In this article, we shall explore how to build an Epoxy resin table. We shall also provide you with a step-by-step guide in a PDF that you can download also.
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Materials and Tool List
The tools and materials used for constructing a live edge epoxy table can be customized based on your preferences and budget. While having all the items on this list can make the process easier, it’s not necessary to have each one. Here is a selection of tools and materials commonly used to build an epoxy table
- Live edge slabs: To give the table a unique and organic look use slabs that are natural and have untrimmed edges.
- Epoxy (3-gallon kit): We use epoxy resin to give a glossy and transparent look to the surface. The quantity of epoxy resin depends on the size of the table.
- Fast-drying epoxy: To reduce the overall waiting time, use fast-drying epoxy to speed the curing process for the epoxy table.
- Dye starter kit and pigment sample pack: For personalized design additions we use these kits and packs to add color to our epoxy resin
- Melamine: This is used for building the mold of epoxy tables due to its smoothness and durability
- Porter Cable Restorer: For additional sanding and refinishing of the wooden surface we use these Porter cable resorters.
- Variable speed angle grinder: Angle grinders with variable speed provide flexibility in grinding and polishing tasks.
- Wire wheel for angle grinder: This tool is used to remove any rust, imperfections, or paint from the wood.
- Caulk: This is used to prevent leakages by sealing the edges of the mold
- CA glue and activator: To aid in stabilizing and joining certain parts of the epoxy table, we use these adhesives.
- Mold release: To ensure easy removal of the cured epoxy to prevent any damage we apply mold release to the mold surface.
- Osmo thin 1101 finish and Osmo 3043 top coat: Durability and appearance of the table is ensured by using these protective coatings.
- Propane torch: To achieve a smooth surface we use these propane torch to remove any air bubbles within our epoxy.
- Bosch router: These routers are used to provide smoothing and shaping of edges of the table.
- Mixing bucket package: These involve tools and containers to measure and mix our epoxy accurately.
- Buffer for finishing: Gives the table a polished and smooth finish.
- Shellac: It is a type of finish used to enhance the natural beauty of wood and provide additional protection
- Orbital sander: We use an orbital sander to sand larger areas of the epoxy table efficiently.
An alternative sander that suits a limited budget without compromising quality.
- Nitrile gloves: It is necessary to protect yourself from any chemicals and have overall safety.
- Track saw and cheap good circular saw: for accurate cutting and shaping of the wood we use these tools.
- Threaded inserts: To secure components and the table legs, we use thread inserts.
- Paddle mixer: For thoroughly mixing the poxy components we use these Paddle Mixers.
To decide on the table layout
It’s always helpful to start by creating a template that allows us to visualize the final product we intend and this should be the first step in our process of building the epoxy resin table. The template doesn’t need to be complex; simple scrap pieces of 1×1″ lumber can suffice. To get the best visualization, construct the template to match the size of your intended finished table.
Now take ample time to select the layout once you have finalized the template. No matter, if you have a clear vision of what you want as the final product moving things around in different arrangements, can help to see something different. You can do this by Moving the slabs around, flipping them, or even considering adding additional pieces to see how they fit and what the overall effect is. This exploration can lead to surprising and unique design possibilities.
There is absolutely no need to feel self-conscious when trying out layouts in places like a slab supplier’s shop, it’s all part of the creative process.
Now, let’s discuss an important rule for picking an exceptional layout: avoid straight edges. Nature doesn’t produce perfectly straight edges in trees or rivers, so we aim to replicate that natural look in our tables. A section where a limb was cut off won’t appear authentic. While you might think you can carve your natural edge to mimic a curve, it often doesn’t look quite right. The reason is that the natural curves of a tree correspond to the grain pattern. Trying to mimic a curve without the corresponding grain can make it seem artificial. This can be challenging if you only have slabs with straight cuts, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.
Beyond avoiding straight edges, there aren’t any strict rules to follow. I prefer to avoid large areas of open resin as it can look odd and become costly. Instead, I like to match one curve with another piece that curves in a similar area. This approach creates a more natural representation of a river-like design. If you find yourself stuck during the design process, you can seek inspiration from aerial images of real rivers. This can be particularly helpful when incorporating elements like islands or bays into your table’s design.
Once your layout is finalized, mark the shape on the slabs using chalk or pencil. I typically make my lines 2 inches over the intended length and width, providing a 1-inch margin for any potential errors. If precise measurements are essential, ensure that you mark accordingly. However, if you or your client can tolerate slight variations, you can adjust the markings closer to the final desired size.
Cutting The Slabs To Size
To make the slab-cutting job easier it’s good to have specialized tools like a track saw (You can buy this track saw on Amazon by Festool ) but it’s not necessary to have one you can also continue your work with a circular saw or even a Jigsaw. Irrespective of the tool it is important to cut along the line, aiming for straight and clean cuts so we suffer minimum epoxy wastage.
