How To Build a Live Edge Table with Help From Magnetic Welding Squares

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We don’t get an awful lot of free time on the farm, but when I do settle in for the evening I’ve been known to burn my free time up perusing the internet. It’s pretty easy to get sucked down one rabbit hole or another, but the ones that have captured my attention are the DIY projects that go from start to finish in about 3 minutes and 28 seconds. If only, right? When I saw one that required a chainsaw and a welder to build a live edge table I was intrigued. I happened to have a big maple log down in the woods and a pile of steel tubing in the shop – both perfect for the job. Coincidently the video appeared on the same day I received a couple samples of IMI magnetic welding squares to test for Home Fixated. It almost seemed pre-ordained.

To give credit where credit is due, I decided to include a link to the video that inspired this project, (our editor would like to note that we do not recommend relying on leg hair as a substitute for protective chainsaw chaps – more info at the end of our recent article on PPE). Given my level of welding and woodworking skills, any similarities to the look of the final product is purely coincidental. So, without further ado, let’s learn how to build a live edge table.

maple log
The log I wanted my table top was deep in the woods on a 30 degree slope. We did survive.

What is Live Edge?

Live edge or natural edge is a style of furniture where the furniture designer or craftsperson incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the design of the piece. … Some leave the natural holes and cracks in the wood while other artists fill them with resins. For purposes of this project, I intended to leave the wood in as natural a state as practical. I ultimately ended up removing the bark as it was partially rotted. The log had been on the ground for some time apparently.

cutting the slab
Cutting the slab evenly off the tree trunk was a bit of a challenge on the 30 degree slope
The next trick was getting the piece of wood loaded onto the ATV and out of the woods.

The Log – The Soul of our Live Edge Table

I was faced with the age old chicken or the egg dilemma early on in this project, where to start. Ultimately, I decided the size on the wood cutoff would determine the size of the metal base. The log I had intended to use would come from a large maple tree that had been felled by loggers at the behest of the previous owners, but was left to decay because it’s location made access difficult at best.

When I detailed my plan to retrieve the piece I wanted my wife was almost able to conceal the roll of her eyes, but gamely agreed to walk up to the site. She agreed to have the medivac helicopter on standby as I maneuvered the ATV close enough to get my chainsaw and myself close enough to cut the end of the log off and load it on to the ATV. I used my biggest saw to cut the uneven end of the log off and then cut about a 10” thick piece to utilize as the table top. Because of the awkwardness of working on a 30 degree slope, the cut wasn’t perfect. Having successfully procured the wood for this project, we retreated from the woods, glad to still be in one piece.

I attempted to square the piece of wood up so it would sit flat on the base. It proved to take several attempts, by the time I was close, the 10″ thick piece was down to 7″ thick.
laying out the base
The next step was to measure and then mark the location for the base.The size of the base was dependent on what was needed to provide a stable base for the top.
cleaning up the tube stock
I cleaned up the tube stock with an abrasive disc on the angle grinder to remove paint and other contaminants.
cutting base to length
I then cut the tube stock to size for the base.
marking 45
I then marked the pieces that had been cut to length with 45 degree angles so the base would be a closed square.
cutting the angles
Then I cut the angles on the abrasive chop saw as accurately as my saw would allow.

About IMI Magnetic Welding Squares

IMI is an industry leader in providing both permanent magnets and electromagnets for work holding, lifting, fixturing, conveying and magnetic separation. Their standard Magnetic Welding Squares are now made in the USA and are ideal for welders that need fast set-up and accurate holding of sheet stock or tubing. Ferrous stock can be securely held at angles of 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, 90° and 180°. Mounting holes are provided for fixturing squares into jigs and are sized to allow fingers to fit in them to help with positioning. The two I received for testing were the copper plated models that resist weld spatter and reduce marks on work surfaces. You can see a complete line of their welding products at the “More Info” button at the end of this article.

laying base pieces
The IMI Magnetic Welding Squares facilitated the layout of the cut pieces for the base.
The magnetic squares held the stock firmly in the correct position while I tacked the pieces together.
The magnet also provided a handy clamping surface for the ground when I joined the two halves together.

