Child's Play Table Restoration


My sister had a child's oak play table that our mother had painted in her 70s "milk can antique green" phase.

At some point the table had been painted again...this time an antique white...and then the top had been sponge painted to make it a chess board pattern.

A leg had broken off and now the unit will have a lower assembly rebuild.

It will be painted a slate grey (along with the chairs)...the body will be red oak and it will be coated with my "shop mix" wiping varnish.

My sister will present the table to Walt...her first grandchild.

Table Assessment

Design Plan

Wood Selection and Milling


Sanding and Surface Finish

End Product


Table Assessment


The table leg that had broken off in a angled hole in a leg support strip.

The existing legs were all somewhat spindly and had substantial rake and splay angles.

The legs were square but were turned at a angle away from ninety.

All of the tapered ends were somewhat loose in the sockets.

The condition of the joints confirmed the decision to abandon the legs.

The paint was at least two thick layers with a sponged on third coat on the top.

The best method of paint removal was determined to be scraping with the Benchcrafted Skraper...


...followed by power sanding down to the wood.

Used 100x paper on the 150mm sander.

The top is 1/2 thick oak veneer playwood...the ends of the table have been rounded.

In some places the three coats of paint were so hard to work with that I eventually use a stripper and power then sanding to get a surface that could be worked.

Imperfections will be filled and the top will get a primer coat.

Later, the top and the chairs will be painted a slate grey.

Design Plan
Because the legs were so spindly, and the rake and splay angles were difficult I decided to make an entirely new base out of oak.
The top will be painted...a darkish color, slate gray?...the skirts will be 3/4 inch thick oak and two inches wide...

...there will be a 1/8 inch reveal...

The legs will be 1 inch square...tapered on the inside faces at 3/8 inches.

The skirts will join the legs with mortise and tenon joints...tenons will be 1 1/2" tall x 1/4" wide by 1/2" long.

They will be pinned with 1/4 inch oak dowels.

the tenons will need to be beveled at the end...~1/8 off at 45°

...this will allow the two tenons to mesh.

Measurements for mortise location on the 1 x 1 inch legs.

Wood Selection and Milling

My brother-in-law, Rusty, delivered up some red oak to me. This wood was milled on a farm in south MS and stored in a barn many years ago.

The wood is barn dry.

Boards were about 12 feet plus, 5 inch plus wide and 6/4 thick.

At the Benchmark table, Cindy and I cut them into 6 foot plus working blanks...

...and stored them to surface dry, it had rained the day they were delivered...

...then transported them into the shop.

As a test, I jointed a face and an edge of a cutoff...the boards seem resonably consistent in color.

After several projects using the red oak chair, in particular...there were numerous CTD blanks around and these became the blanks for this project.

The one inch x one inch legs were given 1/4 inch wide by 1/2 inch deep mortises...milled with the PM dedicated bench mortiser.

Finished mortises on the four legs...

The mortises were cleaned up and squared with chisels...

The 3/4 inch thick skirts were then given 1/2 long tenons...these were produced at the PM66 with an Infinity .25 square top blade using the dedicated cut off sled.

The tenons were given a final fit, if needed, with LN shoulder plane...then dry fit...
Chisels squared and pared the mortises...

...then because of the overlap of the two tenons inside the leg (as shown in Sketchup above)...the inside corner of the tenon had to be removed...chopped it at 22.5°and just nibbled off the corner...after all the joints were tested, then the legs were ready for tapering.

The legs were then tapered on the inside faces...about a 3/8 inch taper over a 15 inch run...done at the PM66 with shop built taper jig.

After tapering one face...the leg was rotated...had to use a cutoff tapered wedge to secure with the clamp...

The amount of taper...

Final dry fit before assembly...


I glued the two short skirts first...used PVA.

Clamped down tight...

Dowels...used 3/16 inch poplar dowels...laid out holes at 3/4" off bottom and top of skirt...1/4 inch off reveal...drilled to a depth of 5/8 inches.

Dowels glued and tapped in...

Flush cut...

Then glued and clamped the long skirts...added dowels...

...the skirt/leg assembly will be screwed to the underside of the top...the fasteners are expansion washers.

Countersunk slots on the upper edges of the skirts were made with a 1/2" Forstner bit (depth = FAMAG 1/2 bit) and chisels...

The expansion washer was secured with #6 x " square drive screws...

The eight expansion washers were then secured to the underside of the top with #8 x 5/8" round head, square drive screws...

Sanding and Surface Finish
The legs and skirts were all sanded after final milling and before the glue up...power sanded with Rotex 90mm to100x, and then 220x,

The finish for the legs and skirts was shop blend rubbing varnish.

The oak plywood top was sanded to 120x and then the pores and imperfections were filled with Timbermate...

Primed the top, 2 coats.

End Product
After the top is painted...  
With the use...  





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