Our tub may be in the bathroom, and the overbuilt drama of how that would happen may be behind us, but there's still a lot to do before we're done.

Among the many aspects of getting this tub into its final resting place, we have to get the feet into shape and onto the tub. The problem, we don't know exactly how to attach these feet.

You see, these feet came with the tub, but they were already disconnected when we picked up the tub. To add to the complication, there were no bolts or parts, just feet. Part of the process is obvious as there are brackets cast right into the base of the tub that offers a mounting location for the feet.

On our tub each foot is stamped with a number that correlates to a bracket location of the same number on the tub. This is done because each foot is formed to fit its particular corner on the tub, and swapping foot to foot simply won't fit as well.

Though we know which foot goes with which corner, how these feet are actually secured to the tub is a bit of an unknown that will require a little ingenuity. While gravity may hold the feet in place initially, if they aren't secured the weight of a tub full of water and a person in that water could eventually force the feet to slide out, resulting in a very unhappy bather and possibly a broken bathroom.

I decided to think on this conundrum for a while, so before I got to the mounting of the feet I decided to go ahead and get them ready to go on the tub. When we received them they were covered in layer after layer of paint. We removed the paint by giving the feet a bath in paint stripper (about 10 years ago), then cleaned them all up on the wire wheel to remove any remaining paint.

At this point we had a choice to make. What color should we paint the feet?

We did a post a while back on this very topic. And while I would have loved to have sent them off to be nickel plated, both the expense and the fact the feet were originally painted iron convinced me otherwise. (Oh, and Wendy's preference to paint definitely convinced me otherwise too. She's convincing, you know.)

Though I was a proponent of black feet with the white tub bottom, I followed Wendy's lead here (because she's very convincing) and accepted these feet would be the same white as the tub's bottom. I'm still holding out hope for painted toenails, but I highly doubt that will happen.

Okay, back to our feet. Next I applied several costs of an oil based blocking primer. The top coat is going to be latex paint, so the blocking primer will ensure we don't have rust spots peeking through.

I wanted the paint on the feet to be as absolutely smooth as possible, so I decided to spray them down in the basement. To make sure we wouldn't have any issues with the paint tearing from where the feet were resting on plastic, I attached them all to a scrap piece of basement wood with a screw and washer. This would prove key in my idea on how to secure the feet.

Once the primer had fully dried, using Floetrol, I thinned my paint sufficiently for the sprayer and strained it...

...then started to lay down coat after coat of smooth white paint.

After about four coats we had ourselves some smooth and very nice looking ball and claw feet ready for install.

Okay, back to how we may secure these feet in place.

I've looked all over the Internet and can't find any clear examples of how one goes about securing claw feet to a tub in this bracket style. The photos I've found are small and somewhat blurry, and they don't even look like the same setup. But each instance where a description somewhat matches our feet, there's talk of a bolt and/or wedge that secures the feet through pressure.

Curious, I took a photo of the underside of the claw feet at our new house. This tub's feet are much different and have a secondary piece that bolts to the foot after install and secures the feet with pressure against the tub bracket. While this is cool and interesting to me, it doesn't help on the tub we're working on.

As I looked closer at the brackets, I could see the way the middle of the bracket falls away as the foot gets inserted, like a little incline on the tub. I could also see the very faint outline of a bolt's end that lined up with the location of the hole on the tub foot.

That was my "Ah-ha!" moment. It seems the foot is installed, then the bolt is inserted through the hole in the back of the foot and somehow secured in contact with the tub, like a large set screw. Since it impacts the little incline area, as long as the screw is in place, the tub can't move forward.

I had a partial answer, but since the tub foot's hole had no threads, how does one go about securing the bolt through the foot?

I mentioned I had a thought about this related to the jig I made up for painting the feet. I decided to find myself a bolt and nut, then place a few washers, including a lock washer, on the foot to secure the bolt against the tub. This was all thought out while hanging out at our local Ace with my trust clawfoot accomplice.

As of today I have the plan, I have the supplies, and I even have the tub flipped over in it's final resting spot. And shock of all shocks, it fits! 