How To Make the Live Edge Table Base

I have a pile of 2” steel tubing in the shop, leftover bracing from overseas containers that I was able to salvage a few years back. I decided this stock would be ideal, being free and available. I decided which side of my slab, or more accurately, cookie, would be the top and which would be the bottom. I found the rough center on the bottom and then, using a speed square, drew out the outline for the base, centering it and allowing for plenty of wood overhang all the way around. The base ended up being 10” square.

I cut 4 pieces of the tubing to 10”, then did my best to cut both ends of these pieces to 45 degrees. My chop saw is not exactly commercial grade, but the pieces fit together somewhat. I then used the IMI magnetic welding squares to position and hold the four sides of the base together while I tacked them and then welded the base together. The magnets provided a stable working template and held the pieces precisely where I wanted them. Once I had the square closed up I wasn’t able to attach the ground clamp to the base, but I was able to clamp in on one of the magnets, which was more than adequate. Once the base was welded together I used my angle grinder to smooth the welded seams.

legs on
The IMI Magnetic Welding Squares facilitated the correct placement of the legs and held them securely in place during the welding process.

This Steel Tubing Has Legs

Still having a decent pile of the 2” tubing, and seeing how nicely it fit, it was the perfect candidate for the legs. The table was going to be used on the porch to support my cold beverages through the current heat wave we are experiencing, so that factored in to the leg length. I cut the legs to 12”, along with the 2” base and my finished working thickness of 7” on the wood gave me a table top height of 21”. Right in my range from the Adirondack chair on the porch.

I again utilized the IMI magnetic welding squares to hold the legs to the base while tacking and welding them into place. These magnets are excellent as they firmly hold the stock in place, but also allow you to reposition the stock with firm taps of a hammer to move the stock into the exact position you want. After welding the legs into place I again used the angle grinder to smooth the welded seams.

I used a couple of the cutoff ends as tabs to secure the base to the top. The magnets again helped position and hold the pieces securely as I welded them into place.

Attachment Points for the Live Edge Table Top

I still needed a way to secure the wooden top to the steel base. The inspirational video showed small pieces of angle stock being welded to the base to provide tabs to lag the base to the top. I still had the small angle ends I had cut from the stock for the base and decided these would be adequate to hold the two components together. I used the IMI magnetic Welding Squares to hold the tabs in place. Again, they proved to be the perfect tool for the job. I simply set the magnets on top of the base and set the tabs inside the base, held in place by the magnets. I then welded a couple of quick beads on each tab and was done. I then drilled holes through the tabs to screw through into the wooded top.

cardboard paint booth
I used a scavenged piece of cardboard to make an improvised spray booth.
more coats
This is just the first coat, multiple coats of paint gave a decent finish to the base. The focus is sure to be on the top.
rubber feet
I had some of these rubber receiver covers lying around, they fit perfectly and will prevent the raw ends of the legs from marring the floor. They are held in place with a clear acrylic caulk.

Finishing the Base

Just like in the video, I felt a glossy black paint would be the best finish for the legs and base. It should provide an interesting contrast to the natural wood finish of the top. I don’t have a spray gun, and have been happy with the results I get from a good quality spray can of paint. I applied two coats of a gloss black enamel and was happy with the finish.

