If you haven’t heard of the term “live edge” before, you’ve at least more than likely seen and admired a few pieces without realizing it. This type of furniture could also be referred to as “natural edge”. Pieces are made while retaining part or all of the natural outer edge of the tree being used, creating a gorgeous and unique look with rustic appeal. Some craftspeople even choose to leave the bark intact, although those who remove it do so because it has a tendency (depending on the use of the furniture or architectural piece) to break off anyway.
While most tables and shelves are made in either square, rectangle or round shapes, and have their edges perfectly smoothed out, a live edge table or shelf will highlight the natural curves of the wood, and the unique characteristics of the tree it was made from. What would normally be seen as “imperfections” in the wood and bark are actually turned into positive and much sought after traits.
Compared to most factory made furniture, live edge furniture is considered to be far more environmentally friendly. It brings out the custom furniture appeal because the shape isn’t smoothed or cut into perfect geometric shapes, more of the tree can be retained as part of the finished piece. When more of one tree can be used, fewer trees are required, meaning that the environment is affected less than other tradition furniture manufacturing. An even bigger benefit to our forests is that most of the trees being used actually come from already dead or dying trees or from their root systems. With so much dead and standing wood being salvaged, fewer living trees need to be harvested, even as live edge becomes more popular.
The creation process of live edge furniture is more environmentally friendly as well. Using far fewer machines, craftsmen and carpenters instead opt for hand tools to help preserve the natural state of the wood they use in their pieces. Drawknives, chisels, sandpaper, and other hand tools form the bulk of the necessary items from which quality furniture springs to life. The pieces are generally rubbed with oil which helps seal the moisture in and protect the wood. With most of the work being done by hand, the energy being used in this industry is far less than that of a standard furniture producer. The pieces hold the character and personality of their creators, giving them a feel that a mass produced table or shelf simply can’t compare with.
Despite what you might initially think, live edge furniture lends itself well to a variety of styles and home decor treatments. You certainly don’t have to live in a log cabin with a woodstove and arrangement of furs to compliment these beautiful pieces, and in fact, this type of furniture has been highlighted in some of the most fashionable homes in the country. The design is extremely versatile and can add a unique and environmentally friendly statement piece to a range of different homes, no matter your other decor choices.