Unless you’re very critical about your furniture, there is a fair chance that you don’t know what a live edge table is or how it is made. However, these highly articulate and rustic tables are experiencing a sort of renaissance. They are now quite popular and can be seen in most showrooms. Question is, are they really as cool as most sellers make them look? Here are some highly sort out answers.
Designs that are related to live edge have been around since man started creating furniture but it wasn’t until recently that they started getting the recognition that they deserved. With that out of the way, here are a couple of other things about these designs that will help you understand them better.
What are live edge tables?
Live edge is a term that refers to a process as opposed to a what. The process uses wood where at least one of the sides of the wood is left natural or untouched. Typically, such wood would be used in furniture like in the case of live edge table here and can also be used in shelving.
How to get that live edge look
Live edge wood is more or less the same as your common wood. It is milled the same way as typical wood but there is huge difference that gives birth to the live edge look. The cutting is the difference. Typically, live edge wood will yield a lower number of planks but, with reduced wastage.
Live edge furniture and other products are typically considered to be environmentally friendly because of the fact that they are less wasteful and more of the wood is used. Also, most crafters prefer making their live edge furniture and tables from felled trees or branches which reduces chances of actually cutting a tree for the sake of making furniture.
While a great deal of the live edge furniture and even the tables have the bark on, you can also decide to have alive edge table without the bark on. If you have the bark on, you have more natural wood that has had minimal contact with tools. Ideally, the end product is more rustic, manly and definitely cooler with the bark expose.
Despite the fact that the bark on design is usually more appealing, it does have its downsides and upsides. On the downsides, you have a rougher finish. One that you don’t want to bump against much less with your chins. Also, the table is also very labor intensive since each of them has to be made by hand from start to finish to keep the bark safe.
If you do pull off the process, there is no doubt that you have one stunning table on your hands by all metrics. Additionally, you add a hint of nature into your indoor space. There are very few other materials that are able to match that ability. Additionally, there are only a handful of live edge tables that are available because of the craftsmanship required to complete one. Even the likes of Babe and Paul Bunyan are left breathless by the live edge tables.
There is a more common variation of the live edge table which has the bark removed. With this variation, you have a smoother edge that is kinder to your chins. While not as rustic, with this method, you still get to retain the organic shape of the tree. In this process, the carpenter has to remove the bark of the tree using a drawknife and after use a spoke shave. To retain the natural curves and contours of the wood, this is a process that has to be done by hand. After the bark has been removed, the wood is then sanded to have a nice smooth finish that cuts across the entire table.
Whether you have the bark on or off, the surface of the table has to be shellacked and oiled and dried. If the table has the bark on, it gets more coats of shellac to ensure the bark stays on and does not crack thereafter.
Is live edge costly?
The price determining factor of a live edge table is the table top and how it’s made. Ideally, a very large tree would be needed to make one solid slab top. Obviously, the chances of getting such a large tree are limited. Such table tops will also require more to be done by hand to protect their natural curves and grains. Also, this is because they are usually larger than most machines would be able handle. In such a case, the solid top has to be hand-planed then a drum sander is used to sand the table top down. Needless to mention, each of these steps are not only time intensive but also energy intensive. However, if you happen to deal with other more manageable furniture like the console tables, shelves and mantles, they are much easier to find and more affordable. This is because they can fit into standard planners hence consume less time and effort to make.
Typically, you will have to part with between $4,000 and $12,000. However, due to the wide range of sizes, the price might fluctuate up and down.
If you would like something that is more affordable but still has the live edge touch to it, the table top constructed from multiple pieces of joined pieces of wood would be a great fit. It has pieces that have the live edge piece on each side of the slab. Most live edge tables are made this way. However, the outer most planks in this case also happen to be the outermost part of the tree. As such, they have to be finished by hand before they are joined with the rest of the pieces.
A typical joined live edge dining table will set you back between $2,500 to $6,000
Origin of the live edge design
Now that you understand what live edge is all about, how about we discuss here it came from?
Unlike most of his peers that were usually recognized for their breath-taking design, George Nakashima was also recognized for his pieces and ability to preserve the natural color of wood. In 1943 Nakashima set up a furniture factory after a short sting in a Japanese Internment prison and began production.
Nakashima’s sole philosophy was that each tree had only one intended and true purpose in life. Using this philosophy, he would let the tree shape his work and instead of getting rid of imperfections, he embraced them. He not only directed his staff on how to shape each of the slabs but took the duty of picking the wood upon himself as well.
Even after Nakashima passed away in 1990, his life’s work remains profoundly rooted in the living rooms of many which reminds most people of the roots and the father of live edge tables. Nakashima was the cradle of the live edge design and his daughter continues to share her father’s dream with the world.
Is live edge really that awesome?
Even though design is personal and hence live edge might not please everyone, to those whose eye it catches, it is definitely awesome. A good live edge will definitely appeal to those that love mid-century classics.
You will definitely be able to enjoy the diversity of live edge to merge with different choices of style. This work of art also helps to smooth out the harder edges and sooth modernism.
What if I want one?
If you want a live edge table and especially of the solid slab type, it is best to have one custom made for you by your local craftsman. Chances are, you will be able to hand-pick the wood and also have a hands-on experience on a couple of other things. There are some decisions that have to be made like whether to keep all the knots, remove some or reinforce them. With a local craftsman, you have the benefit of a professional that will be able to work with the nature of the wood to work with what you want.
If you’re the 21st century kind of person, it is better to start by checking out the online market places that specialize in items that are custom made.
If you’re working on a slightly constrictive budget, the joined tops are still a good option and you can have them made by a local woodworker as well. You will also be able to have the carpenter add the edges and still charge you less than you would have to part with if it was a solid slab.
There are other retail options that you can explore especially because a good amount of the work with live edge tables is by hand.
If you’re sure that live edge is the way you want to go, and you understand the different options that are available, then finding a good live edge table for you will be more or less like finding the perfect artwork for you. You need to exercise patience and time and it will definitely pay off.
To get your own custom made live edge dining table, visit our live edge dining table page to view our in stock bases and table tops. Free shipping across North America.