Table Leg Modification

I answered an ad on a Facebook page seeking someone to do work on a wood lathe. After a few private messages, I met with the person who was re-finishing a 100 year old table that was a family heirloom. The table legs were turned with some beads, coves and flutes but they were about 2 inches short because casters were removed so the customer wanted them extended in a motif that complimented the existing style. I accepted the job and like all things involving restoration, a few surprises occurred along the way. The following photos tell the story.


Unequal Lengths

The legs were not equal in length so the leg extensions needed to be different lengths to compensate.

Spreading Glue

First things first. Stock had to be glued up so billets could be created that were greater in diameter than the existing legs.


One of my favorite things about woodworking is watching glue dry!

Stock Ready for Milling

Glued up and ready for milling. Hard to believe there is 5 board feet of oak here.

Band Sawing

Band sawing the glued up stock.

Cross Cutting

The squared stock is next cut into individual working size billets.

Billet Leg and Stock

Here is a look at the billet, the leg and the remaining stock from which additional billets will be cut.

Facing Top of Leg

The top of the legs were not flat so I took a shaving cut on the lathe. As it turns out, this was a big mistake.

Hit a Nail

As I was facing the top of the leg, I heard a ticking sound and stopped the lathe for a look. Oh no! I hit a nail and when I checked the other legs, they all had embedded metal. Lesson learned, never turn old wood before checking with a magnet.

Regrinding Tools

I actually buggered up two tools before I noticed the embedded metal so I had to re-grind the cutting edges.

Disc Sanding

My remedy for flattening the top of the leg was to use a disc grinder. The table and miter gauge helped to keep things square.

Ground Flat

Finally, a flat surface I can work with. Notice the nasty bits of metal embedded in the wood. I have no idea why they were there because the legs are screwed into the table with a central stud. Maybe they were originally nailed to the top?

Turning Tenon

OK, back to the lathe. The billet was turned round and a tenon added for chucking.

Drilling Hole

Once in the chuck, the mounting hole was drilled through the stock.

Scribing Billet

Because the extension diameter is greater than the leg diameter, the leg diameter was scribed on the end of the billet so I knew where to terminate the bead. The idea was to make the transition at a bead because blending to the same diameter was impossible due to the condition of the legs.

Turning to Small Diameter

The billet allowed for an oversize bead to hide the glue joint. Here the actual leg diameter is established for the remainder of the extension.

Diameter and Length Cuts

Cuts were made to establish the location of the bead, the length of the part and the small diameter.

Finished Turning

The bead was formed and the remainder of stock removed to final diameter.

Finish Sanding

The part was finish sanded to 180 grit. It was then parted from the waste.

Test Fit

The extension was test fit on the leg. Looks good!

Gluing End Grain

The remaining parts were turned and glued to the legs. After the glue dried, three long screws were driven for added assurance that the assembly would remain intact under various forces.

Equal Lengths

Here is a look at how the lengths match up. The extensions will be finished like the existing legs and the table should be a lot more stable because the legs are now equal length.

Completed Job

Glued, screwed and ready for delivery. I asked the customer to provide a photo or two of the finished table to complete this blog page. She graciously agreed and the next two photos tell the rest of the story.


The legs with extensions were finished like the table. Here is a look at the new legs as seen from a dog’s eye view.


The restored table proudly sits in their home for family and guests to enjoy for another generation or two. I was delighted to have played a roll in the restoration of this family heirloom!