I worked with Carolina to customize our 18ft conference table. She and everyone else on the team was fantastic to work with! They made sure everything was perfect, although it took some time to get the colors just the way that I wanted, they stayed on task and very professionals to get it done. We received the table packaged very well, there was no damage to the table. It came with fantastic assembly instructions.This table is the best constructed piece of furniture that I have ever seen! If you are looking for a well made product for your home or office, do not think twice about purchasing from Paul Downs; just get your custom piece started!!
Do not buy a conference table from anyone except Paul Downs. Not only did the make me a beautiful table for the same cost as I would buy from a generic manufacturer, they also helped me design my entire office space and it looks awesome. Creative. Attentive. 100% worth the money. Eric Stewart, Founder/CEO The Business Councils 90A
We have received and setup our new table thanks to Paul Downs, and it is fantastic. Not only does the table look great, but the entire process was seamless. The staff was very communicative, kept us up to date on the process (with pictures!), and was very helpful with delivery. The table was able to be setup very quickly as well. It truly was a pleasure getting this table, from the start to the very end.
We just took delivery of our new conference room table for our Law Firm and are thrilled with the quality of the table and the process that brought us to this point. These folks believe in quality and deliver on that belief in a big way! Thank you!!
I am a former engineer at PDC. I left my position there due to personal reasons having nothing to do with the company. I can say with certainty that PDC has set the bar for all of my future employers with regard to the leadership and company culture. Paul is always present in the shop, and has created an environment where anyone in the organization can have their voice heard and contribute to the operation. Whether it's an engineer, builder, or the guy sweeping the floors, everyone's input is encouraged and given a fair hearing.It's tempting to turn this review into an essay on the virtues of PDC, but these can be summarized with the following: the moral compass directing PDC is pointed toward maximizing prosperity for all employees at every level of the organization. This makes the shop a fun, inclusive, and rewarding place to work. If you are looking for a job, PDC provides an exciting environment to strive for excellence. If you are looking for furniture, PDC provides unmatched quality and a truly custom product. I simply cannot speak highly enough of the company, the product, and the people who work there. My employment there is a time in my career that I look back on fondly and with great pride in what I was able to contribute.
Paul Downs is a great choice for any custom wood tables needed. They were very professional from the beginning and kept us well informed throughout the process until the end. We love our table and will highly recommend them to anyone looking for excellent service and product.
Paul Downs Cabinetmakers recently manufactured desks for our new Emergency Operations Center. The desks we received are outstanding! The craftsmanship is impressive and assembly was, as Don explained, very easy. Don, I wish to sincerely thank you for the hours spent designing these desks to meet not only our space needs but to fit these into our budget, the tables exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend Paul Downs Cabinetmakers.
Paul Downs Cabinets provided a great product and service. The table is Great quality and manufactured magnificently. Paul was great as well answering all the questions i had in an expeditious manner. Ms. Castro was a Top NOTCH Program Manager, she answered my phone calls and emails promptly. The organization has nothing but High praise for the product and personnel that played a part in manufacturing this product. I would recommend the Company to my colleagues in the future. Thank again
My company had been searching for a conference table to fit our board room, and nothing was quite the right wether it was the wood grain or color, features, style, or size. I reached out to Paul Downs and they immediately responded with information. The design process was very interactive and they took all of our needs into consideration. The table turned out exactly as we had discussed; the finished product is gorgeous. We had our last table for 40+ years and the new table is definitely heirloom quality. Going with a custom option felt a little bougie, but it was the best way for us to get a piece of furniture that fit our space and needs. Great service and product!
We just took delivery of our custom conference room table and the Paul Downs experience was outstanding from start to finish. The figure on the Birds Eye Maple is just beautiful. The quality of the workmanship and attention to detail were exactly what we were looking for. I couldn't recommend them enough. Their willingness to go the extra mile to take care of our needs was a real difference maker. I'd definitely go back to them again and recommend them to our customers as well.
As an interior designer working on commercial projects, it can be challenging to find quality conference tables for clients. Paul downs created a gorgeous custom modular table for my country club client that allows flexibility to configure tables into one large table , two tables or four tables. They worked with me throughout the entire process and provided the necessary drawings and details. The table finish and workmanship is beautiful! I am so impressed with the quality and the service provided by Paul Downs' project team. I recently worked with them again to create a 10' conference table for an office project and we are very pleased with the end result. The table is two-toned and coordinates beautifully with the office design and is integrated with power for their technology needs. I highly recommend Paul Downs!
