In this tutorial I will show you step by step how you can make a stunning and exclusive epoxy resin table from wood yourself. With the right technique, this isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first. In this article I will show you exactly and in detail how this works and I will tell you some valuable professional tips. A well-done table is of course only possible with the right material and equipment. That’s why you’ll also find a list of what you need to make an Epoxy River Table.
- 1 What’s an Epoxy River Table?
- 2 How did I get to Build Epoxy Resin Tables Myself?
- 3 Supplies you Need for a Resin Wood Table
- 4 Optional: Machines to Prepare the Wood Yourself
- 5 Prep for the Manufacture of an Epoxy Resin Table
- 6 Working Conditions:
- 7 Epoxy Resin Table Guide – Step by Step to Epoxy River Table
- 7.1 Bark Removal and Grinding
- 7.2 Filling Cracks and Sealing the Wood
- 7.3 Build your Mould
- 7.4 Fixing the Wood into the Mold
- 7.5 Mixing Epoxy Resin
- 7.6 Coloring the Resin and Pouring a Water Effect
- 7.7 River Table with Crystal Clear Resin and optional Embedded Objects
- 7.8 Demoulding the Tabletop
- 7.9 Sanding
- 7.10 Finishing
- 7.11 Suitable Table Legs for your Epoxy Resin Tabletop
- 8 Different Types of Tables to Build Yourself
What’s an Epoxy River Table?
The idea and the trend of the so-called Epoxy River Tables comes from the USA like so many others. In the last years a real epoxy resin table fever has broken out all over the world, of course also in Brazil. Because these tables are very modern but at the same time also extremely noble and high-quality. In addition, they are real eye-catchers and radiate an exotic beauty.
Above all, the Epoxy River Tables create a very exciting contrast through the combination of wood and mostly dyed resin and are therefore extremely appealing for most people. The special thing about these pieces of furniture made of wood and resin, however, is that they cannot be assigned to any style direction and appeal to very different furnishing styles. Both lovers of wood furniture and people who prefer the modern style are equally addressed by this type of epoxy table.
There are no limits to creativity in the crafting of an Epoxy Table: from the most exotic variants with vivid colours and structures and extravagant design to more conservative, clean designs, with neutral or more transparent colours, almost anything is possible.
How did I get to Build Epoxy Resin Tables Myself?
I started experimenting with epoxy resin in late 2017. I saw the resin tables on the internet and wanted to learn this technique as well to make these spectacular objects and furniture myself. I started to look for these materials and especially suitable resin. But I had to find out that in Brazil it was extremely difficult to get suitable epoxy resin of good quality. A few months, frustrations and insights later, I finally discovered a manufacturer that has a good resin for this purpose.
This was a very instructive time, and over the months and years I developed my own technique, which allowed me to create large, very exclusive pieces of furniture. Large pieces should be made layer by layer due to the necessary stability and the long drying phases. The art here is that these individual layers are not visible and the resin combines optimally with each other. I have succeeded in creating a process with which you can build high-quality tables yourself. Today my small company in Brazil is recognized as a quality manufacturer. In this blog post I would like to share with you how I make these exclusive tables with epoxy resin. Because also you, as a beginner, can build such a tabletop with a little practice, some manual skill and the right equipment. And all that without big and expensive machines. You can get most of the equipment and materials you need at any well-stocked DIY store or, of course, on the Internet. In the step-by-step instructions below I will show you step by step how to make your own Exopy River Table.
Supplies you Need for a Resin Wood Table
- Crystal clear epoxy resin for sealing
- Crystal clear epoxy resin (layers up to 2 inch thick)
- Liquid colour pigment matt blue
- Metallic colour pigment turquoise
- Liquid colour pigment transparent (for crystal clear River Tables)
- Large mixing cups with scale (64 ounces) or Bucket for mixing resin
- 100% Silicone Caulking
- Caulking Gun
- Silicone Spray
- Duck Tape
- MDF Board
- Soft Mallet and Wood Chisel
- Polishing paste for glossy surfaces
- Wood Oil
- Folding Carpenters Ruler
- Nitril Gloves
- Respirator Mask
- Eye Protection
- And of course the most important thing: A natural wood panel of your choice (well dried!) or alternatively wood from a DIY store
Machines and Equipment
- Heat Gun or Butane Torch
- Hot Melt Glue Gun
- Cordless Drill
- Corded Drill with Paint Mixer
- Jig Saw
- Plunge Router
- Orbital Sander
- Orbital Buffer / Polisher
Optional: Machines to Prepare the Wood Yourself
If you also want to prepare the wood for your tabletop yourself, you will need a hand circular saw and a planing machine. Before you can start, the wood has to be cut to the right length and angle and divided in the middle. It must also be planed to an even thickness.
