Dowels and Screws in Breadboard Table Ends

Thoughts on fastening breadboard ends to avoid movement-related problems. March 26, 2007

I am new to the BBE (breadboard end) construction. My tabletop is glued up nice and flat, breadboard ends are cut, slots cut, tenons cut. The Greene and Greene pics I see have the plugs on the edge of the breadboard ends, thus under the plugs, screws go into elongated holes into the end grain of the tenon. Shouldn't I be concerned that the screws would not hold in end grain? I see that the more traditional breadboard ends have the screws/dowels entering from top or below the breadboard end, not the end edge.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
I use just dowel and glue through end of BBE. Keep dowels close to center of table to allow for expansion, and a couple finish nails on the outer edge. These will bend slightly during humidity changes.

From contributor O:
If you make the holes in the breadboard ends oval, there should be no problems with the screws holding in the end grain, as there will be little or no force trying to pull them out. If you're worried about it still, you can always dowel it from below in addition to/instead of the screws (a lot of the Greene and Greene pegs and splines were just decorative anyhow, not always structural). Just make sure your dowels go all the way through the tenon (oval hole again) and up into the breadboard end.

From contributor C:
Glue the center dowels solid and farther out. Only glue the top part of the T&G. Leave the hole in the tongue oversize or oval to allow for movement. Greene and Greene probably had a steel round headed screw under the pretty plug type fake tenon. I produced a 66" by 124" 1 3/4" thick island countertop of solid walnut planks, used a breadboard end system. I left about 1/16 extra on each side of the top on the end caps and with seasonal changes, it was about flush on the sides in the rainy season in Florida. The surface never showed any movement with a slight v joint where the ends met.