Repairing a Cracked Table Leaf

Duration: 6:47

A friend of mine owns a very old dining room table. It belonged to her parents, and has an heirloom aspect that she’s very proud of. Unfortunately, over time, some of the table leaves developed cracks. Not huge cracks but, still, unsightly. I wanted to help her save the table.

What NOT to do

Sometimes when woodworkers run into splits like this they want to simply push glue into the crack, get clamps on it, and squeeze the crack closed. The good news: you’d probably be able to get the split to close. The bad news: that’s not a long term fix. In all likelihood the crack will simply open up again over time. There’s internal tension that causes the crack, and you’re fighting that tension trying to squeeze it closed.

What you SHOULD do

The best way to take care of this is to cut right through the crack, typically a ripping cut, joint the sawn edges, and glue the pieces back together. For the table leaf I fixed I used a bandsaw instead of a table saw for the rip cut. This keeps the kerf and lost wood as small as possible. Because the table was already finished I used biscuits to keep the finished faces in alignment as I glued them back together. Biscuits aren’t necessary for strength, only for alignment.

The result was a nearly invisible repair. The heirloom table is back in business, and ready for many more years of service. It’s tips like these that can help keep your woodworking going smoothly. WWGOA works hard to keep the tips flowing. Be sure to have a look at all of our great woodshop tips.

Discussion
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5 Responses to “Repairing a Cracked Table Leaf”
  1. Daniel Breig
    Daniel Breig

    A lot of table leaves have an edge board, 2 or 3 inches deep on the back of the leaf. I presume you just cut right thru them also?

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      If it can be removed, that would be ideal. If not, you’ll have to make a judgment call as to whether you want the additional seam in the edge board. It won’t likely glue up as cleanly as the main cut.

      Paul
      Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply
  2. GLENN
    GLENN

    Noted you ripped board freehand without fence. Do you feel the boards usually stay square after jointing due to such thin kerf?

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      If you look closely at the video, you can see that the fence is used for the cut. The boards generally stay square after jointing, but the thin kerf doesn’t have any bearing on that. The jointer produces an edge that is square to the board’s face, regardless of kerf size.

      Paul
      Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply