Remove bark from live edge without damaging edge

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cyclopentadiene

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I have a piece of white oak 24" x 48" x 2" with a live edge and most of the bark still attached. I have the piece surfaced and would like to use it as a table top. How do i remove the bark from the live edge without damaging the wood?
Also, how is the best way to sand and leave the natural look to the piece?
 

Mike Davis

Mike
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A wood or plastic wedge/scraper/chisel will help remove the bark. You still have to be careful but the wood or plastic is soft enough to not dig too bad.

Sanding the edge is a little more involved if you want to keep the natural look. I would start with a 3-M pad, the white ones on light colored wood so it won't leave traces of dye. You might also look into bead or shell blasting with a small sandblaster. My BIL uses fresh dry hominy grits in his tumbler, I think it would do well for blasting wood to remove the last traces of bark while doing very little to the wood and should leave a polished surface.
 

CLetts

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Carl
I made a live edge table a few months back and i simply used my ROS set on lowest speed (4000rpm), with 120 grit (might even have been 100). I used the regular backing pad that came with it and used light pressure. Worked great.
 

cyclopentadiene

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I searched on the web and found at the How To site to use a pressure washer. I tried it as it sounded simple and should not cause damage. Also, I only paid $15 for the oak slab.

I do have some work involved as I surfaced both sides with a hand plane. The first half hour was fun then it felt like work. Unfortunately it is too wide for my planer and the approach in Fine WW to build a router jig is a lot of effort to build a very large jig to necessitate storage to perhaps only use once if I build a table and decide I do not like this type project.
 

cyclopentadiene

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The slab was air dried. I used my moisture meter and it measures 11%. My meter is the pin type and this is 2"stock that I purchased from Asheville Hardwareabout 4 months ago. I assume it was dry based on my measurement but I have very little experience with this non kiln dried lumber.

I do a fair amount of woodturning and generally if you are careful with the turning process and do not disturb the bowl while air drying, the bark will stay on and it is usually really strong in some places if you mess up returning and chip out the bark and decide to remove the remainder. Is this typical with flat sawn lumber as well? this piece had some sections where I could remove all of the bark by hand and some places where it had already fell off. There were only a few spots with bark that remained so I assumed it was the same as a bowl. i am an amateur and would like to learn from this experience.

How accurate are the probe type moisture meters? I know the probes only goes into the surface a about 1/8 of an inch and perhaps the wood is not dry on the inside.

Is there a way to know for sure?

I was trying this project because the wood was so inexpensive and thought it would be fun to make a natural edge table . I have some walnut scraps from another project that I am using to make the legs so the overall investment will be minimal, just my time. I have the leg base almost complete and may proceed and just watch the finished piece for a few months to see if the wood moves significantly. Worst case, i will have some nice looking firewood and I will still have the experience.
 

Jeff

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Jeff
+! to learning and experimenting with new things and new approaches.

1. Planing across the grain on end grain is a PITA, but a low angle plain (like a large block plane) will work. Often you can lightly spray it with some water to raise the fibers and then plain it for a smoother cut. The fibers stick up vertically like a military style haircut.

2. Bark. Careful work with a sharp chisel right where the bark attaches to the solid wood.
 
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