An Exterior "Drink Rail" Table

An Exterior "Drink Rail" Table

We make some big custom dining tables here at Cannon Hill (the current record is twenty feet long) but this project puts those to shame. Comprising over ninety lineal feet, this suite of tables for a restaurant in Revere we’ve worked with for years gave a new meaning to the phrase “big project”. Something like this requires intense planning, a huge amount of careful forethought, a little bit of luck – no rain on install day, please – and a lot of coordination. There are a lot of hands that touch a project like this one, and everybody needs to be on the same page from the word go.

Our client came to us asking about some tables for the outside area of his restaurant right on Revere Beach. He already has a permanent pavilion structure with a full bar outside the restaurant, but it could only accommodate a fraction of his legal capacity. That means he was leaving money on the table every day and every night, in a high-traffic area that could absolutely hold more customers. With these custom tables, essentially one giant high-top, he’ll be able to serve more than twice as many people each evening.

The design we came up with was simple and elegant: decking material would serve as the table top, sitting on custom-designed welded steel bases. In fact, only every other section is truly a table; in between are “spanner” sections that bridge between the tables, tying everything together and providing a frame for the tops without adding an extra set of legs where each frame meets. A simple detail, perhaps, but the sort of thing that makes a big difference in the finished product. It’s the sort of thing we take the time to consider.

The tabletops are made from ipe decking material, rather than the dimensional hardwoods that are standard for much of the custom furniture we make. Ipe is a very popular decking material because it’s beautiful, stable, and tough as nails. Given that these tops will take a beating – from customers and from the elements – we knew that ipe would be the right choice. That it’s decking material and not standard kiln-dried stuff is important. We need this wood to sit at something like 15% moisture levels, rather than the standard 8% for indoor furniture, so that it would be properly acclimated to its outdoor environment. 

Given the proximity to Revere Beach, every piece of this build needed to be tough enough to withstand moisture, salt air, and the various demands of seaside living. Accordingly, every base got a special, outdoor powdercoat specifically formulated for these conditions. Every bolt, nut, washer, and foot is stainless steel, and every connection has been lubricated to prevent seizing. Mother Nature is going to put these tables to the test, but we’ve taken every step to ensure they’re ready for her.

It’s fun to do projects like these that step outside our “normal” sort of work, and it’s really cool to be able to go see our work “in the wild.” These tables will be in service for a long, long time, and I have every expectation we’ll visit them frequently. See you at the beach.