When shopping around for live edge wood, beyond finding a piece that catches your eye, the quality of the wood slab is very important. As a custom shop, we choose the absolute best wood materials and provide exceptional craftmanship for your finished product. We are sharing 5 expert tips for shoppers on the hunt for live edge wood.
1. Kiln Dried
Much of the live edge wood sold today is “air dried” however not many of the slabs have had the multiple years required to air dry slowly enough to be usable. Faster than air drying is kiln drying which helps stabilize the wood. If the wood is not kiln dried, there is a high probability that the wood will warp. The moisture content of the wood should be between 6-8%. There are different types of kilns, but essentially, they are all the same. The importance is that the wood is not wet to create what you want with it.
2. Make Sure It’s the Size You Need
It’s important to understand the width, length and thickness needed for the use of your slab. If you’re planning on making a dining tabletop with the slab, you may prefer a solid wood slab 36” wide, 3” thick, 60” long. For a live edge floating shelf or mantel, you will want a smaller slab in length and width but thicker to hide the brackets in the slab to create the “floating” appearance. Slabs can also be glued together to create a custom width, or you can search for a solid slab that meets your criteria but may be cut down to size.
3. Faux or Natural
The true beauty of natural live edge comes from the sap of the wood. The raw, blonde, lighter colored edge is a quick way to distinguish natural live edge wood. Natural live edge gives the feeling of the tree it came from and the environment it grew in. Faux live edge wood typically has a smoother edge with the grain matching the rest of the wood slab. However, sometimes the sap/bark gets torn off the natural tree and it can be hard to difference between the two. The benefit of faux is that it can be made from any piece of wood and shaped into any size you want. Faux is a replication of live edge. Like looking at paintings or listening to a band. Looking at a replica of a Picasso is not the same as looking at the original painting.
4. Raw or Finished
You can buy a live edge wood slab without a finish, but it is always recommended to at least do a topcoat to seal and protect the wood. The topcoat also brings out the grain and beauty of the wood itself. You can do a topcoat yourself with a durable finish or take the wood to a finisher. The type of finish needed also depends on the intended use of the wood. For a live edge cutting board, use a food grade oil because some oil such as teak oil is not healthy to place food on. For a dining table, a conversion varnish will last much longer through numerous meals. While a polyurethane topcoat can be used for a bench or item that food is not being placed on.
5. Match Your Décor
Wood looks great with a simple black or white design. However, if you want to paint the wood another color, you should choose an open grained wood. Open grained species such as oak has a much larger grain than other wood species so when it is painted the grain will still be visible. Staining wood can change the color of the wood but won’t cover the surface. It’s a great alternative! A stain normally darkens the wood but can also alter the hue to make it lighter. A tanning solution, which we do exclusively in-house, can drastically alter the color of the wood making it black or different shades of red and brown.
Browse our live-edge inventory to find the slab you’re looking for, we also have more in our showroom!