Choosing your live edge table slabs

 

 

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Creating your Live Edge Table Starts Here

urban log salvaging at dumsite

URBAN TREE SALVAGE® is a family owned and operated company. Husband and wife team Sean and Melissa have been salvaging urban Toronto trees and reclaiming barn woods and creating Live Edge Tables since 2004.

All the wood we use in our projects have been recycled and repurposed into environmentally friendly, functional art pieces for your home, office or cottage. UTS was Canada’s first municipal log salvaging operation, diverting thousands of logs and wood waste from ending up in landfill.

In a day and age where climate change is at the forefront of everyone minds, choosing local and choosing salvaged has never been more important than ever. Every Live Edge table we make using salvaged logs helps reduce the demand for commercially harvested wood, helps reduce the destruction of our natural forests and helps reduce your carbon footprint. For environmental reasons, we do not offer live edge river tables where large areas/voids are filled with epoxy. Producing tables with high volumes of epoxy/resin creates alot of waste in the manufacturing of the piece as it is essentially plastic and is not recyclable.

We are one of a few companies handling all areas of wood reclamation, from salvage, sawing, drying and manufacturing. Overseeing all parts of the process and not outsourcing allows for our higher quality standards. We own and operate our own sawmills, dry kiln, woodshop and metal shop, all housed on a few acres of land.

At our Scarborough showroom, we carry over a hundred live edge table slabs waiting further processing into your dream one of a kind furniture piece. Working together with environmentally conscious and design curious customers we specialize in made to order items.

We leave many of our table sets in the raw/unfinished form as this allows us to fully customize to our clients specifications. Seeing the beauty in the raw form takes some imagination and guidance from us. We will explain what to expect in every piece of wood such as color, grain and unique characteristics. We include the end user in the entire process from selecting wood types, discussing designs and adding the unique personal details that make each product we make a true conversation piece. Our decades of knowledge will help you select the right piece for your new furniture purchase.

To help guide you through your selection process, we have put together some important information on wood movement, seating guides, selecting your wood, finishes and bases.

 

Wood Movement

Wood is a natural “hygroscopic” material, meaning it absorbs and exudes water in order to balance itself out to its environment. Think of wood like a sponge. If there is moisture in the air, the wood will absorb it and expand. If the air is dry, then the wood loses its water and shrinks. All solid wood products, including your live edge table, will do this as the seasons change from winter (dry) to summer (humid).

To help keep movement to a minimum, its best to keep your table in a climate controlled space to help maintain a consistent humidity level. Hovering around 50-55% is recommended. It’s common to see small cracks form, especially in the winter as the wood is drying out and shrinking. As humidity levels rise again in the summer, the wood will expand and the cracks will close up. This is a totally normal process known as seasonal wood movement and cannot be prevented. Did you know that from summer to winter, your table can expand and contract in width up to a quarter inch!

This is one of the reasons why we don’t offer river tables. Wood moves, resin doesn’t. You risk the chance of cracks and separation.

We choose to produce most of our live edge tables from more than one piece of wood vs single width live edge slabs as tables created from multiple pieces of wood are better regulated on their movement and are more dimensionally stable. Proper solid wood building techniques will place boards with grains running in opposite directions side by side so they can work against each other and minimize cupping and warping.

To limit wood movement, it is important that wood is properly dried and acclimated. There are lots of companies out there that claim their wood is kilned dried but in reality, it’s not properly dried throughout. Using our own commercial kiln, we kiln dry all of our slabs to 6-8% moisture content which is suggested for our part of Canada. After kiln drying, all of our wood is stocked away and allowed to equalize within our showroom, woodshop and warehouse. We were fortunate to work with some leading wood scientists from UofT when starting our company who assisted us in creating proper drying schedules for some of the unique species that we work with.

