restaurant folding tables

Furniture for restaurants: 1. Table Base Structural Stability

Why Cheap Cafe Table Bases Are Expensive.

When investing in new stable table bases for your cafe or restaurant, it is important to consider the structural stability of your table bases instead of choosing a table based solely upon price.   A structurally sound table base will provide many years of reliable service and will enhance the customer experience of your business. Whereas a cheap table base choice will quickly develop a myriad of stability problems, will annoy your customers, and offer a short service life.

You may consider battling on with an inferior table base choice and invest in add-on products such as wedges to stabilise the table feet.  The result may be that you end up paying more for your cheap table than you would have if you had purchased quality restaurant furniture in the first place.   The other costly detriment of cheap table base choices is the poor impression they inadvertently leave on your business.  Cheap table stand choices can work out to be quite costly.

What is a Stable Table?

A stable table is a table that will not wobble.  If the table top is not steady then the table is considered to be unstable. So a perfect “stable table” is a table whose table top is steady.  There is a wide range of restaurant tables on the market, so how do you choose?  What characteristics of a stable table should you look for to make an informed choice?  And what makes a table wobble in the first place?

Why Do Tables Wobble?

Is a heavy table the solution to wobbly tables?  Solid wood tables are heavy, and solid steel framed tables are also heavy, but they are also very difficult to move.  The fact that these tables are heavy does not mean that they won’t wobble.  If the floor is uneven or if the legs of the table are not exactly the same length, the table will wobble.  So how do you get an easy to move lightweight table that does not wobble?

Floors are very difficult to construct 100% flat and level. Even if the floor has been masterfully constructed to be perfectly flat, over time the ground under the floor will settle and the floor itself would become uneven. If we place the perfect restaurant furniture on this uneven floor, the table and chairs will wobble. The opposite is also true that if you had the perfect floor the table could be uneven and will, therefore, be wobbly.  To get the combination of a perfect floor and a perfect table for your restaurant furniture is possible, but very rare.

Temporary Solutions for Restaurant Furniture

All of the current solutions to fix existing wobbly tables are aftermarket add-ons which are “semi-automated” or “fully-automated” adjusters fitted to table base by the end user.  Aftermarket add-ons for restaurant furniture tables can be compared to racing tyres being fitted to your regular car and then hoping it will enhance the performance of your car to the same level as a luxury sports car.  That’s wishful thinking!

Adding something to the bottom of a table to level it does not mean it will improve the performance of the rest of the table.  Back to our car example; the handling of a car is designed and built into the vehicle by the manufacturer, from the tyres to the suspension and chassis. All components are designed to work together. Changing one single part will not transform your old clunker into a Porsche.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Stable Table?

Restaurant furniture varies widely in quality and price.  However, just because restaurant furniture is expensive does not mean it is better or that it will be stable.  A metal table base has three components; the Table Feet, the Centre Pedestal Pole and the Spider.  All three of these parts have to be rigid to perform with stability.  If there is any weakness in any of these components, the table will not be stable.

The Table Feet

These have to be rigid and heavy. The overall stability of a table base is a function of the leg rigidity and weight. The general rule is that the heavier the bottom of a table base, the more resistant your table will be to toppling. The heavier the components are mean more material needs to be used. More material equates to higher costs.  This in turn compromises the manufacturer’s competitiveness.

A typical example of table legs that are built to a price is an all aluminium base.  From the outside, the legs look like solid cast legs. They are not, as the base would be too heavy and expensive.  In order for this base to have rigid legs, the wall thickness of the aluminium casting should be at least 5mm thick. This would make the weight on the bottom leg casting about 5-6kg. This is the ideal weight and wall thickness to make a stable table, however, increases the costs significantly.

To counter cost, the furniture manufacturer reduces the wall thickness to about 2.0-2.5mm on the legs. Then they add about 2-3kg cast iron (cheaper material) weight under the legs for stability.  When you reduce the wall thickness on the aluminium leg castings the casting becomes more “flexible”.  Therefore, the first thing to look out for when purchasing a table base is to check the rigidity of the legs.

The Centre Pedestal Pole

The centre pole will be more flexible if it is thin and this will lead to wobbles.  The stability of the centre pole is a function of pole diameter (the larger the diameter of the pole the more rigid it will be) and the wall thickness (the thicker the wall on the centre pole pipe the more rigid it becomes).  As the legs to the base; the larger diameter and wall thickness means extra weight which leads to higher manufacturing costs.

Restaurant furniture manufacturers, tend to reduce wall thickness as this is not visible to the buyer.  So what is the best combination of pole diameter to wall thickness? On an aluminium centre pole, if the diameter of the pole is about 60mm the wall thickness should be a minimum of 1.8mm.  If your centre pole diameter is about 75mm, then the wall thickness should not be less than 1.4mm.

Restaurant Furniture - cheap unstable table bases
Restaurant Furniture – Thin upright tubes are easily kinked and bent

If the wall thickness is too thin the centre pole can be easily dented.  If you dent and kink a centre pole this causes weakness which could cause the centre pole to collapse under a small load. (See picture of a typical centre pole failure).  The pole diameter and wall thickness are an indicator how stable your table will be, but factors such as material (iron, stainless steel, aluminium) and the alloy also need to be considered.

The Spider

The “Spider” is the component which holds the table top on to the Centre Pole.  The quality of this part is very similar to the explanation of the Table Feet example.  Quite simply, if this component is in any way flexible, then the table will wobble.


Armed with this information you should now understand why a cafe table becomes wobbly.  To purchase a quality restaurant furniture, choose branded products from a reputable reseller.  Branded products are invested in and developed by the manufacturer.  If their product does not perform, they have both their reputation and business to lose.




Content by INK PLUM

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