Wood Slabs & Lumber Toronto
What’s so special about live edge slabs?
Live edge furniture has grown significantly in popularity over the past couple of years. Live edge wood slabs are cuts of wood that do not have finished edges and they have the same shape as when someone cut them from the tree.
As bespoke furniture specialists in Toronto, we only use high-quality Canadian wood slabs. If you’re looking to create a rustic table with a natural edge bench then we recommend you consider using natural edge wood slabs.
The natural appearance and the interesting wood characteristics, such as the knots, the cracks, and the figure is impressive. At the end of the day, it is satisfying to own a tabletop made by nature itself with history literally written into their rings and hasn’t been transformed beyond recognition.
Another special aspect of live edge timbers is that each one is unique, as no tree in the world is the same. Each tree grows differently and even within the set of lumber cuts from a single log you won’t find the same piece.
There are many different species of wood that you can use for your handcrafted furniture. Each of these has its own unique characteristics, so it is a matter of preference in most cases. As hardwood furniture specialists, we prefer to work with black walnut ash and also maple and oak timber. You can also find how to recognize different types of wood.
Colour – Darker wood tone
Density – High density, Medium texture, fairly lightweight.
Grain – Straight fine grain
Common Uses – High-end furniture, carving, flooring, musical instruments, and gun stocks.
Finishing – Natural finish or oil.
Black walnut slabs are dark, hard, and dense with straight tight grains and irregular texture (waves or curls) and are the most common and popular choice for our clients.
Walnut has a rich colour that ranges from chocolate brown (heartwood) to yellow (outer of the tree). The most assuring quality of the black walnut wood we carry is the natural resistance to decay and insects.
Black Walnut’s heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with even darker brown streaks. Sometimes, it will have a grey, purple, or reddish cast. Black Walnut’s sapwood is pale yellow-grey to nearly white.
Its grain is usually straight, but sometimes can be irregular.
Walnut is one of the most valuable and unique species of hardwoods. It is rare and is often used for higher-end furniture.
Black walnut is one of the most durable hardwood and it also works well with multiple types of materials such as glue, stain, and finishes. This hardwood has good dimensional stability, shock resistance, and strength properties.
Due to its quality, black walnut is considered a premium domestic hardwood, its price is in the higher range among all the other hardwoods and the price goes higher because of its increasing demand and decreasing supply of black walnut trees.
Colour – Light Brown & Pinkish red
Density – Very hard and strong.
Grain – Varied and openly porous grain patterns.
Common Uses – Furniture, cabinets, moulding, trim, flooring, panelling, turning.
Finishing – Natural finish or oil, but they may vary. The stain is commonly used in finishing.
Oakwood is another common type of wood when it comes to furniture making. Oak Lumber is highly durable and its grain pattern is quite unique, which makes it one of the easier species to recognize and it looks great stained or with a natural finish. Its unusual patterns give a lot of character to design or space.
Although there are more than 600 species of oak trees, the most common species are red and white oak. Both have visible growth rings, straight grains and are light brown, although red oak has a reddish tone.
White Oak Wood
White Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods. It is hard and heavy with medium bending and crushing strength, but low in stiffness.
White oak’s heartwood is a light to medium brown, its sapwood is light-coloured, and its grain is straight with a coarse uneven texture. White Oak has a very high rot resistance, it is very durable. White oak is hard and heavy with medium bending and crushing strength, but low in stiffness. However, it reacts really well to steam-bending. It is one of the common woods used in boat building due to its great wear-resistance.
Red Oak Wood
Red oak is as popular and widely used as white oak. It is the most abundant species, it is more abundant than white oaks. Compared to White oak, Red oak, just like its name suggested, it has more of a pinkish-reddish brown tone, however, the heartwood of red oak is around the same colour as the white oak.
The wood itself is similar to white oak, but red oak has smaller rays compared to white oak. Red oak is hard and heavy with medium bending and stiffness, with high crushing strength.
Finally, it is a relatively inexpensive wood, while the price for white oak is a little bit higher.
Colour –Nearly white to an off-white cream colour. But it can be reddish or golden hue.
Density – Moderately hard but strong.
Grain – Closed and generally straight
Common Uses – Everything from furniture and woodenware to flooring and millwork.
Finishing – Takes all finishes.
Maple flourishes in southeastern Canada and the largest quantities of hard maple wood are found around the Great Lakes.
The maple tree is sturdy, resistant to splitting and durable. It remains strong when bent, absorbs shock well, works nicely with both power and hand tools, and resists to wear and to insect attack. These qualities make it is ideal for dining, kitchen and other furniture that takes abuse, such as desks, workbenches, countertops and butcher blocks. Maple is a relatively inexpensive hardwood.
Hard Maple Lumber
Another name for Hard maple is Sugar maple because this specific type of tree is usually used to gather maple syrup. Hard maple is considered the king of the Acer genus (general maple species). Hard maple is a lot stronger, stiffer, harder, and denser than all of the maple species.
Hard maple’s sapwood, the outer layer of the wood between the heartwood and the bark, are often used in lumber. Sapwood colour ranges from nearly white to an off-white cream colour, occasionally with a reddish or golden hue.
Hard maple’s heartwood, wood near the center, tends to have a darker reddish-brown. Hard maple’s grain consists of fine, generally straight uniformed lines. It has no excessive odour from the wood. Hard maple has a high resistance to abrasion and wear. It also acquires steam-bending properties.
Also known as Ambrosia Maple. Ambrosia (Wormy) maple is not a distinct species of maple such as hard maple or soft maple, the reason for the name is to specifically describe a fungal discoloration caused by wood-boring beetles, Ambrosia beetles.
