This giant slab desk was made from one of the most underrated and beautiful wood species in all of North America. Clients often want walnut (understandably), but this client thought a little outside the box and we were able to find a gorgeous piece of locally salvaged wood from a very small sawmill (like just a guy and a chainsaw small).
This is Salvaged Slab to $6000 Desk according to blacktail studio and today they built an oversized desk from what he feels is one of the most underrated beautiful and occasionally affordable wood species there is.
1. Choosing the layout.
This desk is essentially going to be a big single slab solid wood desk with a kind of a hybrid live edge aspect to it.
- 1x2’s for the template
These simple little templates really help visualize what it’s going to look like when it is all done. This one is going to be oversized so this will be around 72 by he thinks 34 inches when it’s all done, but the slab as you can see is much bigger than that so we actually have a little bit of freedom to choose exactly the best part we want to use for this desk.
2. Cleaning up the burl
Sealing the crack with clear epoxy to prevent staining
This table requires for all sides to come together and hate in one place, so this will have a straight edge, live edge, and a little bit of epoxy. He mentioned that he thought this was a very underrated wood, and the species that I'm using here is elm.
This isn’t just ordinary elm, this is elm that has a good bit of burl to it and the burl is where you get the most amazing grain the most amazing color it’s just kind of a pain to clean up whereas these normal live edge sections are really easy to clean up with something like this porter cable restore nut the burl sections are where you have to get really creative with all your dental tools and dull chisel and try to dig it out while still maintaining the natural shape.
Piece of melamine for the mini epoxy pour
This slow-cure epoxy was still fairly wet, which apparently isn't ideal
3. Creating a partial epoxy mold
This isn’t going to be an epoxy table so to speak but there is a rather large rather noticeable rather in the way but really cool natural crack that runs about a quarter of the length of the table
Building up a "dam" around the large crack will allow him to fill thicker than the wood
Why use black epoxy? Black is actually the most discreet color one can use because a lot of these woods have really natural black streaks in them and also it kind of resembles more of just a shadow than anything so if you want a really discreet void filled. Black epoxy is the no-brainer
Don't try and fill a deep crack like this with normal epoxy
With some luck, small cracks can be sealed with this gorilla tape or a good quality duct tape, the only thing you need to remember is the epoxy needs to be relatively dry before you come back and do those later.
Lie Nielsen chisel plane
This crack isn’t very wide but it’s pretty deep and are about two and a quarter inches thick right here and with that overfill, they’re probably close to two and a half inches so instead of using something like a tabletop epoxy, use the super clear epoxy deep pore resin and this is going to do a couple of things this is first off going allow for pouring the entire crack in one shot so you won’t have to come back and do layers.
Tape stick a little better now
These foam sheets from Home Depot are great to prevent dings
Filling the smaller cracks with tabletop epoxy
4. Flattening the Slab
After removing as much of this caulk, let it cure for a couple of weeks. One little tip for you is when you start handling these pieces especially after they get surfaced keep them on one of these styrofoam sheets from home depot they only cost like seven dollars and they’ll really prevent any dings or dents you might get
Using their awesome slider to square up the desk
5. C-channels to Keep It Flat
Whatever table you’re building, whether it’s a big epoxy table or a single slab desk like this or a solid wood book-match, you can start the C-Chanel process to give it as little opportunity as possible for it to warp and cup on you.
Starting on the C-Channel process
There are a few reasons why they don’t traditionally build-out of these big single slabs like this, they’re actually one of the worst ways to build a table people think this is the easiest way and there are aspects of it that are easy but it lends itself to problems down the road if you don’t take certain precautions and one of those precautions is doing something like C-Channels.
Source Canadian Woodworking
What do the c-channels do? Will they prevent it from cracking or splitting? All they really do is help keep it flat whereas a traditional table is generally made from a number of boards glued up in a particular grain orientation that will help assist in keeping that table flat, also most tables have something called an apron so that will also assist in keeping it flat.
