What are they?
RTC's Heirlooms are a new, upscale, plywood-based table top line that we have developed over the course of the last year. We have spent months and months testing and refining these to select the best designs to help ensure best-value, durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. To put it simply, we don't believe you will find a stronger, better-looking, better-value table anywhere in the world. We are so sure of the quality of these table tops that a lifetime warranty is included with their purchase and a 30-day, 100% money back guarantee - standard!
How was the name for this line selected?
We kicked around a few names but kept coming back to this product line description: a table top so well-built and beautiful that the owner will pass it down to future generations. That description encapsulates what an heirloom is; it was a descriptor that we continually used until we realized it was simply the best name for them.
How are RTC's Heirlooms different from the rest of RTC's products?
Although all of our products are meant to be best-value, the Heirlooms are at a whole new level of quality and craftsmanship. They are built to be the centerpiece of a room in their aesthetic appeal, a workhorse in their function, and a marathon runner in their durability.
Furthermore, the baltic birch plywood used to make our Heirlooms is significantly stronger and more durable relative to our normal birch plywood. The real kicker is that the baltic birch is 100% natural plywood - it's both CARB-II (California Air Resources Board - Phase II) and FSC (Forrest Stewardship Council) certified! The manufacturer achieves this with a non-commercially available soy-based glue.
We don't believe there's much comparison between our traditional products and our Heirlooms; actually, we don't think there's much comparison between our Heirlooms and virtually anything else available on the market.
How are RTC's Heirlooms different from competitor's products?
First of all, all of our products, including our Heirlooms, are handmade in the USA; many of our competitors have their products imported and mass-produced by factories.
Next, we don't make our Heirlooms out of inferior materials; no particleboard here! One can even argue that our Baltic Birch plywood is even better than most solid wood types; it has all of the advantages of being wood with virtually none of the disadvantages.
The Heirlooms are virtually 100% hand-built to specifications. Our woodshop is relatively small, so we've been very selective in choosing just a few necessary machines to aid us in our processes. So every piece we make has been made out of a labor of love.
Finally, we don't believe you will find a better-value table in terms of beauty, strength, and durability; how many tables look this pretty and include a limited lifetime warranty?
What does the limited lifetime warranty cover?
The limited lifetime warranty covers the table top itself for structural integrity for the entire life of the original purchaser. Basically if any piece on the table top itself (not including legs or aprons) comes off during the purchaser's lifetime, we will repair or replace the entire top for free.
The warranty does not cover purposeful negligence, regular wear and tear (including scratches, dents, etc.), and natural catastrophes.
If I add my own legs / base to the top, what would you recommend?
We would recommend a strong and durable base. Although our Heirlooms weigh a little less than similarly-sized wood tops, they are still heavy - especially the larger ones; make sure your base can hold the top safely.
How heavy are they?
This depends on the size and thickness. Based on our measurements, each square foot of 1.5" thick Heirloom weighs approximately 5.5 pounds (7.5 pounds for 2" thick).
A small Heirloom of 2 feet by 2 feet at 1.5" thick would weigh 22 lbs (30 lbs 2" thick).
A medium-sized Heirloom of 4 feet by 2 feet at 1.5" thick would weigh 44 lbs (60 lbs at 2" thick).
A large Heirloom of 6 feet by 3 feet at 1.5" thick would weigh 99 lbs (135 lbs at 2" thick).
How does RTC finish its Heirlooms?
After sequentially hand sanding with 80, 150, 220, 320, and 600 grit sand paper, we then move the top to a finishing trailer away from free-floating dust particles. After gently wiping the top with a slightly damp cloth, we use a clean, 100% cotton cloth to apply a heavy coat of all-natural tung oil. We wait for the tung oil to dry for 20-30 minutes before wiping away any excess. Then we allow it to dry for 24 hours, move the top back into the shop, and lightly sand it with 600 grit sand paper again. Then we repeat the oil application and sanding processes two more times to ensure the wood has fully-absorbed the oil. Once that process is complete, we apply an ample amount of all-natural beeswax to the top and spread it across the entire surface. After letting that dry, we hand buff the wax to a beautiful and protective sheen. Our finishing process alone takes a minimum of 4 work days to complete.
What is tung oil and why do you use it?
Tung oil is oil pressed out of the nut from the tung tree, which originally comes from China. It's a popular way to finish wood as it's 100% natural, dries to a very hard finish, and highlights the natural grain of the wood. We also use only 100% natural solvents made from orange peels in our finishing process. The result is a 100% natural finish that is extremely beautiful.
For more information, check out tung oil on wikipedia.
Can we request our Heirloom to be finished with a stain and/or polyurethane finish?
Not at the moment.
How do you make plywood look so nice?
