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What is Live Edge, and how do I get it?

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Forum topic by BradN posted 11-09-2016 09:58 PM 1345 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BradN

31 posts in 544 days


11-09-2016 09:58 PM

Obviously I am new, and I have three pics with different degrees of bark/live edge. But I don’t know what I am looking at and how to achieve a beautiful edge.

#1 Slab of Oak with lots of bark.

When I look at the bark, is that considered live Edge? ALso, is it possible to treat/preserve the bark

#2 Slab of Maple with thin layer of bark

I think this thin layer would be cool (if the whole slab was that way. But is bark OK to leave on a slab when used as a coffee table or wall shelf

#3 Slab of Maple with no bark, but I suspect is what people call Live Edge

If this is the best way to showcase wood, how do I get the other two pictures to look like this

Thanks all

-- Woodworking is the best therapy


18 replies so far

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mrbob

182 posts in 405 days


#1 posted 11-09-2016 10:53 PM

Both I believe are live edge. As far as the bark staying on it may and may not with shrinkage. I will leave that answer to the ones here with more experience on that subject.

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MrUnix

5990 posts in 2035 days


#2 posted 11-09-2016 11:15 PM

IMHO, “Live edge” just means it has one (or more) sides that are, or look, natural. Doesn’t matter if it still has the bark or not, although it certainly looks more natural in most cases if the bark is still included. You can get it by getting stock with one or more unfinished edges, or you can create your own faux live edge using lots of different methods.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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JayT

5453 posts in 2047 days


#3 posted 11-09-2016 11:16 PM

Live edge simply refers to the edge of the tree as it grew, not one that has been cut.

Most people generally remove the bark before drying, as that is the most susceptible to insect infestations. If the piece is dry and the bark is still on, then you can try to keep it. Many times the bark will be loose and it’s difficult to keep it attached. That said, I did a live edge table last year that has most of the bark remaining.

Where it was loose, I used glue to secure it and between the glue and finish, it’s on there solid, though the bark is and always will be, more fragile than the wood itself.

If this is the best way to showcase wood, how do I get the other two pictures to look like this

- BradN

“Best” is in the eye of the beholder. Some people do not like the look of live edge, others do. Same with bark vs no bark. On the table above, I was going to remove the bark, but my wife wanted to keep it. You can tell who won that discussion. :-) I will say that leaving the bark on introduces quite a few more challenges to the project.

If you want to remove the bark to get a bare live edge like in your last picture, it should pretty much just peel off with fingers. If not, you might have to use a wire brush or something to wedge between the bark and wood to get it off, being careful not to leave too many tool marks on the lumber.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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BradN

31 posts in 544 days


#4 posted 11-10-2016 01:41 AM

The bark on the first picture (oak) is still pretty solid on the sides. Hence my thought to keep it. Do I get a gallong of CA glue and roll the slab in it? or is spray on Poly enough?

Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions.

And to MrUnix on your comment – Brad in FL – To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid
What if I am no longer young?

-- Woodworking is the best therapy

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mrbob

182 posts in 405 days


#5 posted 11-10-2016 01:49 AM



The bark on the first picture (oak) is still pretty solid on the sides. Hence my thought to keep it. Do I get a gallong of CA glue and roll the slab in it? or is spray on Poly enough?

Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions.

And to MrUnix on your comment – Brad in FL – To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid
What if I am no longer young?

- BradN

I have hit him up on that quote b4, you can learn from your young and stupid friends, and never have to do it yourself.

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runswithscissors

2562 posts in 1861 days


#6 posted 11-10-2016 01:51 AM

After removing the bark, a rotary wire brush, either in a drill or angle grinder (which is much more aggressive) can be used to clean it up. Have the rotation of the brush be in line with the grain of the wood.

I did this with an 8’ + locust slab for a countertop (not a kitchen counter). It worked out well.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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WDHLT15

1695 posts in 2312 days


#7 posted 11-10-2016 01:58 AM

If you want the bark on a piece, the wood must be harvested when the tree is dormant in the winter. If harvested in the growing season, the bark will not be “tight” and is more likely to fall/peel off.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

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CharlesA

3293 posts in 1633 days


#8 posted 11-10-2016 01:58 AM

What I’ve heard, and I’m happy to be corrected, is that you can keep the bark on kiln-dried, but that insects are prone to staying in the bark on air-dried, so it is best to remove it.

I’ve had a live edge coffee table for about 4-5 years with bark on it that was kiln-dried.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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BradN

31 posts in 544 days


#9 posted 11-10-2016 03:56 PM

So siince I am not sure the slab is Kiln Dried, and the girls in my home hate bugs, i would be safest to remove the bark.

-- Woodworking is the best therapy

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RogerM

786 posts in 2235 days


#10 posted 11-10-2016 06:33 PM

Live (or Natural) Edge Table.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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RogerM

786 posts in 2235 days


#11 posted 11-10-2016 06:34 PM

Live (or Natural) Edge Table.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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bobasaurus

3354 posts in 3020 days


#12 posted 11-10-2016 06:53 PM

Bark is usually really brittle and will break/crumble off easily depending on the wood species. To strip it, I use a wire wheel on an angle grinder, followed by the edge of a random orbit sander.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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LittleShaver

207 posts in 455 days


#13 posted 11-10-2016 07:17 PM

I did a live edge piece a few years ago. The bark was already off when I got the slab. Being a bit timid, I couldn’t bring myself to use power tools to clean the edge. I used a hand held wire brush followed by course steel wool and worked up to 0000 steel wool. Fortunately, it was only about 7’ horse chestnut of edge to work.

The piece did receive a blue ribbon and judge’s choice awards at the Colorado State Fair, so it turned out well enough.

- Dan, Pueblo CO

-- Sawdust Maker

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BradN

31 posts in 544 days


#14 posted 11-10-2016 07:21 PM



I did a live edge piece a few years ago. The bark was already off when I got the slab. Being a bit timid, I couldn t bring myself to use power tools to clean the edge. I used a hand held wire brush followed by course steel wool and worked up to 0000 steel wool. Fortunately, it was only about 7 horse chestnut of edge to work.

The piece did receive a blue ribbon and judge s choice awards at the Colorado State Fair, so it turned out well enough.

- Dan, Pueblo CO

- Dan Hulbert

That is a beautiful table Dan I have never heard of horse chestnut.

-- Woodworking is the best therapy

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LittleShaver

207 posts in 455 days


#15 posted 11-14-2016 02:57 PM

There’s an interesting write-up on it in Wikipedia. Looking at the pictures on Wikipedia, I can see why this is not a common furniture wood. It was fairly easy to work with hand tools and is quite hard.

The real challenge in this piece was the stretcher. I used a hay rake joint to join the three legs of the stretcher. Spent the better part of a weekend chopping angles mortises and sawing angled tenons. The slab was not perfectly flat, so to keep it generally level with the floor, each leg is slightly different. the slab kind of sinks in the middle, which worked out nice as we use it for a hall bench. Great spot to sit while changing boots and shoes. Fits right between the front door alcove and the coat/boot closet.

I attached a picture that better shows the hay rake joint and another that shows how I butterflied with Rosewood and filled the crack. I used clear epoxy with Malachite and Turquoise aggregate.

-- Sawdust Maker

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