Firstly the wood and why we use it. Oak has been used as the core material of Refectory tables since c.1300, there have been other variants of this like fruit woods and Ash, but for the most part they have been made out of oak.
The Oak that we use is Kiln dried or air dried and mostly French, this is because it is a faster growing oak and comes from managed forests, The difference between English oak and French oak is very small and to the untrained eye there would be nothing to distinguish them apart, there is two ways of cutting the oak tree trunks, the first way is simply to plank it, the second way is to quarter saw it, this way is where most people will see what they know as a quarter sawn boards, this is where the famous medullary rays or figuring comes from.
Our Refectory tables are made from the finest oak boards in the making and try when possible to use the widest boards, on our standard tables which have a 3ft wide top will usually only have 3 planks to it, if you the customer request the slightly smaller width and more expensive quarter sawn boards then we may have to put four or maybe 5 boards to a 3′ wide top, there is also the depth of the top to consider, most refectory tops would have been made from oak that was thick, this we still do for most, but some designs of tables require thinner tops, so therefore we are able to purchase the wood in many thicknesses , these would from 1″ to 3″ the price difference between these is quite extreme. For the legs of our tables, we always try to keep as one solid section of oak, they range from 3″ thick to 6″ thick, 6″ is the largest kiln dried oak we can purchase, above this for very large legs we would laminate two or three planks together to create the required thickness. There are a never ending number of designs for refectory tables, some nice and some not so, but here at HFFurniture we feel we have this right, but as we make our tables to customer requirements we will always be willing to work with them to come up with the design that suits their needs, this may even be as we have done in the past a 16ft Refectory, this would be a rare beast indeed, as the usual size table range from 7′ to 10′ in length.
Visit our Showroom to see the Refectory Tables.