How to Level Chair Legs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tim Parry


It’s not uncommon for wooden chairs to wobble a little bit. This can be because the chair was assembled poorly or mistakenly. It can also happen when a chair has been used a lot. There is a way to level the legs in just a few minutes. No, it does not involve putting a folded piece of carton under the problematic leg. If you're wondering how to level chair legs, you just need a small coping saw.

Step-by-Step Instructions on Making a Chair’s Legs Level

If you’ve already identified the leg that is the one causing problems, you can skip steps 1 to 3.

1. Put the chair in the upright position on a countertop or similar surface, such as a table. You will want to see the four legs perfectly.

2. Rock your chair from side to side, mimicking a rocking motion. Bow down, so you’re at eye level with the table or countertop. Take a close look at the legs and note under which of the legs you can see the daylight. Also, make sure to note the gap between the leg and the surface it’s standing on.

3. Now rock the chair a little harder. You will by now notice that one of the legs will not move. Two of them will have gaps under them, and one of them will bounce a little bit. Mark the leg that refuses to budge with a piece of tape. That will be the one you need to trim. If you find that two legs refuse to rock or move, you can trim either of them.

4. Turn the chair on its side, so the leg that is marked is on top. Some chairs come with metal circles on the leg-end that looks like a thumbtack. Use a hammer and chisel and tap the thumbtack to get it off.

5. Put a piece of (masking) tape on the leg where you have taken off the thumbtack. Wrap it around evenly and use the measurement you have noted as a gap of daylight.

6. Use your coping saw to cut the chair leg off at the tape mark. Be sure to use short strokes, so you get the leg off evenly. Then sand the end of the cut-off leg by using a hand block. A 100-grit sandpaper should suffice. Once you are satisfied, replace the thumbtack.

7. Put the chair back into the upright position. Rock it back and forth again. If it still continues to rock, remove the thumbtack and trim off more of the leg. You should trim off only about 1/16 inch. Do the test again, and if it is necessary, trim the leg again. Be sure not to trim off too much.

8. When you are happy with the legs of your chair, sand and round the leg-end by using a hand block. You can color the trimmed area with a stain marker if you so wish.

Note: Always wear safety glasses when you work with saws and wood. You could easily get splinters in your eyes and cause serious damage. It is also recommended that you wear gloves to keep your hands safe.

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Tim Parry

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