About Our Live Edge Furniture
Even when we're working with standard dimensional material, as woodworkers we admire the drama that occurs around a knot. Grain swirls, colors change, figure emerges, and we marvel. It's safe to say that we have an obsession with wood. Some may say we have a problem, though we know otherwise. Working with live edge slabs is the innate conclusion for many lovers of wood because it allows us to celebrate the material that we have gotten to know so intimately by showcasing all of the naturally-occurring beauty and blemishes alike. Our goal of working with live edge material is to convey the love of the materialthrough the piece of wood itself, making "defects" the star of the show. We use the drama that already exists in the slab without the need to apply excess architectural detail. We then allow the tree itself guide the designs we create for the structure that supports or incorporates it.
How We Make Our Live Edge Furniture
Although we do all things possible to leave the slabs in their most natural state, there is a huge amount of work that goes into preparing the wood to withstand the test of time as a functional and beautiful piece of live edge furniture.
Each slab(s) is selected carefully for each project based on wood type, size, shape, color, and grain pattern. Clients who commission live edge furniture are a huge part of the slab selection process. As the makers, we narrow down potential slabs that fit the furniture piece's design and criteria but the client has the final say as to which slab(s) is used. The material can come from our own live edge slab inventory (cut, dried, and stored here at the studio) or from one of our favored and reliable local lumber sources. Nearly all of our material is grown in the state of Pennsylvania, and most of it local to Schwenksville and surrounding towns.
While the edge we present is natural, it does take a lot of work to present it in it's best light. After the slab is selected and approved by the client, we mill it and remove the bark to expose the live edges. It is important that we clear away the bark because if left in tact, it will invite insects like the powderpost beetle. Beyond that, over time, the bark would weaken and begin to disintegrate, leaving dirt and dust on your floor.
To dislodge the bark, we use a combination of gouge chisels, wire brushes, and draw knives. After the bulk of the rough bark is cleared by hand, we use a sandblaster to remove the small bits that remain in tact and soften the sharp pins and knobs that compose the natural live edge.
Strengthening & Repairing Natural Flaws
In order to keep the live edge slabs in their most natural state, we need to repair and/or strengthen any natural voids, splits, cracks, or knots so that they don't weaken or spread over time. We use this opportunity to add style and detail to the piece.
Knots & Voids: Naturally, each slab is unique and is treated differently, but generally we treat knots and voids with two-part clear epoxy mixed with the saw dust and bark bits of the slab itself.
Splits & Cracks: Splits and cracks are natural, and as we see it, are something to be accented. To prevent splits from growing over time, we strengthen them using inlaid dovetail bones. The organic shape of bones is a signature detail of Lohr Woodworking Studio furniture. We find that the organic form of bones marries well with natural curves of live edges as well as appeals our instinctual aesthetic preference.