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River Table

Combine a live-edge slab and tempered glass to create a topographic top

Brendan Whitehead

A few years ago, my wife fell in love with a unique slab-topped table. What she loved most was the way the glass followed the grain of the wood. This clever combination resembled a topographic map of a river, while the live edge (flipped inward) seemed to rest just beneath the water’s surface. Unfortunately, the table had an equally impressive price tag. I’ve seen a few similarly designed dining tables sell for as much as $10,000.

Inspired by that design, I decided to build one for myself. Not too long after that, I began teaching others how to make their own one-of-a-kind tables at the Denver Woodcraft store.

What I like most about this project is that no two tables are ever alike. In this story, I’m building a 24 × 40" coffee table, but the size is up to you (and the slab you select). I’ve helped students employ the same techniques to make everything from small end tables to large dining tables. My largest project to date measures 33 × 50".

The project may appear difficult, but once the glass has been cut to the pattern (see “Clear Options,” p. 40) most students can complete the top and base by the end of my 3-day class. Unlike typical projects, providing dimensioned parts and exact step-by step instruction doesn’t really work with this project. That’s because no two slabs are exactly alike. I think this creative freedom is part of the fun.

To build your table, first determine the desired dimensions, and then start shopping for a slab. To narrow the selection, start with slab thickness. My tables vary from 11/4"-to 13/4"-thick, depending on the size of the project.

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June-July 2017