Paul Downs created a custom U-shape Board room table for our District and it is exactly as expected. The process was simple from design through delivery and installation. The quality is excellent and we are very happy with product.
Paul Downs Cabinetmakers just installed beautiful furniture customized to my new office. The office is new for me but it's also 40 years old and laid out for the different roles of offices and furniture in those days. PDC customized furniture for today's needs, and in particular the lighter demands for storage and shelving that can dramatically open up the space, and they did this with elegant and timeless design. Thanks to PDC, I look forward to engaging them again.
For an Executive Custom Office project in Cincinnati, Ohio, Paul Downs Custom Furniture's Craftsmen created these beautiful pieces from my design. The Owner and I couldn't be more pleased with the spectacular result of this magnificent furniture!Sheri Glazier-BesslerSGB DESIGN
The Paul Downs team was fabulous to work with!! We had a tight schedule on a conference room remodel and they delivered exactly what we wanted on time. In these challenging times, it was great to work with a company that does what they say. We only had a concept of what we wanted when we started the project. They helped with the design and ensured the final products were perfect for our needs. And the quality is exceptional!
Just received and had my custom conference room table installed. Not only was the final piece even better than we had thought (just beautiful) but the entire experience was flawless. From working with the design team to the fact that every estaimated date (build, ship, install) was met. We were very very pleased with the entire process from beginning to end. Great job folks.
We are very happy with our table! I truly enjoyed working with the Paul Downs team. All of the information I received during the inception, the build and the delivery processes was timely and accurate. I enjoyed working with every individual I encountered and everyone was professional. It's hard for me to believe that I found this company on a random google search and it turned out to be great! I would definitely recommend Paul Downs Furniture to friends and colleagues.
We ordered 10 conference tables from Paul Downs Cabinetmakers and our experience was amazing every step of the way. They invited us to tour their warehouse and show us how the tables are made. They are quality tables and we are very pleased with them. I would recommend Paul Downs!! They will not disappoint!
Excellent experience from start to finish. The custom table is gorgeous and the service was impressive. Even prior to ordering they were willing to help the client with electrical placement. Best contract furniture experience this year!
As an interior designer, working with Paul Downs was great peace of mind. We were needing a custom sit-to-stand desk with credenza for a high-profile job and needed the best quality and result. Communication was smooth and they took the wheel with our design direction and intent and applied their expertise. We look forward to working with them again and would recommend them to other designers.
We had the pleasure of working with Paul Downs Cabinemakers Inc on a project in Buffalo NY for a private country club board room makeover. PD designed, fabricated and installed a custom wood executive board table for 14 persons and a beautiful credenza for the room. The people at PD are very professional and easy to work with and the project was a smashing success. Thank you!HHL Architects
They made a school board directors table for us and it is fantastic. It met our needs, met our budget, and it added the missing piece we needed for professionalism in our board meetings. They were great to work with and helped greatly in designing what we needed.
Shipley & Horne, P.A. is a small Administrative Law practice. Paul Downs’ team designed a conference room table which serves as the focal point of our primary conference room. The workmanship and overall quality of the table is readily apparent. From start to finish Paul’s team maintained communications, meeting all stated timelines for delivery. We will not hesitate to rely on Paul Downs Cabinetmakers to support the firm's future custom furniture needs.
Paul Downs made a beautiful center piece for the main area of our office. Its a wow piece for when we have guests...but we use it every day to sit and eat together. Custom furniture is not cheap but when making a statement to a customer or supplier it adds extra credibility. I would highly recommend their workmanship and their team. Very professional and communicative through every step of the process.Thank you - Ben Henson Dynamic Metal Services.
I run a small law firm in Boston, Mass. Over the past 5 years, Paul Downs has built two custom pieces for me, a conference room table and more recently, an L-Shaped desk for my office. Both pieces are gorgeous and of extraordinary quality. Both were built to the exact dimensions we needed. They were not inexpensive and they took some time to arrive, but both items are extremely high quality and will last longer than I will. The customer service, shipping and installation were also excellent.
It is so nice to have a solid, quality, American-made, boardroom table in our offices now. Thank you Paul Downs! The interaction with the design team and our being able to control many aspects of the actual design make this table feel like it's a one-of-a-kind. Everyone involved from accounting to shipping was professional and courteous, and the deadlines given were met at each milestone.We highly recommend Paul Downs Cabinetmakers!