It really starts with the quality of the plywood we use. We only use Baltic Birch (aka Russian Birch) plywood for our Heirlooms. The quality of the outside veneers is B/BB (the highest quality available on Baltic Birch) - meant for nice cabinets and fine furniture. Furthermore, the plywood is virtually void free, meaning you find very few places where a piece of layer is missing (you can tell just by the weight of these compared to regular plywood that they are solidly-built). The price of these Baltic Birch sheets is between 50% - 120% more expensive than standard A1 plywood sheets (depending on sheet size), but it's well-worth the added cost. For more information on Baltic Birch plywood, read the "Ultimate Guide to Birch Plywood" at woodworkerssource.com.
Beyond the quality of the materials, then it's really just a matter of careful attention and lots of elbow grease. We focus on measurements and proper manufacturing techniques. We go through sheets and sheets of sandpaper on every Heirloom to ensure the smoothest of finishes. Then we do everything we can to ensure the Heirloom is protected during transit to arrive in its pristine state to the end customer.
Do the production materials in the plywood you use in RTC's Heirlooms pose a health risk?
The plywood we use in our Heirlooms is CARB (California Air Resources Board) Phase 2 certified; no urea-formaldehyde is used in its production. This plywood contains no materials deemed hazardous by OSHA, does not contain any substances regulated as hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, does not contain any substances regulated as pollutants pursuant to the Clean Water Act (40 CFR 122.21 and 40 CFR 122.42), and does not contain any substances regulated as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (40 CFR 302) or the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) (40 CFR 355). Your biggest health risk with our Heirlooms is probably dropping one on your foot - we don't advise doing that.
What inspired the RTC crew to make them?
We have experienced massive competition from imported products and have found that it's impossible to compete at their prices with our traditional products. While we maintain that our products are still better-value, it's difficult to convince all of our potential customers when similar products, usually made out of particle board, can be found for as little as 10% of our price. Though these products may only last for a few months, sometimes the price is low enough for customers to take that risk. We needed a new target market; one that would be willing to pay substantially more for a substantially better product. So in conjunction with needing a new target market, we needed a significantly nicer product to offer; hence, we developed our Heirlooms.
Why do they cost more than RTC's other products?
Firstly, our Heirlooms take at least 20 times the amount of time for us to construct compared to our similarly-sized tops, and that's even before any finishing has occurred. Besides a few basic woodworking machines, the entire process is done by hand to ensure that each piece is built to the specifications requested. Although the costs of labor are not cheap, we believe each piece reflects the devotion of our crew during their construction; a love of labor and attention-to-detail that are, in-turn, reflected in our pricing.
The materials we use to make Heirlooms, including plywood, glues, supplies, finishing oils, and waxes, were selected with the following criteria: durability, strength, aesthetic effects, environmental / health risks, and finally cost. With cost being the last parameter we used to decide on our materials, we believe we have found a combination of materials that make our Heirlooms stand apart from virtually any of our competition. But selecting among only the best of materials means that their costs must be reflected in our pricing.
Finally, all of our product pricing includes shipping costs, which are going to be more expensive with the Heirlooms. While smaller and medium sized tables will be shipped via FedEx Ground, the larger tables will have to ship via FedEx Freight. Furthermore, due to the costs involved with producing the Heirlooms, we will also be taking additional measures to help protect these products during shipment. All of these changes are also reflected in our pricing.
So our Heirlooms cost more - significantly more. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Only with our Heirlooms, we believe you get even more than you pay for.
How are they shipped?
Tops without aprons up to 45" round, 45" x 45" square, and small / medium rectangular tops, will be shipped via FedEx Ground. Small or medium tops (43" diameter or less for circular tops; 43" x 43" or less for square tops; rectangular tops depend on a combination of length and width) with aprons will also be shipped via FedEx Ground. Larger tops that do not fit into either of these categories will be shipped via FedEx Freight due to size restrictions with FedEx Ground service (you may notice this $300+ price jump on the configuration page).
How long do Heirlooms take to build and be delivered?
Build times depend on a number of factors. Basically the larger the top, the longer it will take us. The finishing process alone takes at least a week. Some designs are a little more time-consuming than others, so that will also affect the lead time. Beyond all of the direct time involved, we are also a small staff and may have several other orders waiting ahead of yours. Having said that, however, we guarantee Heirloom orders are out the door within 30 calendar days or less (exception: orders of Heirlooms in quantities greater than 2; please call for a time estimate). If we fail to live up to this guarantee, we will give you a 20% discount on your original purchase.
Delivery via FedEx Ground takes 1-5 business days relative to your proximity to our shop (Manassas, VA). Delivery via FedEx Freight takes 2-6 days.
After receiving our Heirloom I can't stop cleaning our neighbors' drool off our windows; can I return it?
We believe in our Heirlooms so much that we will offer a 100% money back guarantee for 30 days after receipt. Ship the Heirloom back with all of its components in its original packaging at your expense and we will refund you 100% of the original purchase price within one week of receipt (be sure to include shipping insurance for the full purchase price).