How to Date a Gate Leg Table

Dating furniture can be tricky, and gate leg tables are particularly difficult. Dating a piece of furniture is like unlocking pieces of an intricate puzzle – by looking at various elements such as its construction techniques, age, style, and condition, you can get an idea of when the piece was made.

How to Date a Gate Leg Table

If you’ve ever admired a gate leg table in your home or in an antique store and how to date a gate leg table, this post will help you out! We’ll go through the main factors to look for when dating a gate leg table and give some tips on identifying certain elements that will put you one step closer to getting the answer you need.

What is a Gate Leg Table?

A gate leg table is a type of drop-leaf dining table that has two legs at each end which can be folded and tucked away, allowing for more space when the leaves are not in use. 

The design dated back to the 17th century and was very popular in both England and Colonial America. It will often have a drawer or two on the ends of the leaves and usually requires support in the center to keep it from collapsing when all the leaves are extended.

Why is Dating a Gate Leg Table Necessary?

Dating a gate leg table is important for determining its value and understanding the history behind it. Knowing when and where a piece was made will help you to better understand the style and construction techniques used in its creation. It can also give you an idea of how rare or common the table may be, which can influence its current market value.

Required Items

In order to accurately date a gate leg table, there are several items that you will need. First is the manufacturer’s name or logo, which can usually be found on the bottom of the drawer or under one of the leaves. You’ll also need to find out what type of wood was used in its construction. 

The Bottom of the Drawer

This can be determined by looking at the grain and color of the wood, as well as any markings that may have been left behind from tooling. Finally, you’ll need to identify the style or age of the table. This can be done by looking at its shape, carved details, and decorative accents.

Things to Consider Before Dating a Gate Leg Table

Before you attempt to date a gate leg table, there are several things you should consider first. Knowing these answers can help narrow down your search and make the dating process easier. Additionally, if you have any photographs or documentation of the table, these can be helpful in dating the piece.

10 Tips on How to Date a Gate Leg Table

1. Materials

Look at the materials used in the construction – hand-cut joinery indicates an older piece, while machine-cut joints suggest a newer table. The materials used can also be indicative of the age, with earlier pieces typically being made in oak, walnut, or cherry and later models often in mahogany.

2. Style

Take a look at the style of the table – certain elements such as its shape, legs, feet, drawer pulls, and other details can provide clues about when it was made. Style can also be indicative of the region in which it was made, as certain design elements are more popular in certain areas.

3. Construction Techniques

Any Nails Were Used

Examine the construction techniques used on the table – hand-crafted joinery and chamfering indicate an older piece, while machine-cut joints suggest a newer one. Additionally, look to see if any nails were used, as this is indicative of a later table.

4. Condition

Check the condition of the piece – wear and tear on the wood can tell you how much use it has seen over time. Additionally, check for signs of restoration or repair to get an idea of when it was last worked on.

5. Provenance

If you can, try to trace the table’s provenance – find out who owned it before and where it was purchased. This information can help narrow down the age range of the piece. It will also give you more information about its history, which can be invaluable to a collector.

6. Documentation

Check for any documents or photographs of the piece that might help in dating it – this includes things such as sales receipts, invoices, and catalogs. These can provide helpful clues not only as to when the table was made but also where it was originally sold or produced.

7. Examine the Drawers

Open all drawers and examine their construction – look for hand-cut dovetails, as this indicates that the piece is older than one with machine-cut dovetails. Additionally, check to see if any of the drawer fronts are inlaid – this is also a sign of an older table.

8. Marks or Labels

Look for any marks or labels that may indicate who made the piece and when it was manufactured – these can provide invaluable clues in dating the table. They are usually found on the underside of the tabletop, underneath a drawer front or inside one of the drawers.

9. Hardware

Examine the hardware – look for any marks or labels on the hardware that may indicate its age. Additionally, check to see if the screws used are machine-cut or hand-cut, as this can help you determine when the piece was made.

10. Expert Evaluation

If all else fails, take your table to an expert for an evaluation – they will be able to provide you with more accurate information about the piece, such as its age, materials, and condition. They might even be able to tell you who made it and where it was originally sold.

By following these steps, you can get an idea of when your gate leg table was made and uncover its history. With a little bit of research, you can find out everything there is to know about this unique piece. It’s time to start dating that gate leg table.

8 Tips Maintenance for Gate Leg Table

1. Regular Dusting

Use a Soft Dry Cloth

Use a soft dry cloth to carefully and regularly dust your gate leg table. This will help to keep it looking its best and also help prevent damage from dirt and grime buildup. Dirt and grime buildup can cause a gate leg table to become unstable and also make it more difficult to open and close.

2. Avoid Heat Exposure

Avoid placing items that may be hot directly on the surface of your gate leg table, as this can cause damage. Be sure to use a coaster if you need to put down any hot beverages or dishes. This will help prevent heat from transferring to the wood and potentially causing damage or warping.

3. Avoid Quick Changes in Temperature

Avoid placing items that can cause quick changes in temperature directly on your gate leg table, as this can also cause damage. For example, avoid putting a cold beer bottle directly onto the table as it may cause the table to contract or warp.

4. Use Proper Cleaners

When cleaning your gate leg table, be sure to use a proper cleaner that is specifically made for wood furniture. Do not try to use a general-purpose cleaner, as this could damage your table and even discolor the wood.

5. Avoid Harsh Movements

Avoid pushing, pulling, or lifting your gate leg table with any harsh movements, as this can cause the legs to become loose and create a wobble when in use. Be gentle and take extra care when handling your table to avoid any unwanted movement.

6. Regular Inspections

Inspect your gate leg table regularly for signs of damage or wear. Keeping an eye out for any potential issues can help prevent them from becoming more serious and also save you time and money in the long run.

7. Wax Occasionally

Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to apply a layer of wax to your gate leg table, as this will help keep the wood looking its best. Be sure to use a high-quality wax that is specifically made for wood furniture, as this will help protect it from damage and provide the best results.

8. Store Properly

To Store Your Gate Leg Table Properly

When not in use, be sure to store your gate leg table properly in order to keep it in good condition. Make sure there is enough room around the table to avoid warping or other damage due to temperature changes. Avoid storing in humid areas, as this could affect the wood over time.


Dating a gate-leg table is an exciting way to bring an extra level of charm and style to your home. Not only does it add a sense of elegance, but it also offers the perfect conversation starter. With a little bit of research and understanding, you can determine the age, origin, and condition of a gate leg table.

As with all antiques, it’s important to be informed before purchasing any piece. 

With all these tips on how to date a gate leg table in mind, take time to admire the beauty and intricacy of this historic furniture piece – it is truly something that stands the test of time!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different looks and styles by adding accents like colorful linens or floral arrangements – it’s easy to make a statement with just one simple update. Have fun exploring both the past and present when dating your very own gate-leg table!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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