Cleaning up the Slabs
When you want to remove soft spots or bark use a worn-out hammer or dull chisel. An angle grinder with a stainless wire wheel is ideal for removing soft wood while preserving the hardwood. Smaller nylon wheels attached to a drill can tackle hard-to-reach areas. The Porter Cable Restorer is also a cost-effective tool for this purpose. Note that the stainless wheels may leave light marks on the wood. Blasting with walnut shells is another option, although haven’t tried it.
Sealing Your Edges
While there is some debate, We think it’s good to choose to seal the edges of our epoxy tables. Sealing prevents staining from dyed resin and reduces the number of bubbles in the epoxy. It’s important to note that not sealing can result in better resin-to-wood bonding.
For sealing, We advise applying one or two coats of deep-pour epoxy, covering the top, bottom, and sides of the piece. After allowing it to cure partially for about 12-18 hours, it creates a protective barrier while maintaining a sticky surface for a chemical bond. It’s crucial to time this step carefully and have everything ready for the epoxy pour.
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Building your epoxy table form
To build your epoxy table form, you can use melamine, which is affordable and easily accessible. Construct a box that matches the desired size of your finished table, accounting for any additional cushioning. For example, if you want a 94×40″ table, cut your slabs to 96×42″ and build the box accordingly. Add a minimum of 2″ to the height of your sides based on the slab thickness (e.g., 4″ for 2″ thick slabs).
We highly recommend using fast-drying caulk to seal all edges during assembly to ensure a watertight seal and prevent leaks. Caulk is preferred over silicone or construction adhesive, which can make disassembly challenging. Secure the box with construction screws, using pilot holes and countersinking. Apply another seam of caulk on all edges and corners, pressing and dragging your finger along, similar to caulking a bathtub. Allow the caulk to dry overnight before pouring epoxy to ensure its effectiveness.
Adding Mold release
Adding mold release is crucial and should not be skipped. While some people use wax or other substances successfully, using mold release specifically designed for the resin is a reliable choice. However, using house wrap tapes, such as Tuck Tape in Canada or Tyvek tape in the USA, can serve as an exception as resin won’t stick to it. Nonetheless, We advise using mold release instead of tape to avoid tape lines and minimize resin waste beneath the slabs.
Make sure to choose a mold release compatible with epoxy resin. When applying the mold release spray, take precautions to avoid contact with the wood by covering it or spraying it in a separate room. Apply two coats of mold release, allowing each coat to sit for a few minutes before working it in with a paper towel to ensure complete coverage.
To pour Epoxy resin
Here are some helpful tips before you begin working with epoxy resin
- Irrespective of the manufacturer the resin part A can crystallize when subjected to cold temperatures which can lead to liquid resin solidifying fully or partially.
- The simple solution to this issue is to submerge the sealed container in some warm water ensuring it’s halfway submerged and is in the warm water for about an hour or so.
- If you have a bathtub or shop sink use that for this purpose.
- This warm water trick helps in the restoration of the original state of the resin and it is advised to do this with every bucket you purchase as the crystallization can even be present a the bottom of the sealed containers.
Which Epoxy to Buy
The world of deep-pour resin is still relatively new, and epoxy companies are constantly enhancing and refining their formulations. Currently, our go-to choice is Liquid Glass epoxy. It offers exceptional qualities such as superior hardness and remarkable clarity. Moreover, it strikes the right balance of flexibility to prevent any potential separation from the wood caused by seasonal expansion and contraction. While I would feel apprehensive about pouring epoxy over a thickness of 2 inches using other brands, I have successfully poured up to 2.5 inches with the liquid glass without encountering any issues. In contrast, the other epoxies I’ve used are limited to a range of 1.5 to 1.75 inches.
How much epoxy does one need?
- One needs to perform volume calculations to get an estimate of the amount of epoxy required to build your epoxy resin table.
- Measure the width of the river table at intervals of every five inches along its length. Then, divide the sum of these width measurements by the total number of measurements taken to find the average width.
- Measure the length of the river table.
- Measure the height of the slabs used in the table and use the measurement of the shortest slab if they have different thicknesses.
- With the average width, length, and height measurements, you can now perform an LxWxH volume calculation. Multiply the length (L), width (W), and height (H) values together to obtain the volume in cubic inches.
- Use a volume calculator that accepts inches as input and provides liters as output to convert the cubic inches into liters. Input the volume calculated in the previous step and obtain the corresponding value in liters.
- Additionally, there may be some waste to consider. In this case, there is an expected loss of 1/8″ (0.125″ or 30mm) of epoxy underneath the entire table. Multiply the width and length of the table by 0.125 to calculate the amount of epoxy that will be wasted. This value should be added to the total epoxy calculation.