The next step will be lifting the tub on supports so I can install the feet, then lowering it all into place. But before we get to that, how does my clawfoot assembly and securing plan sound? Should my plan do what I need it to do in keeping the feet on the tub, or do you think I have a screw loose by trusting a single small set screw to secure this beast?

Comments 29


11/26/2014 at 11:38 AM

Have you talked to anyone at the salvage yard or a tub refinishing place about how this is supposed to work. For my money, I would want some experienced re-assurance.

Also, why can't you install the feet with the tub upside-down and then flip it?

11/26/2014 at 11:38 AM

I can't comment on your set up. The clawfoot tub original to my house (a house I grew up in) has channels into which the feet slide. The left rear foot was always falling off, but the other three feet stayed held in place by gravity I guess. Never seemed to impact the use of the tub. In fact, it's out in the garage with 3 feet on, 1 foot off right now. I'm happy for you guys that the master bath is nearly there. It's been great to follow!

11/26/2014 at 12:57 PM

You are a hero. We've got a pink (!) clawfoot tub that is going to need some love. For the first year in our little old house, it seemed to levitate off several feet, held up by who-knows-what.

11/26/2014 at 2:09 PM

This looks similar to how one of ours were attached. It originally used a fastener that looked like a tapered heavy metal wire. The ends were literally bent around the channel edges in the bottom of the tub.

I had to make the hole in the foot a little larger, but I was able to replace the fasteners with standard pan head carriage bolts with a locking washer and a nut on the outside. The profile of the bolt heads were a little too high, so I had to file the tops of them to get them to fit.

11/27/2014 at 7:04 PM

Forgot to mention - the heads of the carriage bolts slide into the channels on the bottom of the tub. I was able to do it while the tub was upside down. Much easier than trying to attach from underneath.

Your channels look to be a little wide to use carriage bolts. I will look for pictures of how ours were originally attached with the thick tapered wire. You basically need to keep the foot from sliding out the way it slides in. The casting of the foot will keep the foot from sliding all the way through.

11/26/2014 at 8:47 PM

I would suspect that the flat square opening on the end part that lines up with the brackets also has something to do with how the whole thing was fastened. Just screws and washers working with pressure seems too prone to loosening over time.

I'd look for something (or make something) out of metal that lies flat against the back of the bracket and the inserted part of the foot, and has a 90 degree angled flat part attached in the middle that slides into that flat square opening. In the place that lines up with the hole above in the foot, it needs to have a threaded hole cut into it. Then you can slide it in when the foot is in place, and secure it with a screw from above.

If that ever loosens, it will only begin to fail the moment the screw drops out, and since that still won't mean the foot comes out for quite a while, you'll probably notice the errant screw on the floor way before something happens – or you could glue it in place after the initial fastening and never think of it again.
The pressure method you describe bears the risk of the foot slowly sliding out while the fastening still looks to be in place, but doesn't hold any more, at least if I understood your plan the right way.

11/29/2014 at 9:13 PM

are you going to get a piece of wood or metal cut to fit between the two feet (across each other) and then screw thru the bar to the hole where the feet attach...

does that make sense?

11/30/2014 at 12:37 PM

Given the possibility of breaking toes and floors, this doesn't seem like a good situation to macguyver. There is some info online and here are a couple leads: There are some helpful tips on this page and you can always call the nice people at Ohmega Salvage (Berkeley, CA) to ask a couple questions.
There is a photo gallery in this post that shows you seven different possible fastener/attachment designs, with any luck one of them might match yours?

They also reference the business Creative Castings in Tacoma, WA who reproduce clawfeet and a specialized fastener "clip" set
many more photos of feet from cc
Hope this helps!

11/30/2014 at 8:40 PM

I think I have that same toilet.

