How should I go about repairing these pool table legs?

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Forum topic by BeerBrewer posted 11-10-2021 04:07 PM 811 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 325 days

11-10-2021 04:07 PM

I picked up a set of antique “pagoda style” pool table legs that I’d like to use on my antique pool table restoration project. I picked up the legs at an Bankshot Antiques in Albany NY. According to BankShot, the legs are “period correct” with my pool table, which they dated to between 1850-1880. The legs look to be solid polar that were veneered with what I believe is white oak. They are about 18-1/2” long. When I picked up the legs, they were painted black. So I stripped off the black paint and found that overall the legs to be in good shape. Meaning, I didn’t find any rot or checks in the wood but I did find a few issues with the original veneer. The veneer is repairable on three of the legs, however one of the legs will probably need to be re-veneered and I am looking for suggestions on how to accomplish that. As you can see in the pics that the legs are quite “curvy” and I am no sure how I should approach the re-veneering.

You suggestions would be appreciated!

Unless told otherwise, I am planning to use hot hide glue to apply the new veneer.

16 replies so far

View Ocelot's profile


3559 posts in 3918 days

#1 posted 11-10-2021 06:05 PM

I’ve never veneering anything, but I suggest you go to and look around.

There is some stuff called veneer softener that will make it very flexible – to apply to curved surfaces.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View jonah's profile


2255 posts in 4578 days

#2 posted 11-10-2021 07:29 PM

Any reason to not just build new ones out of solid wood? Veneering curved surfaces like that sounds like a bear.

Almost certainly would require a vacuum press or some other specialized equipment.

View LesB's profile


3134 posts in 4723 days

#3 posted 11-10-2021 08:59 PM

I would say if you haven’t worked with veneer before you should turn them over to someone who has. I’m a hard core DYI but sometimes it pays to pay.
Other wise I agree with the idea of building new ones.

-- Les B, Oregon

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21 posts in 325 days

#4 posted 11-10-2021 09:27 PM

I do have experience with veneer, I’ve just never veneered anything this curvy. I considered building them from scratch out of new wood. In fact that was my fall back position, if I couldn’t locate some period correct antique legs. I just couldn’t see restoring an antique 120-170 year old Brunswick pool table using new legs. Where is the challenge in that?

I was hoping that someone had already done something similar and could offer their solution. I’ve been thinking
about how to do this for a while now and I didn’t want prejudice anyone’s thinking, so I didn’t mention my unproven solution.

So here goes….. I was thinking of making a mirror image jig of one side of the legs out of pieces of wood. All 4 sides of the legs are the same, so the jig could be used on all 4 sides (just one side at a time). Then I was going to apply softener to the new veneer to get it as flexible as possible. Then I was going to use the “mirror” jig to press the veneer into place using clamps and hide glue.

View Ocelot's profile


3559 posts in 3918 days

#5 posted 11-10-2021 09:32 PM

You need shipwright. He’s one of the local veneer officianados. There was somebody else re-veneering a pool table recently. Search for that too.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View CWWoodworking's profile


2278 posts in 1459 days

#6 posted 11-10-2021 10:37 PM

I would make a form matching your leg with a caul to match. Steam your veneer then press it in your form.

Rinse and repeat until it is bent the way you want. It may take a couple times.

I would use a catalyzed glue for this. Not PVA.

View CWWoodworking's profile


2278 posts in 1459 days

#7 posted 11-10-2021 10:39 PM

The hardest part will be the miters. It looks like they are well rounded. You may want to sand them to a little bit more of a crisper edge.

You could also try to build up the corners with bondo, although this isn’t going to have much strength.

View splintergroup's profile


6003 posts in 2502 days

#8 posted 11-10-2021 11:21 PM

I’ve seen references for veneering curves where they steam the bajebus out of the veneer then clamp it hot between two forms that match the required profile. Let it cool, then proceed to veneer it to the real part using the same forms.

The steam only works for certain woods (usually air dried so the woods “stuff” is still pliable).

Anyhoo, no idea if any of this would work 8^)

View JCamp's profile


1456 posts in 1830 days

#9 posted 11-10-2021 11:44 PM

Any chance you can spin that damaged side to the inside where it won’t show? Aside from that I have no idea how to help other than the fastest way would be to make new round legs on a lathe

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Kelly's profile


3870 posts in 4224 days

#10 posted 11-11-2021 05:11 AM

Curious, if you’re worried about capturing the original look, why veneer only to paint, or was the paint a later solution?

Then there is that that looks like a cakewalk for a bandsaw and whatever wood you favor for the project.

View BeerBrewer's profile


21 posts in 325 days

#11 posted 11-11-2021 08:59 PM

The legs were painted black before I purchased them. I’m guessing that the poor condition of the veneer prompted someone to paint them. Bankshot Antiques in Albany saved them because they were still solid and not rotten. So I won’t be repainting them.

View shipwright's profile


8760 posts in 4078 days

#12 posted 11-17-2021 06:47 AM

With thin commercial veneer you can bend these simple curves just by getting them damp. You can pre bend them if you like or the hot hide glue will soften them when you apply it and you can do it in one shot. I’ll bet they could even be done with a veneer hammer but your caul idea is easier. Make the caul out of foam insulation. Piece of cake. Your bend is much easier than this one.
Look at the forth picture down. That’s white oak veneer.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

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21 posts in 325 days

#13 posted 11-25-2021 05:44 PM

I had not thought about making the caul out of foam insulation. I was planning to use wood and possibly use a thin layer of rubber to make up for any differences. Having said that, I like the foam insulation idea a lot better, but I’ve got a few questions.

I’m thinking that I should trim the foam to match the legs or should I just press the foam and let it take shape on its own?

I started looking for foam and its not easy finding a single piece big enough. I’d need a piece something like 24”x12”x4”. Is it possible to us 2” wide insulation and glue the pieces together somehow, much like it would the wood?

Lastly what type of foam should I use? There is Polyisocyanurate (PIR), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Styrofoam?

Sorry for all the questions.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!


View Foghorn's profile


1341 posts in 666 days

#14 posted 11-25-2021 06:19 PM

I’m not a veneer guy Bob but I wouldn’t use any of the foams you listed as they are too brittle. I’d look for closed cell polyethylene. Pretty commonly used for packing of electronics etc. although more brittle “styrofoam” is used as well. Glues or solvents also will not stick to polyethylene foam.

-- Darrel

View ibewjon's profile


2677 posts in 4073 days

#15 posted 11-25-2021 11:49 PM

You could try using foam in a can Wrap the legs in plastic wrap and apply the foam. After it cures, you may have a perfect fit. I would try it before trying to cut to match

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