*sigh* I just don’t even want to talk about this one, you guys… I just want to look at it. But I promised the details… so here they go! This DIY live edge table with steel legs is the newest addition to our dining room and our DIY brag book. If you missed it- we shared the whole dining room reveal on Wednesday and it’s my favourite room in the house right now. I want to be in it… or staring at it… all the time. And this table is kind of the star.
I have always loved the look of a live edge table with steel but the price tag? Notsomuch. I got all confident (before ever having made a table, ever) and bought this live edge wood (3 planks) for a steal at $90 last year, but then let them sit and sit because making a table was intimidating as all get out. So then last fall, we designed and made a patio table out of lumber and were pretty impressed with ourselves, so we got up the courage to start on this one. By building the table in the fall, we had lots of tips we’d take away that we put into this (like no pesky cracks in the table for food to get stuck in!).
Alright, let’s get down to it. This table is basically two parts- the steel base, and the wooden top. For the base, we sent a sketch and measurements to a steel fabricator Shane works with at work. They did a fab job and it was done in a week (SO quick!). The material is called 4″ flat bar.
We did some mad wire brushing on it to get all the flakes off and then gave it several light coats of flat black spray paint. We used Rustoleum for this project (this paint and this clear to be exact), just because I was shopping at Home Depot- just read the back and make sure it prevents rust. When that was done, we wiped it clean (flat paint seems to leave a residue that you can wipe off), then sprayed it with clear flat paint to seal it (especially where it would get kicked). Best case would have been powder coating, but we did this to save mula in the first place, so that was out of the question for now. Also- by going directly through a fabricator and NOT a legs company… and by skipping powder coating, we saved a ton.
We asked them NOT to drill holes in the base since we wanted to make sure the holes wouldn’t go into the seams of the wood. We used a metal bit (thank you to some mechanic friends) to make our own. Photo is without bolts in yet. To install the bolts, just make sure to do small pilot holes before putting the bolts through. Size your bolts according to the metal bit you use.
For the top, this was the fun part. I actually didn’t get a good shot of the wood before we started stripping it down! So excuse this zoomed in shot from a distance on my phone. I cropped out my kids with their eyes half open and such. It’s the same cedar we used for our mantle. For this table, we had three pieces of wood, two were live edge, one was straight edge on both sides. We laminated them together by drilling pocket holes with our trusty Kreg Jig (I seriously need to get my hands on some clamps for that thing though), then liberally applied wood glue before screwing together. Best case (again) would have been to clamp it, but we didn’t have the proper tools for that. We used plenty of screws and it’s perfectly solid.
We let it dry for a full 24 hours, then cut the length perfect (we did 6 1/2 feet) before getting to sanding. For sanding, we started with 40 grit paper on a belt sander, working our way up to 180 on a palm sander. We used only the palm sander and sandpaper in hand on the live edge. When it was perfectly sanded, we had some thinking to do about the cracks and gaps.
The wood was old, dry, and split. That’s what gives it so much charm- but after having our patio table with slight gaps for food (and playdoh) to get stuck in, we were done scrubbing nooks and crannies on our table daily. Shane did some research online and after tweeting with Rustoleum, we decided we would fill the gaps and knots with epoxy, sand, then do several waterbased clear coats.
We headed to Home Depot for the third time in the weekend (I don’t even get embarrassed anymore, walking out of there with two screws or one can of spraypaint) and was pointed to Varathane Bar and Table Finish (an epoxy resin that for some reason is not sold on Amazon so here’s the product specs). We mixed that up in small batches to pour into the large gaps and (you’ll laugh) but we used a kids medicine dropper (y’know because you get one with each tylenol packet) to get it into the small cracks. Worked like a charm, friends. We used a squeegee to even it out and pull the excess into the gaps. This took two applications (one each day) and there are still a couple that will keep sucking it up somehow! What is left is very little, it would be hard to get food in there. I want to show you how well this stuff fills. This is a close up of the biggest hole in the table, it’s a big divit around a knot and it was NOT food friendly, but it’s so beautiful. Now, you can run your fingers across that and it’s totally smooth (and totally clear). Total score.
When the epoxy had set, we used a fine grit (220 then 400) sandpaper to clean it up. There were a couple spots we used a paint scraper to pull off drips (oops). This took a while to get it perfectly smooth again, but when we were done- there were no more gaps- just perfect smoothness, so it was definitely worth it! I’ve read epoxy is really difficult to work with and I think it is- but it isn’t if you’re patient and careful with it. But we didn’t flood a whole table top, just filled cracks so in that sense it was forgiving. I would imagine that pouring so much into the holes helped the table gain some strength as well.
When the epoxy totally dried, we went ahead with our favourite clear coat- Varathane Crystal Clear in Satan. It’s water based which makes clean up easy (yeeesss) and I really like the not as shiny finish that satin gives. We did about 6 coats before taking these photos, but honestly- we plan to do more just because we have kids who like to hit tables with forks.
The last thing to keep in mind is that if you’re using older wood and you don’t have a planer to make sure it’s SUPER level. You’re going to run into the top being a little bit wobbly. We used washers between the base and the top on the few bolts that were a bit loose. We chose to do this over tightening them to flatten the wood since the top is actually level AND we didn’t want to risk cracking those seams we worked so hard to fill!
That’s it, that’s all. Oh! And I should tell you that because these legs are not joined at the bottom to each other, it can be a wee wobbly if you push on it lengthwise. But how often do you push on it lengthwise? Shane really wants to attach another piece of steel running on the bottom between the legs, but I’m just not sold. If we did this, you could dance on this table all night long and it wouldn’t budge- but I’m kind of in the camp, I’d rather a pretty table and just not dance on it. I’ll keep you updated if we decide that!
PS. Our live edge table is styled with these AMAAAAZING molded plastic chairs (Henrik Chair) that are from Canadian Tire’s Canvas line (I’m in love, for sure) and the shiny chandelier (Elise Chandelier) is from them too. Are there any other Canadians out there who are excited to finally get some affordable but totally rad decor? Get all the sources from our dining room in the original post here.