Live Edge Class at Peters Valley Part 2: Mark’s Coffee Table (A) - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Live Edge Class at Peters Valley Part 2: Mark’s Coffee Table (A)

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Live Edge Class

Last week I showed the first project that was completed during my live edge class at Peters Valley. This week I will show you Mark’s table.

The Top
Mark found a rugged cross-cut slice of a sycamore tree that was cut down near his home. His slice was wide and impressive and originated from the base of the tree, just above the roots. The arborist who cut it just wanted to fell the tree and did not intend to saw a perfectly parallel cut for a coffee table top, hence we had to deal with two major challenges. First, the slice was in the shape of a wedge. Second, the broader face of the slice was all messed up with marks from the chainsaw’s crisscross paths.

In order to start this project we came up with an effective surfacing strategy that called for an electric hand-held planer followed by a Lie Nielsen #62 plane. After this, Mark sanded the surface with a belt sander and began to think about what kind of base he should make.

Live Edge Class

Live Edge Class

We discussed a few approaches and zoomed in on something that Mark felt excited about – turning four splayed legs and installing them under the top in appropriate locations.

Mark's Coffee Table 5The Legs
Next, Mark and I looked for some lumber candidates for the legs. As fit for a reclaimed project, we decided to adopt an abandoned walnut beam that we saved from a pile of miscellaneous beams and scrap that laid on the ground behind the woodshop. As we picked up the beam, a snake, whose late morning nap we interrupted, launched at Mark. The creature missed him and slithered away…yes reclaiming wood comes with some inherent risks.

Live Edge Class

After he snatched the beam from its previous reptilian owner, we discovered that it was partially wet (not surprising for a beam that was exposed to the elements), and that a half a dozen or so insects had made it their home. Undiscouraged, Mark set forth to resaw the beam into four parts and turn each one on the the lathe.   

Live Edge Class

Live Edge Class

Next time I will show how Mark turned his legs, installed them, leveled them and finished the table.

— Yoav Liberman

Yoav-webinarIf you are interested in designing and working with live edge lumber, check out this previously recorded webinar from Yoav, “Urban Woodworking: Designing One-of-a-Kind Furniture” at

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Showing 3 comments
  • Italicus

    Great top.I’ve made a couple of thee with asian chestnut but radial splits can be a challenge. I love sycamore but don’t know if it suffers similarly. I prefer using limbs for legs. A couple of split “Y”s tacked together yield a four legged table. I have used large 1′ hemp rope to form an apron where the legs are tied up underneath the top. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  • cjderosa

    Are you not worried about this cross-cut piece of Sycamore splitting as it dries? Hopefully it won’t the piece looks great! Good Work!

    • Yoav Liberman
      Yoav Liberman

      Thanks for this question. The piece acclimated at Mark’s house for a few years now so it is completely stable. Another factor that adds to its stability is the fact that it came from very close to the root base of the tree where the grain veers sideways. As far as I know that part of the trunk is also known to include intertwining grain that locks and stabilizes the timber.

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