Introduction: Pixelated Live Edge Coffee Table

About: Hey, I'm Zac, I'm a Toronto area contractor turned furniture maker and lover of DIY.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE live edge furniture. Unfortunately, live edge furniture doesn't leave a lot of room for creativity, you basically just buy a slab of wood, throw some legs on it and call it a life.

Or, at least, that's what I used to think.

Join me in this post as I try to tackle putting a unique spin on a piece of live edge furniture in this coffee table build.

Step 1: YouTube Video

If you'd prefer to watch this project as a video you can do that by clicking the YouTube link, OR, you can scroll down and read it too!

Step 2: Materials

Before we start let's talk about everything you're going to need for this project. I'll include some links at the end of the posts to the materials I used so you can find them easily.

First and foremost, you'll need a live edge slab of wood. I bought this walnut slab from a local mill and grabbed a couple of pieces of maple to use as an accent/contrasting wood.

Outside of that, you'll need:

  • Wood filler
  • Set of 16" hairpin legs
  • Wood glueTable saw
  • Miter saw
  • Track Saw
  • Drum Sander / Belt Sander
  • Plastic sheeting or drop cloth
  • Thickness planer
  • SanderRouter
  • Measuring tape
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Large Square
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Eye protection
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Rubio Mono Coat 2C Pure

Step 3: Prep the Wood

The first active step in this project is going to be to prep all of the wood. I started by planing and jointing my pieces of maple. They were pretty rough when I bought them from the mill, so I spent a little bit of time cleaning them up and making them nice and square.

Next I turned my attention to the live edge slab of walnut. Using a large square and my track saw I cut off the live edges and set them to the side for later. I also use the track saw to square up the ends of the slab as well.

Step 4: Cut the Wood

Using my table saw I cut the remaining walnut and the maple into 1" strips. Don't forget to wear your safety gear, dust mask and safety goggles!

By the way, the 1" dimension is completely arbitrary. So feel free to try something different if you want, it's completely up to you!

When I was done on the table saw I left with about 20 or so strips of walnut and maple. Using my miter saw I cut the 1" strips of wood to random lengths. I took a little bit of time here to cut out any big knots and cracks in the wood too. I try to only use the best parts of the wood.

Step 5: Figure Out the Pattern

Now here's where things get interesting!

I grabbed those live edge pieces I set aside earlier and placed them on my table. I then grabbed all of the walnut and maple I just cut on the miter saw and attempted to arrange them into a pattern I found aesthetically pleasing. This is by far my favorite part of the process :)

I decided on a starburst pattern, with most of the maple clustered in the middle and then slowly fading out towards the edges.

Step 6: Glue It All Together

After the pattern was decided I rolled all of the individual pieces onto their sides and started applying a generous helping of wood glue.

Because of the size of this project I decided to only glue up half of the table top at once. I repeated the same procedure for the opposite side.

Step 7: Clamp It and Let the Glue Dry

I grabbed my clamps carefully clamped everything together. The trick to clamping a big glue-up like this is to only tighten the clamps until you see a little bit of glue squeezing out of every gap. Once that happens, give the clamps a quarter turn more and leave the glue to let it set.

Wood glue takes approximately 30 minutes to set, so kick your feet up and eat some lunch. Or you know, whatever you want, that's just what I did haha.

After that 30 minutes, I repeated both of the last 2 steps on the other half of the tabletop.

Step 8: Smooth Out the Glue Up

After the clamps came off, the tabletop halves were far from smooth. There are always slight variations in the height of all the individual blocks. To fix that and smooth everything out I used a new tool in my shop, this drum sander.

You could be forgiven for not knowing what a drum sander is, it's a specialized piece of equipment. Inside this odd-looking tool is a giant rotating sanding head that sands off any high points. By repeatedly passing the wood through it while lowering the sanding head I was able to smooth out the tabletop halves.

Obviously this is a pretty specialized piece of equipment. You could achieve similar results using a belt sander, but it would take a lot longer. That's what I used to do in the past! You could also use a block plane and then sand after that too.

Step 9: Join the Two Halves Together

With both of the table top halves smoothed out, I applied some glue to the center seam and clamped them both together for 30 minutes

Step 10: Clean Up the Loose Ends

When I'm doing these projects I always run the ends a little longer so I don't have to worry about squaring them up during the glue-up process. Instead, I just use my track saw to square them up after the glue dries.

After that, I then used my cordless trim router with a round-over bit to slightly round the edge of the coffee table. No one wants a table with a sharp edge!

Step 11: Sand the Whole Thing

Using my random orbital sander I gave the whole tabletop a good thorough sanding. I started out using an 80 grit sanding pad and slowly worked my way up to 220 grit sandpaper.

I spent some extra time on the live edges, removing the little remaining bark and smoothing out any rough patches on them.

By the time I was done the whole table had a super-smooth texture.

Step 12: Apply the Finish

For this project, I decided to use a finish I've only used once before called Rubio Monocoat. It's a 2 part finish, you mix it together and then apply it by spreading it around with a card. As the name implies, it's a one coat and done finish which I really like.

I love watching the way the color of the wood changes after the finish is applied. It's such a satisfying process.

I used the card to spread around the majority finish and then used a lint-free rag to finish the corners and all the edges.

Step 13: Attach the Legs

Here we are! The last step!

Normally I like to make my own legs for projects, but I wanted to focus on just making the top for this project, so I bought a set of hairpin legs off of Amazon. All 4 legs only cost me $20, which I thought was a great deal.

I marked their locations and screwed them in place using some 1" wood screws.

Step 14: Take It Home and Start Using It

With the legs attached all I had left to do was load it up into the truck, take it home and enjoy it. I set it up in its new home in my living room and threw this little plant on it for a splash of color.

That's it for this one, hope you liked this project and thank you for checking it out.

If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I'll do my best to answer them all!

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