How To Finish Live Edge Slabs

Straight, finished edges simply don’t have the beauty of live edge slabs.Even though you can use live edge slabs in your woodworking project, you still need to finish them.It is important that your project lasts for a long time.

Step 1: Purchase the slab from a store.

Pre-cut and pre-dried slabs can be found in lumber stores and stores that specialize in woodworking supplies.There are online stores that sell unique slabs made from rare wood.You should look for slabs that are at least 2 inches thick.A lumber mill can cut the slab from a piece of felled lumber for you.The wood was felled during the summer.Later on, it will be easier to remove the bark.Unusual patterns and texture can be found in knots, burls, and limbs.When picking a slab, take these into account.

Step 2: For store-bought slabs, wait 1 to 2 weeks.

You need to wait 1 to 2 weeks before using a slab from the store.You can give the wood enough time to adjust to the humidity in your home.You can either cut the slab yourself or have a saw mill do it for you.

Step 3: If necessary, cut the slab down to the right length.

Attach the slab to the workbench with screws.If you need a guide, add a strip of medium density fiberboard.You can cut the slab with a circular saw.

Step 4: The bark should be removed with a chisel.

Bark is difficult to maintain and keep clean.It can fall off and make a mess.Use a rounded chisel under the bark to peel it off.Go along the edge of the slab.You can leave marks if you work across it.You can remove the fibers with a nylon or wire brush.

Step 5: A sanding flap wheel is needed to sand the edge.

There are many different ways to use a rotary tool.The attachment looks like a bunch of pieces of sandpaper bound together.Start with a 120-grit wheel and work your way up.Only the edge with the bark on it is being sanded.The flaps are usually only on one side.Make sure you move your tool with the flaps facing forward.The tool shouldn’t be moved back-and-forth.The edge is up to you.There are often worm holes in the woods.You can either leave them on or sand them off.

Step 6: If needed, sand the edges of the slab.

Live edge slabs are usually bark on 2 sides and jagged from where they were cut.If this is the case with your slab, you need to sand it away.You have to work your way to 150-, 180, 220- and 320-grit.If you have a slab with bark on all 4 sides, you can skip this step.

Step 7: Decide how much you want to flatten.

A rustic side table can be made from a slab with an even face.A slab that is going to be used as a writing desk needs a smooth finish and a flat face.It’s not necessary to finish sanding the top and bottom faces.

Step 8: If you want your face to be smooth, Flatten it with a router.

To fit your slab, build a jig.To smooth the face down, use a power sander.Don’t sand it smooth until you get marks.The bottom of the slab can be flattened for a nicer finish.

Step 9: If you have splits in the face, use butterfly keys.

Use a knife to mark the keys on the wood.Lift them away and carve them out with a chisel.The keys should be Glued into the holes.Cut the keys until they are flush with the face, then sand them smooth.Blocks of wood are shaped like bowties.To trim the keys, use a block plane or a powder sander.Sand the eyes with a sanding block.butterfly keys should be installed if there is a split in the slab.

Step 10: Remove any loose bark from the wood.

As the tree grows, small pieces of bark can get trapped in the wood.These should be removed.You can either leave the voids hollow for a rustic finish or you can fill them in with a clear or tinted epoxy.Some pieces of trapped bark may not be revealed until after you sand the faces.

Step 11: If necessary, tape off the sides of the slab.

There are holes in the wood.You don’t need to tape off anything if they are in the middle of the wood.You need to cover the edge of the slab with masking tape if the holes extend to it.The tape will act like a dam to stop the leaking.It can be difficult to remove it, but a quick blast from an air compressor hose should do the trick.If you want to leave the voids hollow for a rustic look, skip the entire section.

Step 12: Prepare a clear epoxy.

The brand that you are using affects how you prepare it.If you mix equal amounts of Parts A and B, you can use a disposable cup.You can tint the epoxy using a clear dye.The underside of the slab has voids.If you want to tint the wood, first coat it with shellac.This will prevent the wood from becoming a “halo” of color.

Step 13: The voids have something in them.

You want to work quickly, but also pour slowly.The table has the epoxy sitting on it.Pick up the cup and pour it into the voids.If you pour too fast, you may get bubbles.It’s best to work in small batches if you have a lot of voids.The wood should be level with the surface of the epoxy.

Step 14: Remove the tape when the cure is complete.

How long this takes depends on the brand you are using.Depending on the type of cure, it can take an hour or so.You can remove the masking tape after the cure.

Step 15: The card scrapper can be used to remove excess epoxy.

A small amount will still leak out from under the tape.Pick it off with a card scrapper.

Step 16: You should sand the surface until you get the smoothness you want.

Work your way up to 220-grit after starting with 80 gr of sandpaper.The more you sand, the better the finish will be.

Step 17: You should vacuum your workspace to get rid of dust.

Dust left behind from sanding can get stuck in your finish.This can lead to a messy finish.

Step 18: If you want to keep things simple, seal the surface.

A sponge brush is used to apply a coat of coating.Wait for the coat to dry, then sand it.Next, wipe the surface with mineral spirits.The surface was wet with a 2000-grit sanding pad.Allow it to dry after you wipe it off.

Step 19: Shellac and lacquer can be used for a glossy finish.

Let it dry after applying 1 coat of shellac.To sand it, use 400-grit sandpaper.For a total of 3 coats, repeat this 2 more times.Allow it to dry completely.You can finish off with a spray of lacquer.

Step 20: If you want to bring out the grain, apply wood oil, butter, and wax.

Rub wood oil into the wood with a cotton rag.Let it dry before wiping the rest off.This will be done 1 to 2 more times.Follow up with 2 more coats of wood butter.Finish off with a coat of wood wax.Then buff the excess off.Allow it to cure overnight before applying a second coat.Allow the wax to cure for 3 days, then buff it.

Step 21: Before using the slab, allow the finish to cure.

The curing time for the slab depends on the finish you used.Some finishes only need a few hours to cure while others need more time.The jar or bottle has instructions on it.You can turn your slab into a bench once the finish has cured.