What is a live edge table, and why the growing popularity? Stated this style of the wood table brings nature into the decor of our home. Although this style of natural wood furniture has grown in popularity, it has been around for many years. They are also known as rustic tables, natural wood tables, burl wood tables, and many others. But whatever the name, they allow us to bring nature’s calming effects into homes as functional furniture.
What is a live edge table
The Live edge table’s made from a wood slab which the outside of the trees still attached. Don’t confuse a live edge for a bark edge, which is not common as most barks will separate from the outside of the tree during the drying process. 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, a glue-up live edge dining table made from two or more live edge wood slabs glued together. Normally, these are thinner, around 1″ cutting cost. Some production furniture shops will cut a faux live edge. 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.
Why are live edge tables so expensive?
You may have noticed prices range from under a couple of thousand dollars and up. Pricing a live edge table is complex, and you must compare apples with apples and understand what you are buying. As stated earlier, lumbers sold by the board foot. Prices differ from one wood species to another. Also, in the live edge wood slab world size of the wood slab has a factor in the price. For example, a Northern California Walnut 4′ wide 12′ long 3″ thick is rarer than 2′ wide 12′ long 3″ thick. Thus, the larger wood slab is more valuable. Wood species also have a factor in the cost of a live edge table. But not all trees make great live edge furniture. While the debate between kiln dried of air-dried how live edge woods cut, stored, and dried makes a difference.
Which woods make the best table?
With over 60,000 wood species around the world, how do you choose? A good rule is staying close to home. By this, I mean to stay within a few thousand miles. Also, it is good to look for a wood monger that believes in sourcing its logs ethically. What’s ethically sourcing at Littlebranch? Basically, in a nutshell, it’s not cutting a living tree unless in a managed forest, selective harvesting, salvage, or dead standing. Trees have life cycles, so why not manage wood harvest around their cycles. But back to what is the best wood for live edge furniture. The most stable is old-growth Redwood within the USA, but Black walnut, Cherry, and Claro walnut are also great options. Oaks, whether red, white, or black oak, are also options and sycamore and maple. Each species has its challenges but finding a custom furniture maker specializing in live-edge furniture will help.
Building a rustic table
Building a live edge table is a great DIY project. But finding quality wood can be difficult but not impossible. Air-dried wood takes 1 year per inch for most softwood species and longer for hardwood species. Kiln drying will speed this up, but the moisture should be around 16% before it is placed in a kiln. To date, I have been unable to find proof that one is better than the other. As a custom rustic furniture maker, my preference is air-dried wood. Building a live edge table, whether a coffee table or dining table, one of the key tips starts with quality wood, sand, and sand some more…..
Custom Rustic Furniture designs
Also, remember quality finish is not just in a can but rather a process. Woodworking, in general, is a process with many paths, as a custom furniture maker that specializes in rustic furniture and live edge furniture. Yes, these are basically the same style and use the same skill set. A live edge table’s also known as a rustic table, natural wood table, or burl wood table. Although a live edge table must have a living edge and the others, do not have that requirement. Besides a live edge table, we also use these ethically sourced live edge wood slabs in our wood countertops and our rustic vanity designs. We welcome visitors at our Nashville, TN, studio/gallery.
Live edge furniture maker
Since 2001 Kelly Maxwell has built custom furniture using logs and live edge wood in his designs. He has a DVD teaching how to build a log bed. He welcomes the opportunity to teach and encourage other woodworkers, whether professional or DIY artisans. A little-known fact he also sells unfinished air-dried wood slabs native to the Pacific Northwest.
Donna Pierce says
I have inherited a live edge redwood living room table. Maybe from 1970s to 1980s. It’s glued to a huge redwood root base that is not finished and it’s cracking and trying to break off in large pieces. Is there anything I can do to preserve the base?
Donna Pierce says
Picture of table
During the 1970s and 80s, some furniture was made poorly. Typically the only option is to fill, sand, and refinish.
You can cut the top off the base to save the base.
Great information, thank you. I have a question. I’m going to be building a Farmhouse style dining table keeping with the obviously rustic theme.
On the bread board ends I’m going to use live edges. I wanted to use Doug fir but find having to drive 1/2 a day or more to get it takes the joy out of making the table top.
What species of wood would you recommend instead. Baring in mind Doug fir was the shade in color I was after. And a wood I could easily put many many coats of a satin clear coat to and not have to bother staining or dying it.
Thanks in advance,
Neal in Western NC
At a quick thought, black oak and even white oak would give you a similar color tone, but they both have a different wood grain then Doug fir.
Hope this helps