made that's the same thickness as the top.

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