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. Sandy says

    If you can’t find the right size and aren’t trying to do a perfect restoration, I’ve made them myself with aluminum roof flashing. I first make a pattern with paper then use that to cut the flashing,, wrap it around something smaller so it will grip the leg, glue it on with Gorilla Glue and hold it in place with rubberbands until cured. Once cured you can smooth down any glue with sandpaper, fill any gaps with wood filler, rough it up a bit with sandpaper then paint them all to match. I always use a glide of some sort. You can’t tell the difference unless you’re examining them up close.

  2. kiki banks says

    In my search to attain ferrules for a vintage French ferrules to cap the legs of two twin beds I came across at a garage sale, I stumbled upon this great column. Can anyone help me as to where I get 1890-1920 ferrules besides estate sales? I need eight. Please help me.

  3. Alima says

    Thanks for this article. I’ve been looking for brass ferrules for a MCM coffee table I bought off craigslist.
    Just an FYI – I contacted tablelegs.com and they say their ferrules are only designed to fit on their mccobb legs as they have to make a cut in the leg and attach the ferrule at their shop.
    Also IFSCO has raised their prices to $2.29 now. Still affordable, but just thought I would let you know.

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