11/30/2014 at 9:56 PM

i like the idea of adding a thin metal strap under the set screws from one leg to the opposite leg, in order to keep the legs from backing out of the brackets. or what about using a small angle bracket in addition to your set screw, so the screw holds an angle bracket which blocks the leg from sliding back out. http://www.scpraceparts.com/chassis/body-components/dzus-fasteners/mounting-brackets/quick-fastener-mounting-bracket-90deg-angle-for-mounting-to-firewalls-frame-tubes-etc-10-pk.html

12/2/2014 at 11:17 AM

No clue on this one. I've never even looked under the tub at my son's house (which is the house I grew up in). I've taken plenty of baths in that tub over the decades (we moved there in 1966), but as far as I am concerned, the thing's held up by a "Wingardium Leviosa"!!!

12/2/2014 at 5:43 PM

One of the alleged delights of putting parts of your life online is the unsolicited advice that engenders.

I wouldn't want you miss out on these delights so I offer mine: paint the toenails!

5/31/2015 at 5:31 PM

We have an antique tub like this one you have and we can't figure out how to install the feet.
Did you get help installing your tub feet?

6/15/2017 at 1:44 PM

the feet on ours has a metal piece looks like a cut nail that acts as a tapered wedge

7/23/2015 at 12:18 PM

Please! you went to all the trouble of taking all those photos and comments and didn't post your outcome??? I am looking for help with the same problem!

Leta Bezdecheck
10/29/2015 at 2:07 PM

We just got a vintage clawfoot tub last night with the feet off. Our feet have no holes in them! They won't stay on long enough for us to put the tub in place. Anyone else have feet like these?

8/31/2019 at 8:21 AM

Same! How did you solve this and get the feet to stay put?

11/11/2015 at 2:50 PM

I laughed sooo hard reading your story on this tub's journey... you have an awesome way of telling a story.
I would love to see the finished product, in place, full of bubbles, waiting for Wendy. Lol, or you, you've earned it too!
My husband & i just brought our refinished tub in from the garage yesterday. It wasn't that hard. I did a lot of it myself. ( 140 pound woman )... *Granted we only had a few stair steps to do, but lots of doorways and turns. The best way to move these suckers: is on their ends. Upright. The flat drain-end fits nicely on a dolly, and the wheels bear the weight and do all the work. For doorways and tight corners- lay down a blanket and slide it through, sideways. For other areas where you can't use a dolly- "walk it" on that flat end. Just a few inches at a time, let the weight sit on the floor.
For attaching the legs- Our's is simply a square-headed bolt with a nut about an inch away. This is thru the hole on the leg. The head of the bolt slides into the wedged channel on the underside of the tub. The curve at the top of the leg matches the curve of the tub. Lightly tighten the nut down to hold it in place, and flip the tub over. Think about it,,, these legs are not going to go anywhere- there is 350+ lbs of weight on those legs; in a wedged fashion. They can't move back towards the center of the tub which is the removal direction of the wedged channels... All 4 of those bolts would have to break before you'd have a disaster of any kind. Trust me, your floor is more liable to give away before those legs would.
I hope this helps anyone who needs it.

9/23/2016 at 4:13 PM

I have the same legs
that are pictured above but two of them are missing the bracket that holds them in place on the tub where can I find these brackets

2/14/2017 at 1:07 PM

I'm currently putting my cast iron tub on to a large dolly so that I can move it around.

3/4/2017 at 3:50 PM

Bless you for posting your bathtub installation adventure. I found it to be very helpful. Unfortunately, I don't know how the adventure ended.
We have 2 antique tubs that have their feet off & are looking for re-attachment advice. My sister's tub is 104 yrs old & each foot has a lip on the tub to brace against. Thank you for the picture of the foot with the toes on the tub. Your photo will be great to show the pigheaded installer who wants to set the foot on the lip of the retaining bracket & tighten it!
My tub was made in the 1930's and has the claw & ball like yours, without the lip to rest behind.Alt frowning Please post how you solved your installation dilemma.

Penny Weigel
10/3/2020 at 5:21 PM

To attach claw or spoon feet to a cast iron tub, the female receiver on the bottom of the tub needs to have a "keeper" to hold the bolt in place, they are harder to find than feet that fit (only a certain number were made from one mold, there were many many different molds and companies.

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