Natural-edge wood slabs are undoubtedly the leading trend today in furniture and interior design. The organic look will complement a wide range of decorating styles. It’s a perfect fit in a rustic country home, but can be equally effective in a modern city condo. One perfect piece can serve as a focal point that warms up the whole space. Once you master the basics of working with natural edge slabs, you too can become a maker of these unique and beautiful furniture pieces!
Choosing a Natural-Edge Slab
There are a few ways to go in selecting a natural-edge slab. If you have the expertise and equipment, you can start with felled logs and saw your own slabs. An easier option that still gives your control over the milling process is to take your logs to a custom sawmill. Once there have them cut the slabs for you. Whether you saw your own or go the saw-mill route, you will have to then leave the slabs to air-dry for one year per inch of thickness, making either of these options a long-term project indeed!
If you want to get to work furniture-making in the near future, there are many sellers of cut and dried natural-edge wood slabs. You may be lucky to live in an area where you can simply stop at the side of the road to select a slab. You may have to go to the Internet to find what you’re looking for.
Preparing Your Natural-Edge Slab
You have your slab, and you’re ready to start! But first, let the slab sit and adjust to your workshop’s humidity for a couple of weeks before getting to work. The first step is to remove the bark along the edge, if that hasn’t already been done. Use a rounded chisel to pry off the bark. Depending on the look you’re going for, either leave the rough cambium layer beneath the outer bark intact, or scrape it off with a wire brush to reveal an already-smooth edge.
Then turn your attention to the flat surfaces of your slab- and flatten them further! There is likely to be some warping in the wood that needs to be removed. Use a plunge-router and jig to create a perfectly level surface, and then do a preliminary sanding with 60 or 80 grit before proceeding with the next step.
You could find small splits in the wood, which may add natural charm, but will become larger over time unless you deal with them now. Use butterfly keys routed into the wood to stabilize the split. Then, check over the slab for holes caused by bark inclusions from inside the tree, and clean them out. If you want a perfectly smooth surface, fill the holes with epoxy, either clear or colored to match the wood, or leave them for a more rustic look.
Now is the time to finish your slab. Go as far as 320 grit for the top surface and 220 for the edge. Then apply an oil that will highlight the beauty of the natural wood grain. Finish with several coats of lacquer, shellac, or polyurethane. Your natural-edge wood slab is now ready to attach to its table or bench base. You can also use as a countertop or a mantlepiece!
With its current popularity, many customers are searching for quality natural-edge wood slab furniture. Artisan Born is an excellent online marketplace for your unique pieces. Setting up a shop on our site will let discerning buyers from around the world discover your wares! Also, take a look at our blog for more tips, ideas, and inspiration!