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Thread: Live Edge Questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    445

    Live Edge Questions

    Hello All,

    It's been a while since I've been on here, as I've been too busy to read the 'Creek and likewise too busy to be working in the shop. However recently I finally got back in the shop and got further along with my kitchen table project. It's a live-edge walnut table, and I have a few questions for the group regarding that edge.

    In this first picture you can see a divot or chunk taken out of the edge. I'm wondering how best to deal with this. Should I leave it, and just clean it up and basically round-over things around it? Should I fill it with epoxy and then treat it like everything else? Any other options?

    divot.jpg

    In this second picture you can see where we hit the limit of board processing width. This limit was actually imposed at the lumber yard based on the size of the equipment used to process the (originally wider) piece. I beveled the edge about 30 degrees to make it more closely match the live edge. I'm wondering what to do with this? Should I just leave it? Should I try to use some rasps or files to make something resembling a live edge (not that I would be good at that...)? Any other options?

    edge.jpg

    Thanks!
    And there was trouble, taking place...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    717
    You might want to smooth both issues by rounding off the gouges and straight edge. To do so I start with a 36 grit flap wheel on a small angle grinder. A light touch is usually needed but remember that it is a live edge so you don't want it to be too perfect. Then you can progress up the grits (80, 100, 120,150, etc.) until the edge is sanded the same as the remainder of the top.
    Wood'N'Scout

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    On the river in Ohio
    Posts
    425

    My solution

    If it were me I would go at it with a belt sander. I dislike the look of live edge with 90 degree ends. If you want to keep the darker edge consistent use a bit of stain or dye.

  4. #4
    With respect to the above, I would not sand or round over both will destroy the live edge.

    Live edge slabs need the bark and cambium layer removed, this is done by various method but I prefer spoke shave. I do all of the work with a spoke shave and wire brush. The wire brush removes dirt and dust from cracks and crevices that cannot be reached with the shave.

    I would work the whole edge, maintaining the appearance of the live edge until that damaged area were mostly removed, then finish the top edge with a chamfer to remove any remaining damage. Work it back until a light chamfer can do it.

    Last edited by Brian Holcombe; 09-13-2017 at 8:46 AM.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Camillus, NY
    Posts
    248
    +1 to Brian's advice.
    Jerry

    "It is better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation" - Herman Melville

  6. #6
    I have used flapper disk on a grinder to remove soft and ding-ed edges and to "sculpt" the non-natural edges to blend as you wish. I use a sand blaster with walnut shells--outside of course-- to remove the darker cambium layers and add some texture to the non-natural edge areas. You will be able to blend the edges nicely. Just di a big walnut slab waterfall desk and console table and they turned out great. I use the metal polishing type disks finer than 120 grit.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    41,865
    Like others have mentioned, my method for dressing the edges is via sanding to smooth while still retaining the live-edge look. That's how I would deal with the divot for sure.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    For the convex side, I would use a block plane to blend the transition of the 'milled' edge into the live edge. It will look like the curve and profile melt into each other. I like the look, but YMMV.

    For the chunk, I would either use a spoke shave or an angle grinder with a wire cup brush to basically smooth the divot, and rounder its edges into the surrounding areas.

    When doing live edge, my personal preference is to go with, and dress up what is there - not to try to make it what it is not.

    Don't forget to ease the top and bottom edges of your slab; they can be quite sharp to the user.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    445
    Thanks for the tips!

    Just to clarify: From what I'm reading, my take is that a number of you are suggesting that I basically smooth out that divot so that it basically looks like a natural indentation in the edge. Is that correct? I can handle that.

    Separately, for the milled edge: Some of you are suggesting I use a sander or other tool to effectively make it look "wavy" or "live-like". Prashun, are you suggesting I leave the majority of the milled edge as-is, and only deal with the transition section?

    And, yes, I know I am not done dealing with the actual live edges, so the dark bits still needs to be fully removed. And I know to ease those edges; it's already sharp in its current state!
    And there was trouble, taking place...

  10. #10
    I wouldn't really work the top down into the divot, I think it'll look bad. I would work the entire live edge back until the divot mostly disappears, then blend it into the top carefully. Don't touch the actual top surface to blend, just the sides and top corner. At which point a 1/4" chamfer is going to remove a fair bit of it.

    I would leave that last bit and try and make it look intentional rather than trying to make it look live edge, it's into the heart wood so going to look quite strange if you blend it.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  11. #11
    I was unclear whether the bark is present. I would remove the bark if it is present.

    Don't try to smooth the divot so it looks like a natural indentation. I would just round over the edges an sand the inside so it's smooth. It will look like what it is: a divot and imperfection, just smoothed out and made less jarring.

    Prepping a live edge is a matter (for me) of doing a little bit, stepping back, and adjusting until you hit a good balance. It's hard for any of us to give a hard rule for what to do bkz the aesthetics are personal.

    I do think removing the bark, if any is present, is smart. Not only will it be easier to touch, it'll be less likely to separate and fall off.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bucks County, PA
    Posts
    445
    Thanks for the tips, all.
    And there was trouble, taking place...

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