The team at Paul Downs designed an outstanding conference table for our foundation. The table beautifully and richly tells our story. You have surpassed our greatest expectations. It is a family heirloom and a wonderful reminder of our mission for God.
Our company built a new headquarters in 2018 and for three years we searched for the perfect conference room table for our boardroom. We knew we were being picky, but also knew it deserved the perfect table. Finally we came across Paul Downs Cabinetmakers and they helped us custom design exactly what we were looking for. They worked hard to match the existing furniture in the boardroom and reworked our logo into the table to get it just right. We are very pleased with how it turned out. It certainly has that 'wow' factor when walking in the boardroom and seeing it for the first time. We highly recommend Paul Downs Cabinetmakers for anyone searching for that perfect piece of furniture and needs help bringing it to life!
The team at Paul Downs couldn't have been better to work with and the tables are beautiful! They were very accommodating working with our project schedule and the room AV requirements/integration within the tables.Can't wait for the client to move into their new space and start to enjoy them!We will definitely recommend the Paul Downs team for any other custom work desired.
From start to finish, the Paul Downs Custom Furniture process was top notch. The designers took my vision and space and created a beautiful quality piece at a fair price. I highly recommend them for your next custom table project.
Had a great experience getting our conference table from Paul Downs. From the design phase with Nate to the delivery with Andy and Carolina, everyone was extremely helpful and made the experience one of a kind. Easily some of the best customer service I have ever experienced and very thorough in there process.
We had our conference table completed yesterday and looks fantastic in our new facility!The level of service and the quality of our Table far exceeded my expectations for our conference room.Thank you from all of us @CHICAGO ANODIZING COMPANY !
From the moment we had our first call to the installation of our conference room furniture, the level of service was impeccable. The design and craftsmanship of our conference room tables and credenzas is outstanding. We are proud to have such beautiful pieces part of our newly renovated law firm office.
Former employee and wanted to let people know how other American woodworking and conference table manufacturers should operate! Paul Downs Cabinetmakers is a great example.The owner treats his employees like a part of his family. From the guy sweeping the floor all the way to the top, everyone is treated as a valued team member who is actually heard throughout the organization. Everyone’s input is valued.I spent 3-1/2 years working for Paul Downs and it was a wonderfully unique experience in a trade that is often underpaid and undervalued.The team works very well together, from an open initial brainstorming process, to fabrication, to packaging and final installation.You set your own schedule, and there’s never an issue if you have something come up.Pay was great with the owner trying to ensure his biggest asset, his employees, had a livable wage and benefits.It was a great team, great work I could be proud of, and an awesome experience! Keep making gorgeous stuff guys!
The entire team at Paul Downs did an amazing job. They built our law firm a beautiful boardroom table and matching credenza. Everyone (shipping coordinators, project managers, engineers, etc.) went above and beyond to make sure that all of our needs were met. They explained everything and were very responsive throughout the entire process. I highly recommend them!
Working with Paul Downs to design, create and install our company's boardroom table was a seamless process and the finished product absolutely exceeded our expectations. Every team member, from designer to project manager, was super responsive, friendly and demonstrated complete expertise.I wouldn't hesitate to work with the Paul Downs company again and can't recommend them more highly! A truly great experience from start to finish with a beautiful table to show for it!!
The table was exactly as designed and they met the deadline that was promised. They communicated throughout the process and installation went off without a hitch. Everyone is pleased by the new addition to our board room.
This was the very best customer experience I have every had with a custom conference table manufacturer in my 35 years of business in this industry.From the design to the interaction with Paul Downs with the end user to the installation; it was a 10 out of 10 in every way.The end user is even more pleased with the end result than we are!
We would certainly recommend Paul Downs for not only the beautiful conference table and credenza they made for our church but willingness to help us thru the process and patience as we made decisions. Great organization.
Always great working with Paul Downs and their superb craftsmen. Our second conference room table complements our first one that was designed five years ago. High marks from the start of the project to final delivery and assembly at our new offices. Chuck Mosser, EVP/CFO @ IntelliGenesis, LLC
Nate did a wonderful job designing our conference room table incorporating our logo. He was easy to work with and patient when we went through different variations. The final product is absolutely stunning and will be proudly used in my main conference room for years to come.