If you don’t think you can do this, or if the purchase of such larger machines is too expensive and complex, or if your wooden panel simply has very large dimensions, you can have the wood of your choice sawed and planed to the desired size and thickness by a carpenter or alternatively buy it ready at a DIY store. You can also choose an already planed board when buying your wooden board, then this step is not necessary and you only have to saw the wood. If you are a beginner do-it-yourselfer or have little experience with wood as a material, I recommend that you have these steps carried out by a carpenter.
Prep for the Manufacture of an Epoxy Resin Table
Choice of wood: For a River Table, you need a wooden board that is as natural as possible or a board made of a tree trunk that is at least 1.6 inch thick. The whole thing looks particularly beautiful if the piece of wood has a so-called “natural edge” with bark. You can get such “raw” wooden boards either from a wood dealer, on the Internet or in a good carpenter’s shop.
Alternatively, you can also use two attractive wooden boards from the DIY store, which you bring on one side with a jigsaw into a slightly curved shape. For a really good River Table I recommend the first version.
Because if you want to build such a fine wooden table yourself, when you are investing a lot of work, it is always worthwhile to organize a really beautiful, high-quality piece of wood.
Dry wood carefully: The most important thing is that the wood you want to use is sufficiently seasoned or properly dried. (ideally less than 12%)
Saw it: The wooden panel is cut lengthwise in half with a circular saw in the middle. If you do not have a circular saw, have the carpenter do this. Both pieces of wood must then be cut to exactly the same length and the side edges cut at right angles to the straight long sides. This is also done with a circular saw. If you do not have this equipment, have the carpenter do this.
Planing: With a planing machine you make sure that the two wooden parts have an even thickness and the absolutely necessary flatness. If you do not have a planer, ask your wood supplier or carpenter to plane the wood.
A dry, dust-free workshop environment or garage heated in winter is highly recommended for this work. It is also important to work in a well ventilated area. It is important to maintain a stable workshop temperature of ideally 20°C or more during set-up and throughout the curing time of the resin. Do not work in cold, humid or hot conditions as this will affect the performance, drying and appearance of the resin.
Tip: Do not store the epoxy resin on the floor as the floor is always colder than the room. Even if you have the perfect temperature of around 20 C degrees, the floor will not be more than 15 C to 17 C degrees. If the resin is too cold, tiny bubbles will form which you can hardly get out of the resin, not even with a heat gun.
Epoxy Resin Table Guide – Step by Step to Epoxy River Table
Bark Removal and Grinding
- Although the bark on the wood always looks very attractive, it must always be thoroughly removed. Then you should sand the edges thoroughly by hand. This will allow the epoxy resin to bond better with the wood later. Use a chisel or similar to carefully remove the bark.
- Then you have to sand all the wood. Start with 80 to 220 grains and remove the dust after each grain. As already mentioned, you can sleep the sides by hand with sandpaper. An Orbital Sander is well suited for the surfaces.
- Afterwards you should remove the sanding dust from the wood very thoroughly. It is best to use a vacuum cleaner and a microfibre cloth to wipe off any dust residue.
Filling Cracks and Sealing the Wood
- All cracks, porous and uneven areas in the wood should be filled with epoxy resin. Use crystal clear resin without pigment. If the irregularities are on the edges, you can seal the edges with a stable adhesive tape before sealing, so that the resin does not run off over the edges.
- When the filled cracks and the like are completely cured, you should seal all the wood with resin. For this you also use a crystal clear resin with which you generously coat all the wood, including the surfaces, with a brush. The sealing prevents the wood from gassing out later. Remember to let it dry thoroughly after sealing (depending on the resin, at 18°C to 24°C for at least 5 hours). As soon as the whole thing is completely cured, the edges – where the wood later comes into contact with the cast resin (also called “river”) – should absolutely be roughened with sandpaper. The resin will then bond better with the edges.
Build your Mould
- In order to be able to cast the epoxy resin, a mould is assembled from MDF boards in the length of your wood and in the size of the desired tabletop. The preparation is not difficult, but some care must be taken and accurately measured. For the shape you use 15mm MDF boards on the bottom and sides at pray. The side panels should be about 10 mm higher than the actual tabletop. The side panels are fastened to the underside with screws or alternatively glued together with hot glue.
