The History of Live-Edge Wood
Every tree’s shape and bark provides unique design elements, offering a customized look to live-edge furniture pieces. Natural live-edge tables provide an eye-catching element for earthy, rustic style in many office settings.
What Is Live-Edge Wood?
Live-edge wood has a raw, natural appearance. Woodworkers leave the original shape untouched while turning slabs into coated, stained and finished pieces. Artisans fill knots for smooth surface levels while retaining the wood’s authentic appearance.
Here are some characteristics of live-edge wood:
- Curves: Live edges portray organic wavy lines instead of straight manufactured shapes.
- Character: Natural wood contains grains, bark, cracks and holes.
- Texture: Bark and unfinished edges provide coarse siding for physical and visual texture.
Live-Edge Wood History
During America’s early beginning, settlers built log cabins in new territories. They needed furniture for their families, so they quickly sawed trees into unfinished slabs. This process introduced the first live-edge tabletops.
In the 1940s, George Nakashima rebirthed live-edge wood. He left irregular timber edges on his midcentury modern furniture and invented butterfly joints, a method of stitching together cracks instead of sawing off lumber. He believed in giving trees a second life as furniture to respect the tree’s heart and spirit.
Many edge slabs come from fallen logs — using found items is an environmentally friendly way of making furniture. Generally, lumber cutters choose tall, straight trees without limbs or defects. These trees grow in unique directions for an attractive grain.
Types of Live-Edge Features
Tree cutters look for unique tree grain when sawing. These characteristics provide interesting patterns:
- Burling: A round knotted growth on a tree trunk or branch.
- Quilting: Bumps causing wavy or rippled grain.
- Crotch: The space between where two or more tree limbs connect.
Live-edge tables provide functional art. Woodcrafters use the edging in a couple of ways:
- Single slab: On a single slab table, the craftsman displays the wood edges on one section. The table offers a modern and trendy look for offices, and you can find different wood types and sizes.
- Joined edges: A woodworker can join two slabs with a glass middle. A custom river conference table shows glass flowing like a river along the wavy wood grains. Other designs like a valley conference table and wishbone table emphasize the wood’s unique lines.