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A few years ago we bought a "bar height" kitchen table and chairs. It seemed like a good idea at the time but we hate it now. It's terrible to have to sit with your feet not touching the floor for long periods.

So my question is what is the best way to cut off the exact same length on all the legs on the table and chairs so nothing wobbles (too much)? The chairs have curved legs in the back so by the time they reach the floor they're angling a bit.

I don't mind renting a tool if the accuracy would be worth it.

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    you need something that can both cut, and find it's own level. do you have a tank of water and laser beams? if so, all you need are sharks to attach the laser beams to. – longneck Aug 1 '11 at 16:16
  • @longneck: Sharks never cut straight lines, and they don't follow directions well. – Tester101 Aug 1 '11 at 16:58
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    If you remove too much of a curved chair leg, you may run into issues of the chair being unstable. The curved leg gives the chair support and you might find that it tips backwards easier. – billoreid Aug 2 '11 at 14:50
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  1. Put the table/chair on a very flat and very horizontal surface. Ensure and double check with a levelgauge.
  2. shim the table/chair so that the top surface of the table/chair is level using the level gauge
  3. Take a pencil and tape it on a small block that is about the height you want the legs to shorten. Ensure that the block has parallel bottom and top planes.
  4. With the pencil on the block, scribe the legs of the table/chair and make marks all around.
  5. Cut precisely and carefully with a proper saw. Which is probably the hard part. If you start on a corner of a (square) table leg, make sure you cut on the cutting line on two faces.

in short:

Watch this video by Chris Schwarz: level the feet of a chair or sawbench

  • I like the block method. The scribe line has to go all around the legs to keep the angle and cut to the line and use a sander for fine tuning. Good advise. +vote – shirlock homes Aug 1 '11 at 22:01
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    I ended up using this technique and it worked out really well. No noticable wobble at all. Thanks! – Dave Mar 6 '13 at 20:51
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First, figure out how much you want to take off. Let's say it's 3". I can think of a couple ways to do this. Both ways require a perfectly flat floor - so you should actually double-check that with a long level first, to be sure there isn't any major sagging or something.

One way is to use a level and measuring tape, and place a mark exactly 3" up, plumb from the ground. Using the level avoids the curve in the legs, and will ensure that you're precisely 3" up from the ground.

Another way is to use a laser level that can project a wide, flat beam. Place it 3" from the ground, and then project the laser onto all the legs at once, and then mark everything with a pencil.

It's probably not a bad idea to use both methods, or at least measure twice (there's a reason the saying: measure twice, cut once exists). Both methods require very accurate marks, so be sure to use a sharp pencil and always mark at the exact same spot (like the top of the laser line). Place 2-4 marks around the edge as need. You can now use a string or wire, and draw a line all the way around, or use a piece of tape, to perfectly mark the perimeter of where you need to cut in order to get a flat, level cut.

Once you have marked everything, you need to cut the legs. This can be tricky, since you also need to get a flat cut. Without seeing the actual legs, it's hard to suggest exactly how to do this. The legs may come off the table, which will make things easier.

I'm thinking that using a miter saw with a jig or fence set up 3" away would be a good method, so long as you can physically get the legs in there. Place the bottom of the existing legs flat on the jig, and then double-check the blade is going to come down exactly on the line you made earlier. Be sure to account for the kerf.

You may also be able to get a hand miter box around the leg, clamp it down once it the straight cut is lined up with the leg, and then use a hand saw to make the cut.

If you're really good (careful and accurate) with power tools, you may also be able to use a jigsaw or an oscillating cutter. I'd avoid circular and reciprocating saws, they're not very accurate for this type of work, although if you're really good, a circular saw may be able to do it.

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I believe a saw, ruler and some sandpaper is all you need. No reason to make this more complicated than it needs to be.

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I just did this yesterday, and wanted to use my chop saw for cleaner cuts (my hand saw skills are not good). So here's how I did it:

  1. To hold the top of the stool level, I used a tiedown hung from a cross beam in my garage, and then attached the other end to the top of the stool leg. The tiedown allowed me to have a finer height adjustment, with the goal being to place the bottom of the leg on the saw base, and then adjust the suspended portion of the seat to a level position.

