DIY Live Edge Side Table

A few months ago a viewer sent me this amazing piece of wood. This is a piece of Horse Chestnut that was from a tree in the front yard of Susan B Anthony’s home! She was an active feminist that did amazing work towards women’s equality and making sure women could get the right to vote. I’m so pleased that a viewer sent me this wood so I want to make something wonderful and useful with it. I’m thinking an end table with a metal base.

Let’s start with a closer look at this beautiful piece of wood. This is my first time working with Horse chestnut and I was not only surprised at how pretty it is with all the spalting but also how lightweight it is.

I loved the slab so much as it is that I picked out a project where I wouldn’t have to change the shape or cut it down too much so that’s how I landed on building this small end table. It’s something I’ll use on a daily basis and the base is designed so that it can easily slip right under my couch to get it closer to me as I’m sitting and working. 

I first prepared the slab for pouring epoxy in all the holes and voids. There is a really cool knot that I’ll be turning into a cup holder later on, but the center of the knot was mostly falling out already so I used my finger to chip out whatever bits were loose and falling out anyways.

I decided which side was going to be the top and the bottom then making sure I was working on the bottom of the slab, I taped off all the holes I could see. For this I’m using painters tape but I’m told that Tyvek house wrap tape is a much better tape for this application, if you have any on hand. 

While I did have a few holes, this slab was pretty clean and didn’t need much epoxy so I grabbed a small container and mixed together my two part epoxy. I’m using the TotalBoat 2:1 High Performance crystal clear epoxy that’s ideal for filling voids, knots, and cracks. Also it’s no VOCs so I didn’t have to move it outside. If you are needing epoxy, Total Boat was kind enough to give me a coupon code for you guys. Use APRILW at checkout for 20% off annnd that also gets you free shipping! Code is good until the end of 2019. 

Once the holes stopped taking epoxy I gave them a spritz with the lighter to pop the air bubbles then started working on designing the base while that set up. 

As I already mentioned, I really didn’t want to modify the slab if I didn’t have to, so I took some measurements and designed a base to fit under the length and width that it was currently at.

It will be used as a simple end table that won’t be supporting much weight at all so I decided to build the frame from some 3/4” tubing I had left over from this gate build last year.

Now that I had a model to work off of, I started cutting all the pieces I needed to length over in my metal shop. There aren’t many parts to this one so it was really quick to cut everything.

Next, I stuck each joint in my SuperJaws really quick to put a slight bevel on each side. If you watched the bandsaw mill video you’ll see that I’m implementing a trick I saw one of the build team members teach me (JD). And that is instead of locking the super jaws for these quick parts, I’m leaving them in the unlock position but holding down the lever with my foot. This makes rotating and grinding go much quicker. 

Ok bevels are done, lets start sticking things together. I moved the parts over to my weld tables and started by laying out what will be the top attached to the underside of the slab. I used a few 90 degree Bessey magnets to hold the corners together while I tacked things in place.

I moved the magnets up to the top corners once I had the bottom two done. I checked for square before tacking these two corners down.

Then I flipped it over and tacked the backside. Once I made sure it was all still square and flat, I welded all the seams shut. 

After knocking that one out quickly, I repeated the same process for the rectangle base that will be sitting on the floor. You can see these self adjusting Armor Tool clamps coming in handy for quickly flipping it around to gain access to the other side. And also holding it securely while I worked on it.

For grinding the welds, I always throw in a 40 grit flap disc to make quick work of this task. I love these Diablo quick change disk because unlike traditional disks, these don’t require any tools or hardware for taking off or putting on. You simply grab the grit you need, and thread it on or off with a gloved hand. Using the arbor lock to tighten it down or loosen it. 

After I got all the sides and corners and everything else looking nice and smooth, I marked off where the verticals needed to be placed. These will be the joints that connect the bottom to the top. And the only thing important here is that they are centered on both rectangles, which are not the same size. I stuck the first one in place with a few tacks, then measured and positioned the other.