These single slabs or the book-match or the live-edge tables don’t really have any of that so these c channels assist in keeping it flat the same way that the apron does or that grain orientation in the glue-up.
6. Recessing the Table Legs
Making a "perimeter" around the base to simulate a jig
When recessing these mounting plates for the table bases, put the table legs exactly where you want them and then just surround it with this quarter-inch melamine or acrylic or both and fasten it down with double side tape.
Give yourself about a quarter-inch buffer all around and this allows enough room for seasonal wood movement of the slab to move around that table base because you don’t really want it locked in place, just a perfect CNC fit because that could actually cause your wood to crack over time.
Threaded inserts for attachment
When you’re done working on your table before you finish it, cover it with something like this painters plastic because that’s going to prevent one side from absorbing moisture from the air and causing it to warp or twist a little bit after you finish on both sides then you don’t need to do it but before that.
Laying plastic down. This plastic helps prevent wood warping prior to finish
7. Gravity Assisted Touch-ups
Shellac to prevent stains from the touch-ups
This slab did have quite a few cracks in it but if you’re worried about this one right near the end, you can add a single solitary bow tie and this is going to be on the underside. This was going to be a little bit cleaner.
Using a little gravity-assist here
One solitary bow tie in this one
8. Live Edge Cleanup
New nylon wheels from amazon
A better way to clean up live edge without really marring the surface is to use these nylon brushes. They actually work really well, they’re pretty cheap.
9. Fixing micro-pits
CA glue touch-ups
They came right back
Carve the pits into a little groove, then fill
Love this trim router
DIY sanding glove
Spraying water to raise the grain between grits
One of the most frustrating parts of working with epoxy is filling these little micro pits. it’s a little counter-intuitive and that’s actually to make the holes bigger because what happens is those little pits kind of form an air pocket and they won’t allow that CA glue to penetrate so you can carve out a little groove and then fill them with just regular clear Ca glue and believe it or not the clear actually matches the black just perfectly then hit it with the sander and those microbubbles will disappear finally.
10. Table Finishing Process
Sanding from 100,120,150, to 180
This sanding progression starts 100 then to 120, 150 and end at 180 grit and in between each and every grit, use water to pop it to help raise the grain which in theory gives you a smoother finish in the end.
Do two coats of Rubio, let it cure, then Ceramic
The black four ceramic is more like car wax. It's not the paint, it’s the wax, it’s not even the clear coat, it’s just the wax. It’s a hard wax oil, it’s great to finish, very durable, very natural finish but it’s completely unrelated to black fiest ceramic and what add two coats of Rubio Monaco across a couple of days.
So the Rubio Monaco is the bulk of finish that’s what’s going to give the color, that’s going to be what gives most of the protection after Rubia Monaco dries for seven days which is just the normal cure time of ruby Monaco. That’s when I can start with the black forest ceramic and the ceramic can go over he believes any finish whether it’s a polyurethane or lacquer or an Osmo or different type of finish like that so long as it’s completely cured.
11. Ceramic Finish for Wood Tables.
You don’t want to apply this black ceramic too early because if you apply this on a finish that hasn’t yet cured you can actually seal it in and prevent that finish from ever actually curing so he waited for the full seven days and as far as application process it is really easy. You just use your little applicator pad you work in small sections until it starts to get kind of rough you start to feel the texture of it starting to pull on your little applicator pad and then just a tiny spritz of water and let the weight of your hand of any excess.
You’re not really buffing it, you’re not trying to remove too much, just work it in with their little applicator pad until it starts to get kind of tough to work input a tiny spritz of water on a microfiber and then just very lightly buff off any excess and that is it and it does add contrast it adds depth adds a little bit of sheen to your tables because edge sheen he makes sure to hit the sides as well he doesn’t do the underside. Really nice product that gives you a fair amount of protection because I have done some water tests and it remarkably beads up water compared to just the Rubio.
Just a mist of water on a microfiber
Work in each section until you get some resistance
Test fitting the legs by Flowyline Design
Here are some of Flowyline Design’s metal table legs to be used for a slab like this