Feb 23rd, 2024 | Richard Williamson, Co-Founder & Director of Abacus Tables

If you want to avoid buying a table that severely splits and warps within a few months, the information in this article is essential. The large timber table market has become a minefield, meaning it’s very easy to make a mistake that will cost you thousands.

We’ve highlighted the most important points in red, so skim these if you don’t have time to read the entire article. We’ve also included a simple five-point checklist (at the end) to help you avoid making a very expensive mistake.

The first important point – wood movement is counterintuitive. We’ve all experienced a relatively cheap piece of furniture that lasts for years, so it’s very reasonable to assume that a big solid timber table will last indefinitely.

The assumption that a table made from large timber slabs will last indefinitely is completely wrong.

The larger and seemingly more robust the piece of timber is, the more prone it is to severe splitting and warping. This can happen at an alarming rate over a period of weeks or months. In some cases, the table top can literally explode with a large bang as the tension inside the timber builds and suddenly releases, forming a giant split.

We will explain the causes of this and how to avoid it below, but first, here are some pictures showing what can go wrong:

wood movement splitting
wood movement warping
wood movement warping and spitting

We have dedicated ourselves to solving the hugely challenging problem of the wood movement for well over a decade, so this is a topic that we’re very passionate about.

We believe that everyone purchasing a large timber table should be aware of this information, but the reality is that many furniture makers offering these tables aren’t even aware of this themselves.


When we started our company, we did not understand how difficult it would be to produce wide-slab timber tables. It requires an extremely specialised setup and years of experience.

This is why big players like John Lewis and Furniture Village don’t offer these products – they understand that without extremely specialised processes and aftercare, they would eventually be inundated with complaints and refund requests.

Here are some of the most important things that we have learned:


Moisture in timber causes movement like bending, twisting, cracking and warping.

A huge misconception is that kiln-drying large slabs will remove or reduce the risk of wood movement. While this may be the case for small pieces of timber, anyone who relies on kiln-drying alone for large slabs is in for a shock.

Kiln drying takes a few weeks, depending on the thickness of the timber. But, before large slabs of timber are kiln-dried, they must be properly air-dried, and this takes years.

If they haven’t been properly air-dried over the requisite number of years, then kiln-drying will simply dry the surface and trap moisture in the centre. As soon as the wood is in your home, it will naturally want to equalise its internal moisture with the indoor environment. As moisture leaves the wood, the lovely flat surface will inevitably bend, twist and crack.

It took us years to find a timber source that carries out this seasoning process to this standard, but that’s not the end of the story…

When the timber was taken out of the kiln, it immediately started to take on the moisture it had lost from kiln-drying and headed back towards air-dried moisture levels.

The movement problems didn’t stop. This is what led us to develop our own unique seasoning process – critical to being able to use full slabs of timber. This extra step alone takes six weeks before work on the table can even begin. Without this extra drying process that we have created and refined, there will always be a risk of severe wood movement that cannot be fixed.

Important note: moisture meter readings only tell a small part of the story, as they only measure moisture levels at the surface. So, they’re only really meaningful for small pieces of timber.


There are a multitude of other things that need to be done in a very specific way to create a large timber table that won’t severely split and warp.

Important note: steel stiffeners do NOT solve this problem. We have designed and tested over 20 variations through the years and now have specially designed stiffeners for each top material and thickness. While stiffeners are a part of our process, they absolutely don’t solve the problem of wood movement alone.

This article would be ten times the length if we were to detail every part of our process, which is incredibly comprehensive and detailed. However, even with these processes in place, a robust aftercare service is essential to give you the peace of mind that your table will not deteriorate.


Despite going to extreme lengths to avoid wood movement issues, it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of some natural movement as the timber acclimatises to your home. As such, you’re fully covered by our Wood Movement Warranty which is a key element of our aftercare service.

If you have any wood movement issues within two years of owning the table (any movement will happen well within this period), we’ll bring the table back to our workshop for a full refurbishment. We will also leave you with a courtesy table in the meantime.

Please be aware that there are many companies that offer guarantees that they do not have the experience or ability to fulfil.

Important note: unless every aspect of one of these tables has been made in the right way, they cannot be refurbished and simply need to be scrapped.


Here are the key things to look out for when purchasing large timber tables:

1. How long has the company been in business?

To ensure that a furniture maker has had enough time to encounter and solve the complex problems of wood movement, we recommend choosing a company that has been operating for at least five years. You can check this on Companies House.

We’ve been in business since 2012. You can find us on companies house as Abacus Home Ltd.

2. How many project examples can the company show?

This will give you an indication of how many large timber tables they have actually made. A lot of example photos over a long period of time is the only way to confirm this. Beware of companies using our photos as theirs.

We have made well over 3,000 tables, and you can see hundreds of examples in our website gallery. We also have a library of thousands of photos which can be produced upon request, so we can show examples of almost anything.

3. What is the company’s lead time?

If the lead time is a matter of weeks, it’s simply not enough time to carry out the in-depth processes that are required for this sort of timber table.

Hopefully now you can understand why our lead time is between three and four months.

4. Have the company simply copied and pasted Abacus guarantees and T&Cs?

As the most established bespoke table maker in the UK, it is common for other companies to copy our T&Cs without knowing what it takes to fulfil these promises.

5. Do they show proof of ongoing aftercare? Can they honour their promises?

It’s easy to make a promise to service tables in the future, but over the years, we have had to completely restructure our operations to provide a high-quality aftercare service. Aftercare must be a core part of any company that manufactures these products, and therefore, is something you need to see definitive proof of before purchasing.

We recommend reading some of our third-party Feefo reviews to get an idea of what you need to be looking for when assessing any company that produces large timber tables.

Within two to three years, new companies in this space are generally inundated with demands for refunds which they don’t survive. This checklist doesn’t just ensure that your table will be made properly but also that the company will be around to support you if you need them in the future.


I understand that a table like this is a significant investment that isn’t right for everyone. If you don’t want to make that investment, I urge you not to go for something that appears similar but at a much lower price because the chances of something going wrong and you wasting your money are incredibly high.

There are some great off-the-shelf options out there that represent good value for money, and this would be my recommendation in this case. If you do decide to invest in a statement piece, ensure that it has been properly built and is backed by a company with a proven track record.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@abacustables.co.uk.