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I am working on a live edge coffee table. The two long sides are the live edges and look great, and organic, and natural. The other two sides are boring, flat cuts. I want to make the two short edges look as beautiful and organic as the live edges.

I have considered going at it with a jigsaw, set to 20 - 30 degrees, and sawing in a curved line. That should give it a nicer, more organic shape, and match the slop of the live edges, but it's still just going to be a boring, flat cut. What can I do to make it look more organic.

I thought a draw knife might be some help here but I can barely get a ruffled corner out of it. I assume a chisel will not actually work as rock chips when chiseled (giving the appearance I'd like), but wood does not. I'm working with a cherry slab that ranges between 1.5" and 2" thick.

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  • i clean up live edges with a drawknife, and it would be the tool i'd use to simulate a live edge. can you explain what you mean by "barely get a ruffled corner?" – aaron Apr 23 '18 at 11:50
  • @aaron I've used a drawknife mostly to remove bark in the past, and it glides through pretty easily. When trying it on the cut end I can't get the knife to dig in; it often skips along the top corner. When I do get a little dig I can't get more than a mm, even with all my strength. Maybe I'm working with denser wood than you, or my drawknife just isn't that sharp; it was a pretty cheap one. – Nicholas Apr 23 '18 at 12:44
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    To add a bit to the accepted Answer, see the final paragraph in my Answer to this previous Question, What tools can I use for carving. But for the record, I think it's not likely you'll create a faux-live edge that matches the natural live edge well enough not to look contrived. Even if you manage to shape it well enough that it's convincing (not easy) the grain will give the game away when someone looks close. – Graphus Apr 23 '18 at 13:29
  • @Nicholas - i've done this successfully on cherry, walnut, and pine. The drawknife should be as sharp as any other hand tool edge - sharp enough to shave is a decent guide. When it's not sharp enough it will skate along the surface as you've described. – aaron Apr 23 '18 at 19:29
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    hahah i just realized that the OP is talking about end grain. Well, for end grain there really is no live edge. The surface you want depends purely on aesthetics, and any curve you add should probably be guided from what works on a macro-level with the piece than on a micro-level attempt to mimic a long-grain live edge. That said, a stippled look can be nice, and is easily accomplished with a gouge. (while a sharp drawknife will work in end grain, i don't think its really appropriate in this context). FWIW, I prefer cross/end grain to be square, flat, and super smooth on live edge pieces. – aaron Apr 23 '18 at 19:37
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You can get a semi-organic result by using an attachment to the common right angle side grinder, if you are confident of not amputating a limb:

wood carving cutting attachment

wood carving cutting attachment

These devices are available from many sources, including HF, although that seems risky in itself. Most side grinders have substantial power to spin the cutter and allow you to contour the edges as you desire.

The "chip size" is going to be small, but more easily controlled than would be the case if you used a chain saw.

There are a few videos on the YTube of people creating artwork from raw wood. One such video offers other tools, but seems to focus on this specific model:

https://youtu.be/mdvPOQmQhfg?t=1m43s

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