Making a Live Edge Coffee Table w/ Metal Base
This awesome looking live edge coffee table is made using a slab of wood and some flat bar steel which I bent into shape, so no welding involved. There are so many cool looking slabs out there to choose between in different colors, sizes and species of wood, and here you can choose one that fits your space. This table is made with a mesquite slab, however any live edge wood would work nicely. Making the base is not very difficult, and the simplicity of the steel really compliments the wood. So let's begin!
I started with looking over the piece of wood. This one is very flat which is nice so it doesn't need any jointing, however often times slabs need a fair amount of work to get perfectly flat. I'm deciding which side should be up and down, and seeing how much the size differs on either side. To get a better idea of where to cut the sides, I'm marking a line so the two sides will be parallell.
Then I'm getting ready to cut off the edges, so setting up a board to follow. And I'm simply using the circular saw to make the cuts.
Now time to clean this slab up a bit. So this is a live edge piece of wood which means there is still bark left on the sides. Now I want to keep part of that rustic nature, however I don't want loose bark falling off the coffee table. So here I'm using a draw knife to remove loose bark. I made sure I sharpened it before using it here, and it's a lot of fun doing this job. This is one of my favorite tools that I don't get a chance to use that often, so I was really enjoying this. It's quite memorizing and then deciding how much to leave, how much to take off. I also brought out a large chisel here to continue to clean this up.
To create a chamfer on the edges I used a number 4 smoothing plane here. And I'm trying to create a smooth transition from the bark and the sap wood to the edge. I also brought out a spoon carving gauge which was really useful.
And then I did quite a bit of sanding and cleaning up the edge. Just looking it over, finding an area that needs further work and so on... Then a little more sanding, a little more chiseling and so forth until I was satisfied.
Now to seal the wood here, I'm starting out with this gel polyurethane which I'm just rubbing on with a cloth. And this makes the grain really come to life. Then once that was dried, I used Arm-R-Seal for a final top coat.
Now, let's move on to the base. So I've got some of this 1 1/2 inch wide, 3/16th inch thick, flat bar steel and I'm measuring out where I need to bend the metal. So I'm going for a 17 inch height with the table top, so I'm bending the metal at 15 inches.
I was first planning on simply hammering and bending the metal using the vice alone which you certainly could do, however I ended up using a bending jig that I attached in my vice. This was really useful, so you simply put the jig in the vice, and the steel in between the bars, and it's quite easy to bend. So I was doing some tests first, bending the metal on the marks. Then I used a angle grinder to cut the excess off.
Then I clamped the steel down and drilled a hole on each end, using some a liberal amount of cutting oil to lubricate. I used a 5/16th inch cobalt bit with my hand drill since at this point I couldn't use it in the drill press with all the bends.
Then I drilled holes on the underside of the slab and attached the steel with a lagbolt, and continued the process all around.
Now once I had both legs attached, it was easier to see where I needed to adjust the bends a little to get base even and straight. So I took them off, and made some fine adjustments here and there.
Once I was satisfied, I sanded the metal down with some sand paper first, and then some steel wool. Then I took the table outside, and sprayed a few light coats of lacquer to protect the steel from rust.
Now to finish the top off, I put on a coat of my tung oil beeswax polish to get it really nice and smooth. And it's all complete.