Arguably the most crucial item of furniture (particularly during the holiday season) is the dining table. Whether it's anchored front and center in a open kitchen or positioned in the middle of a formal dining room, the dining table is a gathering place and a focal point. But beyond being a standout furniture piece, the dining table needs to be sturdy, versatile and, in some instances, even flexible in shape and size. Nevertheless, here are the essentials you'll want to know when shopping for a new dining table. If you are going for a wood dining table, always opt for hardwood such as mahogany, walnut, walnut, oak, or teak rather than composite wood, which include plywood, hardwood solids and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Steer clear of thick veneer because it has a tendency to lift away from the piece over time.