After verifying they were on at a 90 and in the right location, I finished welding the seams. I stuck the top in place with a few magnets and lined up the first vertical to my mark and tacked it in place. Then, to get the second one to its mark, I used a clamp to spread it apart and hold it in place while I tacked it down.  

Alright, and the base is just about done. The last thing I did before painting was grind down smooth all of the joints I just completed. I moved a box over to my table in order to get some additional height on the project, I didn’t just suddenly grown 18”….if you were wondering. ; ) 

Next I moved the unit outside and gave it a few coats of black paint.

Then while that was drying, I moved back to the slab because it was now done drying from the first epoxy pour. However, there was a slight crack right in the live edge that I also wanted to stabilize with epoxy. But since I needed to turn it up on its side to do it, I had to wait for those other pours to dry enough to not move. With it being right on the edge, I ended up damming up around the crack with the tape. Then I left it to sit over night. So the by the next morning it was all cured and ready for me to take off the tape and start sanding things down. 

I moved my dust collection cart over to my workbench and started with my large ROS with an 80 grit pad on it to quickly remove the built up epoxy. Once I had it flush, I switched over to a 120 pad to clean up the entire flat surface of the slab. And man alive is this wood pretty! I love all the coloring in it.

When it came to cleaning up the epoxy on the live edge portion, I first used a chisel then switched over to my Palm ROS which I used to finish sanding the entire edge.

Alright, time for this really cool knot. I wanted to position the cup holder as close to center on it as possible. I used a water bottle I had in the shop to get a gauge on how big of a circle I needed, then used a compass to draw on a circle in pencil.

Next, I put a bit in my router and started cutting out the holder. Now I’m pretty good at taking my time and doing freehand router work like this so I didn’t take the time to set up any additional jig, but you could use a jig to make sure you get a feature like this spot on. The Triton Router I’m using can be either a fixed based or plunge base, so I started with the bit above the wood but then plunged it down for the first pass. I went down a total of about 3/4” so I made a total of two passes.

Also for this I’m using a high quality Infinity spiral bit which leaves an incredibly smooth finish where very little sanding in this awkward space was needed. 

Now to the best part, applying the finish! This will be an end table which will see a large  assortment of uses from drinks to plates, to computer work stuff so I wanted something that would highlight the grain without making it look like plastic but also give it some protection. So I went with General Finishes Arm R Seal. This is a dead easy finish to apply, as you can see I’m using a simple rag and wiping it on. I set it on some bench cookies to raise it off the workbench so I could also apply finish to the edges at the same time.

After getting one side coated, I flipped it over and did the same to the other side. I let that sit for about 4 hours then gave it a light sanding with some 220 grit paper and gave it a second coat. 

After it dried, it was time to mount it to the base. I first drilled four over sized holes in the top of the base. I made these oversized so that the screws would have room to shift a bit when the wood wants to expand or contract over time. I could then sit the slab on top of the base and screw it down. Since the holes in the base are oversized, these screws do have a washer on them. 

Oh and hi to the Triton Tool guys! Two members of the Triton team were visiting my shop that week and produced some fun content that’s over on their channel. If you would like, you can check out one of their videos from that week here. You can also see I tore into my wall. No, I’m not rebuilding already. That’s actually another project I started while they were visiting and you’ll see what that is in a future video : ) 

And that’s it. Really simple project but it will be very functional!

Let’s test it out. This is my chaise lounge where I do 90% of my computer work if I’m at my house. With the base designed the way it is, the bottom can slip under the couch so that the top can be moved in closer to me.

Oh, and it looks like the dogs approve of it as well. They actually probably only care that I’m sitting down and can climb on me but we’ll pretend that they are thrilled at the table ; ) 

Big thank you to my amazing viewer who was thoughtful enough to send me this piece of wood with such amazing history attached to it. I’ll see you on the next one! 

You can watch Triton Tool’s version of this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PmEDhX7qZs

Things I used in this project: