Finishing live edge slab? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 02-07-2019, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Finishing live edge slab?

I'm making a shoe rack/bench very similar to this picture I found. I have a 2" piece of ash (I think). Haven't really worked with anything that wasn't from the box stores, so I have a few spots in the wood I'd like to fix but not sure how. I've already done the majority of the sanding before my belt broke. Of the two sides, one is much cleaner looking but has two knots or ingrown bark in it. What could I do to fill that? The other side, which I'd rather use because it lets more of the live edge show has a bigger hole with several tiny holes (ash borers I'm guessing) with a lot more surface splitting. What could I do to correct some of that? And what can I use to make the colors richer but keep the natural tone of the wood?

The guy I bought the wood from says it was kiln dried (don't know how long ago) and I've had it in my house for a few weeks now before I started working with it so it should be pretty acclimated by now I think.
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post #2 of 27 Old 02-07-2019, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
...Of the two sides, one is much cleaner looking but has two knots or ingrown bark in it. What could I do to fill that?
Here are several great post threads that may cover many of your quesitons and probably more...Enjoy reading them and ask your questions here if you have more?

Burl table top

Filling natural crack/split

Bow-Tie and Butterfly Joinery Systems

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Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
...What could I do to correct some of that? And what can I use to make the colors richer but keep the natural tone of the wood?
Natural-Traditional finish...if interested I can expand on that. Its also covered in some of the above links...

Good Luck!!! and please share pictures of your work when you have time!!!
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post #3 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 03:29 AM Thread Starter
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I feel like a bowtie over the crack might be beyond my ability at this time. I'd need to practice on something a few times first otherwise I know I'd have gaps in the fitment. But, do you think it would even be necessary in this particular piece of wood since the cracks are less than an inch deep and not a full split in the wood? Or could it continue to grow?

And I've heard of this before, but didn't see anyone mention it in your links, mixing sawdust and wood glue to fill the voids?


I'll probably start welding the frame tomorrow if it's finally done raining.

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post #4 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 10:02 AM
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And I've heard of this before, but didn't see anyone mention it in your links, mixing sawdust and wood glue to fill the voids?
I finished a walnut live edge piece to serve as a headboard a while back. I wanted the character of the voids to be a part of the final piece, so I filled those with CA Glue first. I would have used epoxy if they were large, but the CA glue worked great for our piece. The piece is perfectly flat after finishing, but the voids retain their depth and beauty.

I'm afraid the sawdust and glue would just look out of place on that piece. I typically only do that for very small blemishes in fully finished pieces.

This was my first live edge project and I think it turned out okay. My wife loves it and that's all that really matters!

Scott
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post #5 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 10:06 AM
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That's a pretty slab BUT the colors and grainage appears to be a different species and not ash that I'm accustom to here... I'm guessing a elm family BUT Jay didn't say any diiferent so it could just be a ash family I'm not familiar with.

The crack.....as a more traditionalist I lean to bowties /or sometning to lock the split movement from expanding. I done a bench and used a horseshoe as the lock.....I prefer 90% of the time to leave existing "flaws" as is and use them as interest points/accents. Your steel base will add to compliment as a mixed media bench. That slab would look awesome finished in traditional finishes as Heritage Natural Finishes. I can't add a link from my tablet BUT I have several threads with this style of custom art/furniture.

Post more pics as you progress....we love seeing projects as they're created to the finish project!!!
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post #6 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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I don't mind the blemishes visually, I just want the surface to be smooth and flat to the touch. I was leaning towards BLO as a finish.

I'm still hesitant to to cut bowties into the wood.
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post #7 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 08:48 PM
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...But, do you think it would even be necessary in this particular piece of wood since the cracks are less than an inch deep and not a full split in the wood? Or could it continue to grow?
Whether a check, crack or other blemish will continue to..."move"...can only have relevance to the specific piece of wood in question...We know for certain that wood never actually stops..."MOVING!!!" Its part of the magic, charm and challenge with working in the medium...