Hard to express how satisfied we are, not only with the product which is absolutely beautiful but this is the way business should be done! If more companies in the U.S. would provide "real service" like Paul Downs does we would not even consider buying from another country. Every step of the way was a pleasure and extremely professional. Other companies should take note of the customer service and relationship development from Paul Downs. 5 STARS PLUS!
Paul Downs made a custom dining room table and 8 chairs for me years ago. I still love it, and it is in wonderful shape and just as beautiful as when I first bought it. He worked with me to design exactly what I wanted and even went on his own to a furniture shop to see a table that I liked. He designed one that was 10 times better- more solid and stable, more beautiful and with leaves that just magically slid out when I needed a bigger table! I have to say it was one of the best business experiences I have had with anyone. He was patient, nice, flexible and most important, a straight shooter who did what he said. His talent and high standards are obvious once you start working with him. He is a true artist with wood!
Top Notch Company! Excellent customer service and genuinely good craftsmanship. Initially they crafted a beautiful custom table and matching credenza for our boardroom. A year later we asked for another custom table to match the large table and catering credenza that would house a small fridge. They knocked it out of the park on both projects....completely exceeded our expectations! The pictures do no justice to these beautiful pieces. I highly recommend Paul Downs Cabinetmakers if you're looking for quality, custom work.
Paul Downs Cabinetmakers exceeded our expectations, from the very beginning of the design process all the way through to the installation of our conference table and credenza. Great communication and are engaged each step during the process of design, production and installation. We could not be happier with the entire experience.Property Manager Brethren Mutual Insurance Company
Paul Downs delivered a beautiful and well constructed table. They maintained great communication throughout our project and made sure we got exactly what we wanted. Our installation was professional and quick. Even during the Covid pandemic, Paul Downs stayed in contact and kept our project moving. We are excited to gather around our table for many years to come.
We were looking for a modular elegant looking board for our boardroom and were challenged with finding a table that would fit in our rectangular space. The whole process start to finish was professional and Paul Downs staff were accommodating and provided options for our needs. We ended up purchasing the board table, presenter table and two small movable tables. The logo was an option that was suggested by the designer and it was a great addition. The table was assembled by our staff and the documentation provided to us was spot on. The quality of the table and the workmanship is meticulous and you can tell that there was a lot of thought and care put into the design and construction of the table.
A fantastic place to work if you are given the opportunity. Paul has assembled a group of hard working, intelligent, and passionate group of people to deliver a fantastic and unmatched end product. As an engineer, I was offered competitive pay and opportunity to work on exciting projects with diverse challenges. This job takes place in a fast paced manufacturing environment where you will succeed if you have a good attention to detail and are as committed to the end product as everyone else that works here.
To get the idea what Paul Downs is about, you can read Paul's excellent book 'Boss Life' about running a small business or you can take a look at his archive of NY Times columns, you can also ask to discuses their operating manifesto on Culture, Craftsmanship & Prosperity.But seeing his shop in action is really something to witness.In a high-tech sales and design studio, engineers interface virtually with clients around the world designing one of a kind conference tables in real time. After their work has been finalized it goes onto the shop floor where artisan woodworkers and craftsmen use a process of continuous improvement to make custom conference tables and some other furniture pieces.Everything about this shop screams perfectionism. The floors are swept, every stack of vernier or wood board is organized. Work that is better done by machine is done with CNC and other woodworking technology. Finished pieces are assembled and inspected prior to shipping These guys do their work as true craft and design professionals.The final tables can be seen on their website and social media are second to none.This is a high end process for businesses who are ready to invest in the look of a killer conference room that the Paul Downs team can bring to reality.
My experience with purchasing our conference room table from Paul Downs was excellent. They assisted us throughout the process, incorporated our changes, and stored the table until we were ready for delivery. The quality is excellent. Delivery and set up was perfect. Very satisfied.
The most professional company we worked with throughout our construction job. Nate (design) and Andy (project management) were our main contacts. They were engaged throughout the process. They presented multiple options every step of the way. They were extremely responsive and helpful. They delivered on time. Quality of work was incredible. We'll be using them again for other custom furniture needs coming up. Highly, highly recommend them.
I am an architect and interior designer and was seeking a custom made conference table for my husband’s company. I am very particular and highly appreciate quality craftsmanship. Paul Downs made the entire process seamless and efficient, which is important to me...and I am sure to many. Everything was pinpointed and accurate so that there was no question that all my wishes were addressed. The table is exquisite and the quality is top notch. I would definitely recommend them to anyone. Now if I could only convince them to branch into private residential tables!
