How to Replace a Butterfly Leaf in a Table

applying brown stain to wood with paintbrush
What You'll Need
Wood that matches the table
Drill and bits
Wood stain
Protective clear coat
Tape measure
Circular saw
Safety gear

Dining-room table leaves are fixed sections that allow you to modify the width or length of the table. These leaves can be useful for extending a table when you have company, or compacting a table to make more space when it’s not in use. Drop-leaf tables have flaps on either end, while butterfly-leaf tables extend from the middle. Over time, some leaves can become worn and old.

Luckily, it’s easy to make and replace table leaves, especially butterfly table leaves. If you want to simply replace a leaf, you can begin at the first step below. However, if you’re modifying your current table to accept a leaf, you must first cut the table in half with a circular saw and add wooden pegs to the tabletop before completing this project.

Step 1 – Take Measurements

Before getting the proper lumber for your leaf, take the measurements of the leaf you will be replacing. Open the table, and measure the length, width, and thickness of the leaf. Jot these measurements down.

Step 2 –Select the Wood

Try your best to purchase the same lumber that the rest of your table is made out of. However, if this isn’t feasible, do your best to match the wood type, pattern, and color. Remove your current butterfly leaf and move on to the next step to begin replacing it.

Step 3 – Cut Leaf

Now that you have the leaf measured properly, you can cut your wood with a circular saw to the proper dimensions of the leaf as measured in the first step. Wear all appropriate safety gear when cutting the table.

Step 4 – Drill Holes

Next, drill holes into the sides of the leaf, to latch onto the wood pegs that are sticking out of the table. Measure the diameter of the wood pegs to know the proper drill bit to use.

Measuring the Wooden Pegs

In addition, measure the length of the wood pegs sticking out of the table. Drill into the leaf at least as far as the length of the pegs. Do this on both sides of the leaf. Because the holes aren’t parallel on both sides of the table, make sure to mark the exact location on the leaf where the peg will go.

Step 5 – Install the Leaf

Now, open the table and insert the leaf. You will need to align one side of the leaf with the wooden pegs sticking from the table, and then slide the other side into the leaf. Push forcefully from both sides to make sure that the pegs are secure.

Securing the Latch

There will be some sort of latch underneath the table. With the leaf firmly in place, close the latch, securing the three parts of the table.

Step 6 – Finish the Table

Even an unfinished table won’t match a new piece of lumber. Therefore, you should finish the table and leaf together to ensure the pieces create a seamless-looking tabletop.

Work with the pieces as if you were working with one large piece of wood. Strip away any finish on the table down to the bare wood, and then sand the tabletop. Then, stain the dining-room table any color that you desire. Once the stain has dried, you can add a protective topcoat.