How to Replace Dining Table Leaves

Table leaves rank as one of the lowest priorities in household storage -- except when the extended family is due to arrive for a holiday feast.
A replacement leaf makes the table less crowded.A replacement leaf makes the table less crowded.
By then, the last move or that basement corner may have done its damage, resulting in delamination, warping or downright absence. If the local salvage supply or antique warehouse can’t fix you up with a replacement, fabricate your own. Cover it with the table pad and a tablecloth and you won’t have to worry about Aunt Maud’s wine glass tipping into her lap or begging the neighbors for card tables.

Step 1

Open the table and measure the distance between the sections. Leaves customarily come in 12-inch widths, and the table should open 2 inches wider than the total of the leaves for finger clearance during assembly. If you need more than 12 inches, make two leaves.

Step 2

Cut a new leaf out of 1-inch plywood with a circular saw to fit the space of the old leaf. Lay it into the opening and measure the difference in height between the table top and new leaf.

Step 3

Build your new leaf up by adding a second layer of 1/4-inch plywood or composition board until the new leaf is the same height as the table.

Step 4

Glue the two pieces together, and clamp them together or hold both down with weights overnight.

Step 5

Sand the leaf. Match the short outside edges so they are beveled to approximately match the table top, and sand the long sides smooth. Rough-sand the top and bottom surfaces to eliminate splinters.

Step 6

Set the new leaf into the table and mark where the wooden pins that lock the leaf in place need holes by squirting some graphite or rubbing carbon paper on the existing locking pins.

Step 7

Drill 1/2-inch deep receiving holes and lock pin holes with a drill bit the same diameter as the locking pins. Cut wooden dowel with a coping saw to make new lock pins that stick out 1/2 inch from the new leaf.

Step 8

Sand the ends of the new lock pins so they don’t splinter. Glue them and tap them in place with a mallet. Let the pins dry thoroughly before putting the new leaf in the table.

Things You Will Need

  • 1-inch plywood
  • 1/4-inch plywood or composition board
  • 1-by-4-inch lumber
  • Circular saw
  • Wood glue
  • Mallet
  • Wood clamps, bricks or books
  • Power sander
  • Graphite
  • Drill
  • Wood dowel rods
  • Coping saw
  • Sandpaper

Tips

  • Stain and varnish or cover your new leaf with self-adhesive wood grain paper or cork.
  • Add side facings to the new leaf to match your tabletop by cutting 12-inch sections of 1-by-4 and attaching them to the tabletop with woodblocks. Sand the bottom edges carefully so that diners don’t catch clothes or, worse, pick up splinters.

Warning

  • Always use eye protection when operating power tools such as a circular saw.

About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.