Many are stable...many others ARE NOT and expand (and contract!!!...the other reality of these) with the seasons. That is part of the reason that the "Butterfly" joinery systems evolved in almost every woodworking tradition known to exist...

The species, grain type, and the cut of the lumber all play a role in this characteristic within large slab and related woodworking...

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Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
...And I've heard of this before, but didn't see anyone mention it in your links, mixing sawdust and wood glue to fill the voids?
That is a very "generic" remedy and can be a very good one (sorry Scott to counter you perspective...)...IF!!!...you really understand the blends, the application goals and what the final outcomes will look like for a given mix. Also, will the blend selected actually take the finish desired for the piece.

To be clear, I use them all the time, but I mix my own, I know how they work and I have (probably!?) over 50 different formulation and application modalities to consider and select from...

The "Bow-Tie" and this method of a "glue and sawdust" repair method is all part of methods and philosophies of application and consideration behind Kintsugi 金継ぎ and Wabi-sabi 侘寂...

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Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
...I don't mind the blemishes visually, I just want the surface to be smooth and flat to the touch. I was leaning towards BLO as a finish.
I agree with Tim's suggested finished, but will own my bias toward it as I have used it (or blends there of) for over 40 years now...

Heritage Finishes

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...I'm still hesitant to to cut bowties into the wood.
Then don't...

If this isn't your "style" of comfort zone, then don't use the method. Even if the piece continues to move and split than that is part of the woods character to do so.

If you change your mind, it can always be done later...or a related method can be employed...

The below link I started will continue to explore and offer information on this subject:

Bow-Tie or Butterfly Joinery Systems...

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...That's a pretty slab BUT the colors and grainage appears to be a different species and not ash that I'm accustom to here... I'm guessing a elm family BUT Jay didn't say any diiferent so it could just be a ash family I'm not familiar with.
I did notice that too Tim, but sense Phaelax didn't ask, I kind of pushed it off till later (or now...LOL)

It looks like an Ulmus species (Elm) to me as well or one of the Fraxinus nigra (Black Ash variants)

I too would love to see more pics as you progress....
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post #8 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 11:32 PM
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A link to a few of my projects with the Heritage Natural Finishes.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/lvRqPJjr6LbAO6at1

Maybe something to inspire your decision(s).
Enjoy!!

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post #9 of 27 Old 02-08-2019, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
I don't mind the blemishes visually, I just want the surface to be smooth and flat to the touch. I was leaning towards BLO as a finish.

I'm still hesitant to to cut bowties into the wood.
Smooth and flat are different in many's opinion. Fine sanding and a Heritage finish you'd love.....it's almost silky smooth to touch, I feel in love with it as soon as I started testing and using it. I had people just come by the booth and be chatting and rubbing the finish the whole time, they were amazed at the feel.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
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post #10 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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I did notice that too Tim, but sense Phaelax didn't ask, I kind of pushed it off till later
The guy I bought it from told me it was ash, so I just took his word for it. He just mills whatever is on his property. I'm certainly not the expert on identifying trees.

Quote:
A link to a few of my projects with the Heritage Natural Finishes.
The horseshoe is definitely something I haven't seen before. I've stuck with the BLO because I can pick it up locally from most stores. The Heritage I couldn't find at Woodcraft and didn't want to bother with ordering it online. Maybe in the future I'll plan something ahead and try it out.

Question about using linseed oil (or even heritage), can you stay the wood after it's been finished with the oil? I'm just considering possibilities, like maybe when it's done I decide later on I don't like the color or whatever.


I started filling the knots/bark inclusions with an epoxy. I used a heat gun to minimize bubbles. It's not perfectly bubble free, maybe I wasn't quick enough or poured too much at a time, but it's not horrible. I can live with the tiny bubbles. That's really all I've done with the wood this weekend, I mainly wanted to work on the frame.

I'm not going to show any close ups of my welds, cause frankly I'm embarrassed. I only had 6013 rods, which wasn't really ideal for the 1/8" steel tube, as I had to keep voltage low to prevent burning through (which I did too many times). When I was chipping away the slag, a piece flew up and hit me in the lip. That left a mark!

