Oak slab finishing question.

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Forum topic by stevef22 posted 07-11-2010 01:58 AM 7128 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 4159 days

07-11-2010 01:58 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bar countertop slab

I have a huge oak slab I found on the side of the road. It has some pretty good rot going on. I was able to pick it up and tip it over into my truck with the help of a a couple buddys. What is a good way to seal this slab from getting anymore mold? Do I let the wood “dry” air out anymore? What products are used to turn huge slabs into bars or countertops? Im thinking of using a hand scraper to plane this wood. What techniques are good for leveling off this slab? Any links or tutorials would be great. Thank you.

5 replies so far

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 5068 days

#1 posted 07-11-2010 03:52 AM

First step is to get it out of the sun and rain. If you have a woodworking supply place anywhere close (or on-line) you can check end grain sealers like sealcote or anchorseal. Its a wax based product that will seal the surface to slow moisture loss. Otherwise, the bare wood will start to “check” (develop cracks as more moisture leaves the exposed wood than it does underneath. As the moisture leaves, the wood shrinks, but with wet wood underneath it, it can’t contract, so it splits to compensate). In a pinch, a thick coat of paint will help.

For an indoor gentleman’s bar top:

You need to slab it. If you can find someone that has a chainsaw and an Alaska chain saw mill, or the like, you can take off a thin slice to flatten it, and then a second cut will give you a relatively flat board.

Depending on the thickness of this board (i.e 1”, 2”, 3”) leave it sheltered and dry for about 1 year per inch thickness to let it dry. For a bar top. I would recommend the initial slab be at least 2” thick.

Then flatten and smooth, stabilize any rot with epoxy or super glue, and finish.

Down and dirty and get-r-done method:

If I haven’t discouraged you yet, and you are just wanting to stick some support under it for a bar surface, you may want to rent a power hand planer to get it relatively flat. It can be done with hand planes but will take a lot of work and the right type planes (a scrub plane being the first). A belt sander will also do it but start with the coarsest grit you can buy and plan on days of work. As crooked as the top is, I still recommend finding someone with a chain saw and guide to get a start at it. After flattening, you will not be able to put a solid coat on it due to the wetness, but you can soak it with mineral oil, or coat it with several coats of deck sealer. That will slow the moisture coming out for a few years until it gets fully dry. Again, first pour epoxy or fiberglass resin into the rotted holes. Mixing in sawdust with the resin will give it much the same color as the original wood, or add coffee grounds to give the filler a dark brown look. After about 10 years or so, you can probably refinish it with whatever you want.

I have used the hand power planer to smooth chain-sawed split logs for benches, etc, and it goes pretty quickly. use a straight edge (8’ by 3” wide strip cut off a sheet of plywood works) to find the high spots, etc. Coating them with oil or deck sealer keeps them in pretty good shape.

Just my 2 cts worth


-- Go

View stevef22's profile


35 posts in 4159 days

#2 posted 07-11-2010 06:13 PM

Thx Gofor for all the advice. Looks like I am going to rent or buy a hand planer and get cracking on this with a saw. Will post pics. Thanks for all the great advice.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 4239 days

#3 posted 07-15-2010 12:26 AM

I would recommend pressure washing out any rotted wood, then find someone with a bandsaw that will slice it into boards for you. Paint any exposed end grain with a good sealer, then put them away under cover but with good ventilation until it’s dry enough to use. You may consider having it kiln dried, oak is a good place to find bugs.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View saw4fun's profile


176 posts in 4620 days

#4 posted 07-22-2010 11:46 AM

From the 4th picture this looks like maple…?. Either way though this would make an awesome bar-top. Whatever your desired final thickness is, have it cut a minimum of a 1/2” thicker. As wide as it looks an inch or more over thick would be better as this will allow for re-flattening after the inevitable cupping during the drying process. Good luck!

View Timberwerks's profile


376 posts in 4442 days

#5 posted 07-22-2010 02:30 PM

If you have a router and a large straight cutting bit you can use rails and a sled to level off the slab. Takes a little time but easily do-able.


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