- There’s another area to account for, which is the perimeter around the wood. Generally, this perimeter has a width of at least 1/8″. Add up the lengths of each side of the table to calculate the total perimeter length.
- Add the perimeter length, twice the height of the slabs, and the width between the wood and the mold to the volume calculator. This will provide an additional volume in liters that needs to be factored in.
- Finally, sum up the calculated volumes from the previous steps to determine the total amount of epoxy needed for the pour.
Consider this example, the total amount of epoxy required for the project is calculated as 13.77 liters (from the LxWxH calculation), plus 8.8 liters (for the waste underneath the slabs), plus 1.16 liters (for the perimeter around the wood). The sum of these values equals 23.73 liters, which represents the total amount of epoxy needed for the example pour.
Mixing Your Resin
Use a paddle mixer and a large stick to combine part A and part B in a spacious bucket.
Using a graduated bucket measure your parts for pouring and then transfer them into small buckets. Opt for plastic paint mixers that attach to a power drill for efficient and easy mixing. Scrape the sides and bottom with a long stick while avoiding the top to minimize bubbles. It is suggested to mix on low speed for at least four minutes.
Choosing Your Dye Or Pigment
The choice of dye or pigment is a matter of personal preference. For a solid black color, liquid dyes work well. Powdered pigments are a good option if you are into vibrant colors like green, blue, and pink. It’s no pressure in experimenting and finding the perfect color combination for your needs. To test the color, dip a clear plastic cup into the mixture and check its appearance. Keep in mind that resin may look different in a deep bucket compared to a clear cup, and the cup’s thickness resembles that of your table.
Pouring Your Epoxy
While those captivating Instagram videos may show epoxy being poured in a dramatic, fast-paced manner, it’s important to avoid introducing unnecessary air bubbles. Pour the epoxy slowly and steadily to minimize bubble formation, even though it may not create the same visual impact.
For larger pours, such as a 105-liter one, in the above example make sure to allow the mixed epoxy to sit for about 15 minutes. During this time, most of the microbubbles will naturally rise to the surface. After 15 minutes, we can use a propane torch to carefully eliminate the remaining bubbles. If you’re accustomed to working with traditional epoxy resins and have concerns about premature curing, rest assured that the resin can safely remain in the bucket for two hours or more.
Epoxy generates heat when mixed due to an exothermic reaction. The maximum pour thickness varies depending on the epoxy type. Liquid Glass epoxy can handle around 130°F (54°C) for pours up to 2 inches (5cm) deep, while West System epoxy is suitable for thin coats of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. To prevent overheating, monitor the temperature using an infrared (IR) temperature gun during the 12-18 hour curing process. If necessary, use a box fan to cool the epoxy and avoid cracking, bubbling, and discoloration. Fans are highly recommended for added protection.
Removing Epoxy River Table From The Mold
Remove the screws and gently tap the sides with a dead blow mallet to release the table from the mold. Wood wedges can be helpful in the process, especially if you applied enough mold release for easy removal.
Surfacing your epoxy Resin table
For achieving a flat surface, a planer is the best tool. If access to a large shop is not available, a cost-effective alternative is using a homemade router sled.
Sanding your epoxy Resin Table Top
Fill any imperfections with resin and/or CA glue, then use an activator to harden them. Use a scraper to level the touch-ups with the surface. Proceed with sanding, starting from 100 grit and progressing through 120, 150, 180, 240, and 320 grit. It’s important not to skip any grits to achieve a flawless result.
Finishing Your Wood & Resin Table
To finish the table, apply one or two coats of Osmo 1101. Afterward, add 2-3 coats of
Osmo 3043 uses a high-quality auto buffer. If you don’t have an auto buffer, you can use a white pad and an orbital sander as an alternative. For more detailed instructions, please watch this video
You can find Osmo products on Amazon for your convenience.
Attaching the table legs
Installing threaded inserts has been a game changer for me, adding a professional touch to my tables and allowing for easy assembly and disassembly. No more struggling with lag bolts from the old days.
The installation process is straightforward. Drill a hole of the recommended size from the manufacturer, ensuring not to drill too deep (stop-collar drill bits are helpful for this purpose, preventing accidental drilling through the tabletop). With the holes in place, use an Allen key to screw in the threaded inserts. To provide added security, I recommend applying epoxy or CA glue to prevent any loosening. Take your time during the process, and if you encounter resistance, back out a quarter turn before continuing.
In conclusion, building an epoxy resin table involves several key steps. It is important to choose a reliable epoxy resin, calculate the required quantity, mix it thoroughly, and consider factors like dye or pigment selection and preventing overheating. Removing the table from the mold should be done carefully. Sanding imperfections and applying appropriate finishes contribute to a polished look. Attaching table legs using threaded inserts ensures a professional touch. Following these steps, while also considering personal preferences, will help create a well-crafted epoxy resin table.
- Blacktail Studio (For various measurements & Tips)