May 2009 Archives

Conference Tables in History

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Today we rarely have food at the conference table, much less hold an important conference at the dining table.

In the Middle Ages, the meeting room and the banquet hall were often one and the same.


Your Auntie Mabel probably told you to keep your elbows off the dining table, eat with your mouth closed and ask to be excused from the table. There's no proper aunt advising us on etiquette when we're sitting around a conference table. But good manners are just as important in the workplace.

Most conference table etiquette boils down to one simple principle: be considerate.

If you are attending a meeting or presentation:

  • Be on time. (enough said!)
  • Remain attentive: no checking email on your Blackberry, fidgeting or daydreaming. Turn off your cell phone before the meeting or leave it behind. If there's no clock in the room, set your watch in your lap under the conference table so you can check the time without the presenter noticing.
  • Don't leave the conference room during the meeting. Take a bathroom break just before if that is likely to be an issue. If leaving early is absoutely necessary and you have prior permission of the presenter, sit by the door to cause as little disruption as possible.
  • If the topic is of vital interest to you and you have many questions to ask, try not to dominate the conversation; keep your questions brief, and be sure to let others have their say too. If the opposite is true, still come prepared with a question or two in case the discussion lags. And never interrupt.

If you are hosting a meeting or presentation:

  • Only invite people who need to be there. Don't waste people's time by calling them into the conference room when their presence isn't necessary.
  • If you need extra time to set up or break down, reserve the conference room for the extra time. Don't assume the space will be available early.
  • If your presentation includes discussion time, give everyone the opportunity to ask questions. Treat everyone sitting around the conference table as equally important, regardless of the corporate hierarchy. Try not to let any one participant dominate, or derail the discussion with off-topic issues.
  • The secret to successful meetings: however long your presentation is, always schedule it for ten minutes longer and finish "early." Attendees will walk away from the conference table thinking you are the best presenter ever.

(And if you must rest your elbows on the conference table, at least your Auntie Mabel isn't there to see it.)


Once a new conference table is installed, the last thing anyone wants to think about is moving it again. And most conference tables are very rarely moved. But eventually circumstances may require it: a few years down the line you may remodel your office, or relocate to a new office. Follow these steps to protect your conference table when you move it.

Many Hands Make Light Work. Make sure to have adequate staff on hand to move your table. A large glass table top is surprisingly heavy, and a granite table top is even heavier. One slip by a mover straining under too heavy a load, and your table top might end up with a chip or crack and need to be replaced.
This is especially important if your table top has a finish like frosted glass or our "Scratched" glass, as the movers should take care not to leave smudges on the textured surface of the glass. This is hard for them to do if they are carrying too much weight and are using all their energy not to drop the table.

Padded Blankets Are Your Friend. If the conference table will be moved more than a few feet, or will be turned on its side (to go through a doorway or around a corner), use padded blankets to protect the edges. If the top separates from the base and you need to lean the top against a wall while moving the base, lay padded blankets on the floor before setting the top down.

To Disassemble or Not to Disassemble. Did the table require assembly when it was originally installed? If the table is moving just a few feet within the same room, and you have enough people to lift all the pedestals in unison, you can probably get away with moving it in one piece. If the top is separate you should remove it, move the pedestals, and then replace the top. Do not pull or drag a heavy conference table across the floor.
If the table is moving to another room, or is so large you do not have enough people to move all the pedestals at once, you'll have to disassemble the table and reassemble it in its new location. Be sure to save all hardware in plastic bags, and clearly label all parts as you disassemble the table.

Read the Functional Manual. Use the assembly instructions that came with the table (you did save them, didn't you?) to ensure correct disassembly and re-assembly. If you no longer have the assembly instructions, contact the manufacturer for a new set of instructions. Provide them with a copy of your original invoice or packing list so they know exactly what table you need instructions for.

Caveat Emptor. If you are hiring movers/installers to move your conference table, make sure their rates and policies are clearly explained. Will they crate the table, or move it as is? What is their responsibility if the table is damaged while in their hands?

Cold Storage. Due to scheduling conflicts you may need to remove your table from its old location before the new location is ready. If you do not have space where the table can be stored, ask your moving company how much they would charge to store it for you. For long-term storage you may wish to rent a storage unit. Or you might even contact the original manufacturer and ask if they can store it, although this will probably require freight to and from their location.

