Knotty Questions Starting a Walnut Live Edge Table

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Forum topic by Fritz_from_PA posted 07-26-2019 01:27 AM 697 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1030 days

07-26-2019 01:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: live edge knots tearout

I’m new to Lumberjocks.

I’m just getting started on a live edge, i.e. Nakashima style, coffee table for my daughter. It’s my first live edge project. I’m sure I’ll have a number of questions as I go along. But the first one has to do with dealing with the knots, especially the sapwood-colored one you can see in the first picture. Really gnarly grain on it. Of course I know that in the area around knots grain is always problematic. But I set up my bevel up plane with a 50 degree blade (62 degree total included angle with the bed) with which I’ve been able to plane birds eye maple without tearout, and it was no good. Then I even tried a properly prepared scraper, and even that gave tearout! So, what’s the right strategy for this particularly knotty knot? Should I resort to only sanding that area? Should I fill it with say cyanoacrylate glue and then plane or sand? There are other knots with dark wood that don’t tear nearly to the extent this does. Some of the dark nots are partly cracked around the knot. I’m assuming I should fill those cracks with 2 part epoxy?

There are some larger cracks that I’ll be stabilizing with butterflies. But small ones (some of which terminate out at the edge) that I plan to fill with epoxy (or pehap CAG if they’re really hairline?). Any mistakes in this plan, or just general advice?

Moisture meter is on order to check that the wood is ok before proceeding much farther. I got the kiln dried slab from an established Eastern PA sawmill with a good reputation.

-- Fritz from Pennsylvania

4 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


9985 posts in 2029 days

#1 posted 07-26-2019 02:48 AM

When sharp tools don’t work to calm multidirectional grain. I sand a bit, then go back to the card scraper. If it feels rough, and is as swirled as that second pic shows, that would be my plan.

As for that knot, it is a high impact visual interest. I would clean it up, and use it to it’s best advantage. You have 2 of them, in that bed of swirled grain. I see an Owl, and I don’t do visions. It would be a shame to take the Owl away. If you add the entire swath of heartwood going away from that it becomes a Loon. Leave the eyes at all cost. Mother Nature took a few years to get them right.

-- Think safe, be safe

View farmfromkansas's profile


220 posts in 1069 days

#2 posted 08-07-2019 11:56 AM

On highly figured wood, I use helical cutterheads and sanders. Seems every hand tool, no matter how sharp, will mess up your project, because the grain changes directions. A big belt sander will smooth up that piece. Usually I try to glue knots back to the piece, and they will usually blow out about the time I get the piece to thickness, so then I either carve a piece to fit in the hole, or use bondo to fill it in, and then color the bondo with a marker usually black or dark brown, as many knots are those colors.

View Robert's profile


4987 posts in 2936 days

#3 posted 08-07-2019 01:41 PM

Seems every hand tool, no matter how sharp, will mess up your project, because the grain changes directions.
- farmfromkansas
This is often true.

The problem with tear out is you don’t know until its too late.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bondogaposis's profile


6183 posts in 3807 days

#4 posted 08-07-2019 02:03 PM

I’ve had some quilted maple that gave me the same problems, even a freshly sharpened card scraper would cause tear out. I resorted to sanding as the only method that wouldn’t cause tear out of some sort.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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