Everything You Need To Know About Live Edge Tables
Posted on June 17 2021
Thinking of using naturally imperfect wood to adorn your living space? A live edge table with all its natural “flaws” might just be what you are looking for.
Live edge slabs are famous for their rustic appearance, making them a popular choice among craftsmen and users who appreciate antique looks and designs.
Many people get the fact that pieces of furniture created from live edge wood tend to be a lot pricier and more fashionable than traditional lumber. But that’s about everything they know regarding these pieces.
This article will broaden your horizon in terms of live edge tables. Let’s get started.
The Story Behind Live Edge Tables
Live edge style of woodwork might seem like a recent fad, but it has been around for quite a long time (by the way, it is not a fad. Instead, it is a long-established woodwork style).
The style has its roots from back in the days when people simply pieced raw, unfinished slabs together to create basic furniture. They saved plenty of time, are cheaper to produce, and met most people's needs at that time.
The 1940s witnessed the rebirth of this woodwork style, with George Nakashima perfecting the craft. Today, the style is both fashionable and practical, especially for people who want to add natural outdoor beauty to their living spaces.
What is a Live Edge Table?
A live edge table refers to a piece of furniture with unfinished edges. The furniture typically has naturally occurring cracks and other imperfections that allow it to retain its raw beauty.
When people ask the question, “what is a live edge table?” the emphasis is on the “live edge” in most cases.
Unlike traditional lumber that has straight edges, live edge woods maintain their gnarled shape around the edges. Craftsmen preserve this natural look while using the slaps to create different pieces of furniture, including bar top tables, rustic coffee tables, and bedroom benches.
There is usually no mass-production when it comes to live edge tables because each piece is used in creating pieces of furniture just as they are, without cutting them to fit into standard dimensions. With live edge tables, each piece of furniture is a masterpiece.
For example, traditional 2 x 4 lumber is cut so that the slab is two inches high and four inches wide. But live edge slabs retain the natural dimensions as when they are cut from trees. Experienced woodworkers handcraft the slabs by carefully sanding and finishing them to create first-rate pieces of furniture.
Choosing a Live Edge Table: Things to Look For
Deciding on a live edge table is not the easiest thing to do, especially if it is your first time buying one. Your options can range from moderately-priced pieces, such as this modern entryway table, to high-end options like the Live Edge Ash Dining Table.
To make the task a tad easier, consider the following features:
Butterflies or Bowties
Bowties are some of the most attractive traits of live edge tables. They are simply pieces of wood used to fill cracks on the table surface to prevent them from becoming wider with time.
Consider this option if you want a live edge table with an additional eye-catching element.
Bark or No Bark
Usually, craftsmen will sand down the edges of the wood to some extent and are likely to remove the back in the process. But that is not to say you can’t find pieces with the barks on.
The decision to leave barks depends on the type of wood used and the table design involved. But pieces with their barks on are not as common as live edge tables without barks.
If you are in the market for a live edge side table, you will likely find one made from slices. Usually, slices will flaunt beautiful growth rings because they are cut horizontally from trees. This allows the live edge to display all around the table surface.
Conversely, wood slabs are cut vertically or lengthwise to show live edges on both sides. You are most likely to come across live edge tables made from wood slabs because they are more common.
Burl refers to the naturally large malformation in a tree. Typically, it is a large outgrowth and requires specialized skills to create exquisite pieces from it without damaging the natural edge and spectacular grain patterns.
For this reason, burl pieces are usually on the higher end of the price spectrum when it comes to a live edge design. Consider this type of live edge table if you don’t mind spending some ton of cash on superbly crafted tables with distinctive jarred edges.
Tips on How to Care for a Live Edge Table
Live edge tables, such as this exquisitely crafted Live Edge Dining Table from Brick Mill Furniture, can set you back a couple of thousand bucks for your dining room. If you’re investing money in any of these beautiful and pricey pieces of live edge furniture, it makes sense to learn a few things about preserving them.
Thankfully, keeping a live edge piece in good condition isn’t rocket science. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Use Microfiber Cloth to Dry Dust the Table
To keep your live edge table in excellent condition for several years to come, make sure to clean it by dry dusting with a highly absorbent and super-soft cloth such as a microfiber cloth. This will clean the surface without leaving any unsightly scratches or streaks.
Microfiber cloths will be excellent for gently lifting dust off table surfaces, especially deep inside the grooves of live edge tables.
2. Limit the Use of Polish
Avoid using spray wood polish on the grooves and pits of your live edge table. They can fill the natural cracks in the pieces and make them appear old and gunky. If you must use spray wood on your live edge table, limit it to the flat surface of the table.
3. Protect the Table from Moisture
You want to protect your priced possession from moisture, as it can damage the piece. A well-designed live edge table, such as this Walnut piece, is typically highly varnished. This quality makes many people assume that these pieces are naturally moisture-resistant.
But that’s not the case at all.
Even modern pieces that look as if they are encased in glass are susceptible to moisture damage.
Whether you have one of these stylish tables at home (as your vanity desk) or in your office (as your work table), one of the ways to protect them from moisture is to place coasters on the table or have a small supply nearby to quickly wipe off any liquid spill.
4. Clean Your Live Edge Table with Natural Cleaning Products
Lastly, it is crucial to use natural cleaning products to clean a live edge table. Your best bet would be to use vinegar to remove any build-up residue from all grooves of your table’s irregular surface.
Here’s how to use vinegar to clean a live edge table:
- Add equal parts of vinegar and warm water in a bowl or dish
- Dip a microfiber cloth into the mixture
- Thoroughly wring out the cloth until it is slightly damp
- Wipe down the table
- Push the microfiber cloth into any pit and groove on the surface to remove the dirt
- After cleaning, dry the furniture with another dry microfiber cloth
- You can polish the surface if that’s what you want
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions when it comes to live edge tables and what to expect? Read on for the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.
What is the best finish for a live edge table?
For the best results, consider using 120, 180, and 220-grit flap wheels to sand the natural edges of your piece until you get the desired feel. Next, accentuate the grain and figure using any clear-oil finish. You also want to protect the finish by applying a protective coating of shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane.
Are live edge tables trendy?
Definitely! Live edge tables are not only trendy but also give your living space a lasting facelift. Live edge tables are a mesmerizing and refreshing change from the common manmade polished and glossy options.
Why are live edge tables so expensive?
Live edge tables are expensive for a couple of reasons. The pieces used in the design of live edge furniture are extremely unique, making them quite challenging to mass-produce.
The manufacturing process can be very demanding, leaving craftsmen to deal with natural cracks, holes, bark inclusions, and inconsistent end grain cuts. Also, the demand for these pieces is comparatively high. But considering the rareness of the wood, it is not surprising to see skyrocketing prices.
How thick is a live edge table?
For the best results, live edge wood should be milled to at least three inches in thickness. This size is sufficient to handle any changes that will naturally occur during the drying process. Reputable sawmills know that if they mill the wood slab any thinner than three inches, the wood can become twisted and warped.
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