Live edge slabs are where the carpenter incorporates the natural edge of the wood when milling the material. The use of slabs in the furniture industry has exploded in the last 10 years. A lot of the wood used for slabs is usually graded not suitable for conventional milling (D4S or nominal lumber). Table tops are probably the most common use for the slabs these days as they looking amazing and have character like no other!
Usually the slab is milled using a modified chainsaw which is mounted to a frame/track which helps you cut the slabs out evenly.
One of the most important steps when milling slabs is the drying time. The slabs we have access to have been air dried for 2 years and then finished off in a kiln. If the slabs are not properly dried, they will check (crack) and basically fall apart. Sometimes "bowtie/butterfly" keys are built into the slab where there is checking present to help stabilize the wood. I love the look of the keys and they are usually made out of a wood that contrasts the main slab so they stand out.
Here at Stairhaus, we have access to some large libraries of slabs which are air/kiln dried and ready to go. We can provide you with a finished table top or give you the slab and let you source your own legs. Epoxy finishes seem to be very poplar these days as they add a thick layer of protection while giving you the ability to see the entire slab clearly under the finish. Below are a few pictures that may get you excited about slabs as they are very beautiful.