We’ve all seen the Live Edge River Tables floating around the makerspace, and I even made one myself. Well, I thought it’d be worth trying to take the live edge table DIY trend and turn it on its head, throwing my own twist on these stunning, natural tables. The perfect piece for my showroom, I thought? A live edge table with a zipper river.
The zipper river live edge table DIY is an idea I’ve had floating around in my head for a while. Instead of incorporating colored glass and epoxy into the design, I envisioned a zipped-up gap of a river. This thing turned out to be one hell of a statement piece -- you’ve got to check it out.
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Of course, it’s not that simple. Before building A Live Edge Table with A “Zipper” River, you’re going to need a few things. Here are the tools and products I recommend for this build
Now that we have everything we need -- let’s get into it, why don’t we?
Selecting materials for any Live Edge Table is almost the most important part of the build. You’re going to want to select some lumber that has character, is manageable, and is as close to being flat as possible that you’re not going to kill yourself getting it to be an actual table. As you saw in the video, I actually selected some cherry for this project initially, then moved to these beautiful walnut slabs.
Milling lumber isn’t always an easy task and you’re likely to encounter a few roadblocks while completing your live edge table DIY. For instance, the raw material used in live edge tables is generally awkward, making it difficult to joint and plane the wood normally. That’s why I planed the cherry slabs by hand with my No.7 Hand Plane. If you have seen my other Live Edge Tables, you’ll know I sometimes use a jig with a router as well. This table was small enough I could use my planer to get the job done.
For a live edge table - specifically one with a river - you’re going to want to lay it out before making any cuts. I started by cutting the slab in half, orienting the table the way I wanted it to look and marking it up for milling. I then took the time to clean up the edges before screwing anything together -- saving myself time in having to take it apart later.
For this table I made a “jig” to hold the table in place by drilling it from the bottom. I left the slabs long so I could cut off the edges once I have it put together.
Once the table is laid out the way you think it will look best, go ahead and cut all the stitches for the river zipper. Initially, I wanted this part to be shaped like bowties, but after seeing the stitches I changed my mind. Once cut, I laid out the stitches in the orientation I wanted them.
I then built a router jig that fit the stitches perfectly, so I could use a pattern bit to cut the inserts and clean them up with a chisel for clean, perfect-fitting cuts.
This step is basic enough -- I painted glue on the insides of the divets for the stitches and glue in the inserts. I chose Titebond 2 for its strong seal. I made sure to leave the stitches slightly above the surface so I could sand them flush to the wood for a clean finish.
I wanted this live edge table DIY to be bold and sturdy, so I built the base for this table with 8/4 soft maple I had laying around. I milled everything down to the approximate length and width I was looking for.
I made a drawing to scale for what size I wanted the base legs to be to get a good feel for the angles, lengths, and thicknesses of the wood I needed. I then used that template to get my angles for the joinery. From there I used a bevel gauge on my table saw to cut all the angles with an overall thickness of 1.25″.
I assembled the base using screws -- Yes, simple no-frills screws. For the geometry I designed, it probably would have been more aesthetically pleasing to do a finger joint at an angle, but you live and learn. I used a plug cutter to pretty the joinery up and cover the screw holes and sanded them flush.
I attached the legs to the table using threaded inserts. I made sure to cut sloppy holes for movement in the legs, then referenced them where I wanted them on the table. From there it allowed me to perfectly cut the insert holes where they will be on the table. I use threaded inserts because they’re strong and make the breakdown of the table super easy.
I sanded the whole table to 220 grit, then water-popped it. I then sanded it to 400 grit and wiped it down with a tack cloth before applying 4 coats of General Finished Endurovar, sanding in between each coat. I chose to spray this table because of all of the nooks and crannies in it, making it much easier than wiping them on by hand.
And there you have it -- a live edge table DIY with a zipper river. For more great builds like this, be sure to check out my other custom builds.
All ideas are my own. For more information, check out my disclosure page.
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Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.