How to Turn a Wood Slab Into a Table
Rustic wood meets modern metal to create this striking—and timeless—piece of furniture. Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor show how to make a live-edge console table of your own
The wood in Most solid-wood furniture has been sawn, planed, peeled, and sanded into uniform planks, panels, and boards. That simplifies the building process, but obliterates virtually any sign that the material once came from trees growing in a forest. Not so with this console table. Its top is fashioned from two 2-inch-thick slabs sliced from the trunk of a Norway maple. The tree’s “live edges” are basically untouched—the bark was removed because it would fall off eventually—so they retain the natural undulations and wormholes that give this piece its distinctive character.
Local sawmills can be good sources of live-edge slabs; that’s where TOH general contractor Tom Silva bought the ones for this project. You can also find them online in a wide range of sizes and species. Whatever the source, pay close attention to the slabs’ moisture content (MC) and drying method. Ideally, a moisture meter should show an MC in the 6 to 8 percent range. Slabs with a higher MC could warp or split as they dry. Kiln-drying, not air-drying, the wood should get the MC into the desired range, and kill any bugs ensconced there. Even so, acclimate your slabs indoors for a few weeks before starting work.
Shown: Tom proudly shows off the live-edge console table that he and Kevin assembled from steel hairpin legs and two thick slabs of Norway maple.
Hairpin legs: I-Semble 28-inch table legs, four for $50; Rockler.
Wood slabs: The Rustic Wood Shop.