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How to Apply Leather to a Table Top

Dan Antony

The top of a table takes a lot of abuse. But, if the legs and frame are in good condition, a leather top will make an old table look new. You can apply leather by covering the tabletop completely--by wrapping it like a gift or applying a leather inlay--or by simply applying a piece of leather and using upholstery tacks as an embellishment. This is the simplest and least expensive method, which should take no more than an afternoon’s work.

Step 1

Measure the length and width of your table top.

Step 2

Calculate the size of the leather top you will need by subtracting 4 inches from both the length and width measurements. This will allow a 2-inch border on all sides. Adjust these measurements if desired.

Step 3

Trim raw leather to the desired size. Sharpen your shears or craft knife as you move from one edge to another.

Step 4

Position the leather on the table, and “frame” it or "outline" it on all sides with painter’s tape. Remove the leather, but leave the tape on the table.

Step 5

Strip the surface inside the tape frame with a liquid furniture stripper. Roughen the stripped surface with 200-grit sandpaper.

Step 6

Apply a thin layer of vinyl wallpaper paste to the surface inside the tape frame, then remove the tape. You should have a perfect rectangle, wet with paste.

Step 7

Position the raw leather at one edge of the rectangle of paste and unroll it carefully.

Step 8

Smooth out the leather with your hands and lay heavy books on it--reaching every corner--to strengthen the bond. Allow the paste to dry.

Step 9

Leave the raw leather top as is or embellish it with upholstery tacks. Measure 1/2 inch in from every edge of the leather and mark the leather with tailor’s chalk. Measure along those lines and mark where you will place the tacks, about 2 inches apart.

Step 10

Apply the tacks carefully with a small tack or ball-peen hammer. Be careful not to hit the leather because it will show the dents.