Conference Tables in History

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The Yalta Conference, Feb 4-11, 1945.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Yalta to plan the defeat of the Axis, and agree to terms of the eventual occupation of Germany.

(Remember the troops this Memorial Day weekend.)


Metal is a hard, durable material, and furniture made of metal typically requires far less maintenance than wood. Use these tips to get the most from your metal furniture.

Brushed Steel
Brushed Steel leg plates are finished with a Hand rubbed Oil finish and sealed with a Clear Satin Conversion Varnish finish. With normal use the finish and sealer should never need to be reapplied. Brushed Steel is subject to corrosion, therefore we do not recommend outdoor use in coastal areas, or exposure to rain. 

During processing at the mill, molten Steel is passed through rollers to flatten & shape the bar of Steel into a 1/2" inch thick plate. The rollers leave unpredictable character on the Steel surface, often in a linear pattern. We rub over and highlight this character with our regimented scratching, but each leg plate will retain the underlying character from the hot rolling process. The bottom of leg plates have a Cork barrier applied to protect floors. Stoneline uses Brushed Steel in the Axis and Radian table lines.

Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel panels are systematically brushed with a horizontal line pattern. As stainless Steel does not oxidize, no finish is necessary. However, both the Quadrant and Crescent table lines, which use Stainless Steel, also include wooden components. So we do not recommend locating these tables where they will be exposed to rain.

A cross-hatch pattern is hand scratched into the surface of 5/8" Aluminum plate. The scratch finish is on the pedestal part of the Vector table only. Solid Aluminum crossbars have a brushed texture and a Clear Satin Conversion Varnish finish. With normal use, the finish should never need to be reapplied. Aluminum is subject to corrosion from water, though not to the same degree as Brushed Steel. Therefore we do not recommend outdoor use in coastal areas, or exposure to rain. Stoneline uses Aluminum in the Vector table line.

When purchasing a conference table there are many options to consider and choose from. One of the most basic and important decisions is what shape your conference table will be.


Our most popular shaped top is a Boat with all four sides arced. The curve on the long sides helps improve sight lines so that it is easier for conference participants seated at the far ends of the same side of the table to see each other. The graceful curve on all four sides gives the table a sophisticated modern appearance.


A Racetrack Oval is a circle divided in half and stretched out with straight lines connecting the two halves. This shape is particularly effective with a wiring trough running down the center of the table, or an open space down the center for wiring access (as shown).


Rectangular shapes require simpler machining techniques and are competitively priced, making the rectangle a good choice when budget is an issue. A rectangular table is a clean, basic shape which looks good in almost any conference room.


Round shape tops are an excellent choice for smaller conference rooms. Round conference tables can be built to seat anywhere from 6-24, however this shape is usually chosen when smaller meetings are anticipated.

A Wedge shape top is a trapezoid, narrower at one end. This allows a speaker at the wide end to see down the table, or for participants to view a monitor for video conferencing.


Oval shapes can make the most of a smaller space. Due to the curved sides, less clearance is required in the room than with a Rectangular or Racetrack shaped table.


We also design conference tables in a variety of custom shapes, such as Square, Octagon, or U shape, which allows a speaker access to all participants from the center of the table.

Plan ahead for how your table will be used and what shape top will best suit your needs. This planning will help ensure that you purchase the right conference table for you.


Honed Absolute Black Granite has developed a reputation as a difficult or problem material due to fingerprints showing on the stone. We have even seen columns calling honed absolute black granite a "nightmare" which no one should ever use.

It is true that honed absolute black granite requires more maintenance than polished absolute black granite. And it is not possible to completely eliminate fingerprints. For that reason we do not recommend honed absolute black granite for high-use applications like kitchen countertops. But fingerprinting doesn't have to be a nightmare. Understanding the honed finish and knowing how to work with it are the secrets to success with this beautiful stone.

