In Tricks of the Trade

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On my best work, I want the bottom of my project to look as good as the top. That’s when I make an old-fashioned set of wooden tabletop fasteners, or “buttons,” rather than use the modern stamped-steel type.

A button allows a solid-wood top to expand and contract through the seasons. When the top’s grain runs parallel to the rail, the button slides in and out of the slot as the top slowly moves. When the grain runs at right angles to the rail, the button slides side to side.

To make the buttons, cut dadoes in a long block. Drill and countersink holes for screws, then chamfer the long edges. Saw apart the blocks and chamfer the ends with a file or disc sander.—Tom Caspar

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