First try at a slab table (or woodworking, really)

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Forum topic by zog posted 08-23-2007 04:40 AM 1471 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View zog's profile


3 posts in 4168 days

08-23-2007 04:40 AM

Hi all, really nice site you have here.

I come in search of help. I have a slab ~3” thick of claro walnut. I am going to be using raw black plumbing pipe for the base, and I have all that material in hand and ready to go. My major concern is that I’ve never really done any woodworking, so I’d like to get a decent finish, pretty simply, with out buying a lot of tools. My major questions:

- Sanding – Grit, technique, power (i don’t have one, am I crazy to think I can do this without it?)

- Finish – What’s a pretty durable, and easy to apply finish?

- Cracks – There are some pretty long and wide cracks in the piece, and I’d like to fill them with something that will look black after the finish is applied.

- And, finally, is there a good way to keep some of the bark on the edges, without it falling off and making a mess for years to come?

I promise to get some pictures of the piece and update progress. I am off of work for the next week, so I’m chomping at the bit to get this baby going. If there is a resource that will answer questions, feel free to point me there….. Thanks again..


12 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35153 posts in 4638 days

#1 posted 08-23-2007 04:52 AM

For me I’d kill the plumbing pipe and use real wood. The sanding might depend on the finish that is applied. I’d use a Random Oribatal sander without the access to a power thickness sander. You might use a hand plane to get it down to a flat surface if it is rough sawn. Bark will do what bark wants to do. Without glueing it back on, you have to live with what happens. I’d keep the cracks and use butterflys to bridge the gap and keep them from getting bigger.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4324 days

#2 posted 08-23-2007 05:35 AM

I’d also kill the pipe idea…just opinion though…..might look cool depending on how you do it.

I’d use epoxy on the the whole thing. Think bar surface. You can use a black tint and filler with it to fill the cracks and then do the whole surface and the bark. Locks the whole thing together and will be a long lasting hard surface. Will help with the lack of power equipment too. How rough is the surface? tough to think about doing the face of a slab without some power. The butterflies would be nice but might be beyond what you are thinking.

-- Bob

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4407 days

#3 posted 08-23-2007 05:43 AM

I actually like the black iron idea but that’s just an opinion. I’d use BIG black iron pipe.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4307 days

#4 posted 08-23-2007 05:54 AM

I would suggest calling a local cabinet shop and see if they will run it thru there large drum sander.If they have a heavy duty type one it will only take 1/2 hour or so and they can take it to 220 grit may cost $40-$60.The bar surface pour is fairly simple if you have a good clean area were it can set up overnight dust free.the only thing is it kind of plastic looking to me.In the past I usually remove the bark and show the live edge.I would suggest just using danish oil you can find almost anywere called WACO just follow directions on can it’s real simple to use.For filling the cracks I just use epoxy and add black dye to the mix
and PLEEEASSE drop the black piping!!!!!!

-- Scott NM,

View zog's profile


3 posts in 4168 days

#5 posted 08-24-2007 06:29 AM

The piece is definitely closer to sanded than rough sawn, but I think a random orbital was probably in my future anyway.

I was looking at the epoxy, and that looks really simple, which is very appealing.

The more I looked around at some of the fine examples here, I think I will definitely take the bark off.

The piping is 1” black rough pipe, the nice thing is that if it looks like crap, it cost about $20 and will be easy to remove. I think it will look pretty nice.

One more question – the bottom is pretty ugly (I’m hoping to take some pictures tomorrow), I’m assuming some level of sealant would be in my best interest, even if it’s just whatever finish I use, but no heavy sanding…. Ideas? Thanks again for everyone’s help.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4565 days

#6 posted 08-24-2007 06:41 AM

finish both sides of the wood with whatever you use. I’ve used an epoxy bar top finish and found it to be pretty soft. Magazines stick to it if left there too long – easy to clean off the residue, though some image pulls off the cover of the magazine, effects some types of paper, not others. It’s also pretty easy to dent, but seems to fix itself in a few hours – pretty plastic that way.

Like Scott suggested, If I were making a natural slab table I’d probably just rub on multiple coats of an oil. Tung, Boiled Linseed, but then again, a thinned down epoxy mixture (a few coats) would soak in nicely and really protect the wood – can still oil or wax over that.

I think the Black Iron pipe might make a great industiral looking piece, if the scale is right – and easily undoable if you change your mind. definately Loose the bark in that case, have one strong design element apart from the wood, being either the legs or the bark, both would be too much. IMHO.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Hawgnutz's profile


526 posts in 4314 days

#7 posted 08-24-2007 07:50 AM

i am with the consensus, here, with the bark. It MAY add some design, but in all likelyhood, it will detract from the desired effect. The rough edges will look fine, if that is what you are after. Filling the cracks with black epoxy would make a nice couterpoint to match the pipe legs.

The black pipe sounds real interesting! But what is the pipe going to sit upon? A wood base, or a black pipe base. It had better be stable with that big slab. You gotta figure these things first, but allow for unforseen circumstances and mistakes… of course, we never make mistakes, here, do we? LOL TOO FUNNY!

Anyway, have at it! Above all, enjoy yourself and learn from your adventure!

God Bless,

-- Saving barnwood from the scrapyards

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4326 days

#8 posted 08-24-2007 01:01 PM

For a beautiful natural finish, but a lot of elbow grease, you can get a beautiful finish after sanding by continuing with rottenstone and then pumice. The rottenstone will make a slurry that will help yo fill the cracks. (It’s been a while since I last did this so it might be pumice first and then rottenstone)

Because you lubricate the powders with tung oil if provides the natural finish at the same time. I do remember talking with the guru at Highland Hardware when I first tried this process and wasn’t getting any results. He said: “Keep rubbing”. It was like magic. A few hours of rubbing later the top had a shiny depth that looked about six inches deep.

I probably spent 10 hours just rubbing the top of the cherry blanket chest but 15 years latter it still has a sheen.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4200 days

#9 posted 08-24-2007 01:23 PM

Great store of advise here, as always. If nobody thought of it , you want to remove the bark with something like a draw knife. Just lift it off so as not to damage the natural shape and texture of the wood underneath. The pipe may just give the look you are looking for. If you don’t like it after a while you can always build a set of legs and aprons and transfer the top to them. If you do the epoxy bar finish, folow the directions real close. We used it on the top of our bathroom vanity but didn’t understand to pour a little at a time. I think we watched it drip for three days. LOL Wound up with a waterproof top though I had to carve the stuff out of the hole to get the bowl in. that’s the only time I’ve used it but I’ve never forgotten what I learned. I like to finish Walnut with a good coat of boiled linseed oil then shellac and then laquar, maybe on a table top 10 coats. I spoted some brushing laquar at Lowe’s or Home Depot the other day. Seems like it was Deft.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Partridge's profile


296 posts in 4194 days

#10 posted 08-24-2007 05:57 PM

“Q” I do not see asked.. How old is the slab… I mean is it dried or just cut. It may be a stupid ‘Q’ but just have to ask.

-- I get out in the shop when I can

View zog's profile


3 posts in 4168 days

#11 posted 08-24-2007 07:09 PM

No idea. I bought it from ebay. I have a moisture meter somewhere at work that I can debo for a day. I may be able to call the place I bought it from, but I’m not sure they’d know either…..

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4221 days

#12 posted 08-27-2007 01:29 PM

I can’t wait to see a few before and after pictures.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

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