Full Chisel Blog

November 16, 2008

Tripod Table Repair

This is an interesting reproduction tripod table.   R.G. KITTINGER SHOPS – NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y.  It was probably made in the early 20th century, there are slotted screws on the piece holding the top.


They actually saved the two pieces that broke out between the two dowels.  The couple that owns this table also owns the Child’s Rocking Chair, mentioned earlier.

Tripod table broken

Made of mahogany and glued together with HIDE GLUE.  The repairs were easy, cleaned the surfaces of dust, coated everything with liquid hide glue and put it back together.  When doing repairs it is important to do them as soon after the damage as possible, so the breaks are sharp and fit back together well.

Tripod Table, repairing

I clamped a small wooden C-clamp across the leg to give a purchase for the other two clamps, a wooden cam clamp and a small iron adjustable clamp.  All surfaces needing protection had a piece of soft wood to prevent marring during clamping.  With everything snugged up, I used a wet rag to remove the glue that squeezed out.

I will give it a coat of Moses T’s Reviver and it will be ‘good as old’.

If I were going to make a tripod table, I would either make a jig that fit the leg like the above C-clamp to give a purchase or have a notch in the leg (in extra wood, cut off later) to allow a good seat for the clamps.  But then if I were going to make a tripod table I would use sliding dovetails instead of dowels and there is no need for this type of clamping.



  1. I agree with you Stephen. Dowels seem like a weak connection for such a high stress application. Sliding dovetails would be much stronger and more traditional. I would also expect that with the cross grain orientation of the dowel joinery, the joint would likely fail again after a few seasons of movement since the only thing holding it together is the glue.

    Comment by Bob Rozaieski — November 17, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  2. Bob,

    That is one way to tell reproductions from originals, newer ones have dowels. I must admit a broken dowel joint is easier to repair than broken sliding dovetails, I have repaired a lot of both types. During the centennial of America (1876), all things colonial were popular and there were a lot of reproductions of much earlier pieces. A lot of people own ‘colonial revival’ furniture thinking they own Early American pieces. Last summer I sold a nice Hepplewhite sewing rocking chair for $250.00, it was a revival piece, had it been an original I would have got $2500.00. The difference was dowels instead of mortise and tenon.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — November 17, 2008 @ 7:12 am

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