Behind the Scenes: Designing a Custom Wood Conference Table

Part of the commercial design office we recently completed for Pinkerton, Harkins & Mehserle Private Wealth included designing a 12-foot-long custom commissioned wood conference table. While presenting the idea during our concept presentation, the client fell in love with the design and the possibility of utilizing wood slabs found locally. Upon approval we started process as outlined below. Welcome to a glimpse of what it was like to design this table!

The first step for us began with determining the ideal length and width of the table. This table would be the centerpiece of the main conference room and thus needed to be in proportion with the overall room size and seat ten people as requested by the client. We landed on an ideal length of 12 feet and an approximate width of 48″ – 55″.

Next, we visited Advantage Lumber with our artist/woodworker/fabricator for this table, Shawn O’Malley with Heart’s Art. Finding two beautiful 12 foot long slabs at the right width was a tall order, but Shawn quickly spotted a pair that appeared to fit the bill. It took four men to lower each of the slabs to the floor so that we could see how they relate to each other. Nervously, I asked the salesperson the origin of these slabs having in mind the client’s design concept of the local environment. I was elated to hear that this eucalyptus tree was found in the Sarasota area after falling during Hurricane Irma. What a story! We were so excited to relay the news to our client about these perfect slabs.

After receiving the client’s blessing and with purchasing finalized, Shawn picked them up and started the fabrication. He first analyzed the size, weight and unique shape of each slab and assembled them digitally in SketchUp with a metal base design we desired. Now it was our turn to analyze the ergonomics of the table design, making small adjustments to ensure none of the table legs would collide with the knees of seated individuals. Our excitement grew as we slowly saw the table come to life.

Our next viewing of the table took us to the Heart’s Art workshop where Shawn showed us a few weeks of progress on the table. The slabs were cut down to equal lengths and he carefully cut the interior edges of both slabs in a river-like, meandering line to visually “marry” them into one tabletop. We also reviewed the final lacquer sheen to be applied and the black finish of the table base. We chose not to stain the wood because the Eucalyptus is stunning as is with its variation in color and beautiful, flowing grain.

Delivery day! Tensions were high as the crew of men manually hoisted the slabs (300+ pounds each!) up an angled flight of stairs to their final destination in the conference room. The final piece of the puzzle involved assembling of the base to the slabs. Voila! The table was at home.

We couldn’t be happier with the end result of this custom commissioned conference table. Its history is rich as the grain displays stories of growth, and its curves trace the soul of branches and the local craftsman’s creative eye.






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