Unfortunately many of the imported live edge woods have given wood slab tables a bad reputation for cracking and splitting. The reason for this is that they are not dried for our climate but rather a tropical climate. Once they come over, they continue to dry and can suffer some major defects such as large cracks, cupping and even splitting in half! This is not true in all cases but tend to be more common of products sold at big box stores or chains. This is often reflected in the cost.

Don’t be afraid to ask them how their wood is dried and to what moisture content as this could be the difference between your table lasting forever or suffering major defects within the first year.

Table Seating Charts

Before choosing your piece of wood, its best to determine how many people you would like to seat and what size best fits your space. Start by measuring the room it will go in, taking into account doors, other furniture and traffic flow. A table that is too small won’t be properly portioned and one that is too large may inhibit the proper flow of your space.

The number of people you would like to seat will determine the best length. Table lengths will jump up in odd increments, such as 5’, 7’, 9’, etc. Even numbers are in between sizes. For example, as the rule of thumb is 24” per person for formal dining, a 5’ table will comfortably seat 6 while a 7’ table will comfortably seat 8. A 6’ length is an in between size that will very comfortably seat 6 and you can get up to 8 depending on the base design chosen and the width of your chairs.

Please click on the images below to open up a new window for examples of seating arrangements based on different lengths/ seating ranges.

5 foot table seating chart

Choosing your width will also depend on your space and how you plan on using the table. In a perfect scenario, we recommend leaving 24” of space to account for chairs being pulled out from the table when in use as well as another 12” of space for wiggle room. Unfortunately not all spaces will allow for an extra 36” on each side, especially if you’re in a condo or narrow home. In this situation, you will need to be a bit more flexible on how much extra space to leave.

From our years of experience, we find that a table that ranges in width from 36-40” is the most common and fits the best in your average home. If you like to entertain and hold big dinner parties, then 40-44” wide is recommended to give you more space down the center to hold plates and platters.

What about leaves and extensions? Unfortunately we don’t offer these options due to potential wood movement issues but we do offer a couple of alternatives. For example, if you’re looking to seat 6-8 people (5-7’ length), then we recommend choosing a table that fits in between, such as a 6’. Another popular option is taking a larger table set, cutting it down to your desired main table size and then creating an add-on table from the cut off that you can butt up to the main table when needed. When not in use, this additional table can be used as a desk or console.

Select Your Wood

At URBAN TREE SALVAGE® you are able to personally select the actual material we will use to create your live edge piece, ensuring no hidden surprises from sight unseen purchases, as no two pieces are the same.

We leave most of our table sets in the raw state (not joined, processed or finished) to allow us to customize to our client’s needs (size and finish). Knots and cracks are part of the drying process and are filled with an epoxy in clear, brown or black. Custom colors are also available, please inquire.

Don’t be deterred by how the unfinished natural edge slabs can appear. Watermarks, stains and dirt are all part of the milling/ drying process and will disappear once they are further processed. The true beauty of the material is not too apparent in this state but they finish up nicely! You can see some examples of before and after images above.

When selecting your wood, please choose the category that best suits your size. You can now scroll through thumbnail images of our current stock. Please keep in mind that it is rare to find a slab/ set in your exact size. By leaving them in their unfinished state, we can trim them to your specified width and length before processing.

Things to look for when selecting your custom piece/ set is the shape of the wood, grains, knots and other unique character such as crotches, spalting, curl, ambrosia and quilting.

Once you find a piece of interest, click on the picture for more information on that slab/ set, including a picture and general description of that species. To receive more information on that particular piece, please fill out the form and we will prepare a quote based on your selections.

Please note, not all our live edge inventory is listed on our website. If you do not see what you’re looking for, please email us and we will look into our additional stock back at our warehouse.

 

 

Finishes

urban log salvaging at dumsite

We offer different wood finish options depending on the look/color you’re after including oil based stains, water based urethanes and hand rubbed oils which we create in-house.

