Wood conference room 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 for conference room tables. 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 for wood conference room tables: hard maple and soft maple wood. 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.
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!
21:14 27 Aug 20
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!
12:21 18 Aug 20
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.
12:30 13 Aug 20
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
23:45 27 Jul 20
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.
17:16 15 Jun 20
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.
16:58 31 Mar 20
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.
14:43 04 Feb 20
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.
14:30 20 Sep 19
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.
17:10 09 Sep 19
Great experience from start to finish. Great service and we ended up with an amazing table and desk for our conference room. We gave them our vision and they made it happen. Thank you!
19:13 12 Aug 19
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.
02:44 23 Jul 19
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!
14:15 18 Jul 19
Great quality work on our board room table. Very professional.
13:27 18 Jul 19
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.
16:08 17 Jul 19
From the design process to the delivery, everything was flawless. Our company conference room table gets tons of compliments.
17:01 15 Jul 19
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.
14:44 15 Jul 19
Paul, did a great job in a timely fashion and I would use him again for any future cabinet needs.
14:53 10 Jul 19
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!!!
00:31 10 Jul 19
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!
20:26 09 Jul 19
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!
12:17 05 Jul 19
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.
17:30 02 Jul 19
Very good experience. Would use again.
15:10 01 Jul 19
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.
16:14 27 Jun 19
Great people to work with. Excellent quality product. Delivery and installation was remarkable. Will definitely use their service again.
23:09 17 Jun 19
From start to finish a great experience. We could not be happier with our custom conference table.
20:13 05 Jun 19
Paul Downs Delivered!! Roy Law Group worked with Paul Downs' designers and they came up with a conference room table, credenza, reception desk and reception side table for our new office suite. The pieces are even more beautiful than the animated designs. Also, the entire group at Paul Downs is very professional and responsive.We had some hesitation about working with someone in Bridgeport, PA when we are in Portland, OR but they assured us that they ship all over the United States.If you want custom made furniture for your office that really emphasizes your brand, Paul Downs delivers.
Erin Leydon Plummer
19:42 30 May 19
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!
12:05 01 Mar 19
beautiful quality and amazing people to work with
17:13 13 Dec 18
Out first conference table, looks exactly how it was presented to us, very easy to install, great working with them through the entire process. They really work to give you what you want.
14:27 11 Oct 18
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.
20:53 10 May 18
Excellent quality tables, they took a concept image and made it a reality.
Maschka Riedy Ries & Frentz Law Firm
21:31 23 Apr 18
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!
17:30 22 Mar 18
Great company to work with! The team walks you through every step, from table design to table care once it is installed. I would highly recommend working with Paul Downs!
Laura Thul Penza, AIA
21:48 15 Feb 18
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.
18:20 13 Feb 18
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!
21:40 30 Jan 18
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.
23:40 12 Jan 18
Professional from design, delivery and installation. I would recommend Paul Downs.