4 places to find metal feet — aka “ferrules” and “sabots” — for table and chair legs

Mid-century-brass-furniture-leg-tips

Kathy writes:

I bought a mid century kidney shaped coffee table in excellent condition, but it’s missing the metal feet. Where might I be able to find replacements — preferably in silver.

You ask — we research! This was actually a bit more complicated than expected, because we had to learn about ferrules and sabots first. But we have three places to find replacement table let feet for you, Kathy. 

What is a ferrule? What is a sabot?

In order to be able to find the metal tips that Kathy needs to restore her table, we first needed to understand what these “metal leg tips” are actually called. Pam asked me to do some research on the subject, and I found that these metal tips are referred to as both ferrules and sabots.

vintage-carpentry-booksWhat better place to look for answers to this question than my mid century furniture making books? First I checked Cabinetmaking and Millwork by John L. Feirer. In this book’s section about furniture legs, five different styled metal leg tips were shown and referred to as ferrules.

Ferrule is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

A usually metal ring or cap that is placed around the end of a wooden stick or handle to strengthen it.

My other mid century furniture making book, How to Build Modern Furniture by Mario DalFabbro, shows an illustration of a metal leg tip and refers to it as a metal shoe. The book also states:

Rubber, plastic tacks, and metal glides are the end fittings most commonly used with wood legs to prevent scratching of the floor. Other types largely used include the ferrule metal shoe, metal shoe with adjustable glide, and swivel glide caster.

After looking up the word sabot, I found that it means “shoe” in French.

Further searching led me to the Artisans of the Valley hand crafted custom woodworking site, where their glossary of wood working terms defines both words:

Ferrule: Normally a metal cap attached to the end of a slender shaft for strength or to prevent splitting.
Sabot: A French term for the gilt-bronze “shoe” at the bottom of furniture legs.

Having read all of this, I believe that when referring to “mid century metal furniture leg end caps or tips or shoes” either term — ferrule or sabot — is technically correct. I’m thinking: A sabot is always a ferrule, but a ferrule is not always a sabot — as a ferrule could also be used to strengthen a part other than the end of a furniture leg. With proper terms now in place, I began the search for replacement ferrules/sabots.

4 Sources for metal ferrules and sabots

1. Pampco, Inc. – Pampco, Inc. was the first company I found that mentioned manufacturing ferrules, sabots and leg protectors for straight or tapered furniture legs. Their website didn’t offer much information on the specifics of ordering their products, so I reached out to the company for more information.

Adam Prestwood replied to my questions on behalf of Pampco, Inc.. He writes:

We do in fact make leg ferrules and our company probably made a lot of the ones that you or your readers have on tables or chairs.  We will be able to manufacture something if we have tooling for it.  The best way to determine this, is to forward us the top inside dimension, bottom inside dimension, and the height.  That way we can look at our existing tooling and see if we can find a match, or something close that may work.

Unfortunately due to the time sensitive nature of our business, we had to implement a $100 minimum charge in order to keep our production schedule on track and satisfy our customers with larger orders.

While is seems like Pampco, Inc. is an authentic producer of ferrules for mid century legs — the company has been making them since 1930 — their $100 minimum order (an assuming they have a tooling match) doesn’t make them a likely source for individuals who are looking for one or two or even four ferrules to repair their retro furniture.

Ifsco ferrules

These steel brass-plated tapered ferrules from IFSCO are just $1.50 each, but you must order 16.

2. IFSCO Industries — The search continued, and led me to another authentic retro company in business since 1946 – IFSCO Industries, Inc. — which offers five sizes of steel brass plated ferrules to fit wood furniture legs. At $1.50 each, these ferrules could be an excellent solution for small scale furniture repair except for the minimum purchase quantity of 16. Still, if they have the measurement you need for your furniture repair project, ordering 16 ferrules would cost $24 — much lower than the $100 minimum order needed for Pampco, Inc. and the cost of just two (all-brass) ferrules from tablelegs.com (profiled below.) Note, IFSCO Industries, Inc. also has a juicy looking selection of vintage vinyl colors and patterns including retro favorites like pink, aqua, pale yellow, orange, olive and goldenrod that can be purchased by the yard; the company is gearing up to load all this inventory in ebay and will let us know as soon as they are ready to sell it efficiently via that channel. Watch the blog!

furniture leg-tip-finishes3. Tablelegs.com -- I ordered McCobb style mid century legs for my bathroom vanity from the third source on today’s list, tablelegs.com. I noticed they have added several new products, including metal tips for their mid century styled furniture legs. The metal tips — or ferrules — are made in six finishes and are fabricated to fit their offering of McCobb wooden legs.

