One of the most common repairs that find their way into the shop is leg repair on small tables. Small pegs, glue, and a few screws holding on the legs are usually sufficient for years of service. But inevitably the day comes when someone kicks a leg out, and you’re left with a three-legged dilemma. This table is such a case. Here’s how we fixed it.
When the joint gave way, two things happened — a piece near the joint snapped a bit of wood off at the screw, and the opposing screw ripped out of its seat in the bottom of the table. Queen Ann legs are both beautiful and delicate, but they’re often a bitch to match and replace, so fixing it was the best option.
The leg was easy. A little cleaning and some wood glue got the leg back in one piece. That was set in the soft jaws of a clamp to dry overnight.
Next was to survey the wreckage left behind from the leg exiting the seat. One screw hole was fine, so it required no attention.
The large seat peg hole needed to be sanded out lightly to remove all the old glue to make room for the new glue.
The hole that was ripped to shreds was another matter. I dabbed in some wood glue in the area then stuffed a cotton swab in to rout out the excess and push the glue into the cracks and irregularities and let it set overnight. This just keeps it from separating anymore than it already is.
After the allotted 24-hour period it was time to mate the estranged leg to its table for the second time in its life. A generous helping of wood glue was set into the peg hole and the leg set in its place. The threads of each screw got a bead of Gorilla glue and were hand-cranked into a snug fit. The glue would hold the peg as before, and as the Gorilla expanded against the screw and wood it would lock the threads in place snugly, even in beat-up wood.
My friend’s table was again back up to four legs and shows no wobble or grievous wound from the encounter. The only outward signs there had even been an incident is the small crack line in the top of one leg, which couldn’t be helped without refinishing or replacing the bottom piece.
I should also take this opportunity to point out that this was a functionality repair on a table that, while valuable to its owner, is not a museum antique or priceless piece. If you’re concerned about how a repair will affect the value of a piece of furniture, consult an antique repair professional who deals in period-correct restoration.