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How to Build a Live Edge Trestle Table

How to Build a Live Edge Trestle Table

This was a fun little build, But I wasn’t initially sure. When the client approached me with this pine slab, I was reluctant to take on the job. Pine is not what I would call fine furniture, but the piece’s story had provenance. The client also gave me a fair amount of design leeway, allowing me to mix it with a beautiful pairing of wenge.

A few years ago, there was a devastating forest fire that ripped through the Black Forest; it burned a lot of homes in the area and left the landscaped scared.  There are dead-standing trees throughout the area.  This table was built from one of those dead trees slabbed up after the fire for a client who lives in the area.   We have made several pieces from this tree.  I built an entry table for this piece and used the live edge pine for the top and Wenge for the bottom.

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It is a traditional Trestle table style, which I sized to fit the entryway of my client’s home. The main joinery holding the table together is a wedge driven through a tusk tenon.

The light-colored pine makes a beautiful contrast to the rich, dark reddish-brown of the wenge.

More Portfolio Pictures on my Furniture Design Website

Knotty Pine Live Edge Table

Custom Furniture Design and Fabrication by Brian Benham

The Build Process

Live edge Pine Slab

Preparation of the Slab:

This live edge slab was salvaged from the Black Forest Fire, and the clients wanted to preserve the history of burned bark.  So I used CA glue to soak the bark glueing it to the slab so it wouldn’t come off.


Router sled for flattening slabs

Setting Up the Router Sled:


I carve off any protruding branches or irregularities for a decorative effect.

Power Carving a knot so it is decorative

I used shims to level the slab and a router sled to flatten one side.  Once the slab was flattened on one side, it set flat against my torsion box assembly table so I could route the other side flat.


Layout mortises

Routing Mortises:

I ganged the parts together so I could quickly and accurately lay out the location for the mortises.

Routing mortises

I then set up the router sled with runners to ensure the mortises were centered. I routed a mortise, flipped it around, and re-routed.


Cleaning Up Mortises with a chisel

Cleaning up Mortises

The router leaves rounded corners in the mortises, so I used a chisel to square them up.


Cutting a tenon using a Japanese Pull Saw

Cleaning up the tenons

I used a dado blade in the table saw to cut the cheeks of the tenon, but to ensure an accurate fit, I cut the shoulders using a Japanese pull saw.


Hand chopping with a mallet and chisel an angled mortise

Wedged Tenon

I wanted a decorative wedge to hold a tusk tenon in place. Since there is no good way to cut a tapered-through mortise with a router, I simply chiseled the mortise by hand and followed the angled layout line I had created with a wedge.

Wedge Tusk Tenon

Above is the completed wedged tusk tenon

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.