Folding Table Construction
Two things matter with folding table construction: moveability and durability. Folding tables have to be easy to move to a point of action while taking years of abuse, and both of these qualities are determined by the way the folding table is made:oThe tabletop sets the style and effects how well the table wears through the materials for the structure, finish, and edging. The weight of the tabletop has the biggest impact on how easy it is to move.The base carries almost all of the table load, providing the strength of the table. The tabletop defines the looks and durability of the folding table. The top is also where most of the weight of the folding table is, so the kinds of materials used for the three parts of the tabletop – the structure, finish, and edging – contribute to how easy the folding table is to move and how well it retains its appearance. The most important part is the base structure.
There are four common materials used in folding table construction
- molded plastics
Plastics are lightweight and inexpensive, but at the price of durability. Plastic folding tables also tend to have weaker legs and flimsy hinges that are prone to break.
Metal tables are much stronger and look nicer than plastic folding tables, but are heavy, difficult to move, and easily dented.
Wood tables – like plywood and particleboard – are lighter than metal, sturdier than plastic, and offer more stylistic variety.
Particleboard doesn't age as well as plywood; the chipped particles flake off over time, possibly even breaking off in chunks.
Plywood, made of solid layers of wood, doesn't break like particleboard; plywood can also be thinner, and therefore lighter, than particleboard without sacrificing strength or the size of the table load.
Wood folding tables allow a selection of different finishes. If the table is usually covered, plywood can be simply stained to protect the wood or covered in a thin, sound deadening foam that is ideal for rooms with the clank of flatware.
Seminar and training tables can be covered in thin (1/20"), high-quality veneers like mahogany, walnut, or laminates for a professional appearance.The edging, a bumper which circles the table, covers and seals where the veneer and plywood meet. Vinyl edging provides a more polished look, which is great for uncovered tables with one exception: round tables. Round folding tables are usually rolled, and soft edging can pock. For round tables or covered folding tables, a crimped aluminum edging lasts longer under heavy use.Cover the BasesAlthough the weight of the folding table is in the tabletop, the strength of the table is in its base. Both the legs and hinges should be strong enough to handle the estimated table load. For wooden tables, the legs should be steel pipes – both strong for heavy loads and, being hollow, light enough to move the table easily – and powder-coated to protect from rust. The hinges are an overlooked part of the table, but the area most likely to break unless three things are accounted for:oIt is securely fixed to the table.oIt is sturdy enough to take the full load of the table.o The locking mechanisms – gravity (slides in place when the leg is in position), spring (a tension lock), or tab (screw lock) – match the design of the table legs and potential load.Remember the BasicsFolding tables can last for twenty or thirty years without losing beauty or functionality. Plan to use your folding table by identifying quality construction from the start:oPick a durable plywood tabletop, which is stronger than particleboard or plastics while keeping the table light and easy to move.oGet the right edging. For high-traffic or round tables, consider aluminum, which is stronger; for professional looking tables, look at vinyl. Make sure it has a powder-coated steel base. Check for strong hinges that fit the style of table leg, are sturdy, and are secured solidly.