Paul Downs Cabinetmakers were recommended to build a conference room table for our firm. The table needed to fit into our new conference room. Every step in the process was mapped out and double checked by Paul Downs so the end product not only fit but was a magnificent object of beauty. Their craftsmanship exceeded our expectations and we are delighted to show our clients the end product.
We needed a larger conference room table with lots of technology added so it could also function as our Emergency Operations Center. Our Paul Downs Design Engineer showed us a host of options, talked us through the pro and cons and really made the process easy. Now we have the table. It's exactly as designed and expected. Thank you for a great experience. And it was affordable.
We love our table. It sits in our companies largest and most used room. When you walk in the table exceeds the look and feel we wanted in our board room. The process of designing and installation went smoothly and easily. Thanks!!!
I have received TOP NOTCH service at every stage of my project.My project is likely one they are not aiming to get (two flip up 3'x6' custom conference room tables) but they certainly made me feel like it was a BIG deal to them.The attention I received at every stage was great. Small questions were welcomed and answered to my satisfaction.Fantastic company to work with!
My law office needed a fabulous new conference room table. One large enough to hold a room of attorneys, and one beautiful enough to fit in with our historical office. Paul Downs delivered and we could not be happier - with the process AND the outcome!
The process of getting an idea to seeing the idea come to life is awesome. The Paul Downs team is great in relaying information and walking you through the process of getting exactly what you want and helping you fill your space.
The Paul Downs team did a fantastic job of turning my idea into reality. I'd been looking for the "right" conference table for 3 years when I found Paul Downs Cabinetmakers on the internet. After a brief conversation and a design consultation, they provided renderings for approval and then produced a beautiful conference table and credenza. Their work is first rate. I recommend them without reservation.
After researching custom furniture makers online we discovered Paul Downs. A few years passed between introducing our concept and moving into our new office space where we engaged Paul Downs and worked together. Our designer, Nathan, absolutely nailed it - he listened intently, researched our company independently, and asked the right questions to complete our vision. The custom, 16-person round table is an absolute work of art, along with the other pieces we purchased. Thanks for making this process personal, resulting in timeless pieces for our new corporate office!
They produce magnificent residential and commercial furniture. We built a new facility and looked for our conference room to be a focal point of our new project. We are proud of the work done on our new conference table and credenza. Everyone who take a tour has made a comment on how beautiful the table is they do great work in a timely manner. Our thanks to the team at Paul Downs.
We had a beautiful 14-foot custom table made for our largest conference room a year ago. The finish is still as beautiful as the day we got it! We love the brushed aluminum inlay! We consistently receive complements on the table. Thank you everyone at Paul Downs!
We contacted Paul Downs Cabinetmakers to design a large conference table for a special client with very critical requirements, including extremely high technology performance and a high-level security installation, but within a tight time frame and budget. The experienced craftsmen at Paul Downs knew what needed to be coordinated with the client and with the design team, and the attention to detail and craftsmanship was beyond exceptional! With full confidence, I look forward to contacting them again in the future.
Our office burned down in the Gatlinburg fire of 2016. I contacted Paul Downs Furniture because we wanted to add a statement to our new office that was just recently built back. What they were able to come up with is nothing short of amazing! The product itself is top notch, and they also help you understand each step in the process. (along with rendered drawings, etc) I highly recommend them for any custom furniture needs. Highly professional and the finished product is exactly what they say it will be. Everyone on our staff loves the table!
I wanted a custom Board Room table that would really impress, and Paul Downs did not disappoint. The quality and beauty of the table is amazing! A true work of art. The installation was flawless, and their customer service is excellent. After the table was installed, I had a few questions about the table, and its care. Every person I spoke with was very kind, professional, and willing to help in any way. I would highly recommend Paul Downs Cabinetmakers for high quality furniture custom built just the way you want it.
Although I am 1000 miles away, I felt like Paul Downs was next door. The Paul Downs designer worked my local interior designer to match the table to my new office building design. The end product is beautiful and adds a special element to our conference room.
