Well, color me impressed — really, really impressed. The other week, when I answered a reader's question about Nakashima-esque tables, I also read a great message in the comments from Hazelnut_Spread. She shared that she'd actually made this type of table herself.
I recently embarked on a DIY project where I crafted a large Nakashima-style (live-edge) coffee table myself. In short, here's what I did. I purchased an Acacia wood slab on eBay. Nakashima routinely used Black Walnut for his projects — but Acacia is actually heavier/stronger than Black Walnut and, from what I've seen, it's more economical. It also has a beautiful grain. I sanded the table down with a random orbit sander in the direction of the grain. (For this particular project, I used a RIDGID 5 In. Random Orbit Sander. It's a tool that's generally well reviewed and I highly recommend it.) I started sanding the wood with 40-grit sandpaper, and worked myself up to 60, 80, 120, 150, and 220.
To see a gallery of Hazelnut_Spread's gorgeous table, as well as find out the rest of the steps, read more.
Hazelnut_Spread continues, explaining that
I also rubbed the edges with a wire brush and stripped away any excess bark. I didn't go to town carving it down because I like a rough-hewn/natural look on a live-edge table. I treated both sides with five coats of clear, high-gloss polyurethane. I lightly sanded the wood in between coats with 220 grit. I wiped off excess dust with mineral spirits and waited for it to evaporate before I resumed the process. I obtained 16-inch round-tapered (Danish-modern style) legs for the table. The legs came with metal feet, but I removed them and sanded around the bottoms a little more. I stained them and affixed them to the bottom with angled top plates. I drilled pilot holes for the angled plates before screwing them to the bottom of the table.
And voila — I had my Nakashima-style live-edge table (66-in.-w x 21-in.-d x 18-in.-h). I was extremely pleased with the results. Although it was a long process that required a lot of patience, it's a fairly straight-forward project. Some important things to remember include: (1) Always sand in the direction of the grain, (2) allow for more than two-hours drying time in between coats of polyurethane, and (3) give yourself plenty of workspace. I didn't spend more than $250 on the wood, legs, and supplies — so it's a great option for anyone who can't spend a lot of money on these tables (many of which I've seen for $800 and up). It might help to be artistically inclined, but you don't have to be a master craftsman to pull this off.
If you're interested in posting pictures of stunning projects like this, make sure to join my Su Casa group!