Jeff’s Live Edge Dining Table

This is a project that I have wanted to do for a very long time. It is a Live Edge dining room table made of Black Walnut. You will notice in some of the pictures that starting from the time of loading the rough cut wood into the trailer, that this was not your ordinary project. I have never worked with pieces of wood that took a tractor to load. Nevertheless, it has been THE project I have always wanted to do.

When I first got the load home, it took me and a neighbor (he did not know what he was getting himself into) to move the lumber into my shop. Once there, I found out that it is a lot harder than it looks to joint and plane 18 inch wide boards. I ended up making a router sled for them to lie in. This type of planing is the biggest mess that I have ever had in my shop. The shavings were literally up to my ankles and covered my shop table and sled.

After getting the tops close enough to flat for me, I then had to decide on how to put them together. Note that the slab in the center is a lot narrower that the outer pieces. This is because the outside 2-3 inches of the slabs is the whitish sap wood. I did not want the sap wood in the center, I wanted the same dark wood all the way to the edge. The center slab is 12” wide. This allowed me to send it through the planer and gave me a good flat reference for the two sides.

I had the hardest time deciding on the base. Of course I wanted to make it 100% out of wood; however my wife had an idea to combine the wood and steel. After spending a lot of time on Sketch-up, trying to figure out a design that worked for both of us, I came up with this design. The base is made up of 2”x2”x1/4” angle iron. I cut the steel at the predetermined 41 degrees and welded it together. Once I had the entire frame completely welded up, I got my dad to take it to his work and he had some “real” welders go over my work. They were not very impressed with my welding, but what can I say, I’m a woodworker!

Once I had it all complete and assembled, I began to finish it. I first applied about five good coats of General Finishes Seal-A-Cell to the top with a sponge brush. I then covered it with about five coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Coat. After applying so much to the top, I sort of lost track of how many times I did it. In between each coat I buffed the top with #0000 steel wool, except after the final coat.

After everything was finished, I had to invite my family over to help me move it. It weights in somewhere around the 300-400lb mark (just a guess). I do plan on getting a scale under it one day.

Anyway, I started working on this project in June of 2011 and finished it January of 2012. Of course I started and completed several other projects in that same time, so it was not continuous, but it stayed in the shop for a long time. The final dimensions are 46” wide (at the widest end), 69” long, and 30.5” tall (to the top).

I hope you enjoy this project as much as I enjoyed making it. Although, I don’t think I’ll make another one…Happy Woodworking!


  1. This is absolutely stunning! The most impressive part for me is that you saw this beautiful table inside of all that rough wood. I can not imagine the work that went into doing the things those of who work in smaller scale take for granted: flattening, jointing, etc. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have remarkable talent.

  2. Peter Durand November 11, 2012

    That is gorgeous.

  3. Frank November 11, 2012

    I only have one question. Was the wood from a dealer, or did you use some unusual method of procuring it. And where does wood like this come from mostly, regionally speaking. I’m in easter NC and wondering how I could come across this stuff without having it shipped from CA or something.

    • Thanks so much for all of the nice words. It took a good long time to complete this project but it was well worth it. As for getting the wood, I have a local portable sawmill that I use to get all of my wood. You should be able to get a lot of black walnut around North Carolina.

  4. Michael Baron November 11, 2012

    Amazing work Jeff. I really like your overall design. The use of the sap wood is really gorgeous. Also noted the stylish out feed table!

  5. Amanda Usenko November 11, 2012

    Ridiculously beautiful piece!

  6. Dlhunter November 11, 2012

    nice work. I really like the incorporation of the steel in the legs.

    In regards to your question about where to find wood like that check your area for logging, sawmills and even tree guys who cut down those big trees take them somewhere if they don’t mill them themselves. I just stumbled upon a guy who has a portable mill that lives less than ten minutes from me. He has piles of live edge walnut :)

    • Frank (http://deleted) November 30, 2012

      Yeah, that is probably the best answer. There is a place in Wilmington that sometimes gets pieces like that and even though they are reasonably priced they are still expensive. In my area I don’t know if trees like that even exist, but I’m going to start expanding my horizons a bit and putting feelers out to find guys who do this kind of stuff. Too many people in my are who fell trees are just too quick to chip them up to cart them off, it’s a shame. Thanks though.

