Do the Shuffle
A Michigan company is meticulously handcrafting shuffleboard tables and a new butcher block line that includes cutting boards, chopping blocks, kitchen counters, and tables for homeowners and businesses throughout the world
SINKING IN: McClure Tables’ Brian Poll finishes a continuous rail, edge grain maple kitchen countertop with a custom sink cut-out.
Todd McClure has a saying about his company, McClure Tables: “If you can dream it in wood, we can make it.”
McClure, an Iowa native, began his company (now located in Jenison, near Grand Rapids) in 1991. He focused on creating custom-made, handcrafted butcher block furniture, cutting boards, kitchen islands, and countertops. Seven years ago, the affable McClure ventured into the shuffleboard table business. As he had spent much of his career in sporting goods retail, he knew his way around a pool table and a game room.
Along the way, he says he noticed that only two manufacturers sold shuffleboards. “I saw an opportunity on the wholesale side,” McClure says.
McClure first tried working with manufacturers in China, but abandoned that idea. In 2011, he brought the business to Michigan.
Today, McClure shuffleboard tables can be ordered in a variety of hardwoods — walnut, maple, cherry, hickory, and mahogany (the top is always made of Michigan maple). Customers find that the long, narrow shuffleboard tables — which can be designed from 9 feet to 22 feet in length — offer versatility. (In table shuffleboard, players aim a weighted puck by hand and release it down a long wooden table to score points.)
GOOD WOOD: Clockwise from upper left: A master craftsman cuts a piece of Michigan hardwood to size in the beginning phases of a butcher block piece. McClure recently introduced new butcher block bread boards, in multiple wood species and color varieties. A craftsman glues an edge-grain butcher block to create a kitchen countertop. The company’s long-lasting shuffleboards are made of Michigan wood.
McClure says the demand for home theater spaces doesn’t leave a lot of room for the traditional big pool table, but “you can get a shuffleboard in those bonus rooms.” Orders for McClure Tables come from all over, including New Zealand and Hawaii. Mark Gracey, a Michigan customer, says, “The purchase of our shuffleboard table was fueled by the remodeling of our living room. My wife and I entertain quite a bit, but no one ever went into the living room. We decided to transform the room into a ‘lounge,’ with a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.” Gracey opted for the elegant Veneto style. His 18-foot beauty is a living room centerpiece. “Although we are still working to finish the ‘Gracey Lounge,’ we’ve already enjoyed countless games on our custom board.”
In addition to shuffleboards, McClure and his staff are working on a new butcher block line (cutting boards, chopping blocks, tables, kitchen counters, etc.) made of the leftover wood from the shuffleboard tables. McClure has plans to expand that part of the business this year.
Butcher block has a reputation for being the preferred surface for chefs — they can chop right on the surface, and butcher blocks are known to be easier on knives.
For those who are unsure about the usefulness of butcher block, McClure’s website offers a section listing “misconceptions” about the product. If someone worries the tops aren’t water-resistant, for example, the website explains that McClure’s offers water-resistant finishes. For those afraid of spreading germs, coatings exist that will allow a home chef to chop safely, without worry of food contamination. Because it’s wood, the look of a butcher block surface is warm and inviting.
McClure says the company’s team includes master furniture makers, leaders in their craft. “I have customers so I can build, not the other way around,” he says. “The products have to have integrity.”
McClure married his wife, Judy, 30 years ago, and they spent much of their time living and working in the southern U.S. When Judy needed to be closer to her aging mother, they relocated to the Grand Rapids area. McClure isn’t embarrassed to disclose that between the two of them, Judy is the better shuffleboard player.
One point of pride for the McClure staff is that everything is American-made.
“The hard maple for the tables is bought from local tree farmers,” McClure says, “and the wood is then harvested, milled, and kiln-dried within three counties of the company.”
He believes in sustainable resources, and all remnants from his shuffleboard and butcher block products are converted into sawdust and donated to local farms.
McClure loves his work, especially the creative process, and explains that when a customer makes a design request, McClure himself works everything out in this head.
“Usually I’m the one designing (furniture), with the help of woodworkers. I hand them a drawing and they’ll come back with a prototype. Our canvas is the wood.”
The work from McClure’s is so good, the company has been featured in the Balvenie Rare Craft collection, a traveling tour highlighting the works of America's finest craftsmen: us.thebalvenie.com/collection.
McClure also relishes having clients come in with suggestions, and he recently helped design a handcarved pool table. The busy entrepreneur never passes on a unique request. “A guy brought us a piece of the Michigan State University court that Magic Johnson had played on,” McClure recalls. “He asked us if we could make a behind-the-sofa table and a coffee table with it. We did it. Anything creative like that, we love.”
More information on McClure Tables can be found at mccluretables.com.