Almost three years have passed since I wrote Part 2 of our series on slab tables. That installment took you through a design exercise performed with two slab sets from different trees. Unfortunately, we’ve been busy, busy, busy since then and the slabs are still leaning against our wall. But we recently completed a job that is a perfect example of how to design and build a slab table. The finished tables are spectacular. So now I’ll take you through the construction process we followed, to illustrate some of the finer points of building large boardroom tables with solid slabs of wood.
Let’s start with a brief look at the project. A local financial firm was moving into a new headquarters and wanted a drop-dead gorgeous boardroom table, and a matching smaller table to go in another meeting room. The owner really likes the live edge look. We were told that the larger table needs to seat 18 people, and the smaller table needs to sit 12. After analyzing the room, we recommended that the larger table be 20 feet x 5 feet wide, and the smaller table 14 feet x 4 feet wide. The larger table needs a significant amount of wiring, while the smaller table needs no wiring.
We decided to take a look at slabs and then come up with a table design. Or maybe we decided on a table design and started looking for slabs. Both of these steps usually happen simultaneously – you have an idea of what you want to do, you see what wood is available, and then you rethink what you want to do. We looked at several sources and ended up buying slabs from GL Veneer in California. They have a great website with easy sorting and decent pictures (with dimensions) of their current inventory.
The addition of power in the large table suggested a particular approach to the table top. We like to put power/data units running down the center of the table. And we also generally favor having smooth edges on our tables – they are much more user-friendly. So we decided that the big table would be made from a set of slabs trimmed to straight lines on their outside edges, with the live edges framing an opening in the center of the table that would house the power/data units. Like this:
This arrangement has the added bonus of allowing us to make a large table without using slabs that are so huge that they can’t be moved. We have to get this table into the boardroom on the second floor.
The smaller table was narrower and didn’t need power, so it was feasible to do the top out of two wide slabs placed end to end, like this:
In both of these renderings, we used photographs of actual slabs to make a Sketchup model of the table and room. This is the same process described in Slab Tables Part 2.
Ordering from GL Veneer was easy. They did a nice job packing the wood for shipment. We ended up paying $16,535 for 6 slabs (including freight to PA). If you are used to buying raw lumber, that works out to about $28.50/ board foot. Which is quite a bit more expensive than ordinary walnut lumber in the same thickness, which usually runs us about $12/board foot.
The wood doesn’t look like much when it arrives:
It’s actually really beautiful wood with great figure. That will be revealed when we complete the process of flattening the slabs, sanding them smooth, and finishing them.
It’s not apparent from the photos, but the slabs are not flat. Not at all. There is an overall curve of at least ½” over the length of every piece, and there are bumps and valleys in random spots as well. You can see this when we put the slabs onto the bed of our CNC router:
When the tree was sliced up, each piece was consistently straight and flat. The process of kiln drying puts the wood under stress. As it dries, it settles into a different shape which is rarely as flat as the initial cut. We’ll need to reshape each slab in order to end up with flat and smooth table tops. That is a challenge in itself, but to make it even more difficult, every time we remove wood from the slabs their internal stresses cause them to bend some new way. Flattening these slabs will involve repeated trips to our CNC router, with a small amount of stock removed each time. We’ll let the wood rest for at least 24 hours after each machining operation.
When we start the machining process, the router is only removing stock on the high points. Here’s how that looks:
This slab has its high point in the center on the right side. We have 8 of these slabs to flatten. It takes a good long while. The machine has to be run at a relatively low speed in order to make sure we get a clean cut:
The machining process removes the rough surface left from the sawmill and we can start to see the beautiful grain of the walnut. Here’s a closeup, showing both the milling marks left by our router and the incredible curl and flame grain:
Once the slabs are flat, we can begin work on the cracks and holes in the wood. There are lots of these. They all need to be filled with epoxy. This requires multiple pours, as the wood soaks up a lot of the epoxy. Sometimes it runs out on the floor, and we have to build a little dam to keep it in place:
This slab had by far the fewest holes and cracks. All of the others had a lot more to repair. More labor hours.
Many of the slabs have large cracks running through them. We stabilize these using an inlaid butterfly. Lots of woodworkers choose to put these on the top of the table because they do look cool. We decided that we’d rather flip our slabs so that as many of the cracks as possible are on the bottom, and then to put in butterflies to keep the cracks from propagating. We cut the butterflies on our CNC. Here’s a shot of one being glued in:
We ended up doing 28 butterflies in our 8 slabs.