According to TableLegs.com:

metal_table_leg_tipThese metal tips are designed to accent the line of Mid-Century Modern McCobb Table Legs.

The tips, also referred to as ferrules, are a hefty weight. No skimping here. Made from solid brass. Choose from six finishes.

When you buy McCobb Mid Century Modern Legs to go with these metal table leg tips, the leg will be serviced with a turning to accommodate the thickness of the brass ferrule. Tip slides onto table leg and attaches securely by a brass pin that taps into wood.

These metal tips are not cheap — $11.95 each, but they are made of solid brass and will likely hold up for many years to come. I am unsure if these ferrules fit vintage mid century legs, but you could contact the company to compare the measurements to your existing table legs with the ferrules they offer and possibly find a match.

Brass-ferrules-mid-century4. Horton Brasses, Inc. — A tip from Facebook follower Tom lead us to Horton Brasses, Inc., which offers seven finishes of hand crafted in the USA ferrules. The ferrules they offer are only available in one size — 2″ tall, 15/16″ in diameter at the top and 11/16″ diameter at the bottom — and retail for $19.50 each.

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Comments

  1. teardown townie says

    Cabinetmaking and Millwork by John L. Feirer is an awesome book! I picked a copy up at an estate sale and have found it very inspiring….Now if I could just develop some woodworking skills to bring my dreams to fruition.

  2. linda h says

    Just in time! My daughter bought a desk at Vintage Freak in Bedford TX which is missing one of it’s ferrules. Great to find out where to get a replacement! The desk was just like my childhood one; too bad I didn’t still have mine to give her.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says

    Kate and Pam–always the go-to gals for MCM history and product information. Thanks for the thorough research. As a former college expository writing teacher, I really appreciate that your sources for this story include a 1977 book and personal contact as well as the web. I also appreciate the way you always analyze your sources rather than just pasting them on your site.

    • pam kueber says

      Well, thank you! That is high praise indeed from a college writing teacher! You made our day — thank you!!!

        • pam kueber says

          Haha, but both your and Mary Elizabeth’s comments inspired me to go through it one more time — there were a few grammatical (if that is the right word) errors.

          I admit: Our stories have such errors. I move very fast — often to the detriment of getting that A+. Ask Kate, I am crazy with working on 1,000 things at one time.

          • Mary Elizabeth says

            Yep, “Composition and Rhetoric I” was the name of the course. :-)

            About grammatical errors: If the research was sound and the writing clear, I would just circle the errors and ask the students to fix them and resubmit the paper. When they would ask me what they needed to do to get an A in the course, I would tell them to keep revising until we both thought their portfolio was perfect.

            But I did make a deal with other faculty members that e-mail and web postings, etc. were not formal papers, and so we wouldn’t correct one another’s errors–unless, of course, they were hysterically funny. :-) And I am definitely not in charge of grading your work, but just in charge of appreciating it.

      • Kate says

        Pam is an excellent writing teacher!

        I’ve always liked creative writing and journaling about my life and experiences, but had little knowledge about how to write journalistically before I started writing for Pam/Retro Renovation. I’ve learned so much in such a short time.

        Thanks for the praise. :) That helps build my confidence in my writing skills!

  4. Bill Eppel says

    I posted this to the FB as well…I wonder if it would be a complete bastardization to put a set of these on our Lane swivel table. It has black painted leg ends right now, and I’ve always wished it had more standard metal ones. (For those who haven’t seen one: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_07nddTWSp2I/SgcNwj3EhUI/AAAAAAAAAK4/u5zkd0m7G_M/s400/Zenith%2BTV%2B007.jpg) I can certainly find a non-invasive way to keep them attached. But I’ve always thought the metal ones look better than painted.