When choosing the color of your table, things to consider are other furniture pieces within the space and the color of your floors. If you would like to create a focal point, then going lighter or darker than your floors will create contrast and make your table “pop”. If you choose to go tone on tone, also known as monochromatic, your table will not stand out as much. You can however break it up visually by the color of your chairs or by adding an area rug below.

Hand rubbed oils bring out the natural colors of the wood and come in a matte/satin finish. The benefit of choosing a straight oil finish is that it allows you to feel the wood. Please keep in mind that products that are solely oiled will require periodic maintenance. Depending on usage, we recommend re-oiling your table 1-2x/year in order to maintain its resistance to moisture and stains and to keep the wood from drying out. If you like to look of the oil but prefer no maintenance, then we recommend top coating with a urethane.

A Straight urethane tends to mute the colors, making the wood look closer to the color of the unfinished material. Urethanes can be used on their own or as a top coat over hand rubbed oils or stains for added durability. The benefit of the urethane finish is that it adds extra protection while requiring no future maintenance/ upkeep but it doesn’t allow you to feel the wood as it creates a coating to help protect the wood. We use a satin sheen as the glossier you go, any scratches or imperfections that may develop over the years become more pronounced.

Staining allows you to change the natural color of the wood to one better suited for your space. While staining changes the color, it doesn’t have any protective qualities. You will require a top coat over the stain to seal the wood. You can either choose a hand rubbed oil or a water based urethane.

Another interesting staining option that we offer is an old school technique where we combine steel wool and vinegar. The acids in the vinegar oxidize the metal and when applied to oak, creates a very dark, ebonized affect. This technique only works on oak as it is reacting to the tannins in the wood.

Our finished are very durable but not indestructible. We don’t recommend leaving sitting water on the table for periods of time or placing very hot items like a pot off the stove for example, directly on the surface as it can affect the finish. If a problem does occur, please don’t panic as there are tricks to remove it.

If you are unsure what color best suits your space, you can speak to our color specialist and samples will be custom-made for you to bring home and compare in your living space.

 

Bases

Our fully welded bases

Just like our table tops, all our bases are built to order to account for the size of your top as well as your desired seating arrangement.

Using industrial steel, our bases are degreased, sanded and top coated with a water based urethane to protect the metal. Our bases are very durable, not like the mass-produced metal bases that you see at your local large furniture retailer or box store. Ours are fully welded units, which provide added support for the top while preventing racking. Our bases also come with inset levelers that you can adjust to your floors.

We offer a variety of designs from your traditional parson style to more contemporary designs such as the z-frame, x-frame and the ever popular u-shape to name a few. We also offer a couple of contemporary wood designs too. Looking for a different design, please send us your inspiration pictures for review.

There are a few things to think about when deciding on what style of base you would like created for your top.

Inset levelers for all our products

A parson style (legs at the corner) is a more traditional base design. The advantage of this type of base is that there will be no leg/ seating obstructions for side seating as the legs are located at the corners. The disadvantage of this design is that it doesn't allow you to squeeze in extra seating if needed as you are restricted with the legs at the ends.

Inset designs tend to be a more contemporary and popular choice. The advantage of this type of base is that you can squeeze in extra seating if needed as there are no restrictions on the corners. However, due to safety aspects of inset designs, they can only be inset so far to ensure the table top will not tip over if someone pushes down on the table when getting up. For this reason, side seating will need to accommodate their legs and feet around the base when seated. Chairs will also not be able to fully push under the table. Only when we get to a 9’ length are we able to place the leg location in between chairs. Please see our seating guide section for diagrams of chair placements based on different lengths.

We offer 2 different metal finishes option: hot rolled steel and blackened steel.

finish options for your metal and live edge wood base

When deciding on a finish, consider the other elements in your space such as hardware, light fixtures, railings and appliances.

The hot rolled steel has variations of light and dark gray and gives a more industrial feel. This finish complements brushed nickel hardware and stainless steel really well.

The blackening finish is caused by an oxidization process which creates an overall black with subtle hints of browns and rust tones.