My concern at this point was where the legs would contact the floor. I wasn’t happy with the raw steel sitting on the painted floor of the porch. I discovered that a cover for a 1 1/4” towing receiver fit perfectly on the ends of the legs and provided both cushion and stability. I attached these covers with a clear acrylic caulk, and they seem to be quite secure.

grinding the ridges
I used the angle grinder with an abrasive disc to knock down the major ridges and irregularities in the top.
I had intended to leave the bark on, but it proved to be to difficult to clean up to take a finish, so I ended up taking it off with a painters tool.
wire brush
I then removed all the loose material with a wire brush on a drill.
I used a random orbit sander on the tops and sides utilizing progressively finer grit to smooth all the surfaces.
apply finish
I applied 8 coats of a satin finish polyurethane, sanding with a 400 grit paper between coats.
After 5 coats the finish was beginning to look promising.

Finishing the Live Edge Wood Top

As I mentioned earlier, I struggled to get an even cut in the woods, so the thickness of the cookie wasn’t symmetrical. I ended up sacrificing some of the thickness to get the wood as close to level as I could with the chainsaw, and ended up with about a 7” thick piece. I had some very pronounced ridges and valleys in the surface for the top. I was after a pretty rustic look, but wanted to be able to set a glass on it without fear of spilling any of the precious contents.

I used the angle grinder with an abrasive disc to take the worst of the deformations out and provide a relatively level surface, though it was far from perfect. I had also intended to leave the bark on, but ultimately ended up removing it as the structure of the wood underneath had been compromised by the elements and time. I removed the bark with a putty knife, and then hit the sides with a wire wheel to clean it up. I then used a random orbit sander with progressively finer grit to smooth the top and sides. Finally, I applied multiple coats of satin finish polyurethane sanding with a 400 grit paper between coats.

I drilled progressively bigger holes in the tabs until I ran out of bits. Someday I’ll get some decent metal cutting bits.
A couple of 3″ x #9 screws held the top firmly to the base.

Attaching the Top

The video version of this project showed four lag bolts being used to attach the base to the top. That seemed like a bit of overkill to me, the top weighs a good 40-50 pounds and is unlikely to go anywhere. I am also limited in my ability to drill larger holes in steel, lacking a good set of bits. I ended up just securing the base through the two tabs with a couple of 3” #9 outdoor rated screws and it seems to be plenty sturdy.

Enjoying the fruits of our labor. It’s was especially rewarding to incorporate a piece of wood from the property into this project.


I had intended this table to be a fixture on the front porch to compliment the two Adirondack chairs my wife and I settle into when the workday is done. It’s doing a fine job of keeping the cold beverages within easy reach, and looks pretty fine doing it. The IMI Magnetic Welding squares played an integral role in the construction of the base. They were accurate and easy to manipulate, as well as easy to clean up afterwards. The copper sides made a great conductor when I needed to use it for a ground, and cleaned up easily, with no welding slag sticking to them at all. They come in a variety of configurations and can be purchased via the link below. A two pack will set you back about $42 and please note that they have a $50 minimum charge, not including shipping.

Buy Now - via

More Info - via

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About Stephen

Stephen hails from a family of DIY’ers, the delusion that no job is too big or complex to tackle on your own originally instilled by his father and further reinforced by his brothers, who are equally afflicted. His first real project was the complete restoration of an old farmhouse in Upstate NY, which was followed by another, setting the pattern. After 40 years in the wine and spirits business (sounds far more glamorous than the reality) he recently retired to an 80 acre sheep farm, where he will continue to farm until his retirement savings are exhausted. As a co-owner of 30 something bicycles (a devotee of the N+ 1 theory of bicycle requirements, where N= the current number owned), he is typically found tinkering on his latest build or out testing said results. Stephen spends his spare time (face it, all of his time) drinking good coffee, currying homegrown produce or fixing whatever is currently non-operational. He also spends whatever time he can with an ever growing extended family. When his wife retired they planned to do as much cycle touring as their legs will allow, but the sheep are pretty demanding.

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2 thoughts on “How To Build a Live Edge Table with Help From Magnetic Welding Squares”

  1. Stephen,
    Your table is beautiful! You could easily sell those here in northern MI. 🙂 Glad the magnetic welding squares were so helpful.


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