How to finish live edge slab

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Matt posted 07-26-2018 02:42 PM 2845 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Matt's profile


2 posts in 908 days

07-26-2018 02:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: live edge ambrosia maple coffee table table sanding finishing polyurethane poly mineral spirits maple crack cracks stabilize cracks residue smooth slab wood slab

I recently took an interest in wood working and decided that as my first project I would make a live edge coffee table. I used an Ambrosia Maple Slab.

I removed the bark and sanded it down. I used 60 girt, 120 grit, and finished with 220 grit. I then finished with 3 coats of clear oil-based polyurethane with a satin finish, because I did not want the overly glossy or bar-top look that an epoxy would give the wood. I sanded gently with 220 grit paper in between coats of poly. I was between doing that and using a steel wool, but ultimately went with the 220 grit sandpaper. My slab has a large crack running about 2/3 of the length of the slab. Since I was not confident enough in my bow tie making skills, I stabilized the crack with 5 metal brackets and wood screws on the table’s underside. I then attached some hairpin legs.

It came out great, in my opinion, for my first stab at working with wood, but it did leave me with a few questions.

Question 1: While applying the first coat of poly, I (stupidly) wiped off the excess with a paper towel. In some of the rougher patches of the wood, some of the paper towel fibers got caught up and now there is a white residue present from the paper towel. What is the best way to get rid of this? Should I sand the affected areas and maybe apply some mineral spirits and then more poly? Should I do that to the whole thing?

Question 2: Since the smoothness of the wood varies because of the knots and grain, some spots on the tabletop are not as smooth as others. Is there a way to fix this? Similar to question 1, should I sand more and apply more poly? Is mineral spirits needed at all? Will mineral spirits remove the poly completely?

Question 3: Is it okay that I used screws and metal brackets to stabilize the cracks? This was just the easiest way for me to do it given my experience level.

Thanks for giving this a look! I look forward to any and all responses!

-- Matt

5 replies so far

View bugradx2's profile


240 posts in 986 days

#1 posted 07-26-2018 03:04 PM

The table looks awesome!

For question 1 – you’ll have to sand down to the paper residue to remove it. It won’t be very fun and could wind up causing other issues if the finish you have to reapply doesn’t take very well. I would try to see what sanding down to it on a chunk of scrap does and then make up your mind. It might just be where you store magazines. I would not use mineral spirits because that will cause lots of other problems.

For question 2 – some of what you’re fighting is the difference in the actual structure of the wood. Knots absorb finishes differently than the “normal” grain of the wood. It’s tough to say if sanding will fix that because you’re still applying a finish to two different types of wood. You might be best off continuing to apply light coats and build up several layers of finish to get it leveled out how you want it.

For question 3 – if someone comes into your house and criticizes that construction technique throw them out and tell them to make their own! Realistically it’s all about what you want to do. If you don’t want to use bow ties, epoxy fillers or any of that stuff then what else can you do?

my 2 cents….

-- The only thing not measured in my shop is time

View Rich's profile (online now)


6386 posts in 1556 days

#2 posted 07-26-2018 03:58 PM

Mineral spirits won’t cause problems. It’s a good cleaner that won’t otherwise affect the finish. It will remove wax though. I’m using it right now to clean off rub cut oil from some lacquered surfaces that I’m rubbing out with pumice. It cuts right through the oil and leaves a surface ready for waxing.

It’s hard to say what to do about the bits of paper towel. You should have cleaned that off before the poly dried. That’s a good application for mineral spirits and naphtha since it is a solvent for uncured poly. Now that the poly has cured, it won’t do anything.

There might be some benefit to sanding it down though, since the poly will remain in the looser grained areas and a few more coats will tend to smooth out the overall finish.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


5926 posts in 3318 days

#3 posted 07-26-2018 04:09 PM

Q1 Sand it down.
Q2 Apply a sanding sealer like Sealcoat, rough spots are usually areas that are more porous, a sanding sealer evens things up. Sand the whole top, apply Sealcoat sand again and apply poly. No mineral spirits won’t dissolve cured poly.
Q3 Yes, it is okay.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Andybb's profile


3040 posts in 1570 days

#4 posted 07-26-2018 04:28 PM

The long and the short of it???

The Long…..Plenty of available posts, youtube vids books and readings on the advanced techniques.

The Short…...The slab looks awesome!

If you want more input show us a few more pics including what you did underneath.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Matt's profile


2 posts in 908 days

#5 posted 08-23-2018 07:04 PM

Thanks for all of your replies! Very helpful!

-- Matt

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics