Introduction: Fix That Annoying Table Leaf!

About: Photography teacher, woodworker, and general repair man

Too many of us have a hand-me-down table from our parents, grandparents, or somewhere else. The kind that would be great if only they weren't loose from 80+ years of family dinners. The kind with those annoying middle table leaf extension(s) that has no way of locking so there is always a gap that collects food bits or pinches arms.

You'd get rid of it because of those leaves but what would the family think. Then, you'd have to go table shopping and that sounds time consuming and miserable (and expensive).

Well, today I have a solution for your woes!

Step 1: Collect Your Materials.

You're going to need:

  • Drill with a small bit
  • Screwdriver (or bit)
  • Tape measure
  • Window latches (# of leaves +1)

Now, I only used [# of leaves +1] as my equation (5 total), but it was a stupid mistake on my part. You can get away with using that amount as long as there isn't a center latch to prevent your table from coming apart when it is closed up. Mine has the latch so I should have used double the amount of latches and put them farther out. My friend does not have the latch so he will not have this problem.

Check your table before you buy your latches to see how many you need.

Next, we need to chat about the quality of the window latches. I made the mistake of buying the absolute cheapest ones I could find. I found mine on clearance for under $1/piece and they certainly feel like it. Make sure the ones you buy are solid metal. I broke two of mine (thankfully, I bought 7) installing them because they were so poorly made.

Step 2: Line Up Your First Latch

(Like I said, I made a mistake by going for the middle. I should have gone with two locks close to the outside edges of the leaf. Oh well.)

I started in the middle. It isn't important that you be super accurate with your first latch (either in the middle or one on each end). Just be pretty roughly where you need to be.

Step 3: Mark, Drill, and Measure Some Holes.

Mark the holes on the latch side only. Then, drill very shallow pilot holes for your screws. DO NOT DRILL THROUGH YOUR TABLE!

Measure where each of your holes are.

This is an imperative step! If you don't set your latches parallel to the sides of your table your leaves will not be interchangeable. This will cause problems if you ever want to use less than the full set of leaves as one set of latches will not be able to close (leaving you with an annoying loose gap).

You will use these numbers to set the rest of your latches' pilot holes.

Step 4: Secure Your Latch and Catch, Repeat!

Secure the latch side first. Then, line up your catch so that it is firmly pulled against your latch (pull away from the latch). Mark and drill your holes. Secure your catch.

Repeat this process for all your leaves.

For the actual table you will be able to eye the latch and catch into place with the table fully assembled. I did it with the table in the upright position so I did not grab photos.

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