Breadboard Ends: Practice Project

Shatranj chess board breadboard endsI have a table I am building in the near future. I’d like to incorporate breadboard ends, but I have never made them before. Rather than going in cold, I thought I would practice them first. And rather than making breadboard ends on a sample, I thought I would incorporate them into a small project so my time was better spent.

Project: Shatranj chess board

Shatranj is an ancient game that evolved into what we now know as chess and was played an un-checkered chess board. It is an interesting piece of history and you can read much more about it at The board is a simple panel of light wood (in this case maple) with saw curfs outlining the squares. The breadboards ends are made of walnut for visual interest, and are thicker than the main panel so they also act as feet to lift the board off the table. I also put some felt underneath the board to prevent the item from being used upside down!

Breadboard ends: The details

The work happens in 3 stages: 1) tongue and groove, 2) mortise and tenon, 3) draw-boring. One example video (of many) is this one by Tom Figden.

The first step is to make a rabbet on each side of the panel and a corresponding groove in the end pieces. The rabbet is wider than the groove is deep so that it can be subdivided into tenon sections separated by narrow tongues. The corresponding mortises are chiseled out of the ends. Lastly holes are drilled in the middle of the mortises in the ends. The holes in the tenons are offset slightly towards the shoulder so that dowels, once inserted, will draw the ends onto the main panel. The center tenon hole can be left alone, but holes on the outboard tenons need to be elongated to accommodate seasonal expansion and contraction of the top. I pounded in the dowels without any glue, and then sawed them flush to the surface.

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