How to Build a Drop Leaf

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A drop-leaf section of a table or desk folds down against the wall or the table legs when it is not in use. It is an excellent surface for small spaces, or for occasional use. Drop-leaf tables often have a center support from which the leaf or leaves hang, but they also can be built with only one leaf hanging from the wall. A hinged leaf section can be attached directly to a wall or to an existing table, as long as there is sufficient support for the weight of the leaf.

Things You'll Need

  • Hinges
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Stud finder
  • Cut a piece of wood to the desired size of the leaf, and prepare it for hanging by sanding and painting, oiling or varnishing it as you like.

  • Cut a wall support that is the same length as the side of the table leaf that will be flush with the wall.

  • Trim a section of the drop leaf surface from the main section that is the same width as the combined depth of the wall support wood, the leaf, and a support triangle which will be the same depth as the wall support. For example, if your wall support is 1 inch deep, and your tabletop surface is 3/4 of an inch, this section should measure 2 3/4 inches wide.

  • Attach this trimmed section to the wall support with screws so that it overhangs the support enough to attach the leaf with hinges. The hinges should be attached on the bottom side of the leaf surface so that they aren't visible when the table is open.

  • Attach the upper support to the wall if you are not attaching it to an existing table. Screw the support into the wall studs, which are usually 16 inches apart on center.

  • Build a support triangle below the wall support that can swing out to hold the table up when in use, and swing shut below the table when it is not. Attach the triangle with hinges to a piece of wood that is the same depth as the upper wall support, screwed into a stud, so that the support triangle lies flat against the wall support when in use.

  • Attach the leaf section to the hinges on the wall support. Make sure to use screws that are no longer than the depth of the leaf, so that they don't poke through the tabletop surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • A drop leaf can be added on to an existing table by simply attaching a support arm which can swing out to hold the leaf up when in use, and attaching the leaf to the table top with hinges.
  • Tables built with a large leaf may need the extra support of an extra hinged leg to hold the table top instead of the triangle support.

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References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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