Live edge wood slabs are a unique and interesting way to bring wood elements into your home. Reflecting the organic shapes of the trees themselves, live edge slabs pair particularly well with metal components such as welded frames, hairpin legs, or in this case, an antique sewing machine treadle base.
I was excited to find the sewing machine base in a local thrift store. Even though it was chipped and rusty in some spots, I decided against painting it. I did polish it with some paste wax and then lightly sprayed it with a clear coat.
The live edge slab was milled locally. Even though I knew it would be a lot of work to sand it smooth, I definitely underestimated how much work it would take, especially with my little finishing sander. I really should have invested in a planer or belt sander! I started with 60 grit and sanded up to 220. The last pass was with a sanding pad that resembled those green scrubby pads for dishes, but softer. It was recommended to me by the staff at my local Woodcraft. I think they are usually used to polish turned wood.
Before sanding the slab, I also filled the cracks and any pits with a 5 minute epoxy mixed with finely ground coffee. The epoxy-coffee mixture is much darker than the wood, but I thought it would look great with the black base. Applying it is a bit scary, but it sands down very well.
To finish the slab, I applied 2 coats of boiled walnut oil which brought out the grain, followed by a polish with the pad. I decided I wanted to try using shellac to finish the table. I hadn’t worked with shellac before, and while I liked it, it was definitely challenging to work with. I made a 1 lb cut and first applied it with a brush. It came out awful! The edges of each pass of the brush dried into ripples and looked so silly. Unlike an oil-based polyurethane that will self level, so brush strokes won’t show, shellac is alcohol-based and dries within minutes so technique was really important. The nice part about shellac, though, is that mistakes can be removed with denatured alcohol, versus polyurethane that usually needs a chemical stripper.
After buffing out the uneven ripples with an alcohol soaked pad, I switched to applying the shellac with a cloth. It took many more coats than if I’d used a brush to build up that glassy finish, but I’m happier with the results. After each coat, I polished with the pad.
Even though this table was a lot of work (my shoulders are still sore as I write this!), I love the funkiness of the slab, the asymmetry on the base, and the age of the sewing base.
This table is SOLD.