The final steps for the epoxy and butterflies is trimming and sanding them so that they are flush with the wood. This involves work with a router and sanders. Here’s a closeup shot of one end of one of the slabs, showing the extensive repair work:
While all of that work on the slabs is proceeding, we’ve been working on the steel base. Our engineers drew up a set of plans that have all of the features we want. It’s common practice when inexperienced woodworkers make slab tables, to simply bolt the legs to the wood. That works OK if the wood is flat and the table is small. Our tables are going to be quite large, so we need to be able to disassemble the base to move it. We also want our base to be structurally sound on its own, without the wood. And we need to run wires through the base and to the top of the table. So our bases are considerably more complex and beefier than the usual approach.
We have the laser cutting, and some of the welding, done by a specialist steel fabricator. We take those parts and do a little more shaping, drilling, and welding. Each base consists of leg units, made of 2” x 4” steel tube, and bridge units made of ¼” steel, that connect to the legs. All of that is capped with a ¼” steel plate, pierced and drilled for power/data units and for the wood slabs. Here are some shots of the connection between the bridge unit and the legs:
And a completely assembled base:
The central base units have openings to the floor for wires and removable caps for access to the wire channels. There are levelers in the bottom of each leg unit:
Next, we start making the cuts where the slabs will meet each other. The smaller table is simple: just make a perfectly straight cut where the ends butt together and then blend the edge where they meet. Of course, two slabs are not going to mate perfectly without a little persuasion. We start the blending process by putting the slabs on a cart, just to get a sense of what needs to be done:
Slabs cut from a single tree are never of identical size. That can make blending the edges where they meet an issue. Fortunately, we’ve been able to trim the two slabs for our smaller table to the same dimension. We’ll need to do some artful shaping of the natural edge to make a smooth transition. The ends present a different problem. Those sharp corners are going to be a constant source of irritation for users trying to walk around the table. If we leave them as is, somebody will end up with bruises. So we’ll do a very heavy rounding job at those points.
The blending is all skilled handwork, with a variety of wood shaping tools. At the end of that process, the table tops look like they always belonged together:
Note that the live edges appear to meet as if the trees grew that way, and that the sharp corners are now much friendlier. This table is ready for the finishing room.
The large table is a much more complex problem. We’re trimming the slabs so that the perimeter of the table forms a perfect rectangle, and leaving the live edges running down the center of the table – the “river” configuration. We’re not going to fill that void with epoxy, as that would make a permanent bond between all of the pieces. It would be impossible to move something that size out of our shop. Instead, we’re going to blend the live edges along most of their length, and fill in the gaps at each end of the table with smaller pieces that have been shaped to match the grain pattern on the larger slabs. This is very tricky. We want to use our CNC router to make perfectly mating seams. The seams are not straight – they wander here and there, following the natural grain lines. We need to make multiple test cuts on scrap material to make sure the fit is perfect. And, thanks to the programming skills of our engineering team and the fabrication skills of our shop floor team, the finished seams look great:
Here’s the whole top. This is fabulous walnut, with a lot of grain action when seen from far away and even more when you get close up:
We will be rounding these corners and easing all of the edges on this table, too.
Underneath the table there’s a lot going on. We had to set the top slightly skewed relative to the base in order to get the open river section to reveal the power/data ports. That makes this photo look a little weird:
Note the pockets for special joining hardware that allows us to assemble and disassemble all of the slabs. Note also the bolts securing the slabs to the steel plate. Each of these passes through a slotted opening in the steel. This will allow the slab to expand and contract throughout the year – as it wants to do. The bolts will hold it flat while that happens.
Applying finish to wood can be very complex – see here for a complete explanation – but slab tables are usually easy. All we have to do is spray a satin clear coat on the wood, and paint the steel black. After that, we bring the tables back onto the shop floor for a final assembly and quality check:
These tables are going to a client located just 7 miles from our shop. This makes delivery much simpler. We blanket wrap everything, take it to the client, and lug all of the pieces up the stairs into the boardroom. What does the finished room look like? Utterly magnificent:
Shoutout to the architect, D2 Solutions. We’ve collaborated with them on multiple projects, and they are always a joy to work with.
I hope after reading all of this that you can see the planning and care we put into fabricating these tables. We used 156 labor hours for the large table, and 95 labor hours on the smaller table. Our approach to making slab tables is not intended to minimize cost, but rather to do all of the work necessary to ensure that the table is beautiful, durable, capable, portable, and a joy to use.