I’ve been down a rabbit hole lately. With my home undergoing renovations, I’ve gone deep into housing videos on YouTube — think Stacked Homes and Overkill Singapore. I’d love to say I’m doing research for my own renovation project, but secretly, I’m getting jealous over how other people can dream up better designs for their houses that I would have never thought of.
But as much as I like to hear about open kitchen layouts, terracotta tiles, and the use of warm lighting, what I’m usually most drawn to in these videos is the furnishing. It’s like adding colour to the canvas that is the home interior design, and I’m always peeking at what furniture people are using to see what I can steal for my own home. One I’ll highlight is the humble dining table; while many don’t consider it their favourite furniture item, it undoubtedly serves as the centrepiece in the house, with it the catalyst for gathering together family and friends alike.
Lately, I’ve been eyeing a specific type of dining table: solid wood table tops. There is a compelling element about them — the inviting aesthetic of the natural wood look, combined with the sturdiness from something that lasts over a hundred years; it makes an excellent fit for many homes regardless of interior design. And if you’re talking names of companies that do offer such tables, there’s the fine folks behind WoodSlab.
While solid wood dining tables aren’t a recent invention in the world of furniture, WoodSlab is a relatively new name in the scene. Headed by Izac Tan, the company just crossed the one-year mark since it started. In truth, the decision to sell solid wood tops was more happenstance than anything.
WoodSlab was born out of Izac’s fascination with woodwork. While tending to his other business, he used some spare time to try his hand at all things wood, using YouTube videos as inspiration. But while fiddling around with them was fun as a side gig, ultimately, the expenses from it were beginning to rack up. Not wanting to stop though, Izac decided to spin off his wood activities as its own thing.
So, as a young company working in an industry with others who have years of experience, how does WoodSlab stand out from the crowd? — Single Slab wood tops.
Contrary to what I previously thought, wood table tops aren’t all usually made as a single piece. Instead, there are ‘panelled wood slabs’, which consist of multiple boards joined together to form one big piece for your tabletop surface. The reason for this is the scarcity of usable single slab pieces; it takes a long time for trees to grow the required width for such a slab.
Single Slab wood tops present a special kind of beauty of their own. As many would say, each tree is unique, and similarly, every single slab piece provides its own defining characteristics; bringing a sense of surreal serenity amidst the surroundings of modern homes — there’s a reason why such table tops are so highly sought after.
WoodSlab’s jewel in the crown is its American Black Walnut table tops, highlighted by their rich dark hues and striking patterns, presenting itself as a statement piece for the home. Black Walnut itself is not an exceedingly rare tabletop material to find in Singapore, but getting it in a singular slab piece is — WoodSlab is just one of two companies that do provide it.
WoodSlab’s selection of American Black Walnut table tops can be viewed in person at their showroom, located within the commercial hub in Kallang. There, I met up with Izac, and since I was utterly uneducated regarding all things wood, I was keen to find out what all the fuss was about for this particular tabletop material.
Stepping into the showroom, a gallery of wood top slabs are neatly lined to greet the eye. Looking closer, each slab has its own unique organically etched wood grain pattern that blends in with the wood’s dark brown chocolate notes — every single one is distinct, meaning that whatever tabletop you pick is unique to your home. Adding to the personality of the design, the slabs feature naturally contoured edges at the side. Called ‘live edges’, it evokes the look of the wood’s natural shape and brings out the raw beauty of each piece.
As I gaze upon each slab, Izac patiently explains the origins of the American Black Walnut and the appeal it has on people. It’s easy to see why, these tables not only look great, but they feel great too, with a cool matte touch and rock-solid build to boot.
But the manner they arrive in is decidedly different to the final state. Izac ushers me to the workshop, located right at the back of the showroom. Strewn all over the space were various wood pieces, and Izac picked one out to show.
“This is how it looks like when we get it,” says Izac, holding up a piece of wood that is much duller in colour and has a harsher feel to the surface. All the slabs that WoodSlab gets are supplied from Vietnam, through a partnership formed when the factory owner reached out to Izac to offer his services. After arriving from America, they undergo drying and processing before reaching Izac’s workshop. But as shown, they are not ready to be sold in that state.
Instead, the slabs are then put through a slew of quality control routines to get them ready. One of these includes applying Rubio Monocoat, a plant-based hard wax oil wood finish that binds with the wood fibres to add durability while accentuating the piece’s natural beauty. After going through the quality checks, the table tops are eventually displayed at the showroom for potential customers.
