The Process of Making a Live Edge Table

Danielle Amir-Lobel, Editorial Manager

September 22, 2021

A live edge table embraces the unique, organic shape of the wood. Typically, when logs are cut into slabs, the natural edges of the wood underneath the bark are removed to form straight edges. Alternatively, a live edge slab is a wood slab in which the edge of curvature is not sawn, in order to preserve the natural, raw look of the wood. Live edge wood can be used in many different ways to bring a rustic, one-of-a-kind look to furniture. For example, two live edge slabs can be combined and their gap filled with resin or epoxy to make a beautiful, unique river table. Although live edge tables possess a very natural appearance, they are very carefully preserved, often with a natural finish, so they are durable, safe, and built to last.

One of our amazing live edge table Creators, Hazel Oak Farms, based in Amana, Iowa, has answered a few questions for us to help us better understand the process of creating a live edge table and help you know what to look for when purchasing one. Hazel Oak Farms designs unique, custom furniture which cannot be purchased from big-box stores. They incorporate their values of simplicity and purpose into all of their pieces so that we can slow down from our desire to constantly appease the latest trends and instead form deeper connections with our furniture and art. The Creators salvage American hardwood trees and hand-make them into one-of-a-kind art that is designed to bring you joy for a lifetime.

The primary members of Hazel Oak Farms: husband and wife Ethan and Melissa.
Ethan and Melissa, husband and wife team, are the primary members of Hazel Oak Farms.

What does “live edge” mean?

“Live edge” is the term we use to describe boards in which the natural edge of the tree is maintained. Typically, people tend to remove this part for normal lumber, but live edge boards leave it on to harness the beautiful, natural contours on the wood. It is the outermost part of the tree that makes up the “live edge.”

A live-edge walnut waterfall C-table by Hazel Oak Farms.
Live-edge Walnut Waterfall C-table

How do you source different kinds of wood for live edge tables?

We actually mill and dry a lot of our own live edge slabs. However, whatever lumber we do not make ourselves, we purchase locally. Most of these live edge slabs we use come from recycled logs or logs that have been harvested from local forests. We purchase our wood from about six different local sawmills. The easiest wood to obtain is dimensional lumber, which has square edges, but live edge slabs are much harder to find.

A live edge walnut C-table by Hazel Oak Farms.
Live Edge Walnut C-Tables
A live edge walnut armrest table by Hazel Oak Farms.
Live Edge Walnut Armrest Table

Are live edge tables a durable choice?

By definition, live edge tables are really no more or less durable than normal ones: they just have a rougher edge. Since our live edge tables are sourced from salvaged American hardwoods, though, we use strong, durable wood, and our products are designed to last a lifetime.

A live edge walnut industrial table by Hazel Oak Farms.
Live Edge Walnut Industrial Table

Can you leave bark on a live edge table?

We typically remove all of the bark from our live edge slabs. Most wood species will shed their bark once dry. Since most bark will fall off on its own anyways, we normally just take it off before finishing our pieces. There are a few species that sometimes hold the bark tight, like cherry and maple, and the bark can sometimes be left for design purposes if people like.

A live edge walnut waterfall coffee table by Hazel Oak Farms.
Live Edge Walnut Waterfall Coffee Table

How do you protect a live edge table?

There are many options for protecting your live edge tables. We typically use hard wax oils for protection because these have 0% volatile organic compounds and are safe to apply. If the customer wants more protection beyond these oils, we can also use a cabinet finish like conversion varnish to provide extra protection against scratches.

A close-up image of Hazel Oak Farms working on a live edge walnut industrial table.
Live Edge Walnut Industrial Table

Consider adding a live edge table or other live edge furniture pieces to your space to bring back a rustic, natural, and meaningful atmosphere. Wescover is home to many one-of-a-kind live edge designs — to check out all of our Creators’ live edge work, you can explore our full collection or our curated page of live edge coffee tables. If you’re searching for more distinctive applications of live edge techniques, you can take a peek at our collection of river tables! Finally, be sure to explore more of Hazel Oak Farms’ unique rustic designs which are built to last a lifetime.


Also published on Medium.

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