Did 10x better today when I welded on the flat steel in the weave. Which I will say, trying to weave this was a bit tough. I think the bench is about 42" long and the frame is about 9" deep. It might not look like it, but that weave pattern ate up 18 feet of flat steel! And I still need just a little bit more to finish off the ends. I'm going to paint it with rust-oleum's oil rubbed bronze spray paint. It's what I used for the metal on my dining table and I've used it on a decorative cannon I built for the army. I really like the color and texture it has.
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post #11 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 09:33 AM
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That is a very "generic" remedy and can be a very good one (sorry Scott to counter you perspective...)...IF!!!...you really understand the blends, the application goals and what the final outcomes will look like for a given mix. Also, will the blend selected actually take the finish desired for the piece.
Jay,
It will take a whole lot more than disagreeing with my suggestion to offend me! One of the reasons I love the forums is that I learn so many different approaches to things. Some I end up embracing and others I don't, but it never hurts to learn.

Personally, I have never had good results with the glue/sawdust mixture for anything other than hiding a slight gap in a box joint or dovetail type of repair. It doesn't take finish the same as the surrounding surface and I've never been able to figure out how to overcome that. Using epoxy or CA glue to fill cracks and knots lets the character of the defects shine through.

It probably doesn't help that I am severely color blind, so matching colors/tones/etc. is virtually impossible for me. (That's part of why I try to avoid staining wood at all cost, but sometimes that's what my wife or kids want...)

Scott
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post #12 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 09:40 AM
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phaelax,
That is a very nice table! It looks like a lot of intricate metal work, too!

My son and daughter-in-law asked me to build them a coffee table that has a metal frame. I haven't welded since a shop class in high school and, even then, my instructor suggested that I focus on the woodworking class instead! I think I was grinding for days to clean up a few welds in a serving tray I made. I can appreciate how hard that must have been.

Fortunately, one of my friends is a fabricator for a high-end car restoration/hot-rod company and he has agreed to fabricate the frame for me! That will make my life so much easier.

Post more pictures when you get it finished and in place. I'd love to see it.

Scott
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post #13 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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For someone who welds every day, this should've taken maybe an hour or less if everything was cut. I'm a bit out of practice myself but even before I didn't do it every day. I also think mig welding would've been easier than stick for this job but it's all I have. At one time, I could've stick welded a tiny key chain without issue.

I was a little concerned at first with the bench being top heavy, but after adding the cross pattern at the bottom it added a good bit of counter weight.
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post #14 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 09:26 PM
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Jay,
It will take a whole lot more than disagreeing with my suggestion to offend me! One of the reasons I love the forums is that I learn so many different approaches to things. Some I end up embracing and others I don't, but it never hurts to learn.

Personally, I have never had good results with the glue/sawdust mixture for anything other than hiding a slight gap in a box joint or dovetail type of repair. It doesn't take finish the same as the surrounding surface and I've never been able to figure out how to overcome that. Using epoxy or CA glue to fill cracks and knots lets the character of the defects shine through.

It probably doesn't help that I am severely color blind, so matching colors/tones/etc. is virtually impossible for me. (That's part of why I try to avoid staining wood at all cost, but sometimes that's what my wife or kids want...)

Scott
Hi Scott,

Thanks for being understanding...

Being "color blind" will certainly be a huge deficit when it comes to doing this type of work...!!!!...I'm sorry you have to deal with that...and I mean that sincerely, as I have friends that suffer from it also...

There is certainly an "art" to mixing your own wood putties, whether traditional or in the modern context.

If a stain, or coloring agent is part of the finishing method for a project this is doubly a challenge as the mix has to match the other wood perfectly and/or include "slivering methods" to go with the putty.

The other aspect of this is the type of glue used, the amount of sawdust, the size of the sawdust and did the sawdust come from the wood that is actually being repaired and/or altered?

