Over the past year and a half, we have been using
live-edge slabs in commission work and in spec
pieces. Very rarely do we purchase a slab that is free
from any sort of cupping or warping. One of the most
time-consuming aspects of using live-edge slabs is the
leveling and flattening process.
Early on, we would place the slab first on a flat
table and then hot glue on shims to build up any
high spots and to keep the slab from rocking. Next,
we would begin the long and repetitive process of
flattening the slab using our single-head widebelt
sander and a 36-grit belt. The process worked just
fine, but as I am sure you could tell from my description, it was not fast.
Even after having the CNC machine up and running, we continued to use this method for far longer
than any of us would like to admit. With CNC technology we found a better way.
We now flatten all of our slabs using the spoil-
board cutterhead, which is a 4-inch flycutter with
carbide inserts. We wrote a basic program that is
easily customized for the current slab dimensions. We
prevent the slabs from shifting during the machining
process by tacking down corner blocks to the spoil-
board. Once one side is flat, we simply flip the slab
over, modify the program for the slab’s new thick-
ness, and repeat the process.
Even though the set-up time takes longer, the overall process is quicker (and far more accurate) than
the 100 percent widebelt method!
Sports medals out of wood
Last Thanksgiving, my wife and some fellow teachers
at her school, hosted a charity fun run to raise support for an 8th grader who is battling cancer. My role
in this endeavor was to make all 300 of the participant medals.
The name of the run was “The Greater 5K”, a
reminder to us that “He who is in us is greater than
he who is in the world”.
My challenge was to figure out how to design a
medal that was pretty, could be machined en mass,
and included the name in an easy to recognize
Pretty – Walnut never fails to impress an audience.
Simple – Keep it simple with symbols and a “less is
Using a CNC to surface live-edge slabs takes less time and is more accurate than using a widebelt sander.