How To Hide Levelers In Furniture Legs

Barna Mink’s Homepage - Hidden Leveling Legs

Take a look at this furniture leg I made:

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like anything is out of the ordinary. It’s a 1 1/2" square post that was made by laminating two 3/4" plywood panels together, then cut to size. The corners were rounded over on the router table. Finally a felt circle was pressed on the end of the leg to protect the floor it will stand on.

…or so it appears. Because take a look at another picture of the same leg:

Aha! The leg has a neat built-in leveling feature. IMO such leveling legs are very underappreciated. I almost never see a discussion of them on woodworking sites. But they’re actually very practical and will save tons of frustration throughout the lifetime of the furniture. In this post I show how I build this leveler assembly.

By the way: rocking furniture is not necessarily the woodworker’s fault. Wood can shift over time, and few houses will have perfectly level floors everywhere. We live in an old1 house with the original mahogany hardwood floors which are 1) beautiful and 2) also quite uneven. So there is almost no point in being super perfectionist about evenness… it’s pretty much assured that levelers will be needed at one point or another. It’s much better to build the leveling feature into the pieces instead of having to constantly shim the legs with unsightly makeshift solutions.

The leveling assembly I’m showing here costs pennies, and can be put into the leg in under two minutes by drilling two holes. When fully closed, no one will know it’s even there.

To put it together, you only need a T-nut and a bolt that fits the nut and has a flat, wide head. These often are called “elevator bolts”. You can get them in a variety of lengths and head sizes.

First, mark the center in the leg:

Then drill a hole that’s the size of the T-Nut’s outside diameter, in this case 3/4". A Forstner bit should be used in the drill, so the hole has a flat bottom and is generally tidy. The hole should be deep enough to accommidate the T-Nut plus the bolt, when fully closed.

Next drill another, deeper hole into the center, which will accommodate the bolt’s shaft. Make sure the hole is deep enough for the whole length of the bolt to fit inside the leg even if the leveler is closed all the way. Since I’m using 1/4" bolts, I drill a 3/8" hole. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step).

Then hammer the T-Nut into the hole. Here I simply use the bolt turned upside down since it’s head is also 3/4".

It all then should look like this:

Note the deeper hole in the center for the bolt’s shaft.

If the leg will stand on hardwood or otherwise sensitive floors, stick a felt pad on top of the bolt’s head. And you’re done!

I build a lot of these, and they always prove to be a great addition to the piece I’m working on.

NOTE: This setup will work best for light-duty furniture. If you build e.g. a heavy table that’s moved (dragged) around a lot, it’s possible for the dragging to loosen T-Nut to and for the whole assembly to fall out of the leg. I’d probably use a different leveler method for such furniture.

  1. Old for the U.S. – built in 1923.↩︎