There are few more striking pieces of furniture than a large tabletop composed of a live edge (or wood) slab. The unique and irregular shape of the wood along with its visible grain weds rustic stylings with modern sensibilities. Live edge slabs can also be used to similar effect in constructing benches, chairs, desks, shelving, cutting boards and more.
Live edge refers to the slabs of wood that retain their natural outside edges. Meanwhile, the surface is typically planed, milled, sanded and possibly stained or shellacked allowing the wood grain to show through. The result is what looks like a living tree being repurposed into a piece of usable furniture.
As most live edge furniture is custom built with the work done by hand, each piece ends up unique. Wood grains, knots, edges and other peculiarities specific to each piece add to the specimen’s singularity. Selecting complementary hardware and accessories adds to the furniture’s peerlessness. Although the resulting product may look quite simple, building one yourself may not be quite so easy.
The first step is to make sure the wood is completely dry and has no cracks. If not, the wood will warp over time and break under pressure. If there are cracks, they will need to be stabilized with bow ties or wood screws and glue. Once an appropriate piece of wood is chosen, it must be levelled. When creating large pieces such as dining tables, live edge slabs are typically too large to be run through a planer. That means the slab must be levelled by hand with a hand plane, belt sander or router.
Once the levelled piece of wood is sanded smooth, it can be treated. Whether you use oil, stain, shellac or some other coating will depend on your personal preference and desired outcome. From there you can attach the chosen hardware to create the legs and any accessories such as handles, rings or hooks.
Turning live edge slabs into furniture creates unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Their irregular, but natural shape generates an eye-pleasing effect and brings a bit of the outdoors into the household. The versatility of live edge slabs means they can implemented in a wide variety of furniture types that can be used all around the home. Using live edge wood slabs in furniture construction will result in timeless rustic pieces that work in the modern world.