Natural Edge Pine Outdoor Dining Table - What's your Preference?

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Forum topic by Todd posted 04-22-2014 03:32 AM 2398 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Todd's profile (online now)


40 posts in 2309 days

04-22-2014 03:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pine rustic question edge live edge natural edge picnic table outdoor dining table surface

I purchased a couple of 8’ natural edge pine slabs for an outdoor dining table today. The slabs are approximately 2-5/8 to 2-7/8” thick and 14” to 24” in width. I went with pine because I… I mean, my wife, wants something rustic looking, and it’s relatively inexpensive. I have never worked with natural edge lumber before, and I was hoping someone with some experience could provide some feedback:

1. What is the usual orientation of the edge, facing up (1st photo below), or down (2nd photo)?

I like the idea of being able to see more of the live edge (facing up). However, to joint them together, the amount of material I would have to remove from one side of each piece would reduce the width of the table to between 24-30”. This wouldn’t leave any room between people sitting on opposite sides of the table to place food, etc.

With the edge facing down, it won’t be visible when seated, but will allow for a wider usable table top (up to 30-35”).

2. What kind of finish should I use?

I want to leave the top kind of rough, and the wood a more natural colour (maybe a very light tinge of brown).

3. There is a small edge of one of the boards that is very soft and weak near the edge (3rd photo below). Should I try to cut this off, or break it off so the edge will continue to follow the grain?

Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

-- Todd, Ontario, CA

6 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3712 days

#1 posted 04-25-2014 03:46 AM

I can see you point about the ‘edge up’ orientation causing the surfaces to be quite a bit more narrow….that would make me think that ‘edge-down’ would be the way to go. Are you going to use the two planks side by side as in the second picture? That looks pretty good to me. Could you epoxy that split area to stabilize it, so it doesn’t crack further, or fill up with gunk :-) ?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View watermark's profile


483 posts in 1942 days

#2 posted 04-25-2014 04:27 AM

Are you against leaving some of the natural edge in the center? This would leave a hole in the middle of the table but add character while getting the most surface for your top.

like this…

You could epoxy the center if you didn’t want there to be a void.

Looks like some nice slabs the final project should be nice. Good luck

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


298 posts in 1622 days

#3 posted 04-25-2014 10:43 AM

For the pieces you have, I would say live edge down. Not only will the table surface be greater, but people won’t have to reach as far over the edge. That said, on the table I just made, I left the one real live edge up, mainly be cause that side of the slab was better… but it’s just a coffee table.

Re finish, I coated mine (also some kind of pine or fir) with (I wasn’t counting) 5 or 6 coats of clear dewaxed shellac, followed by 3 coats of laquer on the tabletop. I’m extremely pleased with how the finish came out.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1664 days

#4 posted 04-25-2014 12:38 PM

A funky alternative would be to arrange the slabs with the desired outside live edge up, but rip the inside edges an inch or two into the meat of the slabs, flip those live edge down to regain some width and glue back on in their flipped orientation. Mmmmm…not a good description, but maybe you get what I mean

There’s also no rule you can’t leave a gap in the middle or leave a gap and fill it with something cool (glass, decorative metal grid, etc) to make your desired width.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View Todd's profile (online now)


40 posts in 2309 days

#5 posted 04-28-2014 02:44 AM

Thanks for the good input; it give’s me a bit more to think about. I’ll be sure to post the completed project.

-- Todd, Ontario, CA

View WadeHolloway's profile


85 posts in 2094 days

#6 posted 04-30-2014 02:39 PM

You did say this was going to be a out door table didn’t you? As far as a finish goes you may think this sounds weird but here in the south the UV rays really kill any finish very quickly so I have started using a latex base as a clear paint. The base used for mixing the really dark colors are the best. It looks a little milky when you open it and mix but it dries clear. I have used it on a couple of projects with great success. Valspar even makes what they call a latex clear protectant which is still just the mixing base. Being up north finishes may last better for you, but here in Texas even spar varnish may only last a year or two in our sun.

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