February 13, 2024 3 min read

Selecting the ideal wood for live edge tables is a crucial decision that significantly influences the beauty, durability, and overall quality of the final product. In this article, we will explore the commonly used wood varieties for crafting live edge tables, the reasons behind avoiding oak, the captivating allure of walnut, efficient wood stock management, addressing exotic wood requests, and ensuring safety when working with exotic woods.

Types of Wood Used for Live Edge Tables

At our workshop, we use a variety of wood species to create live edge tables, with walnut being the most requested wood type. In addition to walnut, we work with maple, elm, sycamore, cherry, ash, and other domestic woods commonly found in the Kansas City area. These woods are favored because of their availability and excellent craftsmanship potential.

Why We Avoid Oak for Live Edge Tables

Oak is a fantastic wood for many woodworking projects, but when it comes to crafting large live edge tables, we tend to steer clear of it. The main reason is that oak has a tendency to honeycomb during the drying process. This can result in the formation of small voids and imperfections within the wood, leading to significant extra labor and time spent on trying to rectify these issues.

The Beauty of Walnut

Walnut, on the other hand, is a stunning wood choice for crafting live edge tables. While the exterior of a walnut tree might not seem impressive, the true beauty is revealed when it's cut. Walnut boasts natural beauty that is hard to match with its rich, dark color and intricate grain patterns. Fortunately, in the Midwest, especially in Kansas City, walnut trees are abundant, and we make every effort to acquire as many as possible.

Wood Stock Management

To maintain the quality of our live edge tables, we always keep an assortment of different hardwoods in stock, with walnut being a top priority. While we do receive a constant influx of logs, we must be careful not to overfill our yard with woods that may not be used promptly. Walnut is one of the few wood species that we almost never turn away because we know it will always find its way into our projects over time.

Dealing with Exotic Wood Requests

Occasionally, we receive requests for exotic wood species. These requests are usually from clients who already have existing pieces in their home or business made from those exotic woods. Some examples of exotic woods include acacia, monkey pod, zebrawood, wenge, and ipe. Since these woods are not readily available in our region, we are happy to source them for our clients, even if it extends the project timeline.

Safety Measures with Exotic Woods

Working with exotic woods like wenge and ipe requires additional safety precautions. These woods are extremely hard and dense, and in the case of wenge, they have a tendency to splinter and shoot out of machinery. Therefore, it is crucial to always wear proper safety gear when handling these woods. This includes not only ensuring that your equipment is properly outfitted but also wearing protective gear for yourself to minimize the risk of injury.


Choosing the best for live edge tables is a critical decision that impacts the final product's quality and appearance. While walnut is a preferred choice for its natural beauty and availability, we also accommodate requests for exotic woods. Regardless of the wood type, safety should always be a top priority when working with woodworking machinery and materials.

If you have any further questions or specific wood preferences for your live edge table project, please feel free to contact KC Custom Hardwoods today. We are here to assist you in creating the perfect piece of furniture for your space.