What is a live edge table, and what factors have contributed to its increasing popularity? Let’s take a more in-depth look at this trend of bringing nature into the decor of our home. Live edge furniture has grown in popularity but has been around for years as natural wood furniture. However, regardless of the name, natural wood furniture handcrafted from natural live edge wood invites the beauty of nature into homes.
What exactly is a live edge table?
Tables and other live-edge furniture feature a solid wood slab milled with the outer edge of the tree intact. Don’t confuse a live edge with a bark edge, which is rare because most bark will separate from the outside of the tree when they dry. Below find an example of a solid tree wood slab with the natural live edge attached—a massive Claro walnut wood slab milled from a dead tree or at the end of its life. Also, rustic tables are made from two or more live-edge wood slabs glued together. Normally, these are thinner, around 1 to 2 inches thick, cutting costs. Some production furniture shops will cut a faux live edge, also known as a carved edge. These companies will say this is a live edge, but it’s not. In the furniture industry, a live edge is the outer edge of a tree just under the bark. Unlike glue-up tables, most solid wood slab tables finish at 2″ to 3″ thick. Thus, the increase in cost. Lumber’s sold by the board foot, as are some wood slabs in most cases. Burl wood and rare and extra large live edge wood are the exceptions as to pricing.
Why are live edge tables so expensive?
The range of prices may have been noted, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Pricing a live edge table is complex; you must compare apples with apples and understand what you bought. As stated earlier, wood is sold by the board foot. Prices differ from one wood species to another, whether a solid wood slab or a glue-up wood table. Also, in the live edge wood slab world, the size of the wood slab has a factor in the price. For example, any wood species, a solid 4-foot wide, 12-foot long, 3-inch thick is rarer, whereas a 36-inch wide, 8-foot long, 3-inch thick wood slab is common. Thus, the larger wood slab is more valuable, but wood species also influence the price. Due to the nature of natural lumber, not all tree species make great live edge furniture. While there’s a debate about using a kiln or air drying, how the live edge wood is processed, stored, and dried significantly impacts the final product.
Which woods make the best table?
With over 60,000 wood species around the world, how do you choose? A good rule is to stay close to home. By this, I mean to stay within a few thousand miles or within your country. Looking for a wood monger that believes in sourcing its logs ethically and has a long-standing footprint in the business. What’s ethically sourced at Littlebranch? Basically, in a nutshell, it’s not cutting a living tree unless in a managed forest, or it is endangering property, selective harvesting, salvage, or dead standing. Trees have life cycles, so why not manage this resource and harvest around their life cycles? We suggest staying with wood species native to your area or country. But back to the question of what wood is best for live edge furniture. The most resilient wood is a mature redwood, but black walnut, cherry, maple, claro walnut, and oak are also excellent choices. All is well in the hands of a seasoned woodworker, even though each species has its challenges.
Building a rustic table
Building a live edge table is a great DIY project. The pursuit of high-quality lumber can be challenging, but not impossible. Air-dried wood takes a year per inch for most softwoods, and a lot longer for hardwoods. The average 3″ thick live edge wood slab takes five-plus years to dry and stabilize. Kiln drying will speed this up, but the moisture should be 16% or less before placing it in a kiln. If using a kiln to dry your wood, consider a solar kiln, as it mimics the natural drying process. To date, I have been unable to find proof that kiln drying is better than air drying wood. The live edge lumber’s moisture content should be between 6 to 10% before use in your furniture project. As a custom rustic furniture maker established in 2001, I prefer air-dried wood. Crafting a live edge table, whether a coffee table or a dining table, begins with high-grade wood, sanding, and a superior natural wood finish, like the premium hardwax from Saicos.
Custom Rustic Furniture designs
Also, remember that quality finish is more than just a jar. It’s an attention to detail and a sanding process. The process of woodworking, in general, involves numerous avenues; as a custom furniture designer focusing on rustic, live-edged furnishings. We focus on showcasing the beauty of natural wood with our designs. These sustainably harvested wood slabs are used for other purposes, including crafting table tops, bed frames, and rustic bathroom vanities. Welcome visitors to our Nashville, Tennessee, studio/gallery.
Live edge furniture maker
Kelly Maxwell has been utilizing logs and live edge wood in creating custom natural wood furniture since 2001. Kelly has a DVD that teaches you how to build a log bed. He is enthusiastic about the opportunity to impart knowledge and encourage fellow woodworkers, whether they be professional or DIY artisans. He also sells his collection of unfinished air-dried wood slabs native to the Pacific Northwest, which is a little-known fact.
Michael Castle says
I plan on making a trip to Tennessee to source some live edge slabs. I have a bandsaw mill but no walnut to mill.
I am interested in learning about making good decisions in purchasing wood for furniture making.
We would be glad to show you walnut and other wood species we offer. Along with
discussing the wood needs of natural wood furniture makers. You can email or call 615-878-6216 to schedule a time.