Making something for your self is always the best way to gain confidence. When you do it for some one else... its even better. I encourage anyone and everyone to try doing something new every chance they can.
My wife asked me if I could make a live edge table for us to use for thanksgiving. I thought about it for a bit and said, "it might look like crap but sure."
I figured it if didn't look good I could at least make it sentimental, so under the center piece there is a small tray for storing pictures of everyone who ever eats at this table for the next 20 years or so. We have already had a thanksgiving dinner at it and everyone who has eaten at the table has their picture in the table under the center piece. Its cheesy but its our kind of flavor cheese so I like it.
This is a simple walk threw of how it was done.
There are a lot of ways this could have been better but this was also the very first large piece I have ever done. It also has 2 good size benches as well.
To be honest... I like it.
For more images of this table you can see it at
Step 1: Saftey and Tools.
This is not a your average build. This requires basic understand of welding, wood finishing, painting, and epoxy.
I have a whole garage full of gloves masks welding helmets and heat blankets.
I also have a welder, milling machine (which was not necessary) multiple grinders, sanders, hand tools, and an air compressor.
My point is this is not a novice project but with enough patients I think even a novice could do this.
Please do not be discouraged by me saying all of this, because anything can be done if I can do it. =)
"Keeping your fingers is a lot like passing a class. If
you get a 90 or an 80 at the end of the semester. You're still going to be OK. But... you get anything less than a 70 and things become really difficult. Also, thumbs are worth 50.So lets shoot for 100 please." -Robert T Fischer
Step 2: Picking Your Wood
This is one of the hardest parts of all of this. Finding a good dealer for slabs of wood like this.
I actually live in a good part of the country where you can do this very easily. In PA there are 2 good sources for wood.
Both of which sell by the slab or by the board foot.
If you are trying to do a live edge anything... you need it by the slab.
I was fortunate enough to find a nice piece walnut but it wasn't wide enough. I talked to the worker at Groff to rip it down the middle for me and run it threw there mill to make the two pieces meet up perfectly.
I had 3 reasons for doing this.
1. cost: for this slab it was 500 dollars. If i Bought a slab that was any wider (about a foot wider is what I needed) it was going to cost me about 300 more at a minimum. Unless I went with another type of wood. But it wouldnt have near as much character and color.
2. need: My need for this table was 2 fold. we wanted a table to eat at and I wanted to remember everyone that has ever come over and eaten dinner at this table with us. So I needed a place to hide photos in the table ( I will talk about this more in the future)
3. shipping: So much easier to ship if these where boards and not a whole slab.
Step 3: Design and Frame Work
The first thing I did for framing was create a 1 foot wide 6 foot long center section of metal 1x1 square tubing.
This was created with two six foot pieces of 1x1 square tubing at sixteen gauge and three ten inch pieces of the same thing.
I tack welded the ends in place as shown. I did not due frame cuts because My goal was to wrap the end in sheet metal along with the whole top of the center piece.
After doing that I made a chalk line all around the table top so I could have an outline of where the frame needed to be built.
To achieve the shaped frame work I simply laid the steel down and made wedge cuts then bent and welded the steel back together. It was very rudimentary and pretty much guesswork. The reason for this, is that no matter how hard I tried I cant bend steel box tubing it will just kink and create high spots.
so you use an angle grinder and cut a notch 80 percent threw the steel on the side you want to be the inner portion of your bend. Then bend the steel and weld shut. just gradually cutting wider until you get the bend you want.
Now you can see the frame work with both pieces in place.
You can also see that there is a grid of chalk on the ground where I wanted to place the inner support pieces of the top frame. I did this with the center piece in place to allow for the tray for pictures to align with it.
Step 4: Making the Frame for the Top
the hardest part about welding thinner steel is that you can not rush it. YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT SLOW!!!
tack weld everything in place and with weights on it. Let it cool before you move it. Then know that it still might not stay aligned. So be prepared to cut a spot weld and re-weld.
As you can see this is all just tacked in place and checked for straightness. Once things where straight I came back and welded the underside up and tacked all of the sides. I did not weld the tops (except in key places and ground them down) so the wood would sit flush on the top for even weight distribution.
Step 5: Adding Legs and Cutting Sheet Metal to Fit the Center Piece
so for this table one of the issues is the thickness of the wood and getting the right height for the legs.