I'm open to all manner of wood repair as it is all within the realm of Kintsugi 金継ぎ and Wabi-sabi 侘寂... so CA and epoxy based putties are fine to, though I tend to lean toward more traditional blemish repair and/or augmentation...

Thanks again for being understanding with my disagreement on this point!!!

Warm Regards,

j
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post #15 of 27 Old 02-11-2019, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by phaelax View Post
The guy I bought it from told me it was ash, so I just took his word for it. He just mills whatever is on his property. I'm certainly not the expert on identifying trees.


The horseshoe is definitely something I haven't seen before. I've stuck with the BLO because I can pick it up locally from most stores. The Heritage I couldn't find at Woodcraft and didn't want to bother with ordering it online. Maybe in the future I'll plan something ahead and try it out.

Question about using linseed oil (or even heritage), can you stay the wood after it's been finished with the oil? I'm just considering possibilities, like maybe when it's done I decide later on I don't like the color or whatever.


I started filling the knots/bark inclusions with an epoxy. I used a heat gun to minimize bubbles. It's not perfectly bubble free, maybe I wasn't quick enough or poured too much at a time, but it's not horrible. I can live with the tiny bubbles. That's really all I've done with the wood this weekend, I mainly wanted to work on the frame.

I'm not going to show any close ups of my welds, cause frankly I'm embarrassed. I only had 6013 rods, which wasn't really ideal for the 1/8" steel tube, as I had to keep voltage low to prevent burning through (which I did too many times). When I was chipping away the slag, a piece flew up and hit me in the lip. That left a mark!

Did 10x better today when I welded on the flat steel in the weave. Which I will say, trying to weave this was a bit tough. I think the bench is about 42" long and the frame is about 9" deep. It might not look like it, but that weave pattern ate up 18 feet of flat steel! And I still need just a little bit more to finish off the ends. I'm going to paint it with rust-oleum's oil rubbed bronze spray paint. It's what I used for the metal on my dining table and I've used it on a decorative cannon I built for the army. I really like the color and texture it has.
Sorry, once oiled /finish of any sort it's tough to add stain as it doesn't get into the wood then....there are top surface mixes BUUUUT in my opinion they're better left off and let the beauty show.

NICE base!!!! Looking good !!!! Thanks for the pics !!!!!
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 08:10 PM
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I know almost nothing about bowties. My question is: Can you install bowties out of sight on the bottom side of this slab, to guard the top from crack extension/expansion?
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-12-2019, 10:08 PM
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I know almost nothing about bowties. My question is: Can you install bowties out of sight on the bottom side of this slab, to guard the top from crack extension/expansion?
Yes....Some even do top and bottom...they can be made from anything that would hold it stable, I've used horseshoes in one build and filed marks to match band marks to appear it was internal when sliced.

MOST bowties we see in furniture now a days are more show than true structural. I think there's actually a % of depth according to thickness of slab to be technically correct.

Great question!!!!

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post #18 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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Still have to paint the metal and finish the wood, but the metal work is finished. 23 feet of steel for that dang weave! It's .125" X 1.25" flat steel and the frame is 1" square tube.
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post #19 of 27 Old 02-13-2019, 10:00 PM
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Still have to paint the metal and finish the wood, but the metal work is finished. 23 feet of steel for that dang weave! It's .125" X 1.25" flat steel and the frame is 1" square tube.
Hi Phaelax...

I'm not fond of metal and wood together...(typically...)

You have done a really good job, and this is the acceptation...and/or...the way I see it being done well...Great Job!!!

You might try one of the 網代 Ajiro weave pattern if you try this again. These look more complex, yet because most of them are based on "double" (or more) skip weaving methods they lend themselves well to heavy weave material like wood plaiting and metal ribbon like in your project...Food for thought?

Again, great job!!!
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post #20 of 27 Old 02-14-2019, 08:56 AM
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I surprised no one suggested two part leveling epoxy (AKA Bar top epoxy). Is epoxy in disfavor perhaps due to delamination as the wood expands/contracts with season changes?

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