What Is an Expanding Table?

Anna B. Smith

An expanding table is a table to which additional pieces may be added or subtracted to change the number of seated guests it may hold. This type of design may be referred to by a variety of names, and allows the table to be used for multiple purposes, whether as a small side piece or a central dining room buffet. These tables may be ordered online, or purchased in local furniture and antiques dealers stores.

A person who throws many dinner parties may want to invest in a dining table that can double as a buffet table.
A person who throws many dinner parties may want to invest in a dining table that can double as a buffet table.

The expanding table may also be known as a leaf table. The leaves are the extra pieces which may be inserted, often into the center of the table, to increase its size. This type of table expansion typically rests on sliding slats hidden on the underside of the table. The slats can be unhinged from their locked position while the two outer edges of the table are pulled in opposite directions to create a central opening. The leaves are placed into this opening over the support slats and latched to the outside pieces for stability.

This type of design may also be used to expand circular tables. Unlike the more common rectangular or oval shaped table, the circular expanding table requires a solid wooden base upon which the changeable tabletop is mounted. The central leaves of the circle may be constructed to slide or twist outwards revealing a star burst patterned series of gaps. The leaves that are inserted into this pattern are often differently shaped, depending on the manufacturer of the table. They may include a series of identically shaped pieces that fit together in the center, or pieces that are specific to the edges or the center of the table to complete the overall woodworking pattern.

Another type of expanding table is known as the drop sides table. The center portion of the table remains fixed on support legs, while between two and four outside edges may be raised to increase the size of the table. The raised edges are locked into place using angled supports that are permanently attached to the legs of the table. The central fixed portion of the table is typically rectangular or square in shape, while the completed shape of the table when the edges are raised may be square, rectangular, or circular, depending on the design of the dropped sides. These edges may be dropped at any time to allow the table to be pushed against a wall or used in a smaller space.

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