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First post here, so hey everyone! I'm not new to wood working, but I am new to finishing these live edge pieces. Being new at something, I obviously picked a difficult first project. I purchased a 11' x 27" x 2" piece of live edge sycamore (8/4" thick) and now it's sitting in my garage. It's going to be used as our family dining table, so it's going to get a lot of abuse. I've read some other posts here about this, but I wanted everyone to weigh in after seeing the actual piece I have. I was thinking about putting some epoxy (the kind you just pour over the whole slab and trowel around as it self-levels....envirotek?) and then a few coats of poly over that. Obviously it needs some serious sanding and prep before the epoxy, but am I on the right track? There are a few interesting features on this slab:

1. A hole, with bark around all edges, like the edge of a crotch cut maybe, right in the middle of the table? I kind of like having bark in the center of the table, so if it's OK, can I epoxy over the bark? I also think I need to brace this feature from the other side with some counter-sunk brackets.

2. The lumber yards planer left some minor surface imperfections in the wood. There are "furry" areas roughly 1/16-1/32" lower than the rest of the surface. Can I just sand these and let the epoxy build them up level with everything else?

3. Some earthquake looking surface cracks in the heartwood. Once again, can I just sand and let the epoxy fill these in?

There is still some bark on this slab. Is a wire brush drill attachment OK?

Will the Enviro Tek epoxy "pop" the grain? There are some beeeeaaautiful features on this slab and I want them to really come through. The guys at the lumber yard said to use a tung oil finish. Good idea? bad idea?

Thanks!!!
 

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1. A hole, with bark around all edges, like the edge of a crotch cut maybe, right in the middle of the table? I kind of like having bark in the center of the table, so if it's OK, can I epoxy over the bark? I also think I need to brace this feature from the other side with some counter-sunk brackets.

2. The lumber yards planer left some minor surface imperfections in the wood. There are "furry" areas roughly 1/16-1/32" lower than the rest of the surface. Can I just sand these and let the epoxy build them up level with everything else?

3. Some earthquake looking surface cracks in the heartwood. Once again, can I just sand and let the epoxy fill these in?

There is still some bark on this slab. Is a wire brush drill attachment OK?

Will the Enviro Tek epoxy "pop" the grain? There are some beeeeaaautiful features on this slab and I want them to really come through. The guys at the lumber yard said to use a tung oil finish. Good idea? bad idea?
Before you begin the finishing process, I would let the board sit in your garage for a few weeks to get closer to the moisture content of your home. Lots of threads where people make something without letting the wood moisture equalize, and then experience warping, cracking, etc. Ideally get a moisture meter to measure the present moisture content. The board is too large to weigh.

If you want the epoxy coating, Envirotek has been used by a number of people and mentioned in threads. No experience myself.

http://www.creative-wholesale.com/Envirotex%20Lite.htm

It will protect the surface, but for many people it looks "too plastic". Personal preference.

If you want to keep the bark, I would stabilize it with CA glue (aka super glue). Available in different viscosities. I think the Medium should work, but if a big gap then perhaps 5 minute epoxy.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2021102/24491/Instant-Bond-CA-Adhesive-Medium-4-oz.aspx

I would make a temporary plug for the hole when you apply the Envirotek.

The rough surfaces will not look good under the epoxy, they will still appear rough. I would use a card scraper to smooth these out. Work with the grain. They will leave a nice smooth surface.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2020022/19046/Curved-Scraper-Set-of-4.aspx

I would fill any gaps with CA or epoxy before applying the Envirotek, since you want to keep this on the surface and not have it disappear down a crack.

To make the grain stand out, I would use Zinsser SealCoat, which is a dewaxed shellac product. The grain will look best if the surface is scraped or sanded to equivalent of around 200 grit.

I can understand why the lumber yard recommended a tung oil since it will also make the grain look good, and be easy to apply. You just need to apply periodically. You will still need to fill the gaps..
 
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