Building live edge furniture may seem daunting if you’ve seen all of the beautiful examples of others made by woodworkers, but if you take your time and do it right, you will end up with a piece of furniture that you can cherish for years. Today we are going to go through the steps to make a live edge coffee table, so keep reading to hear how!
Choosing a Slab for your Live Edge Coffee Table
The first thing that you’ll want to consider when building a live edge coffee table are its dimensions. While coffee tables can vary greatly in size and shape, having a standard to go off of can be super useful when selecting a slab. Here are some common sizes:
- 36” x 36”
- 40” x 24”
- 36” x 20”
- 40” Diameter
The next thing that you will want to consider is the style and shape of slab. Most coffee tables on the market are either round, square, or rectangular, but with a live edge slab, you can have all sorts of organic shapes. Before choosing a slab, it is important to consider how much flexibility your space has for variable edges. If your space requires something more standard in size, you could trim the live edge off of one or both sides or you can check out our Custom Table Tops for both round and rectangular options.
Once you have a slab picked out and at your home or shop, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Finishing the Slab for your Live Edge Coffee Table
Now that the hard part is done, all that is left is the finishing work. While this can often take some time to complete, we find that it is MUCH easier that choosing one beautiful slab out of thousands to showcase in your living room!
When you order a slab from The Lumber Shack, you have the option for us to do some or all of the finishing work for you. We will go through all of the steps that we take in our shop so that if you’d rather do it yourself, you have all of the tools you need!
The slabs that come out of our shop sometimes have features called ‘tapers’ which are a difference of thickness in spots compared to the overall thickness. This feature can be tricky to work with at times, especially when the slab is being used as a coffee table, since the surface is not level throughout. When tapers are involved, we go through a process called flattening which removes additional material from the rest of the slab to match or get close to the thickness of the spot that has the taper.
In our shop, we use a CNC to flatten our slabs. The CNC is a great way to ensure you are getting not only a fully flattened slab, but also that you are getting the slab to the exact thickness you need if that is a factor for your project. Other tools that you can use to process a live edge slab include a drum sander or a planer.
Preparing the Slab for Finishing
The next step to process a live edge coffee table slab is to prepare it for an applied finish. This stage consists mostly of everyone’s favorite woodworking task: sanding! To sand a live edge slab is much the same as sanding a lumber board, but you have to consider the live edge itself. Since this is the part of the slab that some would argue is the most important, it is vital that certain actions are taken to keep its integrity. These steps include making sure that there is little to no dirt and debris and potentially removing any loose bark that might remain after the slab was dried.
Besides generally sanding the surface as you would any other piece of wood, another step in the preparation for a finish is to remove any loose parts from the inclusions, voids, and cracking that could be part of your slab. Taking the time to do this now will spare you from having to refinish sooner.
Applying a Finish
Our last and most satisfying step to process a live edge coffee table slab is to apply your finish of choice. This is fairly consistent with what is recommended when using traditional lumber in woodworking, except you will want to make certain that you have applied an even layer on all of the nooks and crannies on the live edge. In our shop, we use either a spray-on satin lacquer or Rubio Monocoat to finish our live edge pieces.
What About a Table Base?
There are loads of options available for table bases ranging from wood, cast iron, plastic, and many more. We have a few great options for table bases at The Lumber Shack, but if you are looking for options other than wood, we typically recommend checking out sellers on Etsy.
Still Looking for More Inspiration?
Keep an eye out on our social media accounts for plenty of live edge furniture project ideas! If you have questions that you would prefer to discuss with us directly, feel free to chat in on our website, give us a call, or send us an email! One of our Wood Experts will be happy to help!