Wood conference tables are still our most requested material. There are thousands of wood species, but we only use a select few in our furniture. We choose to work with woods that have a nice mix of physical durability, attractive color and grain, and reasonable price. You have probably heard of some of them: cherry, mahogany, walnut, maple, and oak have been popular for centuries. In addition to those, we work with a huge variety of lesser-known species from around the world. Which will work best for your project? Short answer: any of them. So how to choose? Here’s a quick guide to our favorites.
Cherry is our favorite wood. The trees we use are grown in Pennsylvania forests. They look very different from the flowering, fruit-bearing cherries found in orchards and gardens. Forest-grown cherries reach heights of more than 100 feet. Those long trunks yield fine lumber and veneer. Pennsylvania forests are managed for sustainability. During harvest, the best trees are left untouched to provide seeds for the next generation.
We love cherry because it’s locally grown, easy to work with, reasonably priced, durable, and beautiful.
Mahogany was the wood of choice in the 1700s. It’s still one of the most popular woods for furniture because of its durability and color. The trees we use come from Africa, as traditional sources of supply in Cuba and Honduras have been over-harvested. African Mahogany, or Sapele, has the interlocked grain seen in New World mahoganies but is a different species of tree. It has a very similar color, density, and grain, and is the first choice for a traditional look.
Mahogany comes in a wide range of figures and can be finished in many ways. We choose it when we’re looking for a traditional look.
Walnut trees grow in many parts of the world, but we use the Black Walnut tree that is found throughout North America. They don’t yield as much clear wood as other species like oak or maple, so it’s more expensive than the other domestic hardwoods.
Walnut has long been the cabinetmaker’s favorite because it’s so easy to cut, plane, and finish. It also comes in a wide variety of figures. Like cherry, walnut trees sometimes produce flame and curly figured wood. Walnut is also a popular choice for slab table tops, where the table is made from a single large slice of a tree.
We love walnut for the same reasons as everyone else: it’s a fantastic, elegant wood that makes for beautiful furniture.
Maple is sold as two types: hard maple and soft maple. Things like bowling pins, baseball bats, and pool cues are often made of hard maple, while things like guitars, pallets, and veneer are often made of soft maple. We use hard maple in our work. We value its superior dent resistance and durability. Some maple trees experience distortion as they grow that results in beautiful grain. In our work, we use curly maple, birdseye maple, and quilted maple as a focal point on many of the table tops we make.
Maple’s light color gives it a clean, modern look. We use maple whenever we want a bright, energetic effect.
Oak is a wood which has a very prominent grain pattern and texture and feels more robust and informal than some of the other woods. There are hundreds of species of oak trees. We use both red and white oak, cut into a variety of grain patterns.
Oak‘s rough texture is best deployed in designs that are simple and muscular. It’s the least pretentious wood. We love to use it when we know the furniture will get hard use.
Like mahogany, rosewood has long been used in the most elegant furniture. We use Bolivian Rosewood, which is similar to the always popular Brazilian Rosewood, but is not under protected status. Rosewood has a striking gold color with bold black stripes. It’s a smooth and hard wood, but can be tricky to cut and finish.
We use rosewood when we want a striking, elegant effect. Rosewood’s bold stripes are unmatched by any other wood.
We use a huge variety of exotic species, mostly sliced into veneer. These trees are chosen in the forest for superior color and figure. Bubinga, Curly Anegre, and Macassar Ebony have long been popular with our clients, and we are seeing some new varieties start to take hold. Black Limba, as seen in the photo to the left, is a recent favorite.
Exotics are best when you want maximum WOW factor. Ask your designers to show you some examples made with different exotics – you’ll be amazed at how simple designs become sublime with the right choice of woods.
For help designing your custom conference project, contact us today!
Interested in learning about how PDC can help with your plans? Please look through our gallery of custom conference tables. You can choose any of these designs as a starting point for your project. Above all, identifying what you like helps our designers get to know your style preferences, or you can submit your own designs that we will use as a guide for fabricating your custom table.