Finishing Live Edge Slab Coffee Tables

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Forum topic by NYCWoodMan posted 01-20-2015 06:44 PM 1927 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 642 days

01-20-2015 06:44 PM


First post here.

I’m getting ready to make some tables from live edge slabs. My girlfriend’s father has a tree farm up in NH and I have a friend that works at a reclaimed lumber yard where I can get great wood at a great price, so I can get my hands on some sweet wood.

I’ve only worked with the reclaimed wood so far – mostly oak. For that, belt sander, random orbital sander, followed by Howard’s Citrus Shield Paste Wax and then Howard’s Feed & Wax. Really brings out the color of the wood, but not sure how durable it is. Only have used it for shelving and similar items.

First project is going to be two coffee tables made from new (well, not new, but never uses/not reclaimed) apple wood that has some pretty sweet spalting in it. The boards are 2 or 3 inches thick, and plenty dry.

What I’m curious about is how I should seal the wood. As a coffee table, I expect there will be drinks placed on them, possible spilled liquid. There’s no bark on this wood, so I don’t have to worry about that.

I also have, in my apartment!, a 74” by 18” by 2” slab of white ash, with two live edges that is currently drying out. Both live edges have bark, so I’m not sure how to properly seal that. That is a ways off, as it probably needs six or seven more months indoors to fully dry out. But figured I should ask now as well.

I’ve been reading “Wood Finishing 101” by Bob Flexner, but would like to get opinions of guys out there in the trenches.

For the apple I’m leaning toward poly, but am open to suggestions!

Thanks much!


-- Still have 10 fingers...

3 replies so far

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1057 posts in 1950 days

#1 posted 01-20-2015 08:31 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks, NYC.

Flexner is an expert – that book is good reading.

I hope you will post pics of that apple slab, I’d love to see it.

You are correct, a wax doesn’t offer any real protection.

I’m guessing you don’t have spray equipment or the ability to use it in your apartment, and need a finish you can brush on or wipe on. Fine Woodworking just had an article on easy-to-apply varnishes, and they recommend General Finishes Arm-R-Seal or Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane. If you can, find the article and make a decision based on your needs vs. the info they give. But either of those products will give you good results.

For the ash slab, keeping the bark is a different problem. Most woodworking finishes end up with a relatively thin film. While those finishes can offer good protection, they don’t do much to keep the bark from eventually falling off. For that, you almost certainly need to use a thick resin for a finish, typically epoxy or polyester. Could be polyurethane, too, but not the same as the regular polyurethane finishes mentioned above. You’ll want to do some research on this, but you can start with Google: Bar Top Finishes

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View NYCWoodMan's profile


3 posts in 642 days

#2 posted 01-26-2015 02:30 AM

Thanks for the welcome!

Here are some pictures. Two boards that were cut from one that was way too long to fit in my Rav4.

-- Still have 10 fingers...

View Timberwerks's profile


355 posts in 2580 days

#3 posted 01-26-2015 02:52 AM

My favorite is Liberon Finishing Oil.


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