On Columbus day weekend I taught a live-edge furniture class at Snow Farm, a reputable New England based craft school located in the picturesque Berkshire mountains of Western Massachusetts. My six students faced a challenging task, to design and build furniture that presents a strong live-edge character, and to do so just in two and a half days of work. The weather was mostly nice and the food was amazing (which is so important for energizing both teachers and students) plus, I was very fortunate to have furniture maker & woodturner, Heather Dawson, as my assistant and co-teacher. Together we helped our students design and build a few tables and one bookshelf top. As you will see in the following entries, the combination of live-edge slabs and turned furniture parts can look pretty cool.
One of my students brought a cut off from a cherry tree that showed pretty nice grain and other surprises which I will show in future entries. Two other students brought over hardwood slabs that they purchased locally. The remaining three students received an extremely long, Live edge pine slab that’s Snow Farm acquired ahead of time. This slab had to be cross cut into a three portions.
When working with wide live-edge, you are dealing with slabs that are difficult to joint or plane using the typical surfacing milling machines that exist in most woodworking shops. Since all the slabs that my students worked on were wider than 12”, we had to come up with methods for smoothing and truing them. I know of three effective ways to surface very wide boards.
The first one calls for using hand or power planes, the second one for using a belt sander, and the last one, is milling the slab with a router that rides on two coplanar tracks. Since most of my students wanted to learn how to use a plane I set them up with a few planes and sent them on day-long shaving spree.
Next time I will show the first project built by one of my students.
– Yoav Liberman