In the latest issue of another woodworking mag, Ian Kirby makes some “interesting” assertions regarding breadboard ends. I was wondering what you all think about his statements that:
1. breadboard ends do nothing to prevent a panel from cupping, and instead are merely a bogus idea that we woodworkers continue to do for purely aesthetic reasons
2. hand plow planes cannot make stopped grooves – he offers this as an explanation for why early breadboard ends had through grooves.
Personally, while I generally like Kirby, I disagree with both these statements. I think breadboard ends are less effective than cleats (whether applied to the surface of a panel such as the underside of chest top or incorporated into the panel such as with sliding dovetail strips), but they do have some effect in limiting cupping.
Also, while I have rarely had occassion to do so, I believe I either have or could make a stopped groove with my Stanley plow plane (248 I think). I might have to finish up the last bit on one end by turning my plane around and working against the grain to acheive full depth – or maybe clean that bit out with a chisel, but the bottom line is that it is far from impossible. I’m also no furniture historian, but don’t many pre-industrial frame and panel doors, for example, have panels floating in stopped grooves (presumably cut with a plow plane)?