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What is a Live Edge Table?

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Live edge tables are experiencing a Renaissance.

"Live edge" refers to a process of using wood for furniture or shelving, where at least one side is left untouched or natural.

Precision Moulding and Woodworks, located in New Bern, NC, delivers custom wood products that include live edge tables and countertops. All our custom wood products are handcrafted by skilled artisans that take tremendous pride in their work.

Live edge is available with either the bark on or off. Leaving the bark on means all-natural - completely untouched by manly tools. This is usually rough, gnarly, bark exposed.

Bark on tables brings a natural element into your space that cannot be matched by other materials. Because of the skill and craftsmanship required, they are very rare.

The bark can also be removed and is the more common example of live edge. This method creates a much smoother edge while still retaining the original organic shape of the tree itself. In this case, a skilled carpenter removes the bark with a drawknife, and then spokeshave. This is generally done by hand with the goal of retaining the natural curves and contours in the wood. Then the edge is sanded with 120 and 180 grit sandpaper, typically with the rest of the table.

A live edge slab (one piece of wood) comes from a single, very large tree. Solid slab tops require handmade construction. Due to their size, they do not fit into standard planers (the machines that make wood flat), so a solid slab top must be hand-planed and then sanded down with a drum sander. These processes are time-consuming and energy-demanding but that is what makes them a rare, one-of-a-kind heirloom piece of furniture. Shelves, mantles, and console tables are an affordable alternative because the depth is usually 10-16". These pieces fit in standard planers.

The more affordable alternative to a solid slab is a tabletop constructed from multiple joined pieces of wood with live edge pieces on each side of the slab. A vast majority of wooden dining tables are constructed this way anyway, with multiple pieces of wood that are joined with hardware, biscuits, etc., and then planned to create one large flat surface. This style of live-edge tables is comparable to a standard wood dining table except the outermost wooden planks are also the outermost parts of a tree that expose the beautiful live edge.

George Nakashima, perfected the craft and was the father of the “live edge rebirth era” in the 1940s. Since then, this style has continued to soar in popularity and remains very trendy. Nakashima was the master woodworker and M.I.T.-trained architect that spearheaded the American Studio furniture movement in 1946. Nakashima was an advocate for incorporating natural, organic elements into his designs. He chose wood that was imperfect - burrs, knots, and then tied the beauty of nature and flaws into his designs. Think Frank Lloyd Wright of Fallingwater fame. Nakashima and Wright collaborated on many projects.

Wood legs can be custom designed, and a wide variety of styles are available. Solid metal legs are popular on these tables and portray a sleek and modern look. Metal legs are offered in different colors including black, gold vein, silver vein, and penny vein.

Legend has it that in a live edge piece the Native Spirit of the wood is kept “alive” when the edges of the tree are left untouched. A live edge design is great for those who want to own one-of-a-kind furniture.

Precision Moulding and Woodworks have over 50 species of wood available for your live edge slab, table, shelf, desk, or whatever you fancy.

Call us today for an heirloom piece to enjoy for years to come.

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