How to Repair Vintage Table [or Chair] Legs

Hi there! How was your weekend? Ours was lovely. We celebrated my sweet husband’s birthday with old friends on Saturday night, and my sister came into town from Atlanta on Sunday. We had several hours of catching up and good food before she headed north to my mother’s.

As I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I managed to squeeze in a few hours of vintage shopping with my husband on Friday afternoon. I stumbled upon a French provincial night stand for $10, something I’ve been hunting for lately. I have an itch to paint something blue and I think it will be perfect.

Speaking of furniture, when one buys old furniture one has to watch out for legs and spindles that have come out of their socket (or are about to) and other parts drying up or become weak, as antiques are want to do.

The oak plant stand that I’m going to talk about today, I picked up at an estate sale on half-off day for $2. I knew its legs were shaky, but I loved its simple style and knew I could easily fix it. So that’s what we’ll do then, learn how to repair vintage table [or chair] legs.

How to Repair Vintage Table Legs adirondackgirlatheart.comThis small plant stand was in very bad shape when I found it at the estate sale.

vintage table with loose legs (1200x979All four of it’s legs were completely disconnected from the top. As the wood dried, the dowel end of the legs shrunk and pulled out of their “sockets.” Made from dark stained oak, I knew, however, that it had much more life left in it.

toothpicks and elmers wood glue (1200x1151)With some toothpicks and wood glue, a table like this (or even chair legs), can be easily fixed, making it sturdy and useful again.

Elmer's wood glue and paint brush (1200x1200)
Squeeze some glue onto a paper plate and dip an old paint brush into it.

Repairing leg on vintage plant stand with elmer's glue & a toothpick (1200x800)Spread the glue evenly all around the dowel, as shown.

Repairing leg on vintage plant stand with wood glue and toothpick (1200x800)Tuck the glued end into the “socket” along with the end of a toothpick, as shown. If you have trouble pushing the leg and toothpick in, tap the end of the leg with a mallet until it sinks in, flush with the bottom of the table top.

Repairing leg on vintage plant stand (1200x800)This is what it should look like.

Repairing leg on vintage plant stand (1) (1200x800)Break off the end of the toothpick, and if this little bit showing bothers you, slice it off with a sharp knife.

Vintage plant stand (791x1200)After fixing all four legs and letting them dry overnight, this little table/plant stand is like new!

Vintage plant stand (771x1200)If I planned to use it outdoors, I would give it several coats of polyeurethane.

Vintage plant stand (3) (800x1200)But I’m planning to offer it for sale in my antique booth, so it’s all set to go. I’ve lost count of the number of tables and chairs I’ve repaired in this way. Some I’ve kept for years, others I’ve sold. It’s not economical to save an old chair and give it new life, but it’s “green” as well. It’s a very promising “save,” I promise you.

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How to Repair Vintage Table Legs (1)

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    1. Great, Hillary!! You’ll have to let me know if you have a chance to fix some legs of your own 🙂

  1. My dad would always cut a small circle of cotton cloth, soak it well in carpenter glue and put in around the chair leg before scrunching it back into the hole. held forever

    1. Brand new “fix it” for me, Sharon! Thanks so much for sharing the idea with us. I’ll definitely be giving it a try 🙂

  2. Excellent tutorial, Diana! Now when will we see that French Provincial bedside table painted blue? Can’t wait!

  3. Great hints about the toothpick and cloth. I bet a flat ended toothpick or two would work in some cases also. I passed up a free chair on Sat. caz it need that kind of repair. Oh, well. I’m ready for the next one now!

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