    • Allen says

      The series that came out before the Acclaim series of which your table is from is called “Copenhagen” and it had all of the same styling that the acclaim series had except for the fancy inlay on the top. The Copenhagen series features solid walnut veneer tops and brass ferrules on the feet. Everything else is the same as the Acclaim Series. I believe they changed from brass ferrules to painted legs to put the Acclaim series at a better price point for middle class consumers of the time since the Copenhagen series did not sell well. I say all that to say that the Acclaim series was not sold with brass ferrules and always painted feet but since all the other parts are the same I would suspect that brass ferrules from a table of the Copenhagen series would fit an Acclaim table.

      • Bill Eppel says

        Thanks Allen,
        I appreciate your input. I had always assumed that it was an Acclaim, although I don’t think most people know that there was that previous model. I’ve seen the brass ferruled versions listed as Acclaim before as well. I’m going to consider that adding brass to mine won’t be too much of a stretch then. Mine has a particularly nicely figured bookmatched walnut top, and when I found it, was in pristine condition. The ‘under’ table is a bit lighter in finish, having been protected from light more than the top table. I’ll also post this up…Not me, but local to me, and at a good price: http://syracuse.craigslist.org/atq/4293170732.html

        • Allen says

          I did notice the book matched veneer on your photograph and it looks to be an exceptional example of the series as well as one of the less common pieces.
          I found an old listing of some of the Copenhagen series for sale with
          a good closeup of the brass ferrules lane used:
          http://furnishmevintage.com/livingroom/2-retro-lane-mid-century-modern-step-end-tables/
          And here is a good article about the Acclaim Series as it relates to the Copenhagen Series:
          http://jetsetmodern.com/lane.htm
          Enjoy!

          • Bill Eppel says

            That’s actually not mine, but one that I could easily link to. the Walnut on my exact table has way more figure to it, which is nice. To me that swivel table is a ‘quintessential and iconic’ Mid-Century piece, which is sort of what we look for. Thanks for the links, I’m looking forward to getting a chance to go through them. I’m much more versed in Heywood Wakefield than the Lane stuff. I think in particular, its of interest because they both are great examples of mass produced and still reasonably priced pieces.

            • Allen says

              I agree!! I love the Copenhagen line from Lane and these ferrules are one of the reasons! Thanks for letting me post Pam and keep up the FANTASTIC work you all are doing. I read every day!

  5. Susan says

    Did you happen to come across the type of ferrules that have an attached disk on the bottom that rotates to be flush with the floor? (Similar to the swivel floor glides shown on IFSCO’s site, but with a taper to the ferrule section.)

    I have a mid-century glass-front display cabinet that has ferrules with this additional little bit and was hoping to find those, too.

    If anyone has seen them, I’d love to find out where!

    • Kate says

      I didn’t find any like that so far Susan, though I did find some vintage legs with those type of ferrules/swivel glides at my local ReStore. Perhaps you could find a vintage replacement leg for the piece?

    • Sam R says

      At least around here, ACE Hardware stores still sell tapered legs in various lengths that feature brass ferrules and nylon swivel glides. I think the glides are a separate piece, so you might be able to find them separately and install with the ferrule.

    • Jivesnake says

      I found some ferrules with sabots at Elliot’s Hardware in Plano, TX. They aren’t great- black hard plastic caps with gold metal topped black feet- but they did the job. They are made by MintCraft and come in packages of 4. They had 5/8″, 1/2″ and 1″ sizes available. I got the 5/8″ ones for around 4 dollars (sku #821-0692). They just call them swivel chair glides. I was able to fix my 60′s dinette table (rusted out ferrules/sabots). You could always paint them silver or whatever color you needed. I also saw swivels without the ferrules- you would have to nail them directly into wooden feet.

  6. Kate Pix says

    What about peg legs? Are there any other sites to buy some wooden MCM style furniture legs? I’ve only found a few choices on tablelegs.com. Wondered if I was missing something…

    Thanks fellow MCM’ers.

  7. miyapiya says

    I have a whole box of miscellaneous wooden furniture legs some with and some without ferrules that I have collected over the years. I bought all of them at estate sales. They are a great source for vintage hardware, casters and furniture parts for really cheap prices. I usually head straight for the basement workshop where the man of the house had his workbench and you will find all kinds of treasures that cannot be found elsewhere.

