Let's answer the toughest question first. You may believe that custom tables must be wildly expensive, but that does not have to be the case. It is certainly possible to design a table that costs upwards of $7000 or more, but it is equally possible to make decisions that allow a similar table to be built for much less. How much less? Well, being truthful, you should not expect that custom tables of any kind will beat the price of a mass produced table in a heads up, like-for-like design. But getting a modest table built from domestic hardwood for $1500-$2500 is a reasonable goal.
The cost of a custom dining table is a reflection of the unique elements that go into its creation. Several factors influence the price, including the choice of materials, the specific wood selection, the complexity of the design, the table's size, and the time invested in its preparation and construction. Each decision made during the crafting process contributes to the overall value and individuality of your custom table. Rest assured, the resulting custom table will not only be a testament to quality but also a representation of your personal style and preferences.
Exceptional table designs stem from a harmonious blend of various elements, with the foremost being the unique vision and expectations of the customer. We all possess distinct reasons for desiring a custom table, whether it's about bringing a vision to life for hosting home events, optimizing space utility, or seamlessly integrating a table into an overarching design.
Collaborating with a skilled furniture designer or craftsman is the ideal route to fuse your vision with professional expertise. Come prepared with images of tables that resonate with your taste (or those that don’t) while the craftsman shares their portfolio and skills. To further enhance the process, an in-person visit to the designated space where the table will reside is invaluable. While a virtual visit is an alternative, nothing quite matches the depth of an in-person encounter. This visit, typically lasting 30-60 minutes, serves as a crucial exploration of style, vision, scale, and the initial decision-making on materials. It serves as the catalyst for the subsequent steps in the design process.
Selecting a wood species is a critical step. The type of wood determines the natural tone or color of the table. Any stain or shading or accents will vary in their effectiveness depending on the main wood choice. Most colorants work by embedding pigment in the wood grain, so selecting a wood that has very fine or subtle grain (like maple) will produce one result, but selecting a wood with strong grain (like walnut or oak) will produce a very different result.
The wood selection obviously impacts the cost of a custom table. Since 2020, most hardwoods have seen dramatic increase in cost. Working with a craftsman (myself included) can help making the right choice easier. If you have ever bought countertops or carpets, you'll know that those are typically priced an a "per square foot" model. Hardwoods are different because the thickness of the wood is variable and the overall volume of wood needed is part of the cost. So wood used in furniture making is sold in "board feet." This is much like buying cords of firewood. A board foot of wood is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch. If a particular species of wood is selling for $20 per board foot, here are some examples of typical cost to the builder:
66 x 30 x 1.5 = 20.62bf -> $412.50
72 x 36 x 1.75 = 31.5bf -> $630.00
96 x 40 x 2.0 = 53.33bf -> $1066.67
Once the initial ideas are discussed and the wood and material decisions are made, a drawing or rendering is made to define exactly what is to be built. This illustration becomes the basis for building a price quote.
Building a table is a relatively straight-forward process. The design process has already defined the size of the table and the principle materials to be used. Therefore, construction is broken down into three main areas, each of which follow a similar process.
Table top The top is either assembled by milling and joining multiple boards together, or by milling one or more large "slabs" to create a natural, live edge detail. The result will be a long and wide panel that is roughly flat and ready for treatment (filling knots and cracks, addressing any stability issues, and adding any inlaid details) and finishing (sanding smooth, addressing color, adding a protective finish with the desired sheen/appearance).
Apron If applicable, the apron is a short detail that is mounted under the table top and runs around the perimeter of the top and connects the legs. The apron can be simple or ornate or even omitted entirely. The apron goes through similar steps as the top including milling, treatment, and finishing.
Legs There is almost limitless choices for table legs. For budget-minded customers, buying pre-made legs is a great way to save big money. Adding custom legs can increase the table cost significantly as this is where complex design can easily add a lot of time to a project. Legs are typically either metal or wood, and legs can be set up as a single pedestal, two or more trestles, or four single post legs.
Crafting a custom dining table is an artful journey that begins with your unique vision. My process starts with a thorough consultation, where we delve into your desires for size, style, and statement. From there, I meticulously select the finest materials, carefully considering wood type, grain patterns, and finish options to match your preferences. The design takes shape with precision, ensuring that every detail aligns seamlessly. As I commence construction, the table is expertly handcrafted, showcasing the skill and dedication I put into every project. Finally, quality checks and finishes are applied, resulting in a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that not only reflects your individuality but also stands as a testament to my commitment to excellence. Your custom dining table, a true labor of love, is ready to become the heart of your home.