The wood is 1 1/2 inches thick and the metal top was 1 inches thick. So we are already down 2 1/2 inches.
The average chair is around 18 inches in height and the average table is about 30 inches. I am also stuck with not being able to go much taller due to door frames on average are around 28 to 30 inches in width. I could bring this threw my front door which is about 30 inches but i rather stick with 28inches plus the 1.5 inches in height of the wood which will be screwed in when the table is in place. I do have to have 1/2 risers that will give shaved down about a millimeter (due to the thickness of the sheet metal that rests on top of the center 1 inch frame)
With all of that in mind. I cut the legs at 27 inches. giving us a total height of 29 1/2 inches and a leg space of 11 inches.
As you can see by the first picture this thing is starting to look like a table.
for a few references and guidelines on average table height and chair height you can easily google it. However this is one of the links I used.
To cut the sheet metal i used a nibbler cutter. However you could easily use a cut off wheel on an angle grinder. The down side to the cut off wheel is it heats the metal up. This can cause warping. So take it slow. This is only 16 gauge steel.
Step 6: Prepping the Wood for Epoxy
first thing I had to do was seal in the pores of the wood to prep for the epoxy.
To do this required sanding from 120 to 320 to 600 grit sand paper (the 600 grit was over kill)
After doing that I put down 2 layers of urethane paint. then let it dry. I used a small foam brush and minwax urethane.
I love minwax. I dont know anyone who works for them. If you do... hi five them for me. Thanks.
The point of the urethane paint was to make sure the wood wouldn't absorb all of the epoxy on the first coat.
think of wood like a bunch of straws. Wood will drink your milkshake faster than you can say "I DRINK YOUR MILK SHAKE!!!"
So sealing in the wood with a layer of urethane allows for the "straws" to be jammed with urethane before applying epoxy. The urethane costs 7 bucks a can and that goes a long ways. Technically I could have just done 10 layers of urethane on this and not even used half of a can, but it is much harder to get the final finish than epoxy is. Once epoxy dries its done. With urethane you need to sand it and polish it and buff it. Similar to how a car is finished.
Plus epoxy is about 80 dollars for a gallon. I used 3/4s of a gallon since I had to coat both sides of the wood.
This is also necessary to make sure the wood doesn't warp over time.
Step 7: First Layer of Epoxy ... Then Sand Again
I used a 2 part epoxy (50/50) mix that will dry clear.
As I am posting this I notice this epoxy is cheaper than it was when I bought it... boooo
after layer one and letting the wood absorb more of the epoxy (2 days) I sanded it all down from 120 to 300 and finally 600 grit.
Everything was also done to the other side except sanding. I only ground down the droplets so it mates up well with the metal frame.
As you can see I was able to use the table frame for a place to apply the epoxy. There was no other place in my garage with the room to do this. This is also why I made the frame before finishing the top.
Step 8: Second Layer of Epoxy
As you can see the second layer creates a glass like finish. It will slowly ripple over time due to the nature of epoxy and the degassing in the wood. Technically I should be sanding and putting down a third layer of epoxy. However, the wife snapped her fingers and also wants a benches done for Thanksgiving. So that will be done in the future... maybe hahahaha.
As you can see by the pictures there is green painters tape around the edges to allow for no run off on any edge that had a crack in the wood. This allows for the crack to be filled in with the epoxy.This also creates a very deep look into the wood cracks.
Step 9: Clamping and Tack Welding the Center Piece
This was a very slow and simple process that I wasn't that excited to do. If this messed up ITS ALL RUINED!!!!
but with a lot of patients and taking it slow with small tack welds this turned out to be a very nice top.
It really is just held in with a bunch of tack welds under it. Then there are a few welds at the corners.
CLAMPS ARE YOUR FRIENDS!!! If you are a wood worker or a metal worker you will know all sorts of types of clamps. Invest in clamps.
Step 10: Placement of Mounting Plates and Risers for Center Piece
In the first picture you can see I basically just put the mounting plates at ever junction of metal. All these plates are 2inch by 4 inch piece of 16 gauge steel.
Once I had an idea of where I wanted them I tacked them in then drilled wholes large enough fro the wood screws.
There are also
As you can see in picture two I also welded in a small piece of steel in the center under the table. This is where I can store pictures when people come by to eat dinner. I told you I would come back to this.
