Are you planning on building your own live edge table? If so, this guide is for you. In this step-by-step guide, we plan on breaking down how you can build the table of your dreams as easily as possible!
Table Building Materials & Tools You’ll Need
To build a live edge table yourself, you’ll need the following tools and materials.
- Live edge slab
- Sanding pads (40-220 grit recommended)
- The finish of your choice – Odie’s Oil and Rubio Monocoat make for great DIY finishes
- Threaded inserts and bolts to mount c-channel and legs
- A metal base – etsy is a great place to look for this
- A finish pad – we use a scotch-brite scouring pad
- Drill bits
- Wood glue
- Tyvek tape
- Impact driver
- Orbital sander
- Allen wrench
Building Your Table – Step-By-Step
Time needed: 8 hours.
- Choose your wood slab
Step one for this process will be choosing a wood slab that meets your needs. The most common size table we build is 8′ long by approximately 42″ wide. Though it will be more expensive, we recommend choosing a single slab instead of two bookmatch slabs, as this will keep you from having to find a large jointer to join them together.
You’ll likely be looking at rough cut wood, so keep in mind that the shape and size is the most important thing. The rough cut slab will not look like it will once it has a finish.
After you find the slab that meets your needs, you’re ready to start building!
- Check the moisture content
This is the step that is overlooked way too often. If you’re buying from a lumber store, they should have a moisture meter on hand. You’ll want to confirm it is kiln dried and ready to use. In Pennsylvania, we typically recommend that slabs be around 8% to use. Anything over 12% is usually too high, which will cause warping or cracking almost immediately.
If you check the moisture and it looks like the picture below, DO NOT proceed with building your piece as it will have issues once moved into a home.
The best way to know what your moisture content should be is to consult this chart after checking the relative humidity of your home. The relative humidity can be found on most smart thermostats.
- Surface the slab
Flattening the slab is typically something that can be done by the supplier. There are DIY options you where you can use a router, but they’re often expensive and time consuming. For that reason, we recommend paying a hair more for a slab that is already surfaced. At Lancaster Live Edge, we have a huge Woodmizer designed specifically for flattening slabs so they can be used for tabletops.
Slabs typically warp as they dry and flattening is designed to remove the warp so the wood sits flat.
- Moisture Check – Again
After the slab is surfaced, it will begin to reveal the wood that is closer to the center off the slab. This should still be below the 12% moisture content. Ideally it will be around 8, but that all depends on the humidity of the home. The image below is much more acceptable for the moisture content of the slab than the first image.
- Debark the slab
Debarking the slab can typically be done by using a small chisel and hammer. We recommend debarking the slab to avoid future issues.
- Add epoxy to the voids
This is an optional step depending on your slab. If your slab has cracks, we do recommend using epoxy to fill them. This will allow your top to be smooth.
For this step, you’ll apply tyvec tape to the bottom side of the slab to fill all of the voids. We recommend going heavier than you think needed to avoid the epoxy leaking out.
Next, you’ll buy a two-part pour over epoxy. Follow the instructions for mixing the resin and pour it in the cracks. The epoxy should dry within a day or two and your piece will be ready to work on again.
- Router the edge
If you’re looking to have a smooth edge on the cut ends of your live edge table, you’ll want to use a router to do a bullnose on them. We use a 1/8″ bullnose bit to accomplish this. We then lightly sand over those edges.
- Sand the wood
Sanding is the most crucial step to finishing your slab. We recommend sanding to at least 120 grit. You can go up to as high as 2000, but we typically do not. The higher grit you go to, the easier the table can be scratched. Also, some finishes, such as rubio monocoat, do not recommend going high – as 120 grit is the maximum.
When sanding, you should start with 40 grit and work your way up. We use 40 grit, then 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, and 220 when finishing with Odie’s oil or LED hardwax oil.
After you sand the wood, you’ll want to sit blankets on your saw horses or work area to avoid damage to the piece before you finish it.
- Add your c-channel
We recommend using c-channel with slotted holes to help hold your slab flat. This helps keep wood from warping, twisting, and cracking.
The goal of the slotted holes on the c-channel is to allow the wood to expand and contract along the channel without moving up and down, but rather only side to side. Wood typically moves around 1/8″ per foot wide it is, and the c-channel slots allow for that movement.
- Inlay the legs
This step is optional, but some do prefer to do it. On the table pictured below, we inlayed the legs since they only had 4 bolts to hold them. This helped to sturdy the table.
This can be accomplished by using your router. You’ll want to trace the mounting plate, then router the area inside of the legs so they sit down in the wood.
- Mount the legs
As pictured above, you’ll want to mount the legs using bolts and threaded inserts.
To do this, you’ll drill the pilot hole. We recommend using electrical tape on your bit to know how deep to go on your hole. The threaded inserts we use can be purchased on amazon. Here’s the link. To install these, simply drill your hole, use a dab of wood glue, and then use the allen wrench to put the inserts into the wood.
You’ll want to be sure the inserts are placed center of the oval shaped mounting holes. If they are not, they may keep your wood from moving and cause cracks in your table.
- Finish Your Table!
Now that everything is ready – you’ll want to remove the c-channel and legs and apply a finish to your table. Finishes such as Odie’s Oil and Rubio Monocoat get rubbed on and then wiped back off.
Below is a quick video on how we finish tables using rubio monocoat.
DIY Live Edge Table Building Questions? Drop them Below.
If you have any questions about building your own live edge wood table, we’re here to help. Simply comment in the box below and we will do our best to help you understand anything that wasn’t clear in the instructions above!
Nolan is the Marketing Manager for Lancaster Live Edge. When he isn’t working on our marketing initiatives, he’s in the shop building tables and furniture with the team. Prior to working with Lancaster Live Edge, he worked for a digital marketing agency for nearly 4 years. His family owns a custom building company and he’s helped build everything from custom furniture to home additions. Nolan has been woodworking for nearly 20 years.