Charles Limbert Dining Table Restored

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Project by Sawdustonmyshoulder posted 01-04-2018 02:20 AM 2681 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had the chance and the honor to work on an authentic Charles Limbert dining table over the past few weeks. The table was 48 inches in diameter and had only one of its leaves remaining. At first, I was asked just to refinish the top and caulk paint the base. I wasn’t commissioned to do any type of restoration on the table.

It had been kept in a outdoor storage building with no heat or humidity-control. It even had grass growing in the wheels of the base.

The table was in the possession of a co-worker and her husband. It was the table that her husband’s parent’s wedding cake sat on during their wedding. My co-worker and her husband had no idea of what they had in this table. In fact, his mother was ‘going to put it on the burn pile’ before he rescued it. Only after I had progressed in the refinish project did I find the Limbert logo on the underside of the top. I googled the name (which I thought it was LAMBERT but found that I was wrong) and saw that the table was a true antique. I informed the client so they decided to have me pursue a bit more restoration.

The table had fallen into disrepair over the years and many nails and several lag screws were driven into various parts to bolster it. At sometime a steel band much like you would use on a pallet of boxes was placed around the base to hold it together. The table had at least two coats of paint on it…. one coat brick red and another of black. The sliding mechanism seemed hopelessly ‘frozen’ and would most likely need to be replaced.

I started out by removing the skirts which were secured by #14 slotted flat screws (you can’t find these screws ANYWHERE!!) and all the boards of the top fell apart because the 100+ year old glue failed.

The skirts had two areas where they were broken and needed repaired.

My first task was to remove the paint on the top. My first attempt was to use a heat gun and putty knife but found that a newly acquired Stanley #82 scraper from an estate sale was thing to use. The paint scraped off easily revealing an abused set of quartersawn white oak boards complete with burns and water marks from various glassware left on the varnished surface. I just needed to keep a very sharp edge on the scraper blade.

Once the paint was removed, I had to devise a way of gluing the top back together so I made a ‘jig’ to get equal pressure on the joints.

I repaired the skirts by sawing off the broken parts and gluing on new substrate with quartersawn white oak veneer that I made.

Now I came to the base. I removed the steel band and found that the base was designed to split apart and support at least 4 – 12 inch leaves. The handle on top of the base was used to pivot ‘claws’ inside it to hold it together. The screws holding the pins which the claws grabbed were missing. I drilled and filled the old screw holes and replaced the screws. The claw system worked very well now.

I now tackled the base. Scraping the paint and repairing cracks and nail holes.

The sliding mechanism was ‘frozen’ so I thought I would remove it from the base and see if I could free it up. Well, low and behold there were about 9 nails driven into the slides from the underside of the base. No wonder it wouldn’t slide. After removing the nail, it would move so I cleaned all the roach poo and dead roach bodies and dirt out, waxed the slides and reassembled them. Boom… they work great.

I put two coats of Old Masters Dark Walnut stain and three coats of Waterlox finish on all parts.

I assembled the table top to the slides and she was done.

Thanks for your interest in this project.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

10 comments so far

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3624 days

#1 posted 01-04-2018 02:50 AM

Nice work

-- Rick M,

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4821 days

#2 posted 01-04-2018 03:21 AM

Great save it looks super.


View Dave44's profile


9 posts in 4723 days

#3 posted 01-04-2018 01:50 PM

Good Job.

-- Dave North Carolina

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4110 days

#4 posted 01-04-2018 03:24 PM

You did a wonderful job on restoring this table. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View pintodeluxe's profile


6488 posts in 4057 days

#5 posted 01-04-2018 04:08 PM

I’m a big fan of Limbert furniture, so this was a thrill to read. The story about the slides is comical, and I can just see that happening after years of use and then some abuse too.

The first picture after you applied the stain! Wow!

By the way, what’s the big metal handle on the base used for?

Great post.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View TungOil's profile


1384 posts in 1739 days

#6 posted 01-04-2018 04:33 PM

Wow, what a fun project and great find! Thank goodness it was saved from the burn pile!

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


489 posts in 4872 days

#7 posted 01-04-2018 08:01 PM


The handle is the control for the hardware that holds the split pedestal together. When you want to extend the table, you would move the handle and the claws on the inside would release and the pedestal would be able to split. (see photos above). When you moved it back together, the handle would move and a set of “claws” on one side of the pedestal would grab a set of pins on the other and lock the pedestal together.

Here is a photo I found of a similar piece of hardware.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View Carey  Mitchell's profile

Carey Mitchell

193 posts in 3203 days

#8 posted 01-04-2018 08:48 PM

Great restoration. My grandparents’ round oak table is still in the old home, which has been vacant since my mother died in 1994. My uncle owns the house and told me to retrieve anything I want, so I will be looking at the table. Its in really good shape compared to yours; both leaves are present, there are 6 chairs and a sideboard, all in pretty good shape.

Now, all I need is somewhere to store all this stuff and more importantly, a destination for it when finished. My son won’t want it and there are no other relatives. Doing the restoration and selling it would not be at all cost-effective, as people today don’t seem to want this kind of furniture.

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3501 days

#9 posted 01-04-2018 09:51 PM

Sawdust, thank you for sharing. What a wonderfully happy ending to the story!

-- Art

View nkawtg's profile


302 posts in 2495 days

#10 posted 01-04-2018 11:25 PM

That’s very similar to my table, though I doubt its a Limbert.
Nice job and nice save.

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