The point is to have the center piece removable so that I can add pictures over the years. I hope one day to be sitting down looking at all the pictures and enjoying the memories we have at this table.
This is where... if you are making this table for yourself and you don't care about the picture aspect... you can just weld the center piece down. Make sure you align the wood first then place the center piece in and tack weld it in place. After that... you can remove the wood and finish weld.
Step 11: Metal Prep Paint... and Maybe Done?
So next is to prep the steel... sand it before painting. For the most part... I KRYLON THAT ISH!!! Shhhhh don't tell anyone. I have been using Kyrlon paint for years. Between Krylon and Minwax... I am a happy camper.
Anyways. after your first layer of paint do a simple light sanding with a 600 grit then apply again... you will be surprised how good it lays down.
Now that its done I put it in place... pre-drilled the wholes then used 1 inch wood screws.
BUT WAIT!!! THERE IS MORE!!! ugh
Seriously I put it in place and the wife immediately said...
wife: you know its really nice... I mean amazing... BUT you know what would go great with this table?
me: some chairs that you buy at the store
wife: well that... BUT... what if... now here me out... we had a 10 foot long bench that goes all the way down the wall. So thats when people come by they can sit at the table and after dinner just sit at the bench and lean against the wall and drink beers.
who am I to argue with a place to drink beers... Click to see the next few steps... OR you are done. Its like a choose your own adventure indestructible.
Step 12: UHG!!!! We Are Still Doing This.
OK so this is where I basically just got lazy and just made a regular bench out of what ever steel I had lying around. That's why I uses so many different cuts. Its using 2x2 (14 gauge) 2x1 (14 gauge) 1x1 (16 gauge) and some angle iron on the edges.
For the frame I did corner cuts (45 degree cuts) the side pieces where 5 feet each and the end pieces where 23 inches long.
I did the 23 inches long because I bought 1 x 10 pieces of lumber which are not actually 1 x 10. They are actually 3/4 by 9 1/2 (that might be a little off). So if the two pieces of wood are side by side with a little bit of a gap that about 19 inches. add then 4 inches for the 2 sides being 2x2 and you get 23 inches with a little wiggle room.
After I welded this up i cut 1 x 2 (14 gauge) steel into 16 inches. This was to be welded on the bottom for legs.
Why did I choose 16 inch legs? good question I am glad you asked =)
The average table is around 30 inches and the average chair is around 18 inches. So basically 16 inches plus 2 inches for the top metal frame gets us to 18. Very simple.
As you can see in the pictures I used angle magnets to align everything while I tacked it all into place then let everything cool before finish welding.
Step 13: Recessing the Wood
When the wood was purchased at the box store for the benches I had drop cuts left over from the end of the wood. To recess the wood to the proper depth I used the drop cuts to align how far down to weld in the support pieces. As you can see I just laid down a piece of wood rest the metal support bar (1x1 16 gauge steel) and the end pieces (1x1 angle iron) to make sure its flush when I tacked it in place.
Using these end cuts allows for accuracy but doesn't sacrifice any of the real wood due to the temperatures and splattering from welding.
Step 14: Rinse and Repeat
Basically I did the same thing for the second bench since the wife wanted 10 feet of seating against the wall.
However to make it easier I used the first one as a frame jig to weld up and hold down the second one. then repeated the previous step on the support pieces and legs.
Step 15: Staining Wood and Finish Painting
Next was a simple coat of red mahogany from minwax (I freaking love this color).
I have used this on my entertainment center, record player stand, coffee table and a few end tables as well as a desk I made for some one. Favorite color for white pine wood. it looks amazing!!!
Then I urethaned the wood with a clear satin on the wood (the same urethane and process I used on the initial layer for the table) and did the same black paint I did on the table for the metal frame.
HOLY CRAP!!!! AM I DONE HONEY!!!
Step 16: Mmmm I Am So Done... I DESERVE CAKE!!!!
holy crap!!! I like it and of course the wife LOVES IT!!! she made me a cake for making it.
Thank you for clicking this far... and if you didn't... that's cool.
as you can see my wife still makes cakes like in our other indestructible but now she does them for a business but this is one of her famous cheese cakes. This one is pecan pie cheesecake. MMMMM I IZ HAPPYZ!!!!
For more images of this table you can see it at