live edge dining table

Something a little different this week: a live-edge slab that I’m transforming into an elegant dining table.

The wood itself is gorgeous, but on its way to me it’s had some rough treatment. The top is four inches of solid Parota, and the legs are five inch hunks of heart wood from the same tree. Everything was smothered in a thick layer of polyurethane while still soaking wet, and polyurethane being an impermeable plastic coating, the effect was like putting a wet sponge in a Ziploc then leaving it in a drawer for a couple months. Soggy, mouldy, and not even remotely pretty to look at.

Once I stripped off the hideous poly, everything could start to breathe again, but it’s still soaking wet, and I have the legs tucked away and drying out slowly so they don’t break into pieces.

Beyond rescuing the wood, I’m shaping the table top and the legs. I took a saw to the ends to make them a little lighter.
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Then planed the underneath and started to blend it into the edges.

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Then planed it a bit more …

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And then shaped it with a soft-pad sander.

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These are the legs before I took off the finish. Note the elegant brackets.

Their shape and mass bear no relation to the top at all, really, so I’m cutting some big holes through the middle that I’ll carve out by hand when the wood’s dry; but first I had to stabilize any splits and cracks with resin. This one was particularly bad. It took several pours before the whole thing was filled.

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When I say wet, I’m not exaggerating.

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Cutting a perfect circle in a five-inch slab of soaking wet wood was a challenge, even for the Carvex.

But, four blades later, holes there were. This is the one with the big split. You can see why I had to fix it first.

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I’m letting the wood rest and dry slowly for now. With slabs this thick, it’d be catastrophic to let them dry too quickly, and bringing them from sub-tropical Mexico to semi-arid Southern California is quite the test. More pics next week when I start sculpting the legs.

UPDATE: I never did get around to posting those sculpting pics, but here’s the finished piece in its lovely new home.

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