Custom Close-Up Table Reviews

--Algebraic on the Magic Cafe' Has this to say about The EXE.

Today I received my EXE table. This is an exceptionally well built and well designed table. Its large plush surface area surrounded by beautiful woodwork along with multiple goodies for both card and coin lovers will satisfy any performer. What a truely beautiful performance area. Its beauty will add another dimension to your performance. I've searched for seven years for "THE" perfect table. My search is now over.

--Jimmy Smith Has this to say about Subdividedstudios.


Tables (General):
Before I elaborate on my personal experience, I'll comment on the items available. Both a table and a box are available either separate or as a combo package in three sizes: Strolling (the smallest), Pro (medium sized), and Executive (the largest).

The table was available for preorder on March 22nd 2007. I shot an email that morning saying I wanted one and he called me back that evening informing me that he'd have the appropriate links for ordering up a little later. He called me back as soon as the link was available to order. I clicked Order Now as soon as it came up and he shot me an email saying he received the payment.
Sebashtion Houston:

I've always had great customer service from Justin, but Sebashtion's customer service is the best thing Justin has offered his peers since Silver Dream. Sebashtion is the woodworker and magician making the tables for Justin, and after the purchase, the majority of communication was from him. Granted, you can only know so-much about a person via phone conversations, but my experiences point to Sebashtion being nothing less than a stand-up guy. Hearing him talk about wood and his creations is like hearing Justin talking about Silver Dream, sleeving, and magic---you can tell its a passion they both have. He takes his work very seriously and was very involved in communication (see the next section for specifics). He talked to me like we'd known each other for months and talked about the tables as if they were his kids. He cares about his work, his customers, and the reputation of both himself and his products...and it shows.

Communication:
This is a rundown of the post-purchase communications I've had to date. I realize not everyone is interested in every phone call made, but I thought this was an important section to include considering the amount of money that will go into the tables. If you're not interested, by all means skip to the next section (Shipping)

Sebashtion also said that I'll continue to get follow-up phone calls in the future, but these are the conversations had thus far.
I received a phone call from Sebashtion on June 5th informing me that mine would be the first table to be made (behind the prototypes that Justin Miller, Daniel Garcia, and Jim Bowen own) and that production would commence on June 11th. We had a 20 minute conversation about the process of building the table, what it would contain, and then magic in general.

I game Sebashtion a phone call on June 11th to verify that production had begun on time...and it had. It was another 10 minute phone conversation.
The next time I spoke with Mr. Houston was on June 15th to inform me of the progress of the table. We spent another 30 minutes discussing everything from Sebashtion's work, the finish of the tables, and more general-magic-"stuff." He sent me an email later that day of pictures of both the lock & key that comes with the table and of the pro-size box (since Justin's is the only other Executive Box that's been made, he didn't have pictures of that one...but I believe the box in the picture is the one Daniel Garcia purchased).

My next conversation was on June 26th for another 40 minutes. There had been a minor setback, but Sebashtion threw in a bonus for the trouble and continued to keep me informed of the progress. I spoke with him again later that same week just as a follow-up and everything was still going as planned post-set-back.

Over the week prior to the shipment of the table, I received 3 emails. One with pictures of the box, one with the warranty information (it's a 1 year warranty discussing the table, how to care for it, how NOT to care for it, etc...), and another with pictures of the complete table. They were good for building up the excitement. Again, the day before the item shipped I received a phone call; I got another phone call verifying the table was in UPS hands, and it was delivered the next day. After opening and setting it up, I called him and had another 15 minute conversation.
I say all of this to show the consistency of Sebashtion's customer service...there was never a time I felt "in the dark" about the progress.

Shipping:
Sebashtion shipped the item UPS on July 26th and I had it in hand on July 27th. It was wrapped in so many layers of protection, I believe the UPS guy could've thrown it up on my balcony from the ground and it wouldn't have had a dent on it.

