Are you tired of the same cookie-cutter wooden furniture? You might be looking for something that has a bit more character. If so, you may want to consider a live edge piece. But what makes it different from standard lumber?
At one time, wood with wavy edges was seen as defective. Woodworkers typically removed any grooves from the slab and finished the edges until they were perfect right angles. Unfinished pieces of lumber were used out of necessity rather than a stylistic preference. Now, live edge pieces are highly desired; used for benches, tables, and kitchen islands, these slabs are everywhere.
Live edge wood can be used to add naturalistic elements to your home. Rather than hiding the natural characteristics of wood, you can embrace them with a live edge piece. Everyone recognizes the simple beauty of a tree, which your chair or end table can be reminiscent of. You can keep it subtle with a slightly wavy table, or go bold by purchasing a piece with deep, groovy edges.
The architect Nakashima is credited for the rise of this style, which caught on in the 1950s. He believed that crafting live edge furniture was a show of respect to nature, and gave the tree a second life. The name of this lumber comes from the fact that the edges look “alive”; some say that it’s because the spirit of the wood will “live” on in the piece. It shows an ecological appreciation for the tree and nature itself.
How to Use Live Edge Wood in Your Home
Live edge pieces allow you to use lumber that may have otherwise been discarded.Salvaged wood is sustainable, practical, and stylish. You can use live edge wood to create thematic interiors like:
● Western (cottagecore)
The slab itself is unfinished, so it may have knots, voids, or cracks on its surface. Some might leave the slab as is, while others use ecopoxy flow cast to fill it in and highlight the unique pattern of the piece. Consider matching the resin to the rest of the wood or using a contrasting color to make it stand out.
Since its rise to popularity, the demand for live edge wood has skyrocketed. You’ll oftensee these slabs used for dining room tables, cutting boards, countertops, and more. It’s become incredibly popular for interior design.
A live edge piece adds a one-of-a-kind design to your home. However, you’ll need to pay more for these slabs than traditional pieces of lumber, especially for larger items.
How is a Live Edge Slab Made?
Preserving the natural qualities of a live edge piece takes time, effort, and care.
Live edge wood showcases the rustic characteristics of a natural piece of wood. One might think that it costs less than traditional lumber due to its rugged appearance, but the opposite is true.
One can’t really mass produce such a unique style of wood, which factors into the higher cost. If the wood holes are already filled in with epoxy, that adds another step to the process.
All that’s removed from the piece is the outermost layer of bark (although some choose to keep the bark, too). The wood maintains all the rings and burls from the original tree, and the edges are wavy and groovy.
It’s difficult to dry and cut a slab of wood that has a live edge. This is due to the thickness of the piece and the length of time it requires to be properly kiln-dried. If the wood isn’t completely dried, it may warp or twist when it’s cut. The uneven surface also makes it challenging to measure the wood when cutting.
If you’re planning to purchase a live edge slab, expect to pay a bit more than your average piece of lumber. Since traditional lumber isn’t used to make live edge pieces, it requires wood from old trees, which is also reflected in the price. Think of how large one tree must be to produce one slab for a dining room table!
If you’ve seen one piece of standard plywood before, you’ve seen them all. The next time you want to add a new piece of furniture to your home, consider purchasing one made from a live edge slab. Applications for this material are endless, from headboards to rustic lamps. You can create something truly unique with a live edge slab, which maintains the characteristics of the original tree.
Kayla Russell is a part of the marketing team at KJP Select Hardwoods, your Canadian source for wood and woodworking products. KJP offers a diverse selection of products; their inventory features over 80 species of wood, including domestic and exotic hardwoods.