This three-step process from forest to shop aids consumers in another way: Price. Given the popularity of the product combined with its scarcity, Black Walnut table tops are expensive due to the added cost of intermediaries. There’s also the matter of price gouging, with some sellers dyeing other wood types darker before dishonestly touting them as Black Walnut and selling for a marked-up price. The company avoids all of that and has focused on ensuring it delivers genuine artisan quality Black Walnut slabs for an affordable price, ranging from S$2,500 to S$3,000 for a 180cm to 200cm table.
At WoodSlab’s showroom, the slabs are all marked with varying prices, determined by factors such as grain pattern and how contoured the edges are, among others. It doesn’t end when you pick out your tabletop. The company also offers a complimentary straight-cut customisation for your table so that it fits your home requirements. Need to shorten the length? Not a problem, says Izac; you can even ask them to reuse the excess wood and retrofit them as other pieces of furniture, like the table benches or as a side table! After two weeks, your table will have a new home.
While the Single Slab table tops remain WoodSlab’s signature product, they also offer customers other versions of the American Black Walnut wood. There is the Bookmatched Slab, which joins together two mirror-image wood slabs from the same tree and creates a symmetrical-like pattern for the table design, not unlike that of an open book. Since it is made of two conjoined wood slabs, you also get a broader dining tabletop.
And for those who want a more sustainable option, there is the Hexa Black Walnut table. As the name suggests, it is usually made of six narrow walnut planks arranged in a geometric pattern to create the table surface. Because these table tops can be made from leftover pieces or younger trees, they help ensure that the slow-growing American Black Walnut tree doesn’t run into problems with over-logging.
If Black Walnut is still something out of your price range, WoodSlab also offers the more affordable Suar Wood tables. Known by their other name, the Rain Tree, these wood pieces are plucked from the forests of Fiji and are recognised by their unmistakable yellow-hued edges. Though they may not have the same entrancing colour range and grain patterns as the Black Walnut, they have their own visual appeal. Plus, they are equally as strong and durable.
The last of WoodSlab’s tabletop collections is visually very different. These are River Epoxy tables — instead of an all-wood surface, these table tops feature translucent areas in place of the live edges. These portions are made out of epoxy and you may even see it on regular wood slab tops as well to cover cracks, but here, it is used in combination with narrower Suar or Walnut slabs to fill them in and create a regular-sized table surface.
The result is a table with an abstract design — the rawness of nature juxtaposed with man-made innovation — it’s an aesthetic that I quite like. Unfortunately, Izac says that the current slate on display will likely be the last batch he will sell. Epoxy is pricey, and the process of layering it smoothly with the wood is also labour-intensive and time-consuming. There’s also the matter of customisation, which brings its difficulties.
“Since this is such a niche product, people are more willing to pay higher prices for it. But they also want more customisation for these tables, and it is something we can’t provide at this time,” explains Izac, referring to customers who want to choose a specific design for the epoxy tables.
Dining tables are the bread and butter of WoodSlab, but the company is also delving into other furniture forms. Thus far, they’ve dabbled with side and coffee tables made from leftover wood, and now they are moving to shelving.
Back at the workshop, Izac gave me a peek at their upcoming Infinity Shelves. These are shelves that have no visible bracket, giving the impression that they are floating and make for a great contemporary option to add shelving to the home.
The intention is to also use the American Black Walnut wood as the base for these shelves, which will also feature ‘live edges’ as the table tops do. Izac confirms that custom sizes are available to be tailor-made. But alas, I’ve come at the wrong time. A manufacturing issue meant that the batches that came in were unpolished and not ready to be shown off.
What I did get to see were the Ash Wood and Pine versions of the shelves. Due to their availability, they are presented as economical options for the Infinity Shelves line, but they will lack the striking ‘live edges’ from Black Walnut.
If you are still keen on getting the shelves with ‘live edges’, WoodSlab plans to offer Suar and White Oak as alternatives to Black Walnut, providing different pricing tiers to fit people’s budgets.
And perhaps soon, WoodSlab may even move beyond offering furniture services. Izac tells me that the company has plans to introduce workshops for pyrography and wood decorating, held right at the WoodSlab showroom and providing people with a more hands-on and intimate experience with wood — no doubt a venture by Izac to share in his love for woodworking.
Currently, there is no specific date for the launch of the new Infinity Shelves and workshops, but these are planned to arrive next year, so be sure to be on the lookout for them! In the meantime, I’ll go back to dreaming about where to fit a Single Slab Black Walnut dining table.
Location: 16 Kallang Pl, #03-10, Singapore 339156
For more information and to book a showroom appointment at WoodSlab, head on over to their official website. You can also follow them on their socials on Facebook and Instagram to keep updated on any new launches.
Now, excuse me while I go back to figuring out which dining set I’m bringing home.
Photos by Leo Chia of the DANAMIC Team.