Questions To Ask Your Custom Table Maker Before Buying

Cannon Hill Woodworking custom makes every piece for our customers, ensuring your new reclaimed wood table or desk is exactly how you envisioned. Depending on who you work with, a custom table may be built completely differently from one woodworker to another, from how the wood is flattened to what finishes are used. Here are some of the most important questions you can ask a table maker before you make a final decision:

Do you help design custom furniture?

We design furniture all the time in collaboration with our clients. We don't steer you in the direction of a bunch of pre-designed pieces. We work with our clients to achieve every detail of aesthetic and function that they're looking for. We have an industrial design background to complement our build skills and we like to put it to use!

Can you send me a computer rendering?

At Cannon Hill, we're happy to do so. Having a computer rendering, especially for more complicated builds like beds, if very useful because then everyone is looking at and agreeing upon the same information set.

Do you face joint and plane all your boards before glue up?

Face jointing is the process whereby a board is totally flattened, and any cupping or twisting is removed. Following jointing, planing then removes irregularities in the board's thickness. In conjunction, these processes will yield a flat table top that stays flat for generations. Merely planing the wood to a uniform thickness won't do the trick, because a planer does not remove a twist. Ask your table maker how big their jointer is! At Cannon Hill, we have a 14" jointer, large enough to flatten any board! This ensures our glue ups are perfect, and that we aren't forcing boards flat during our glue-ups so that the natural inclination of the table over time will be to twist and warp. 

pine live edge slabs
Live-edge Pine Slabs

Do you use threaded inserts to connect your trestles or metal bases?

If you've bought a piece of custom furniture and you look underneath and see screws connecting your metal base to your table top, you should note that over the course of time, all screw connections tend to weaken, especially if a table is moved frequently. The real killer for screw connections is when the screws are removed, typically in the event of a residential move from one home to another, and then reinserted into the previous holes. There isn't as much wood there the second time around for the screw to grab. At Cannon Hill, we embed threaded metal inserts into the underside of the table, so that you can bolt and unbolt your legs as many times as need be. The connection is far superior and stable. Your table will not rock back and forth.

Do you offer lacquer spray?

Some furniture companies only finish their furniture with oils or polyurethanes. While these products have many great uses, and we use them a lot, they are not completely stain proof. Nothing protects your furniture from stains like a lacquer spray. At Cannon Hill, we do our own lacquer spraying in house and it is always an option for your piece of custom furniture.

Do you install dominoes in between each board when you do your glue ups?

Dominoes are baby thumb sized pieces of hard wood that can be installed in between every single board on a table. If you want your table to stay in tact for 100 years, dominoes will help a lot because they have glue on all surfaces. So instead of glue just along every seam in the table, you have these little glue thumbs holding your table together across the board. We wouldn't recommend testing this, but if you dropped a table without dominoes out of a window, it would probably break. A table with dominoes would not. Does this matter? Absolutely: over decades the wood of your table will want to move, to expand and contract, and to force a seam open. Dominoes will hold it tight. If you want a table that will last a lifetime, work with a manufacturer who installs dominoes.

Do you put screws and nails in your chairs? Do you screw your cross pieces together in your tables and benches?

The answer needs be no! Make sure it is before you buy from anyone! If you look at your table and you see little dots going through your trestle base into the trestle cross piece, this connection will eventually weaken over time as wood moves, and as the table gets use. At Cannon Hill we use real wood joinery in our chairs so you don't have to see a bunch of little black dots, and so your table and chairs won't start to rock in 10 years.

reclaimed oak chair with walnut legs
Reclaimed Oak Chair With Walnut Legs

What moisture content is the wood you build with?

If your furniture maker can't answer this question, they have no business making your furniture. Wood moves over time, but it does most of its moving as it's drying. Kiln-dried wood (wood that is in the 6 to 7 percent moisture content range) is the safest bet for building without having to worry about warping or cupping. At Cannon Hill we exclusively use kiln-dried lumber.

How do you make your table extender or company boards on tables with a skirt?

If the answer is two wooden rails, then you have to consider that wood expands and contracts over time, and that the rails will get stuck in the skirt. At Cannon Hill we use real metal drawer hardware for our table extensions. It's nice to think of an entire system made out of wood, but not so nice when you can't get the rails out because they're too big for the notches that were made for them.

Can you do table extender or company boards on a trestle or metal base table without a skirt?

At Cannon Hill we came up with our own method of a removable rail system that is incredibly easy to install that allows us to put table extensions on tables that don't have skirts. 

Can you explain your pricing?

At Cannon Hill we deliver transparent pricing that takes into account materials and labor, and we explain to our clients how and why the price of different designs may change. We consider ourselves builders and makers- not a retail store. And as builders, we like the idea of a time and materials approach to pricing. Our clients do too. Know where your money is going!

How do I get started?

If you'd like to discuss a custom-made piece of furniture, please give us a call at 857-576-2089 or drop us a line at info@cannonhillwood.com. We work directly with all of our customers to ensure that our finished reclaimed tables, dining sets, desks, or other custom pieces are exactly what our customers are looking for. We're happy to answer any questions you may have and help you create the piece of your dreams.