Choosing best wood for a table top can be quite cumbersome. That’s because there are as many choices of table tops in the market as there are needs for tables. So, it can be quite intimidating for you to choose the right kind of table top for a dining table, workbench top or any other kind of table. So when looking for the best kind of wood to suit your specific need for a table top, you’ll find that there is no one kind of wood that alone is the best. Much depends on the look, grain, and hardness of the wood, among other factors, and the environment in which it is placed.
Let’s look at a few kinds of table tops and how you should choose them:
Dining table top
Typically, a dining table is the focal point of every home, so naturally you’d be looking for one that’s a show-stopper. Your ideal dining table top would be strong and well designed and would seat as many people as your family comprises. It would also be made of the hardwood of your choice–oak, teak, mahogany, walnut, etc. You might also consider using plywood and MDF, though they aren’t as sturdy as hardwood.
Another good choice of wood for a dining table top is maple, a dense wood that takes to staining very well. It can be very stable if you have a wide table top. However be prepared to shell out a lot because this wood is expensive too, being slightly difficult to cut and requiring a lot of sanding to get a good finish.
Cedar is one of the best wood for table top but you must remember that it loses its fragrance with time. Also, it becomes brittle and doesn’t stain well. If pine is your favorite, that’s fine but you will need to use a sanding sealer when staining it. Besides, it has several knots and checks.
If you want to get a hardwood look from other kinds of wood, go in for clear fur. Staining it will give it a hardwood look.
A good choice to make if you’re looking for something sturdy is a weathered wood table taken from an old farmhouse. Its antiquity usually stands out to the extent that if it did have any scratches, they would have been absorbed into the wood’s basic design. So, if you have a young family, this one’s really practical.
If you have a transferrable job, you need something durable and lightweight like plywood.
If you find the market for good table tops too overwhelming, take the safe route by going in for a classic country table, made from oak, pine or any such robust wood. You can’t go wrong with a classic country table. For one, in size it would suit your family, and if you entertain regularly, it would be a practical size. Further, you can choose to go with a French colonial style of country table or an English country farmhouse style. Both are appealing in their own ways and are practical too.
When choosing a table top, you must consider its shape and color too. Choose a shape that will suit most rooms, say round or rectangular. A round table usually seats more people than a rectangular due to the latter’s fixed leg spots.
When selecting colors, erring on the side of conservatism is wise since trends change every now and then. Stick to red, blue, black and yellow, since these are considered classic colors. But take care when you choose black table tops as even the faintest scratch will be seen.
The kind of wood you choose to create your workbench top depends on the kind of work you want to do and your budget. This is because each kind of wood has its uniqueness, which will influence your overall decision.
For instance, if you choose to go with softwood like birch or pine, they aren’t as durable as hardwood and they dent easily. Pine also gives out a resin that sticks to your woodwork. Of course, they aren’t as expensive as their hardwood counterparts.
However, if you choose to go with sturdy, hardy and resilient hardwood like maple or oak, which are more expensive than others but damage less easily while you work on it, think about it seriously. This is because some hardwoods, like red oak, tend to splinter easily if banged a lot, so don’t go in for it if you need to create a table top that requires some amount of hammering.
Another consideration for you would be the extent of humidity in your environment. If you choose a type of wood that regularly expands and contracts depending on the season, eventually it will warp. So, think hard before choosing.
Hardwood ply: Yet another feasible option is hardwood ply. This wood is far sturdier than Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and is available in a variety of woods like cherry, birch and maple. To make your table top really solid, all you need do is to put some trimmings around the edges of your table top.
You can choose to go either with plywood or MDF when creating a workbench top for a variety of reasons. They are:
Plywood: If you choose to have a table top that will be flushed with the frame, plywood is a good option. The surface will remain safe from damage that your woodworker’s tools and materials may cause, and it could also be sanded down easily. Plywood remains unchanged by passing seasons, so it doesn’t warp due to atmospheric moisture content. The surface of a plywood top table may not be very strong, so you can enhance it by using several layers of ¾-inch plywood on the table top.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF): If your bench goes beyond the frame of your workbench to accommodate a few clamps, go with MDF, as like plywood, it does not warp or bend due to changes in moisture levels. Besides, it can also be sanded down if it is ever damaged. You also get a much flatter table top surface than plywood would give you.