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Fixing a small table that rocks a bit

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Forum topic by boston_guy posted 05-26-2017 07:00 PM 770 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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boston_guy

148 posts in 1989 days


05-26-2017 07:00 PM

When I saw this small table at my local Salvation Army, some weeks ago, I fell in love with it. Since it matches my bed, I figured it would be ideal to have bedside for a book/magazine/newspaper, water bottle, night snack, etc. But it definitely needed some tender loving care.

Since it was falling apart, I took out some of the old finish nails and put in new ones. After it became secure as a unit, I then sanded it as it a bit of a tired look. Then I gave it 3 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil & Urethane Topcoat (gloss). This is the type that you rub on with a cloth as opposed to using a brush.

The table now looks wonderful (I hope, you be the judge).

But there’s one small problem. The table rocks a little bit. One of its legs is slightly shorter than the others.

I thought of putting on some Bondo on the short leg and sanding it down till it was level with the others.

However, maybe there are better ideas out there. If so, how would you solve the problem? :)

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!


17 replies so far

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TungOil

747 posts in 334 days


#1 posted 05-26-2017 07:37 PM

I learned a trick from a chair maker years ago- usually chair makers will shorten the longest leg, rather than try to make the short one longer. One way to do this is to place your table on top of a table saw or other very flat reference surface and let the long leg hang over the edge. with the other three legs firmly against the table top, scribe a cut line on the long leg with a marking knife using the table top as a reference. then you can shorten the long leg precisely. Hope that makes sense.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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bondogaposis

4482 posts in 2190 days


#2 posted 05-26-2017 07:38 PM

If it rocks, it is because there are two legs on opposite corners that are longer than the other two. What I like to do is to put down some sandpaper on a level surface, like the top of my table saw and move the long legs across the sandpaper until it quits rocking.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Loren

9633 posts in 3487 days


#3 posted 05-26-2017 07:38 PM

You might try sticking a thumb tack in the
short leg. Remedies involving cutting off
another leg are easy to get wrong if one
doesn’t have some skill with a sharp chisel.

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CharlesNeil

2144 posts in 3710 days


#4 posted 05-26-2017 08:09 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiunzAJgdjw

older video but works well

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steve104c

18 posts in 1077 days


#5 posted 05-27-2017 12:31 AM

Try this. Shim the short leg until it is level. Take a compass and set it to the shortest leg(should be the one you shimmed. mark the other three legs with the compass at the same setting you set for short leg. Cut at each mark and that should make the table level.Be sure you set table on a level surface first.

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JBrow

1275 posts in 759 days


#6 posted 05-27-2017 02:03 AM

boston_guy,

Before trying any of these ideas, it may be worthwhile to confirm your suspicion that the table in fact does not set flat on a flat surface like that found on a table saw table or even a kitchen countertop. I have found that sometimes an imperfect floor can leave the impression that something is wrong with a piece of furniture.

If the table will not set flat on a truly flat surface, then simply pressing down firmly on the table top with your body weight may be enough to force the legs into the same plane and eliminate the rock. I mention this assuming that only finishing nails were used to reassemble the joints. Weight may be just enough to adjust the joinery so the table sets on the floor without rocking. But if the rock is severe, like that stool in CharlesNeil’s video, or the joints were reinforced with glue, I doubt this method would have much effect.

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bondogaposis

4482 posts in 2190 days


#7 posted 05-27-2017 02:57 PM

Here is another approach.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2716 posts in 1320 days


#8 posted 05-27-2017 03:53 PM

It can be 1 short leg. You have to figure that out first by setting on a flat surface and figuring it out.

I saw Curtis Buchanan do this:

Clamp hand plane sole up in vise flush with bench top. Rub long leg (s) back and forth.

This one is a little different because the bottoms are long and flat.

I think the sandpaper method will work best.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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BurlyBob

5066 posts in 2105 days


#9 posted 05-28-2017 05:38 AM

I’ve used the sand paper method Bondo suggests. It works well.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2611 posts in 2136 days


#10 posted 05-28-2017 11:11 AM

I would shim it and call it a day as it might be the floor. If you decide to move it to another spot after you sand down legs it may be bockety in the new spot. Or if that seems not professional enough to you get a set of the feet that you can adjust by turning in or out.

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Carloz

982 posts in 430 days


#11 posted 05-28-2017 02:42 PM


Try this. Shim the short leg until it is level. Take a compass and set it to the shortest leg(should be the one you shimmed. mark the other three legs with the compass at the same setting you set for short leg. Cut at each mark and that should make the table level.Be sure you set table on a level surface first.

- steve104c


And what if it is not one short leg but one long leg?

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dhazelton

2611 posts in 2136 days


#12 posted 05-28-2017 10:09 PM

comment deleted.

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1622 posts in 3130 days


#13 posted 05-28-2017 10:23 PM


Try this. Shim the short leg until it is level. Take a compass and set it to the shortest leg(should be the one you shimmed. mark the other three legs with the compass at the same setting you set for short leg. Cut at each mark and that should make the table level.Be sure you set table on a level surface first.

- steve104c

And what if it is not one short leg but one long leg?

- Carloz


It will always be both. You just have to decide whether you want it to sit “this way”, or “that way”.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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Carloz

982 posts in 430 days


#14 posted 05-29-2017 03:46 AM

How is it always both? If three legs are of the same length and the forth is longer it is not also shorter. I was referring to the post I quoted that his technique with shortening 3 legs when in fact one leg was longer would produce the same rocking as before.

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dhazelton

2611 posts in 2136 days


#15 posted 05-29-2017 11:23 AM

A yard stick or story pole would tell you which leg(s) is out of kilter with the others. My house was built in 1848 and EVERYTHING is out of kilter. That’s why I suggest using a shim and moving on with life.

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