Tables built from live edge slabs are very popular, and very beautiful. George was lucky enough to get an amazing hackberry slab in his shop and, with a little help from Triton woodworking tools, he turned it into two lovely tables.
One from two
The slab we started with was long enough that it could be cut into two tables; one a low coffee table, the other a higher side table. One of the cool features of this build is that instead of making a straight cut through the slab, George cuts the slab in two using a jigsaw. The resulting organic shape creates a “puzzle piece” effect that makes it obvious the two tables started as one large live edge slab.
A jigsaw was used to create the curve, and then it was time for sanding. Because of the size and weight of the slabs it was easier to take the tool to the work, rather than the work to a tool. Triton’s portable spindle sander took care of the curves, and their random orbit sander wrapped up everything else.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to get legs under a table is to use hairpin legs. The coffee table we built is on 14” legs, and the taller side table is on 28” legs.
Cleaning up slabs
If the slab you’re starting with needs some TLC (flattening) before you start making a table out of it, you can do that work with a hand-held router and shop-made jig.
For more information on Triton Tools visit the company’s website.
I haven’t worked with slabs yet, but that looks like a pretty significant split in the middle of that piece. Are you worried about it continuing to open up? Other videos I’ve watched suggest that’s where a bowtie or other stabilizer might be appropriate.
George adds a bowtie whenever he feels that a crack adds a structural weakness. When in doubt, add a bowtie. Here’s an article that provides some guidance on making these: https://www.wwgoa.com/article/custom-cut-butterfly-joints/
Paul, Woodworkers Guild of America
I just finished a live edge table as well. Used alligator juniper that was damaged in a forrest fire. A belt sander, a random orbital sander and several coats of tung oil brought out colors in the wood. Used a few bow ties to stop cracks. Not a fan of hairpin legs. Needed something more substantial. I designed and then hired a welder to make legs out of 1.5″ square tube. Primed and painted with an oil rubbed bronze finish. Turned out very nice.
What did you use for finishing Hackberry?
My standard formula is a base coat of dewaxed shellac, and water-based lacquer for a top coat. It’s explained here https://www.wwgoa.com/video/georges-secret-finishing-recipe-017086/
George, Woodworkers Guild of America