  7. Dave November 11, 2012

    It truly looks great. I’ve never worked with large wood pieces like this. How did you end up joining the pieces together? It’s definitely something I’ll look into doing once I have some more experience under my belt…
    Thanks for sharing,

    • That was probably the toughest design issue that I had. I thought up several different ways of going about the jointing, but I did not fill that any one of them were going to be strong enough to hold this much weight. So, I did what any respectable woodworker would do, I did several of them and errors on the side of OVERKILL! I butt jointed the slabs together. Without that much long grain I thought that it would be very strong. Then I added two walnut support piece (2″x5″x30″) across the bottom and glued and bolted them to the top. Trust me that top was not going to to come apart. But just in case, I made the steel,base the same size as the supports and bolted them to the top as well. Oh yea, I also added the caps to each end, which also tie the three slabs together. I wanted to use bow ties along the seems but my wife did not like them, so they got the boot! There were many challenges about this project, but this one took me a good long time to overcome.

      • Dave November 16, 2012

        Awesome work…

      • Ansel November 19, 2012

        Beautiful table and graceful design.
        Not an expert, but shouldn’t table tops be allowed to freely move across their width because of expansion/shrinking cycles? Could the walnut support pieces glued to the top restrict the top movement?
        Thanks for showing your work.

  8. Tom November 12, 2012

    That table is magnificent! And just think – if a tornado comes along you can get under it and be safe, even though the rest of the house goes!

  9. Jeff, great dining table. Thanks for showing the “before” photos. They really reinforce the sense of scale you worked with. Words alone, just are not as effect, at least to this woodworker.

    How did you attach the end caps?

    I am a solo woodworker, but my wife has made significant impact on the sense of style coming out of my efforts. I have a good basic design sense, but am willing to just try different techniques for the education and experience. Her short list of “No Way’s” has made for a tighter look. Let’s hear it for collaboration.

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff.
    Will you be serving Thanksgiving dinner at this cool table?

  10. Texfire November 12, 2012

    Wonderful showcase of a great tree. Well done!

  11. Dave November 12, 2012

    That is a darn nice looking table. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jeff November 12, 2012

    Stunning! i love it! i’d love to see a picture of the router sled with shavings up to your ankles…haha

  13. Very nice project! The metal base looks great!

  14. Claude Stewart November 12, 2012

    This is beautiful.

  15. Troy November 13, 2012

    Stunning! I love the Iron base and Timber stretcher!!!

  16. Alex January 6, 2013

    This looks great! How did you finish the edge?

  17. Mark (http://N/A) April 3, 2013

    I agree with everyone’s opinion here…you are a very talented woodworker, and the table is AMAZING! This type of table is Exactly what my wife wants. She loves the ‘natural’ edge look on a lot of furniture, but we don’t own any. We don’t have any because I am not that fond of it personally, and when you drop several hundred dollars on a piece…everyone better like seeing it every day! LOL

    BUT, with that being said, I must say that I absolutely give you Two thumbs up, and would give you more thumbs up if I had them! I absolutely LOVE this table. Awesome work Jeff! Good thing my wife doesn’t come onto this site or that would be next on her ‘Honey will you do’ list. I am not skilled enough YET, and I wouldn’t be able to tackle something like this at my experience level.

    BTW…I really like how the bread board ends seem to match the shape of the natural edge very nicely. However, I am with you on the metal legs…I think I would like it more with wooden legs…Only because natural edge furniture is generally ‘rustic’ looking, and the metal legs take away from that. But, some could feel that it’s rustic with a touch of modern. Either way, I still adore the piece, and I would literally sit and stare at the table while eating.

  18. M. Gareau September 8, 2013

    Very nice table. I had a question about how do you treat or deal with the freshly cut lumber? Do you protect it (linseed oil, tung, etc…) for the drying period before you start working it? I just cut slabs of elm and mold is setting. Help, anyone.

  19. So can you please share what type of finish you used on the bark that helped hold it and took the roughness from the edges. We have a friend who we bought 4 black walnut planks from.Two have bark live edges that we want to use but are not sure how to finish the edges.a Your table is magnificent.

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