  2. I also wanted to make sure each cut was exactly the same, so I used a small piece of wood and clamped it to the fence of the saw, making sure that was not only at the right place to cut the desired length, but also that the vertical face of this piece was perfectly straight (vertically). I used this as another check to make sure the stool was level, by making sure the bottom of the existing leg that was to be cut, was meeting up with the vertical face of the block of wood (i.e. no gaps - these two should meet up cleanly).

  3. Since the bottom of the stool is now resting on the saw table and against the fence and the wood block on the fence, as soon as you cut, the stool will have nothing to keep it stable immediately after your cut. So the final step was to take a 2x4 and slide it under the portion of the leg (that would be remaining after the cut) and the saw table. Again, this is to support the stool and keep it from falling, possibly into the blade, as soon as you cut off the bottom.

  4. Re-check all the levels. I'd suggest using a partner to hold the suspended stool AND the 2x4 (or whatever size of wood you need) to keep the stool steady following the cut. Then make your cut, and reattach the tiedown to the next leg or as needed for your stool, to enable you to get set up for the next leg.

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I think the best way would be to cut a scrap piece the length you want the final height to be (minus thickness of seat/table top, and minus a piece of scrap mdf or similar to widen the base and stop wobble. ) on the chopsaw to make it perfect 90 degrees, screw on the scrap mdf to base, this creates your jig. Rest jig on underside of chair/table top. Mark each leg accurately with pencil or marking knife flush with top of jig. (As a guide) Cut either by eye or using jig to rest on taking care not to damage jig for other legs, doing so by resting a shim/piece of thick paper underneath (will probably need to replace paper shim for each leg if cut)

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I don't have an issue with the existing answers, but I have a small refinement. Assuming the original leg leaths are uniform, make a small block to be used for the desired amount of leg to remove. It's a much smaller piece than the making a template for the desired leg length.

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I apologize for not being more detailed in my answer so here is the updated, edited answer: I recently did this to my kitchen table. It was one of those counter-top height tables but since our children have grown big enough to climb up into the chairs, they started falling out of those high chairs and I didn't like that the counter-height made for a longer falling distance.

Step 1. Put tape all the way around the leg (one you will use as a template) where you want to cut and draw your cut line (after you have measured how much you want to cut on at least 2 planes of the leg. You need the tape to prevent the cut from chipping.

Step 2. Remove table leg, and cut with handsaw. You can make a saw guide from wood scraps by clamping them to the leg along the cut lines you penciled in.

Step 3. Now that you have cut your table leg. take the discard portion back to your other 3 table legs and using it as the template, tape and mark all other legs. Cut them in the same manner and reattach to your table. Use little furniture buttons to hammer into the newly cut bottom of your table legs.

You will have cut the same amount off each leg if you use the first leg cutting as a template to mark the rest. Just make sure you keep your kerf (width of saw blade) on the discard portion of the pencil line.

Over on my blog, I posted a how to for a table with tapered legs (very important to cut the legs properly otherwise the compound angles you are dealing with in a tapered table leg cut-down will cause a very uneven cut and a rickety result. I used a hand saw when I cut ours down and posted pictures on my blog Garden Full of Dreams of the saw guide I created with some wood scraps I had laying around.

It ended up working out great and I was even able to salvage the little nail button gliders that were attached to the bottom of the original. It was a 0$ cost to me and now I don't have to purchase an entirely new table.

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    This does not answer the question. It provides a story of why you did it, tells us to go somewhere else to see how it's done, and then says what a great solution it is. Answers that consist mainly of links to other sites are frowned upon here. This answer will likely be deleted, if it is not edited to summarize the information in the provided link. – Tester101 Mar 6 '13 at 17:55
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We just cut our counter-top down to 30" height. Since the legs were almost straight, we did a trial cut by just measured down 2" on each leg. We mounted the legs on to the table and then stood it up. There was no wobble!

We then removed the legs again, I cut 4 inches more off, remounted the legs, and the table still has no wobble.

Again---the legs were straight. However, I did the cutting on a miter saw. ALSO---I made sure I cut the same precision cut on each leg, not just take out the line. Rather, I looked very closely when I was lining up the blade.

Certainly, if the legs had angled down from the table, then the degree of angle would have to have been calculated.

Hope this helps.

  • This is not much of an answer. All you've done is brag about how you "looked very closely" and were successful in cutting legs the same length. – The Evil Greebo Aug 16 '18 at 12:33

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