Table Leg Extensions

Customer has an odd request: a table with legs that adjust from coffee-table to dining-table height. Pros suggest solutions. August 30, 2005

I'm doing a job as a favor for a designer. She wants a coffee table height table because she eats sitting on the floor, but she also wants to be able to put extensions on the legs so the table will be at dining table height. Has anyone ever done this or have any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor M:
As much as I don’t like the idea, the best way to handle this problem is to make a KD system. The legs you design for the coffee table will also need to be made in a longer size as well. The KD system legs just bolt on.

From contributor S:
If you’re using a turned leg you could screw a threaded insert into the bottom of each of the legs and the attach hanger bolts to the ends of the leg extenders. I would advise at least a 3/8" bolt. The reason why I suggest this solution for turned legs is that if you screw square stock together it may not align properly when it locks together. It's not an ideal solution, but could work if the piece spends most of its life with out the extenders.

From contributor G:
If the table has tapered legs, a solution may be to make an extension that the tapered legs would slide into somewhat like a mortise and tenon. It would self align and if made to close tolerance they would not slip off while moving the table and should be fairly easy to remove. The extension does not need to be the same shape as the table leg which would open up many design options. The table could actually look be transformed by installing the extensions.

From contributor R:
I'd think that a pair (2 sets) of parallel-arm tabletop lifts would work fine if you mounted them to a couple of table slides so that you could slide the halves towards each other once the top is lifted. You'd probably have to also use a table leaf in the center because of the motion of the lifts and their position once raised, since it would keep the top from rocking.

A latch system would also be good to have so the table doesn't fall accidentally and to hold it in position on the slides. If the commercial lifts aren't long enough in the arms to get the height needed, it wouldn't be that difficult to make them yourself.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor V:
You might consider the same screw type mechanism used for television lifts incorporated in a dual pedestal design, or use cables as lifts, similar to window couterbalances.

Comment from contributor K:
This might work even if your legs are wood or metal. Make the original top with the short legs for coffee table height and than engineer a set of legs that could be mounted as folding legs underneath the top. Hopefully, you have an apron around the bottom edge to hide the folded legs when they are not in use. This way you would not have to worry about losing an attachment to the short leg. Just fold the legs up under when you want the short table. Trick is to be able to mount both sets of legs in a position that will result in a stable table, either short or tall.

Comment from contributor U:
How about a stacking set of nesting tables? When your friend has company, stack them. When home alone, nest them.

Comment from contributor W:
This general type of table is quite common on large boats. It is usually called a Hi-Lo table. The mechanism that allows change is some sort of simple hydraulic system, as I remember. Built one many years ago.

Comment from contributor F:
I would suggest cutting four plastic electrical conduit (or pipe) pieces the length you want for the tall table. Of course, they should be bigger in ID than the existing short-leg table. Paint to match.