    • pam kueber says

      The basement workshop is also one of my very favorite places to rummage around — and virtually every estate sale house I visit has one!

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        I never thought of going to the basement at an estate sale house or even asking if it was open; not, that is, until Pam did her article about the right way to “work” an estate sale. My DH never wants to so with me. Perhaps the possibility of furniture parts and tools would be a draw.

  8. says

    My built in breakfast banquette has tapered legs on it. I ended up cleaning them up on the bench grinder, but suspect I will need to replace them eventually. Thanks for the sources!

    In the trivia department…sabot is the base for the word sabotage, whose etymology derives from the textile workers in the Netherlands who, in the 15th century, threw their wooden shoes (sabots) into the machines to break them as they feared it would put them out of work.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      When my high school French teacher planned an exam for our class and found the school’s copier broken, he burst through the door of our classroom accusing us (in French) of sabotage. He then told us all to take off our shoes and put them on our desks so he could see if anyone was missing a shoe. While we were looking at one another and circling our fingers around our ears (as in, “Is he nuts?”) he told us the story about the wooden shoes and the machines, and this evolved into a history lecture on the use of sabotage as a workers tactic or a means of warfare from the 15th century up through World War II. Years later, when I was teaching, I realized that is exactly what a teacher does when he or she is suddenly forced to teach a class without preparation.

      And when I picture the Mid Century Modern chair/desks we sat in, they were made of blond wood with brass ferrules on the tapered legs. The class seems to have wandered off the topic. Rap your ruler on the desk, Pam. ;-)

  9. Roundhouse Sarah says

    ‘Ferrule’ is also the name of the peice of metal found on paintbrushes that helps attach the bristles to the wooden handle. : )

    • Sam R says

      And the plastic bit that finishes the transition between the head and shaft of a golf club. There are a zillion different types of ferrule out there.

  10. Jennifer says

    What about brass caps that would go on top of the leg on a table? I have a triangular table with three legs that have these top end caps that are glued on and one fell off and got lost when we moved. I really need a replacement!!

  11. says

    You say Sabot and I say “that sounds like French for I love you” to me!!

    I’m a furniture designer with my feet planted in MidMod and you just solved an issue for me. I’m developing a new bedroom line based on the Amish buggy – deconstructed. I didn’t set out to do it, but It’s turning out very MIDMOD! The shafts have a very heavy, but closed “Sabot” on the end up by the horse. Trying to use as many real buggy parts as I can but I need to grind these down or cut the end off to use them on the furniture legs. That can get costly and time consumin though. I’d seen the far-too-expensive Mcobb ferrules, but hadn’t come across the IFSCO. Those look perfect. Thank you for that research!!!!

    I’m going to order a sample and see what the quality is. If it’s good, I would be happy to order more and pass them on to you and your readers here for cost plus shipping. No need for everyone to order 16 when they only need 4!! It’s the least I can do for solving this problem for me!!!

    Thanks so much!!
    Ron C.

  12. sandi says

    What about the little plastic tips that go on the bottom of chair legs? The only ones I can find are the big white or grey ones. I’m looking for a thinner one, maybe in a brass color to match my 1950′s formica table set.

    Thank you!!! :)

  13. Laura Chastain says

    I rarely say this, but OMG!! This site offers such breadth and depth of fun-ness, my highly caffeinated self can barely sit still…
    As to the Ferrule Sabot Foot comments, my question is this: I have 7 HeyWoodite desk chairs, with classic chrome crossed legs. Several are 3-footed, i.e., lacking the little metal foot caps, but otherwise in good shape. I’d like to fix those up, but can’t figure out how to remove some shoes off other other chair legs, and then how to attach one to a 3 footer.
    Assuming this question makes sense, can anyone provide guidance?

  14. NIELS says

    Hi everyone,

    My mid-century table that has square legs. Would anyone have an idea about where i could find square shaped “sabot” or “ferrule” ?

    • Nancy Stewart says

      I,too,need replacement “sabot”? for a square but tapered fruitwood end table . If you received any positive responses would you let me know?

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