The Executive Combo - A Piece by Piece Discussion:

What Came In The Mail:
As said, I ordered the Executive Sized Combo. The following is a list of everything included
- Close-Up Table
- Close-Up Box
- 2 Keys for the Close-Up Box
- Card/Coin Holdout (already attached)
- Servante (comes with purchase of table or combo)
- Ace of Spades with Sebashtion's signature (nice touch if you ask me)
- Table Cloth (didn't actually order this, but was given to me because of a minor set-back)

The Table:
Since the table is your stage, it's the item the audience will notice. You've all seen Justin's personal table he has in the Time and Space preview...this table puts that one to shame. The wood has a very nice finish and shines, accenting the velvet close-up pad portion. Going from using a standard close-up pad to this table is like trading in the broke down rusty car at the back of a junk yard for a brand new Dodge Viper...there is no comparison. I'd also be remiss if I didn't comment on the size of the table. To quote Justin, "you could surf on the executive." It's huge. I've copied the following for your comparison/convenience:

Professional Close-Up Pad: 16" x 23"
Strolling Signature Table: 20" x 21.5"
Pro Signature Table: 24" x 22"
And then there's the largest, Executive Signature Table: 33 x 25 (that's bigger than a standard kitchen stove)

Also check out the "Pictures" section. There's a picture of the table with a 16" x 23" close-up pad on it to show how much larger the table is.

The Box:
The Strolling comes with one drawer on the front; the pro and executive come with a drawer on the front and one smaller drawer on each side.
The box is made of wood and finished with the same finesse as the table. The locks on the drawer all have an antique appearance. The box comes with 2 antique keys. The drawers are lined with the same velvet that is on the close-up pad portion of the table and the table cloth, and the front drawer is marked with Sebashtion's initials on the outer portion of the inside of the box.

The sizes are as follows:

Strolling Close-Up Box: 16" x 13.5"
Pro Close-Up Box: 20" x 16"
Executive Close-Up Box: 29.5" x 19"

The table fits on top of the box nicely. Even without the table top, you could put a close-up pad on the box and perform straight from there, but it would definitely lose some of its glamour. There are also handles on the side of the box for aid when carrying to and from performances/lectures. If performing in an environment which requires you to move around, I would recommend going with the Pro or Strolling simply because the executive's mammoth size. If you're not in such an environment and if you want a table/box that is impressive looking, feels great, and can hold your more valuable items (i.e. Schoolcraft coins, etc...) in a locked drawer, go with the executive. The freedom to work that a table/box that large provides is invaluable.

The Card/Coin Holdout:
This is attached to the bottom of the table itself and allows for coins/cards to be stolen quickly and easily. It'll take a little work to learn how to steal coins without making any noise, but I think Sebashtion is working on an improvement that would eliminate the "work" required to make sure the steal is silent. Combined with the servante, it's a great asset to be able to ditch one coin and exchange quickly and invisibly for a gimmicked coin, or to load a card to the deck (or perhaps a stack of cards as would be needed in something such as Justin's Time & Space). It can hold 4 silver dollar sized coins, 4 half dollar sized coins, and 8 playing cards.

Pictures:
Forgive the sad cheap table it's sitting on...still working on getting a nicer one.
Box and Table from behind: http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03588.jpg
Box and Table from left : http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03592.jpg
Box and Table from front : http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03591.jpg
Box and Table from right : http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03589.jpg
Box and Table with drawers open:http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03593.jpg
Servante : http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03594.jpg
Bottom of Table (so you can see card/coin holdout):http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03595.jpg
Just the Box : http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03597.jpg
Another View of the Box :http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03596.jpg
Close Up View of Box Lock and Handle: http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03602.jpg
Size Comparison - Table with Close-Up pad (16" x 23" size) on it: http://i181.photobucket.com/albums/x11/whateverisisright/DSC03601.jpg

Final Word:
I couldn't be happier with my purchase. A considerable time has passed since my order was initially placed, but I consider it time well spent waiting after seeing the final product. You're spending more than you would on an average table, but you're getting what you pay for. Justin accurately called Sebashtion the "Schoolcraft of woodworking," and after seeing his product, you'll understand why.

--Jimmy Smith