Thread: Repair old drop-leaf table
17th Nov 2007, 12:22 PM #1
Repair old drop-leaf table
I brought a really old drop-leaf table when I came to Australia but the conditions here (?) are making it fall apart. The hinges were replaced some 50 years ago but the screws used are falling out with the holes being big now, and the wood 'powdery'.
I could of course send it to an antique restorer but that is my last option.
If I fill the holes with plastic wood the table might be usable again, but I would like to strengthen the surrounding wood somehow.
Or, there may be some better option?
17th Nov 2007, 02:27 PM #2
Type of wood?
I would have grave doubts about any plastic doing much good. A better solution is to carve pieces of fresh wood, about the same density as the original, and slightly over-size, then bang 'em (gently) into the old holes (with a spot of glue). Drill fresh holes & rescrew. Usually works a treat.
If it's a valuable Antique, you're supposed to make minimal changes, but if it's a regular user, think about more heroic approaches like glueing on a fresh strip of matching wood and re-setting the hinges. Trickier if it's a rule-joint, but not too difficult, depending on your skills & tool kit.....
17th Nov 2007, 04:02 PM #3
I agree with Ian.
I recently did similar to our drop-leaf table, 'cept I drilled out the existing screw holes, glued in lengths of hardwood dowel (Kugihikis are perfect for this. ) and then redrilled/rescrewed the hinges.
Given time, these dowels will probably work loose too (movement issues, aging glue, etc) but at least they'll be easily replaced without further damage to the table proper.
- Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )
18th Nov 2007, 11:19 AM #4Senior Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- United States
18th Nov 2007, 02:06 PM #5
Occam says the original wood is 'powdery', which sounds like it will make any sort of repair iffy. So if it's a 'user' piece, I would seriously consider glueing on a fresh strip, provided I could match the original wood. However, plugging the screw holes is so easy, I reckon I would try that first - nothing to lose....
18th Nov 2007, 03:10 PM #6
is it powdery from insect attack?Regards, Bob Thomas
18th Nov 2007, 03:16 PM #7
When the table first began to fall apart here we used part of matches to help the screws hold on. I will try the plugging method now, but with softer wood that the table is made of (oak, I believe), and water soluble glue. Thanks for the help.
The table might well be a valuable antique - it was made in late 17th or early 18th century. But it has been used and is still used as a dining table, with wear and tear clearly visible.
18th Nov 2007, 04:35 PM #8
"Powdery" more like dried out, crumbled wood. Have noticed no insect activity.
(I am taking the opportunity to see if I can attach photos.)
Last edited by occam; 19th Nov 2007 at 11:48 AM. Reason: wrong URL
15th Jan 2008, 05:06 PM #9New Member
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
Save the furniture
AAHHH. Please go gently. A lovely 17th or 18th century table needs professional restoration (sorry). Do as little as possible - and please never, ever, re-polish. I know of one very good restorer in Melbourne who is capable with older pieces.
Keep the table as original as possible (and keep the older hinges and fittings etc). Unsympathetic restoration can dramatically devalue pieces like this.
15th Jan 2008, 09:04 PM #10
16th Jan 2008, 05:11 AM #11Senior Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- United States
I'd say that your first step isn't with the table itself but rather what it is and what is it's value. That may affect how you want to deal with it. Contact an appraiser and find out if you have an old table, an antique table or a valuable antique table and let that help direct your next steps.
Here's where I cannot agree 100% with others on the finish, sometimes not repairing the finish can be worse than if someone did some work on it.
A piece can die just as easily from neglect and lack of finish as a piece that someone beats up religiously. I've worked on several pieces that had someone taken the time to repair the finish would have lasted a long time. As it was, little or no finish in many areas and a harsh environment, they virtually self-destructed over time. Not every piece is valuable (money wise) but can have great value none-the-less, be it sentimental value or something else.
If you can get a copy of Practical Woodworker there, in the last month or two there was an article on repairing the finish on an old dining room table. It would give you an idea of some of the things involved, whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it.
I'm not advocating you do it nor am I advocating having someone else do it for you. I'm advocating finding out what you have and make an intelligent decision on what should be done and by whom.
On your hinge issue, I'ld think about hand whittling some small pegs that will fit snug in the existing holes. Using Hide Glue, glue them in then carefully bore a hole up the center of the pegs for your existing screws. I'd recommend using Hide Glue as it's reversible and as long as you are careful in cutting the pegs to size, it would be reversed at any time.
19th Jan 2008, 12:17 PM #12
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