The Ambrosia beetles bore into the trunk of the trees, bringing the ambrosia fungi which stain and discolour the surrounding wood, creating a unique pattern.
Most Ambrosia (Wormy) maple is found in species of soft maple, these include red maple, silver maple, box elder, striped maple, and bigleaf maple.
Colour – Beige or creamy-brown.
Density – Tough, flexible.
Grain – Open-grained with occasional brown streaks.
Common Uses – Fine Furniture, Flooring, millwork, boxes/crates, baseball bats, and other turned objects such as tool handles.
Finishing – Takes all finishes.
Ash trees are medium to large trees that grow throughout the east coast, Canada and other parts of the world and it’s known for its durability. Ashwood is a light brown coloured and smooth-grained hardwood that is a very attractive option for fine furniture.
Its sapwood can be very wide and it can have a colour variation from beige to light brown. White ash’s heartwood and sapwood are relatively close in colour. Its grain is usually always straight and regular, its texture is similar to oak, coarse.
White Ash has great overall strength properties, it also has excellent shock resistance and works great with steam bending. They are the least expensive utility hardwoods available in North America, they are around the same price with oak.
White ash is commonly used for tool handles where toughness and impact resistance is the most important. Finally, ash slabs are a relatively inexpensive wood type.
How much do live edge wood slabs cost?
Before starting your project, you should first set a budget, as the wood you choose will drive the final price of your furniture. When you start looking at slabs, you will find that some solid wood slabs are very expensive and some are more affordable. The primary reason is demand and supply.
Nowadays, the demand for live edge timber is quite high. On the other hand, creating live edge lumber by cutting a tree into slabs is challenging and the least efficient way to use a tree.
Another important factor is also the supply of wood. Some species are extremely rare and it is difficult to source them. That is why live edge wood tends to be more expensive than traditional lumber and why walnut slab is more expensive than ash or maple. If you are out of budget, the best way to save money when buying slabs is to consider using a species other than a walnut.
Also, thicker slabs have more material, so the thicker the cut, the more expensive the timber will be. It is worth mentioning that you should avoid the very thin slabs, as the final product, such as a table or bench won’t be stable and might break. The optimal thickness is between 2”-3”.
Quality slab VS Cheaper options
Finally, beware of the slab quality you are buying. Cheaper options in the market are usually selling lumber that is not dried properly. The timbers might suffer serious distortion during the drying process and end up dished or warped, or with severe cracks. The slabs might also are mispresented or sourced from countries that are not following the best practices.
At 1BENMU- Furniture & Design Studio in Toronto, we are concerned about sustainable forestry and always source our log from well managed Canadian forests. Also when it comes to the slab preparation, we are following the highest standard, just to make sure that the piece is properly dried and ready for production.
Slab drying techniques
No matter the wood species you select to make a piece of furniture, as a freshly cut tree slab, it will contain high moisture content. To prepare the slabs for production we always take the time to dry them out. This way, they are adequately de-moisturized, stable in size and grade and ready to be finished.
You have to avoid the air-dried stock. Kiln-dried slabs won’t experience significant shrinkage, which is often accompanied by warping, during the heating season, so it won’t cause issues when the furniture is in your room. Finally, an air-dried slab may also have insects living it, which can cause all kinds of problems. Kiln-drying kills insects.
Almost all the slabs we are selling are kiln-dried and few of them are air-dried.
Kiln drying is the most common process if you want to use the slabs to make furniture. All the logs are placed into a kiln and heat is applied by raising the temperature slowly to 170°F. At the end of this process, there will only be between 6-10% moisture content in the logs, and this is something we are monitoring carefully, to achieve the highest quality result.
This process ensures that all insects, eggs and bugs in the wood get killed, minimizes unwanted log shrinkage, checking or cracking and increases slab strength.
Air Drying is a natural process of drying in the open air by stacking the slabs with spacers between them. It allows the wood to naturally dry in the open from 8 to 16 months depending on the species.
Some advantages of the air drying over the kiln drying are that the slab is evenly dried with minimal natural cracking. It is less fragile, won’t break off easily and it has up to 20% more of its colour. The high kiln temperature fade some of the subtler wood grain colours.
More wood option, depending on the project
In addition to the projects that require hardwood, we also offer other wood options, such as veneer particle board or laminate. Wood veneers are a traditional and important part, especially for custom millwork projects.
Our expert woodworkers will make veneers look seamless, with perfect corners veneers and the same time will bring down the cost, to work with your budget.
Final Thoughts on Wood Slabs
The first thing to do when planning your live edge furniture is to decide the size and shape you would like. Try to imagine the final piece, as this will help you a lot in choosing the right slab.
Searching for live edge timber in without preparation can be the most time-consuming part. It is critical when purchasing any lumber to be sure that the seller has cut and dried it correctly.
If you found the perfect piece, don’t assume that the slab will stay there forever. From our experience, although we only sell our slabs in Toronto and GTA, the best pieces can be sold within a few hours.
Once you get your live edge wood slab, you should take your time and plan exactly the process. The main reason why the solid wood pieces are so popular is the uniqueness, and you don’t want to end up ruining the piece. The natural edge piece you felt in love with will not appear again.
If you have any concerns or questions about the wood slabs you can use for your project, please contact us. As the solid wood specialists in Scarborough, we know exactly how to help you choose the best live edge wood piece. We will provide you with recommendations and everything you need to know about live edge wood slabs so that you can use them for your next project.
Finally, in addition to the slabs you can find in our online store, we also have a large collection of different slabs in our studio located in Scarborough, suitable for benches and tables, such as dining, coffee, side, console tables etc.
Learn more about our Live Edge Wood Slabs.
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