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Live Edge Table & Island: It’s All About the Trees

Let’s talk about what we do here at Live Edge Table and Island…First off, we create far more than just live edge tables and islands—though we do love crafting those!

It’s really all about the trees. And the craftsmanship of course, but the trees from which we get the raw timber are of course critical to the process. At our Mill located in Victor, New York – just outside of Rochester, NY – we’ve accumulated literally millions of board feet of timber.

The trees from which we source the wood slabs consist of maple, walnut, oak, hickory, poplar, New York cottonwood, beech, cherry, the list is endless. And that is precisely the point. Our customers love to have options. And the options begin with the tree selection. Yes, just as with a granite yard, you have the ability to come to the Live Edge Table & Island mill and choose the tree that you want for your next project—be it shelving, a bar top, counters, a table, you name it.

From there, you will sit down with our wood slab specialist and come up with the ideal design for your Rochester, Buffalo or Syracuse area home or office. (Incidentally, we do also ship to pretty much anywhere in the US.)

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When it Comes to Wood Slabs, It’s the Process

 

Business is about process. If your process lacks, if somewhere there’s a gap, then everything could potentially suffer. Same with the creation of wood slabs—process is at the heart of ensuring the quality, beauty and integrity of the resulting slabs. So how do you know that the company from whom you’re sourcing your slabs has the right process in place? Furthermore, without question you want to understand exactly what that process entails.

Wood slabs are stunning, each unique in its own way; they are tactile, they are rich in grain and movement. Solid slab tables, counters and bar tops are all the rage, and with good reason. The trick however, as far as the manufacturing goes, in order to prevent cupping and twisting, is to have perfected every step. Every. Single. Step. Otherwise, the end result could be less than ideal…a lot less.

It starts with the trees

It stands to reason that if you want to mill wood slabs, you’re going to have to have an ample selection of trees. Massive amounts of trees actually. Inevitably, you’ll discover some are more usable than others, some result in more sought after slabs, and so having a variety in terms of both number and species is key. Especially because this then gives customers more options when it comes to selecting their desired piece.

The true test of a quality slab comes with the time and immense amount of energy spent hunting down those perfect specimens of fallen timber. And then, going on to accumulate millions of board feet of inventory. Always look for variety and depth of raw material.

The mill is where the magic happens

Once the log is selected, it then goes to the precision mill. The more technologically advanced the equipment here, obviously the higher quality slab you’re going to get. And it is also about attention to detail. I cannot stress this enough. The sawyer should not only have mastery of the mill, but they also need to understand how to get the optimal cut, such that will reveal the most interesting configuration possible within the wood slabs.

The drying process is critical and complex!

If the magic of the slab is unearthed during the milling process, the ultimate quality and integrity of the wood is established during the drying. Using a vacuum kiln, you have to ensure consistent layers which keep the slabs in contact with one another while under hydraulic pressure. The kiln applies the “vacuum effect” which essentially lowers the boiling point of both free and cellular water within the wood. Anode cathode panels are consequently layered between stacks and these create the needed heat. This is by far the most energy efficient way in which to dry raw wood slabs—not to mention, the most effective way as far as reinforcing the longevity and sustainability of the pieces.

Literally, in as few as nine days, the wood reaches 7% moisture level. And given that it is an “inside-out” process, the vacuum kiln assures overall stabilization.

Surfacing and finishing: Details, Details, Details

Once the slabs reach the desired moisture content, they are then surfaced. This can be done a number of ways. We utilize a hybrid mill, similar to a massive CNC machine, but capable of completing the same job in a fraction of the time. And again, it protects against any future cupping and/or twisting within the wood slab.

Following this, we go a bit old school. Hey, if it ain’t broke…Using the orbital sander, we go over each and every slab by hand. Live edge should absolutely be hand sanded to this end. First off, we remove the roughness, then sand it down to softened curves which create a visually exquisite and tactilely “fun” feel.

As far as the finishing goes, it is certainly about getting that desired color, richness and overall aesthetic that you hope to achieve, but it is also about increased stabilization. Many will simply stain/seal the top and insist you are good to go. Not the case. Whatever is done to the top needs to be applied to the sides and bottom of the slab as well. This stops the absorption and release of humidity—such that could cause some serious cupping if not otherwise addressed.

Preventative Installation

When installing, in whatever capacity the wood slab will be used, the installer has to account for some flexibility so that the wood has the ability to “move” somewhat. This prevents against cracking as a result of too much stress upon the piece.

 

Nature does sometimes throw you a curve ball, but all in all, a quality slab will be one that went through a rigorous process to ensure that everything possible is done so that the wood always looks and feels like the amazing piece it should be.