Friday, August 23, 2013


When we needed an outdoor table for our recently completed patio, I figured I would have to build one myself.  A few years ago, my husband Jeremy designed a beautiful table for our front deck.  However, being finished in polyurethane it needed constant maintenance.  As he watched the polyurethane crack and mold grow underneath, he was in no mood to make another.  That was until I uttered the words “Shou sugi ban”.  His eyes immediately lit up.  I had him hooked! 

Shou sugi ban, or Yakisugi, is a traditional Japanese method of burning cedar (sugi) before finishing it with natural oil.  Normally used as exterior siding, the charred wood is pest and rot resistant for up to eighty years.  So, charring is a beautifully simple way of ensuring the longevity of wood.  Here are a few contemporary examples.
Though a few expletives were uttered during the making of this table (which come standard with my husband’s DIY projects), it was easy to make.  Once charred, the wood appears a silvery grey or shiny black depending on how the light hits it.  We love how this table turned out. 

Hairpin legs (we bartered for a second-hand set at a local street fair, but you can purchase them new here)
2 laminated pine panels 47 ½ “x 15” x 1 ½ “
2 pieces of pine 27 ½” x 5 ½ “x 1” (supports)
1 Bernzomatic UL100 basic propane torch kit
12 wood screws 1 ¼ “
12 sheet metal screws 1 ¼ “
White Rust-Oleum spray paint
Linseed oil/ other natural oil
Sponge brush
Wood glue
Sand paper 
Clamps /tie downs

Step 1:
Use sandpaper to remove any rust from the hairpin legs and to help the paint adhere.  Spray paint them in a well-ventilated room.

Step 2:
Glue the two pieces of laminated pine together and clamp.  Let it rest on a clean, flat surface for approximately 2 hours while the glue cures. 

Step 3:
Glue the supporting pieces of pine approx. 5” from the edge of either end of the table.  Evenly space six wood screws along the length of the supports and screw into wood, making sure they go into the base of tabletop.

Step 4:
Assemble the Bernzomatic torch kit according to instructions.  Light and begin burning the wood, following the grain. 
NOTE: Burn the tabletop in an area clear of vegetation. 

Step 5:
Once both sides are sufficiently charred, use a brush or wet rag to wipe off excess soot.

Step 6:
Use the sponge brush to apply several coats of linseed oil to the tabletop.

Step 7:
Use the sheet metal screws to attach legs to tabletop.

Sit back and enjoy your new table:) Thanks for visiting. Nicole


  1. Hello,
    I'm planning to build an outdoor coffee table using the shou sugi ban technique. Just wondering if there was a lasting residue on the table top that could stain elbows black, or was the residue gone after brushing and the oil treatment?

    1. Hi James,

      I was afraid of the same thing before starting this project. There wasn't much information on residue as people generally use it as house siding, which you don't touch as much. However, the linseed oil does a pretty good job of soaking into the wood and binding the soot particles. We applied about 3 coats to the table top, which seems to have lasted the past few months.
      I suggest testing a small piece of wood first. You could try burning it for different lengths of time, to see if you like the wood lighter or darker, and then apply a few coats of linseed oil to test it out. Have fun. I'm sure you're coffee table will look amazing!

  2. Hey hey.... We're gonna be trying out the shou sugi ban table. Seems like an easy project for Zee and I to tackle. Just wanted to know about your decking.. Is that prefab or did someone install it for you guys?

  3. Hey Reuben,

    So happy you are going to attempt this project. Guess you won't have to worry about the cigarette burns :) Our deck is poured concrete. We happily let someone else tackle that project.

  4. I absolutely love your ideas and clear directions! I have been very curious about attempting to utilize the Shou Sugi Ban style to make some furniture and am so glad someone has clearly laid this out. Do you mind if I repost a link to this on my blog,

    1. Hi, yes feel free to blog about it on your site. Just remember to credit and add a link back to The Felted Fox. Thanks, Nicole

  5. Hi! I tried your awesome table and burned my house down. But then I rubbed the rubble with linseed oil and everything is "A-OK." Thanks for a great table idea.

    1. I'm sure it gave your house a more modern edge too :)

  6. Beautiful technique. We're starting to see more of our clients request this. Here is an article we wrote with some pics and video of us out burning wood!

    Shou Sugi Ban - A Modern Home in Houston