In some cases, the reason that finger prints show up so much is that the final wash step has not been performed properly. Many crews emphasize multiple applications of Mineral Oil, while we emphasize getting it off again. With oil left on the surface, every time you touch it, you move oil around. The oil is meant to saturate the stone so that the pores do not accept oils from fingerprints. Fingerprint oils will show up as a stain if the pores are not evenly colored by oil already. We suggest the following technique to achieve an even finish:

Re-apply a thin layer of Mineral Oil so that the surface is consistent in color. (Use only cotton rags or a heavy weight paper towel/ shop rag for all steps.) Remove as much excess as possible with dry rags. Clean well with a large sponge, water and a mild dishwashing soap (we use Dove because it has a mild de-greaser). It is important not to apply dish soap directly to the top. Apply soap to the wet sponge. Wash well and rinse extremely well with wet rags. After the top has dried, we use Windex on a rag to even out areas that might still seem a little darker than the rest of the stone due, to too much oil left on that area.


Your conference table top can be built in a single piece, or in multiple sections. The decision is based on several factors:

Table size: Stoneline Designs builds conference tables up to 30 feet long. However, 10' is the maximum size top (116" for shaped glass) that we can fabricate and ship in one piece. A conference table top larger than 10' must be in multiple pieces.

Access: If a 10' table top will be made in one piece, all access points must be carefully measured: doorways, elevator, stairwell, tight corners, etc. Remember that the top will be a few inches longer when crated. If any access point is not large enough, the top should be made in multiple pieces.

Design: A single piece top has a smooth, professional appearance. On the other hand, we incorporate the breaks in a multiple piece top into the design for a sophisticated look. Some tables even have different finishes or materials for different sections of the top. Either approach makes an attractive table, depending on the look you are going for in your conference room.

Power/Wiring: A round wiring grommet can be installed in any conference table top, whether single or multiple pieces. A wiring trough runs along the center of the table, and requires the top to be built in multiple sections.

Seating: We plan the break between top sections to fall between chairs, for more comfortable seating. For example, a 10' table will typically seat 10: 4 along each side and 1 on each end. We would divide a 10' top into 2- 5' sections so that the break occurs between the 2 center chairs. A 12.5' table could be made in 2 or 3 sections, depending on whether the table would seat 4 or 5 on each side. We use this same principle for dividing larger tops as well. With careful planning a conference table can be designed so that no chair is placed in front of a pedestal or break in the top, even up to 30' long.


Stoneline's Benjamin Grey Stone is a warm grey stone from Jerusalem with soft veining in a sweeping pattern over the whole surface. It is an excellent choice for a conference table, executive desk, occasional table or infrequently used formal dining table. Benjamin Grey is a medium hard stone and some scratching can occur. We recommend coasters and placemats to protect your stone table top.

Everyday Cleaning
For general cleaning the stone can be wiped down with water, a little soap and a soft sponge. Dish washing soap and warm water will remove fingerprints and most other oily spots. Very stubborn stains can be removed with a bristle scrub brush and cleanser such as Ajax. (This type of cleaning however will remove the luster and the finish will have to be reapplied.)

Periodic Maintenance
Repeated washing on highly used table tops will slowly wear off the sealer. The surface may eventually appear duller. For periodic maintenance , we recommend applying another coat of mineral oil. Frequency depends on use but approximately once every two years for an occasionally used dining table.

To reapply mineral oil top coat, mix Watco Natural interior oil finish (Woodworkers Supply 800-645-9292) with 20% Mineral Spirits and apply a thin coat. Wipe off the excess with a clean rag. Buff the surface with a dry rag until there are no puddles or beads of oil. Any oil that dries on the surface will appear glossy and the procedure will need to be repeated. Let dry 24 hours.

Re-Sealing The Finish
If a problem such as a stubborn stain occurs, it may be necessary to re-seal the finish. First wash the top thoroughly with a clean, soft sponge and warm soapy water. (Tough oil stains may need to be scrubbed out with a bristle brush and Ajax.) Use Acetone (or stripper purchased from HMK) to strip the finish only if it is necessary. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all residue from the cleanser, as this may effect the finish. Let the stone dry (a fan speeds the dry time). With a large, clean, soft rag, wet the surface with the sealer (use gloves). Apply a thin even coat and wipe up the excess with a clean rag. Any sealer left puddled on the surface will dry glossy. If necessary, reapply after the surface appears dry. A 3rd coat may be necessary if the stone has been stripped.

A Honed (satin) finish with a 1" hand-tooled border detail is standard on all our Benjamin Grey Stone table tops. Standard Benjamin Grey width is 3/4" thick (an approximate width due to surface variation in the natural material). Stoneline produces Benjamin Grey table tops in any size up to 60x108". Larger table tops are constructed in multiple pieces, up to 30' long.