I'd like to shimmy if you'd show me how...
May 20, 2013 9:43 AM   Subscribe

The shims that let our our table slide open for leaves are broken, so the table is split in half. If I could just get these little wooden pieces replaced, our table would be like new! So how do I get them replaced?

Basically, I don’t know what kind of business to call. Do I search for carpenters? “Woodworking?” Or is this something I can get at a store? Any advice would be helpful.

Background: our dining room table can expand to fit 2 leaves. Recently, the table was collapsed as small as it could go. Then it was pulled apart with too much force and something could clearly be heard breaking. The tabled ended up falling into two halves - the slides that held it together are no longer attached to each other. The good news is it appears that the slides that held the table together are undamaged, and the only thing that broke were the shims that held the slides together. So my hope is that we could get those replaced and keep using the table. Unfortunately the shims are a seemingly unique shape. I know nothing about woodworking and I don’t have any tools for the job (I don’t even own a hand saw!), so we would need to have them made, and I don’t know where to go or who to contact to have it done. I was told that I could probably get them at Home Depot, but unsurprisingly it turns out these are not a standard size and shape and they didn't have them.

Here are some pictures and a video of the sliding action: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28511449@N06/sets/72157633504543193/. It appears that each side of each “track” has a shim nailed into it to keep it from completely coming apart and each track has a single shim that travels to allow the table to slide (so 3 shims total - 1 attached to each side + 1 travelling).

So help me, AskMe - how can I get these shims made so we can have our table back? It's a pretty nice and otherwise-sturdy table, so we would be willing to pay fairly well to keep this nice table as replacing it with a table of similar quality would be very expensive.
posted by Tehhund to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Best answer: I think a furniture maker is what you need. Do you have a local "joinery" group? They could probably help you find someone who handcrafts furniture. You could look at a custom cabinetry shop or a custom furniture shop, too.
posted by amanda at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try this place or google "furniture repair [your city]". That shape is unique, but the tool that makes it isn't. They might be able to fix/re-duplicate that while you wait.
posted by resurrexit at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you could get away with hiring a cabinet maker or carpenter to fix this, it really looks like a simple fix. From what I can tell it's basically a bit of work with a table saw and a router.
posted by iamabot at 10:21 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes a cabinet maker will have their shop set up with machines that make this a breeze.
posted by anadem at 10:22 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any woodworker with a router table or a shaper can re-create it (heck, you could probably do it with a table saw and a little more skill with that tool than I've got), but it's probably part of a commercial slide assembly, like the Rockler Wooden Trestle Table Slides.

If you've got a local woodworking supply shop (A Woodcraft or Rockler retail outlet, maybe a good high end lumber-yard), they may have close enough slides in-stock.

The price for the complete assembly is enough that it may be worth having someone make one, but being accurate enough to get a good sliding surface is non-trivial.
posted by straw at 10:35 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

To me, it looks like it was made with a more-or-less standard dovetail bit. If it's on the "more" side of standard, you can get a bit that will match the angle and depth and it can be replicated easily. I'd find a cabinet maker and ask if they would do that - and they might be more amenable if you showed up with the mating bit and asked, "how much would you charge to fix this?" keeping in mind that it shouldn't really take longer than an hour of their time.

Otherwise, you replace the slides with something prefab, which means finding something that at least matches the leaf sizes. Then you take off the old slides and screw on the new ones.
posted by plinth at 11:30 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes any cabinet maker could crank those sliders out in less than an hour though there might be an additional hour of fettling to get the slide action smooth. Heck the pieces are small enough I'd probably just free hand the piece with my 78.

However the groves the broken piece slides in seem to be failing as well so you might want to consider replacing the whole assembly. Depending on your desire to to maintain an appearance of originality you could replace the wooden slides with metal units.
posted by Mitheral at 11:33 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like people are saying just order some on line. They will come with mounting instructions. And probably cheaper than getting a cabinet maker to custom make some (most likely he would order them and mark up the price, that's business.)
posted by Max Power at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2013

You know, someone could write an FPP about this problem, but it would be a double. If you want to know all kinds of technical details about this issue, feel free to read through all that. Your specific problem (beyond your spine's getting split in half) is that the grain orientation off all the pieces is mismatched so they shrank and expanded along different dimensions. In this picture you can see that the runner has clamped down so hard on the spline that it's started to rip itself in half. Or look at the grain orientation on this one.

I think mounting new runners on this might be the best bet for your long term happiness.

And that said, be very careful when you buy screws and drill holes for those new runners so that you don't drill through or bump up the table top.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:07 PM on May 20, 2013

If you have all the pieces that broke, try gluing them together with carpenter's glue and clamping them overnight. Unless the the crack was oily or dusty, it'll be as strong as it was when new. Try to scrape away the "squeeze out" before it gets too hard.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:22 PM on May 21, 2013

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