This blog, Live Edge Wood – Trending Now, is brought to you in partnership with JN Roofing & Contracting. Expert Roofing, Contracting and more in Newmarket, Bradford, Barrie, Orillia and surrounding areas.
Even though live edge is trending now, it has been around for a long time. Most attribute the live edge movement to George Nakashima. Nakashima was a Japanese-American architect and woodworker who made gorgeous live-edge tables back at least as far as the early ’60s.
Part of the allure of the live edge table to DIYers like you is that it not only looks super cool but appears to be pretty straightforward. It looks like you get a slab, put some finish on it, bolt some legs on, and you may be finished in time for dinner!… Unfortunately, we all find out sooner or later that live-edge tables can present some unusual challenges we may have overlooked.
Before you start shopping for wood, you need to know a couple of things first. The most important thing to know is, is it dry? You DO NOT want to work with wet wood. It is very common for moisture to become trapped in isolated areas of the slab. Those pockets can sink or warp as your slab continues to dry, ruining your perfect project a few months after finishing. So just run your meter over the entire slab, front and back. Don’t be too concerned if it varies by 1-3%. If one spot is 8% and another is 10-11%, your slab is fine. However, if you find much more variation than that, maybe consider a different slab.
YOUR WOOD HAS BUGS IN IT
You need to figure out what to do about the bugs inside it. Tiny beetles live inside of lots of trees. They can lay dormant for years, eventually crawling out of a finished table, leaving tiny holes and little piles of sawdust to let you know they are there. There is no way to tell if your slab definitely does or doesn’t have living bugs inside. So it is best to assume it does. Don’t worry; this isn’t as big a deal as it sounds. If your wood was kiln dried, you are all good
WOOD DEFECTS AND SOFT SPOTS
Almost without fail, the more interesting the slab, the more defects it will have. These defects can be cracks in the wood, soft spots, or cupped/twisted wood. This is more than a coincidence. The highly figured woods with quilt or curl patterns are caused by stresses in the tree when it is alive. So the highly figured woods are very prone to twisting/cupping/bowing due to this internal stress.
Spalting is one of my favourite features in Maple wood. Unfortunately, spalting is caused by a fungus that grows only in dead trees. So it is a fine line of getting cool spalt lines and getting wood that is too rotten to work with.
The very curvy slabs that make the best resin tables run into the same issues as figured woods. They tend not to stay perfectly flat when drying. They are also likely to have knot holes and other imperfections that will need addressing.
All of these defects can generally be addressed in one way or another. But you need to be aware of what you are getting into. A good trick is to take out your car key and stick it into the slab as far as softwood goes. If it goes in, it’s soft and needs to be addressed. If it doesn’t go in, you are good to go.
Creating an Heirloom Piece
There are a multitude of very good videos on line to assist you, so if you have the room and the inclination, a live edge project can give you a family heirloom for many generations to enjoy.
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Written By: Jane Laker
Photo/Design Credit: Veronika Kovecses
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article. If you’ve ever created a live edge piece yourself, let us know in the comments! Even better, send us a picture!