How to Replace a Butterfly Table Leaf

What You'll Need
2 by 8 Lumber
Wood Laminate
Wood Planer
Wood Jointer
Table Saw
Wood Dowels
Wood Glue
Sander and Sandpaper

A butterfly table leaf is a tremendous space-saving feature of many dining room tables. This is basically a simple piece of wood that is dropped into the middle of a table to expand the surface area. When the extra table space is not needed anymore, you can simply remove the butterfly table leaf and push the two sides of the table together for a smaller table. After several uses, the table leaf can have some scratches on it, or the sides will be too worn to use effectively. Here are some steps to replace the butterfly table leaf with a new one that you build yourself.

Step 1: Remove Old Butterfly Table Leaf

In order to replace the butterfly table leaf in your dining room table you must remove it if it is installed. You want the replacement to resemble the previous one so you will need to use it as a model. If there are any latches on the bottom of the table that hold it secure, then undo these. Pull the table apart. Lift the butterfly table leaf out of the center of the table and then press the two halves together. 

Step 2: Measure and Cut

Take a measurement of the old piece for the dimensions of the new butterfly table leaf. Transfer these dimensions onto the 2 by 8 wood. (If the width of the table leaf is more than that you will need to glue two pieces together or use wider lumber.) Add an additional 1/4 inch to the sides for jointing purposes. Cut the table leaf out on the table saw to the correct length.

Step 3: Plane and Edge the Wood

To make sure that the wood is perfectly level and square, run it through a planer and jointer. Make sure that the thickness of the wood is such that the laminate will bring it flush with the table surface. 

Step 4: Drill Holes for Dowels

On each side of the table leaf there will need to be holes drilled into it. One side will have just the holes, while the other side will have dowels. Look at the table itself to see which side the dowels should be on. 

Step 5: Install Wood Dowels

Apply wood glue to the ends of the dowels and insert them into the correct side. Make sure that they are cut to the correct length after they have dried.

Step 6: Sand and Apply Laminate

Use an orbital sander and go over the surface of the table leaf. Wipe off the sawdust and apply wood glue. Spread the glue so that it covers the entire surface. Lay the wood laminate on top of the wood and press it down with a heavy object or roller. Trim the sides with a utility knife once it dries. Repeat the process with the bottom portion of the table leaf.

Step 7: Install Leaf in Table

Pull the table apart so that the butterfly table leaf will fit in the opening. Lay the leaf on the metal rails and line up the dowels with the holes. Press the table together and secure with the latches.