Sears Sewing Table: Shortened Legs With Levelers

Mary picked up a sewing table at a tag sale:

Sears Sewing Table - installed

Sears Sewing Table – installed

It has a number of shortcomings (notice the padding taped to the corner of the useless drawers), but the most pressing problem was that it didn’t quite line up with the table top in the Basement Sewing Room. After some pondering, we decided to shorten the legs and install leveling screws.

The first problem was figuring out how to dismantle the thing. It turns out the legs have completely hidden joint hardware:

Sears Sewing Table - leg joint hardware

Sears Sewing Table – leg joint hardware

They’re obviously intended as assemble-only fittings, but prying from the inside of the corners will put the tool marks where they can’t be seen:

Sears Sewing Table - leg removal

Sears Sewing Table – leg removal

The legs taper below the fittings and require shims to prevent horrible saw accidents:

Sears Sewing Table - leg shortening

Sears Sewing Table – leg shortening

Another in my continuing series of Why You Can Never Have Too Many Clamps shows the square section of the leg aligned with the saw fence:

Sears Sewing Table - leg clamps

Sears Sewing Table – leg clamps

And when the cuttin’ were done, it turned out that the table had two different types of legs with (at least) two different lengths:

Sears Sewing Table - leg cutoffs

Sears Sewing Table – leg cutoffs

I have a bunch of 5/16 inch feet from some random industrial hardware, so I drilled a 5/16 inch hole into the legs, using a doweling jig and more shims:

Sears Sewing Table - leg drilling setup - overview

Sears Sewing Table – leg drilling setup – overview

Normally, you’d bang a T-nut into each leg, but I thought those spikes would split the minimal wood remaining around the hole, so I turned the corners off a quartet of ordinary hex nuts and laid a coarse groove along their length:

Sears Sewing Table - preparing nut inserts

Sears Sewing Table – preparing nut inserts

The modified nuts are 1/2 inch OD and you should drill that hole before the longer 5/16 inch clearance hole. I’ll eventually dab some epoxy in the holes, seat the nuts, and that’ll be a permanent installation with no risk of cracking the legs.

The snippet of tape on the doweling jig remembers the drill guide position, but the legs were sufficiently different that each one required different shims and some hand-tuning:

Sears Sewing Table - leg drilling setup - detail

Sears Sewing Table – leg drilling setup – detail

I dry-assembled the table in anticipation of more modifications. Basically, you wiggle-jiggle the leg studs into their latches, then whack the end of the leg with a rubber mallet to seat it against the underside of the tabletop.

Slicing another half inch off the legs seems like a Good Idea that should better match the upstairs table. Mary also wants to round off the drawers and remove a bit of the front panel, which will require dismantling the entire table, but that can wait for a pause in the quilting.


  1. #1 by Red County Pete on 2015-09-16 - 09:23

    We got a look at the quilts at a local fair, then stopped by the quilting/high end sewing shop. Way too many digits in the machine prices for our tastes, though on-line searching says there are one or two long-arm machines that only go for the cost of a well-used Bridgeport. Julie’s now looking at a Juki with a bit more throat space (9″ versus the 7″ of her elderly Elna). For her simple needs, a bulletproof machine that size should do it. ‘Sides, the longarm machines take up square footage we don’t have.

    Aside: I built Julie a sewing shop 10 years ago. Made it 10 x 12. As it turns out, I could have made it 200 square feet without needing a permit. Should have. Oh well…

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-09-16 - 09:30

      Way too many digits in the machine prices

      Aye! They seem like bad cost-performers based on expected longevity and required periodic maintenance.

      One such machine would use up all of the Special Treat exemption we use for buying frippery like, mmmmm, dark chocolate; more pondering seems in order. [grin]

  2. #3 by Jason Doege on 2015-09-16 - 09:50

    You are brave, using a radial arm saw…

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-09-16 - 10:49

      It scares me slightly less than the ancient table saw I never got around to setting up, which ain’t sayin’ much.

      With a radial saw and a small dollop of good sense, all of your fingers stay clear of the whirly bits. Judicious use of Too Many Clamps can reduce the risk of a flying workpiece harpooning your tummy; you cannot begin to imagine the setup I used for ripping some slats.

      If those instant-stop blade brakes existed when I did more woodworking, I’d have one; I think they’re not suited for radial saws, though.