Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in demand for furniture or home decoration items made out of live edge slabs. Even though the market for such furniture is quite high, processing and producing a final product from live edge wood slab is not an easy deal.
Pieces of live edge wood are expensive, and one of the main reasons behind the high price tag is that the processing time is long. Unlike regular timber or other wood pieces, live edge slabs do not come in a regular or even shape. The uneven shape and texture of these pieces are what make them unique.
However, you will have to flatten or even out the live edge slab before you start making a piece of furniture out of it, but not many people are aware of how to do it. Therefore, in this guide, we will discuss how to flatten a live edge slab and other factors associated with it.
What Is A Live Edge Slab?
If you have ever seen a piece or plank of timber, you will notice that it comes as a perfectly shaped rectangle where the length, width, and the height is accurate. On the other hand, live edge slabs are available in uneven shapes, textures, angles, and so on.
You will have to be an expert or professional woodworker when it comes to working with live edge slabs due to their uneven structure.
Methods On How To Flatten A Live Edge Slab?
You will have to properly flatten a live edge slab before you proceed with working on it and there are a few methods of flattening the slabs. These are:
1. The Most Common Method: Planer
The use of a planer to flatten a live edge slab is probably the most common choice in the market due to the finishing it offers without losing much of the slab. The machine is man-operated and the process is extremely easy as you just have to pass the slabs through it and continue sanding till you receive the required finish or width.
You can also mark the wood slabs at certain points to understand how much has the planer sanded.
2. The Computer Operated Method: CNC
Although the CNC does the same job as a planer, it is completely automated and controlled by a computer. Place the live edge slabs on the table and turn on the machine. The wooden piece will pass through the blades adjusted to the table automatically and will get flattened out.
Turn off the machine and repeat the entire process after turning the slab to the other side. CNC flattening works best if the live edge slabs have highly uneven shapes and you have a lot of time to spare in your hands.
3. The Customizable And Cost Efficient Method: Router Sled And Router Bits
If you are not a fan of the two methods mentioned above and are looking for a customizable option, the router sled is perfect for you. Even though the functionality of the CNC machine and the router sled is quite similar, the difference is that the sled comes at a cheaper price tag and is easier to operate.
In a router sled, there are router bits that cut or sand the pieces of wood when turned on. You will have to place the slab on the sled and turn the machine on to sand the wood. Repeat the same process with both of the sides until you get your desired slab finish.
Things You Should Take Care for Flattening Live Edge Slab
While working or flattening a live edge wood slab, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind. These are:
Carefully Sand The Wood Slabs
A mistake that the majority of people make while sanding wood slabs is that they sand the pieces more than required. When it comes to using live edge slabs, it is essential to ensure that the slabs are sanded properly and up to their required finish.
To make sure that you get the proper smoothness or width, you will have to sand the slabs carefully. You can avoid making this mistake of sanding too much by marking the required slab width with a marker or chalk before passing the slabs through the sanding machine.
This will help you to achieve your required width and level on the wood pieces without any trouble.
Use Resin To Fill The Holes
One thing about live edge wood slabs is that they do not always come with an even surface; most of them come with holes or gaps that run deep into the wooden slabs.
Before sanding the pieces or working with them, it is essential to fill in the holes properly to ensure that the pieces have an even surface and can be sanded properly. Experts typically recommend the use of epoxy resin to cover the gaps and give the slabs a smooth finish.
Pour resin into the openings and keep the slabs aside for it to dry completely before you sand the wooden pieces.
Prepare The Wood Slab Properly
As we discussed above, the use of epoxy resin to seal the gaps is an important step. Before sanding or pouring epoxy over the wood slabs, it is essential to prepare the pieces properly for use.
This means that you must cut the piece of the wood to your required size before you fill in the gaps or pass it through the sanding machine. This is because sanding a live edge slab takes a lot of time and epoxy resin comes with a high price tag.
So, there is no meaning in wasting both time and money on a portion of the wood that you do not need.
Carefully Use Or Set Up The Router Bits
In a router sled, it is essential to use router bits to sand the live edge slabs. You have to make sure that the sled is turned off while setting up and removing the bits as they are fast enough to cut off your fingers.
Even when you are using the sleds, you will have to make sure that your hand does not go near the bits to avoid damage. The router sleds typically come with a supporting tool that you have to use while passing the slabs through the equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
1. What Can I Make From A Live Edge Slab?
Furniture made out of live edge wood slabs is very popular in today’s modern world. These wood pieces are typically used to make table tops, countertops, and so on. The reason why these slabs are so popular is that they add a touch of both western and rustic style to a room.
2. Is A Live Edge Wood Slab Expensive?
If we consider the market price of the furniture made out of live edge wood slabs, they are expensive. There are quite a few reasons why these pieces come with a high price tag. The main reason is that each piece is unique from the other, and it takes a long time to process the wood.
The type of wood used in the making also plays a major role when it comes to determining the price of these pieces. However, one thing is certain that these slabs cost way more compared to the regular lumber or wood pieces.
3. How To Complete The Work Of A Live Edge Slab?
There are several steps that you need to follow before making sure that the live edge slab is complete and ready. The first step is to process the wood and cut it into shape. Once you have determined the shape, flatten the slab out by sanding it evenly.
Test the finishing of the leveling process and make sure that it has achieved the required smoothness and width. Fill in all the holes and gaps on the piece with epoxy and allow it to dry properly. Finally, finish the piece, and you have a beautiful live edge slab on your hands.
4. How Long Does It Take To Dry Live Edge Slabs?
The amount of time required to dry the live edge slabs typically depends on the type of wood and the width of the pieces. However, if we talk about a general estimation, it takes about 6 months to over a year for live edge slabs to dry completely. It is essential to make sure that the pieces are completely dry before you start working on them.
In today’s date, live edge slabs are used to prepare some of the most beautiful and unique pieces of furniture and home decoration items. Flattening the wood slabs is usually the most important step in the entire process.
As we discussed above, there are typically three ways available, and all of these methods are easy and useful. You can choose any of the methods from how to flatten a live edge slab that you like and flatten the pieces accordingly.
If we talk about our personal preference, we prefer the planer as it is easy to use and has the ability to provide the most accurate finish to a wooden slab. Not only that, but it is also widely available in almost every woodwork shop.