What is live edge wood furniture exactly? You may have encountered the term while looking for furnishings from your home, particularly the custom-made and handcrafted kinds. Live-edge wood furniture defines a term more than a style, though the words traditional and rustic are often used to describe it. What it really comes down to is the type of material used to construct a piece as well as certain qualities that it possesses.
Defining live edge wood is simple. Wood slabs are the large scraps that remain after a tree has been cut into individual, similarly sized and shaped lumber. The slabs are often flat and wide, but also oddly shaped and not considered useful for most construction and crafting projects. But despite their odd shapes, wood slabs make for useful and interesting surfaces for tables, shelves, desks and similar live edge wood furniture. In a way, it’s the original kind of furniture, often used by settlers, farmers, and others to decorate and furnish their homes while avoiding waste.
What Makes an Edge “Live”?
The term live edge refers to retaining the natural lines and “faults” on or in a wood slab. This means the rough and uneven shape and even the bark of the edge of a table or other piece of furniture is left intact. Holes and cracks can be filled in and covered up with putty and other materials, but are often left alone or filled with resin, which allows you to see and enjoy the natural knotty beauty of a piece.
Rough but Elegant
When asking the question, “What is live edge wood furniture exactly?”, it’s important to realize that their roughness and rustic nature doesn’t mean cheapness. Most live edge wood furniture is cut, worked, sanded, finished, and treated by skilled craftspeople who know how to get the most beauty and use out of a piece of “rejected” wood. The live edge wood also provides the final piece with a wholly unique character. Truly, no two pieces of live edge wood furniture are alike.
The Final Word
When you choose a piece of live edge wood furniture or invest in a slab that you plan to craft yourself, expect to pay a higher price depending on the availability of the wood—some woods are rarer than others—and the thickness of the slab or plank. Thinner live edge wood is more prone to warping and other potential damage. Confirm that the wood was kiln-dried and otherwise treated to eliminate any potential insect infestations that might suddenly hatch or emerge from hibernation. It also keeps it dry, preventing warping down the line as well as the potential for mold. Deal with a reputable dealer who can provide proof!