Large Breadboard Worth a Brag

Back in 2007 I saw a breadboard platter in the Penrhyn Castle kitchens that really grabbed y attention for a few reasons. At first glance the breadboard might have been mistaken for, well, just a breadboard, but twin tenons through the breadboard end fascinated me because back in my apprenticeship we made some sycamore draining boards for a school kitchen we were refurbishing and we used the same method of diagonally offset draw-bore to unite the long edges and the breadboard ends. The thought of such work today doesn’t bear thinking about but these things enriched my life. I made one of the breadboards for my own use and the result as both a breadboard cutting surface and a counter saver all in one has worked really well. There is no glue  used along the breadboard ends but the whole thing has stayed together perfectly with no gapping along the long centreline. The main centre section has shrunk and expanded throughout its life but again no detriment at all to joint lines.

This is just by way of an update for joinery choice realities really. I’ve used this on furniture pieces to and it works really well. I’m sure you can figure it all out from the pics.


  1. B Power on 25 January 2017 at 8:49 pm

    I love the look of this breadboard and have just finished watching it on woodworking masterclass. That is now my next project. Can’t wait to try these techniques and physically see them in action.

  2. Marc D on 26 January 2017 at 1:08 am

    This is a double tenon rather than a twin tenon, correct?

  3. stephen on 26 January 2017 at 1:43 am

    The “diagonal offset” bit confuses me. I cannot picture this.

    • Marc D on 26 January 2017 at 2:04 am

      On a regular drawbore joint, the hole in the tenon is offset a small distance toward the shoulder. In this case, the hole in each tenon is offset both toward the shoulder and away from the other tenon. This way, the joint pulls the breadboard joint together while also putting the end (transverse) piece in tension between the drawbore holes.

  4. Marc D on 26 January 2017 at 1:59 am

    I wrote a comment about this being a double tenon rather than a twin tenon, and the comment was deleted. Paul wrote an article on this topic a while back, emphasizing the difference between the two. Is this not a double tenon rather than a twin tenon as stated? Just seeking clarity here.

    • Paul Sellers on 26 January 2017 at 7:43 am

      I don’t know if it was deleted or disappeared. It’s a double tenon, you’re right. I just liked the way ‘twin’ sounded this time, my being a twin and all.

  5. Jim on 26 January 2017 at 2:49 am

    This is a great project! I made one for my camping gear. When my daughter saw it she wanted one so I made one for her as a Christmas present from walnut. It turned out wonderful and was really fun to make.

  6. Korre on 26 January 2017 at 10:17 am

    I also made one last year as a christmas gift :). Mine was from beach.
    It is a very rewarding project.
    It was also the very first time I made something to give as a present what made it
    all the more special.

  7. Jonas Ericson on 29 January 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Interesting to see it’s made of oak. My experience is that oak normally dulls the knives rather quickly and carbon steel knives may also stain the board – but this doesn’t seem to have occured here.

    • Paul Sellers on 29 January 2017 at 2:20 pm

      I think that as to dulling knives there is no truth that it dulls knives any more than most other woods as we use carbon steel edge tools on oak every day and hundreds of thousands of woodworkers for millennia have done so. I could possibly see that leaving a wet knife on an oak cutting board would cause a black staining as a reaction to the tannic acid in the wood but it is in no way harmful and most people do not use carbon steel knives at all and that includes most cafes and restaurants where an occasional cook might prefer the edge a carbon steel might give them over stainless steel which does not cause a problem at all.

      • Sam Jackson on 31 January 2017 at 1:23 pm

        I think Paul has a very pawky, old school sense of humour. I had some time this last weekend; no need of a breadboard, but, the challenge irresistible. I found some pine off-cuts (rough) which could be used, provided they turned into reasonable ‘stock’. All needed to be squared and sized, the ancient, but lethal #4, the venerable but highly effective #5 and the not so ancient 4½ were all used and re sharpened. It took nearly a whole afternoon to ‘square’ and ‘size’ five billets to the precision Paul likes. A bump here, a slight over size there, a ski slope on the end of a bad ass board there; it is nowhere near as easy as it looks to get four square stock, all the same size, off the plane. Nevertheless I managed – was a close run thing; but, with a few minor imperfections, I had my ‘breadboard’ stock ready to go.

        And so, it began. I used three ‘long’ narrow boards of dubious character and two shorter, although no less suspect pieces for ‘the ends’. Three Tenon’s; the middle ‘hidden’ (forgot on the first – big hole – no lumber) the rest through and visible, with the draw bores. Trying to keep all ‘flat’, square and to fit is a serious test. You need to mean it; and not cheat. The end pieces, which house the rebate for the half Tenon’s (haunches if you like) need to be absolutely spot on. Half a mil either way and the long boards don’t square, a little off ‘dead straight’ on any Tenon cut is a misery; and, if the two visible ‘end Tenon’s’ are not bang on; then the whole thing becomes an amateur lash up, only worthy of the potting shed or the off cut pile.

        I did win, in the end; no simple matter though. Much like the frame saw – seems fairly straightforward; but if you haven’t actually made one – a good one – then Pauls ‘breadboard’ challenge will keep you awake at night. Skill, guile and cunning required; betcha Paul is still smiling – that breadboard, made from scratch, by hand, is a lesson in woodworking experience which cannot be explained in a quick video. Thanks Paul – I learned more from the ‘breadboard’ mistakes I made, which I will no doubt repeat, about ‘accuracy’. With practice, patience, and sharp tools, I shall – one day, be able to reproduce that breadboard with some precision. Much obliged for the lesson.

      • Jonas Ericson on 1 February 2017 at 8:58 pm

        Hmm, I’m working mainly in oak and pine as a boat builder (and in-between you use ash and elm as well) and it is no doubt that I have to sharpen my tools at least twice as often when I work in oak compared to other wood, I experience this daily. Oak really wears and tears on the edges. Still it is a wonderful wood for boat building.