Natural-edge trestle table

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Project by BalloonGuy posted 08-18-2013 02:28 PM 2304 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got this live-edge slab, along with some other woods when a friend closed down his studio. I didn’t know what I’d make with it, just knew that I had to have that fantastic-looking piece of wood. I fell in love with the knot, and the bark was all still intact and firmly attached.

The slab measured about 25” long, and is about 21” wide at its widest, and nearly 1-1/2” thick. To this day I’m still not sure what species it is. If any LJs know, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The walnut was also a part of that same trove of wood.

As I thought about this project, having decided that a trestle table would work best, I wanted to explore some contrasts: dark walnut against the lighter slab; straight lines of the trestle base against the natural edge and wild knot.

This was my first effort at mortise-and-tenon joinery. I’d thought originally I’d do a through-tenon on the base, true to the style of a trestle table, but the walnut on hand didn’t produce any pieces long enough. That, and not being certain I could carry off the joint with the necessary skill, resulted in the style you see here. The tenons were cut on the tablesaw, using a jig I’d seen online at Wood magazine. The mortises were drilled out, then finished by hand. All in all, I was pretty happy with the fit.

The bark and the knot were stabilized with CA. It took nearly 1/2 bottle before I was satisfied that it had all been thoroughly soaked and plasticized. The bark darkened up a shade or two, but otherwise kept all its character, including the bits of moss flecking the bark. It also gave a nice finished sheen to the interior, so I didn’t need to worry about applying lacquer down into the knot.

Ten coats of Deft brush-on satin lacquer built up a good base for finishing the top, and another 5 coats on the table legs. After letting the lacquer cure for a week and sanding it lightly with 400 grit, it was buffed out with paste wax and #0000 steel wool. Smooth as a baby’s cheek.

Thanks for looking.

- Tom in Omaha

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

10 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2330 days

#1 posted 08-18-2013 02:38 PM

It looks an aweful lot like pecan. If it’s extremely hard and dried to a low MC easily I’d guess that’what it is. Are you in an area where pecan grows? I likewise like the knot and bark left on. All contrasts lend a beautiful piece of furniture, Thanks for sharing.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2541 days

#2 posted 08-18-2013 05:09 PM

nice looking table

View Jofa's profile


272 posts in 2036 days

#3 posted 08-18-2013 06:19 PM

Really nice work. I’m getting more and more interested in live edge projects.

It came out great.

-- Thank you Lord for the passion and ability to make things from your creation.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2578 days

#4 posted 08-18-2013 06:48 PM

Trestles are my favorite style of table and this one is really neat. No idea what type of wood though.

-- Rick M,

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3783 days

#5 posted 08-18-2013 07:19 PM

Yes I agree the tressle design makes this so sweet. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View BalloonGuy's profile


93 posts in 2121 days

#6 posted 08-18-2013 07:35 PM

Russell, it could be pecan for all I know. Dave was a wood collector, and neither he nor Wendy recall where this slab came from, though it could have been from Missouri, where pecan grows.

Thanks, David, Jofa, Rick, and Alistair. I appreciate the compliments. Jofa, I think I’d like to try another of my wine rack series in live edge – the shelves would be very interesting with a more rustic look to them.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2888 days

#7 posted 08-19-2013 12:14 AM

I really like the tapers in your design.
The top certainly looks like pecan but all of our pecan has quite a few worm holes in it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dave777's profile


303 posts in 4267 days

#8 posted 08-19-2013 07:35 AM

Great table

-- the stone rejected by the builders will become the capstone

View Patrick Garrett's profile

Patrick Garrett

38 posts in 1941 days

#9 posted 08-19-2013 10:13 AM

Very nice, the live edge and knot add great character, and the base looks classic. I’ve made some shelves with live edge poplar and white oak, but I trimmed off the bark with a draw knife.

What viscosity of CA do you use to stabilize the bark? I like the way that looks better than when it’s trimmed off.

-- Makes airplanes by day, planes wood at night <|>

View BalloonGuy's profile


93 posts in 2121 days

#10 posted 08-19-2013 12:52 PM

Dusty, this was the thinnest of the three CA grades (red label). I cut the smallest tip I could, and just wicked it into the bark. Warning – do this in a well-ventilated shop. I was smelling acetone fumes for days afterwards.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

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