Whoah. We got tipped off to this great DIY project for making your own Nakashima-esque table and we're totally impressed (and think we might actually be able to pull this one off).
We found the project on Casa Sugar where one of their readers sent in how she made this table. Judging by the results, the amount of sanding is totally worth it:
I recently embarked on a DIY project where I crafted a large Nakashima-style (live-edge) coffee table myself. In short, here's what I did. I purchased an Acacia wood slab on eBay. Nakashima routinely used Black Walnut for his projects — but Acacia is actually heavier/stronger than Black Walnut and, from what I've seen, it's more economical. It also has a beautiful grain. I sanded the table down with a random orbit sander in the direction of the grain. (For this particular project, I used a RIDGID 5 In. Random Orbit Sander. It's a tool that's generally well reviewed and I highly recommend it.) I started sanding the wood with 40-grit sandpaper, and worked myself up to 60, 80, 120, 150, and 220.
You can read the rest of her directions on the Casa Sugar site.