McClure Tables Presses for Success in Shuffleboard Production

By Jeanne Tranter | Posted: 06/06/2014 9:28AM

 

Table shuffleboard is a game; but producing superior shuffleboard tables is not – especially for manufacturer McClure Tables.

Based in Grand Rapids, MI, McClure Tables takes seriously its mission to construct top-quality shuffleboard tables that are on par with fine wood furniture. Company owners, husband and wife team Todd and Judy McClure, point out that Grand Rapids once was the furniture capital of America, with a “rich history of fine woodworking craftsmanship” that is alive again at McClure.

And the McClures bring their own 30-year history of operating retail stores in the billiard and game room industry to the company, which opened its doors in 2010.

McClure Tables (McClureTables.com) ensures quality craftsmanship through in-house control of the entire production process. The 12 table models, plus authentic reproductions of the famous 1947 and 1948 Rock-Ola tables, range in size from 9 feet to 22 feet in length and are crafted from start to finish at the 18,000-square-foot plant — including the tabletop itself.

In-house production of the longer of these tabletops is rare among table shuffleboard manufacturers, according to Todd McClure. Many companies contract out the tabletops, which, he says, are “the actual playing surface, and, therefore the most important component of the shuffleboard table.” The company’s 18-foot RF press, believed to be one of the largest such presses in the shuffleboard manufacturing industry, enables McClure Tables to construct tabletops of all lengths in-house.

McClure Tables also maintains a team of highly skilled woodworkers, plus a master furniture maker, to create the table cabinetry to high standards for quality. They manufacture the cabinetry from start to finish, from selection of the wood to milling and then assembly – using Titebond Original wood glue, purchased through Franklin International’s industrial division, Franklin Adhesives & Polymers.

Tabletop Production

Production begins with the tabletops, which are made from locally harvested hard rock maple. The boards are ripped to size in a planer, chopped and then laid up and sent to the RF press to cure. To ensure sufficient time for assembling the pieces precisely in place, McClure Tables uses Franklin Adhesives & Polymers’ Multibond 2015, which the company says offers a longer assembly time for edge gluing and laminating and is highly water resistant.

The special press enables McClure Tables to manufacture tabletops up to 18 feet long in a single step, resulting in very strong joints; longer models, such as the company’s 22-foot long tabletops, require a two-step process.

“With the 18-foot RF press, we can press 50 square feet every six minutes, or 300 square feet an hour,” McClure says. “We’ll make 30 or 40 tabletops at a time, then pull them out as needed.”

In comparison, McClure adds, other shuffleboard manufacturers that have in-house presses typically use a 12-foot press and must press one tabletop section at a time to make tabletops longer than 12 feet. 

View the video from McClure Tables on the construction of the shuffleboard tables.

Finishing It Off

Once cured, the tabletops are planed and sanded to the exact thickness and cut to length before finishing. In keeping with its commitment to quality, McClure Table typically uses a traditional spray finish on its tops, which McClure says is more durable than a poured epoxy polymer finish and also allows the puck to travel at high speeds.

“You can tell if it’s a traditional finish just by the sound the puck makes going down the table,” he says. “It’s a specific whooshing sound.”

The company will use a poured epoxy polymer finish if a decal is added to the tabletop, due to the thickness of the vinyl.

The tabletops, along with the horse collar, legs and other components, are assembled and the shuffleboard tables are shipped worldwide for sale to targeted niche markets. “We haven’t gone after volume; we’re catching the niche of high-end businesses — including tech companies, lately,” McClure says.

The company’s capacity currently exceeds the 300 to 400 tables it produces annually. The upshot: it has enabled the company to add a new line that continues to capitalize upon its existing equipment and woodworking expertise — butcher blocks.

McClure Tables uses its RF press and the Multibond 2015 adhesive to construct butcher blocks of hickory, maple, walnut, cherry and oak for use in countertops, islands, chopping blocks and related applications. McClure says he expects this side of the business to grow, especially with the rising popularity of butcher blocks in residential and commercial applications.

This addition to the company’s lineup also demonstrates the kind of agility it takes for manufacturers like McClure to win the game.


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