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Making a Folding Table Stable
In 7 Easy Steps
We were given a couple of folding tables, which nice as they are for some bizarre reason the legs were rounded at the feet making them a little rocky on carpet and a loose fit under the table top when pulled out; making the tables a little unstable and rickety.
The object of this simple project is to straighten and level the legs to give them a wider surface area to sit firmly on carpet and to make the legs a tighter fitting under the table top when pulled out. Thereby making the table stable and of real practical use when needed.
Both tables were untreated bare wood, so as I finishing touch, not just to make them look more presentable but also to provide some protection from knocks and stains from spilled drinks, coffee mug rings etc. I also applied a couple of coats of oak effect yacht varnish.
This is a simple and quick how to project that should cost little or nothing, unless you need to buy any varnish to smarten up the table once you have made the couple of minor tweaks mentioned here. All photos in this simple project were taken by me.
- Hand Saw
- Tape measure
- Paint brush
Time required: 1 hour
- Thin strip of wood or plastic
- Panel pins
1. It can clearly be seen, with the table upside down on my workbench to reveal the underside of the table top, that when the legs are pulled out to stand the table up there is a 1/4 inch gap between the retaining bar and the leg support rod. This gap allows the rod too much easy movement making the table rickety when in use.
2. Therefore my objective was to find something slightly less than the gap to fix to the underside allowing the leg top supports to slide over it and when in the open position for this strip to but against the leg tops holding them more firmly against the under edge rim of the table top; hence making the table that little bit firmer when standing. In searching through the odds and ends in my workshop I found an old rubber door seal that was the ideal thickness; and once the brush was pulled out it was a simple job of fixing it in place under the table top with a hammer and a few panel pins.
3. The next adjustment is to level the rounded table legs to increase their surface area of contact with the floor to make the table more stable, particularly on carpet. To achieve the correct angle of cut, and ensure all the legs are shortened to the same height, place the table upright on the workbench and lay a small flat object next to each leg in turn as a guide for marking with a pencil. A small piece of skirting board or an offcut from some half inch plywood would be ideal; as it happened I used a small spirit level placed on its side, as being just the right size e.g. to cut just enough leg off to level them with the ground rather than being rounded at the end. Obviously you will not want to use anything much thicker in that the more leg you cut off the shorter the table becomes.
4. Having marked the correct angle and height for cutting use a square and pencil to mark around all for sides of each leg to clearly show where the legs need to be cut. Cutting them square at right angles would not work simply because the table legs, when pulled out are at an angle. So each leg needs to be cut straight at the angle marked, similar to that shown in this image.
5. Having marked out where to carefully cut each leg along the marked lines with a hand saw; and then quickly rub smooth any rough edges around the cut wood with a piece of sandpaper. Essentially, the table should now be ready for use; although before doing so you may wish to check for any loose screws or nuts and perhaps give it a lick of varnish to give it a good finish.
6. Therefore, put the folding table back on your workbench to check that it now stands firmly and that the legs are fully in contact with the work surface of your workbench. Also check that all screws, nuts and bolts are fully tight, sometimes they loosen with use making the table less stable and more wobbly. Although do not over tighten the nuts so that they cut into the wood or make the table too tight for the legs to be pulled out, albeit a good table will use washers to reduce the risk of over tightening.
7. Finally, if the table does not already have a finishing surface wipe the table top and legs over with a damp cloth, or white spirit, to remove any sawdust, and allow to dry. When dry apply a couple of coats of varnish, wood stain or paint etc. My preference for something like this is varnish to bring out the natural wood while protecting it from knocks and spillage. For this project I used a quick drying, oak effect, yacht varnish which gives a tough and waterproof finish.
To renovate or buy
Would you go to the bother of renovating an old table to make it stable, or would you just dump it and buy a new one?
As demonstrated in this simple DIY project, just a few minor adjustments such as regluing, tightening the odd nut or screw, or even just a fresh lick of varnish or wood stain can breathe new life into old furniture; feel free to leave your useful tips or views in the comments at the end of this article.
If on the other hand you want a sturdy folding table but don’t fancy renovating an old one, or don’t have one to strengthen, then one of the options below might be suitable.
Alternatively: Make Your Own Bespoke Folding Table
An Easy Woodworking DIY Project
You may not have a folding table, and even if you do, you’ll probably not be using it on carpet where the rounded legs cause problems with stability.
However, you may still want a folding table for other purposes; the main advantage being that it folds away when not in use, and then stored conveniently out of the way.
You could just go out and buy one, but if you’re a DIY enthusiast you might want to consider making your own bespoke folding table. Although it might look daunting, they’re not that difficult to make, and in some ways simpler to make than a conventional table.
The advantages of making your own are that:-
- · It would be to your own bespoke design
- · It doesn’t require much material and therefore not costly to make
- · It’s made to measure to suit your requirements, and
- · You can design it to be sturdy
The last point is perhaps the most important, in that many foldaway tables (especially the cheaper ones) can be a little rickety.
Making my own foldaway table from scratch isn’t something I’ve done yet, but the video below (which I found on YouTube) is of a brilliant super strong design and construction; and after the demonstration of how it’s constructed the complete list of materials (with measurements) is given.
Therefore, if you are thinking of making your own foldaway table this video would be an invaluable how to guide.