- Then it is best to use clear sanitary silicone to seal the edges. Here you should work very exactly and not forget anything, the form must be 100% tight.
- A very important step now is to apply a release agent into the finished mould. You can either glue the mould completely with tape (Ducktape) or use liquid release wax. Alternatively you can spray the mould with silicone spray or Teflon spray. With silicone spray it is advisable to apply up to three layers. The use of a release agent is very important for later removal of the tabletop, as otherwise the resin would adhere to the MDF and the parts of the mould would be very difficult to remove from the resin table.
- It is also essential that the substrate or work surface where the mould is placed is absolutely in balance. Otherwise, the resin would become crooked and leak later.
Fixing the Wood into the Mold
- After the mould is finished, you can insert the wood. Push the wood into exactly the position you want it in the finished table and fix it well with several parallel clamps. For smaller tables, you can weigh down the wood with bricks, for example. Note, however, that all devices or parts used to fasten the wood can come into contact with the resin.
- It is highly recommended that you apply a sanitary silicone barrier to the wood along the edge of the river. However, you should not pull the barrier too close to the edge – keep a distance of 0.4 to 0.8 inch so that the resin is poured in cleanly. With such a barrier you prevent the resin from spreading over the whole table.
Mixing Epoxy Resin
- Once you are working with the resin, be sure to wear nitrile gloves, goggles and respiratory protection first.
To mix the resin, use a sufficiently large bucket. It is best to use a bucket that is large enough for the total amount of resin or the first layer of resin.
- Depending on the resin manufacturer, it may be necessary to cast the resin in layers. This is because resin has the property of becoming extremely hot and boiling at a certain thickness. If the resin boils, it is immediately unusable or becomes cloudy. Of course, how many layers are needed depends not least on the thickness of your tabletop. In any case, you should pay attention to the maximum layer thickness (see manufacturer’s instructions). However, there is also a special epoxy resin which can be cast in one step.
- Make sure that you stick to the mixing ratio recommended by the manufacturer and that the resin components mix very well. It is best to use a drill with a mixer. This is the only way to ensure optimal mixing of the components.
- Once you have finished mixing, you can remove the air bubbles in the resin with a heat gun or a butane torch. However, please only torch as much as necessary or swing over it briefly with the heat gun, otherwise the resin could be damaged.
Coloring the Resin and Pouring a Water Effect
- A great advantage here is to use a special epoxy resin, which you can fill in one casting and not in several layers. The whole thing is of course also possible with several layers. (How to layer resin correctly is explained in the section River Table with crystal clear resin below.)
- Once the two resin components are mixed, you can optionally add pigments of your choice.
For this typical water look, fill your resin into two different containers, e.g. in a ratio of 1 : 1.5. Colour the smaller proportion of resin with a matt blue pigment and the larger with a turquoise metallic pigment. Of course, you can also use other colours according to your taste.
- Now pour both containers simultaneously from one side or alternately into your mould. For a successful water effect, make light circular movements with the container while pouring, especially with the metallic pigment.
- Once you have completely poured everything into the mould, you can use a wooden stick or similar to change or reinforce the pattern in the resin as you wish.
- Then let everything harden well according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
River Table with Crystal Clear Resin and optional Embedded Objects
- Pour the first layer of crystal clear resin into the epoxy resin quickly but carefully, and then briefly apply the epoxy resin with a heat gun. Never heat the resin in one place for more than 3 seconds, as this can lead to steaming or burning of the resin and the end result may be a yellowish epoxy.
- The second casting takes place in the so-called “B Stage”. At this point, the first layer is not yet completely cured and still sticks. If you lightly touch it with the glove, the resin should no longer be liquid, but should feel as if you are touching the inside of an adhesive tape. This means that it is ready for the second pour. DO NOT wait any longer, otherwise the second layer may not bond optimally with the first. If you missed this point, wait until the resin is completely cured, then lightly sand it with 220 grain, clean the surface and then pour the second layer.
- If you now want to embed objects like pebbles, crystals or other things, you should also do so in the B-Stage. Please do not do this before, otherwise the stones will sink to the bottom.
- Now pour the second layer of resin just above the edge.
- Let the resin cure completely – be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly.
Demoulding the Tabletop
- Loosen any screws on the mould and remove the parallel clamps. Separate the mould from the cast tabletop using a plastic hammer and chisel. Carry out this step carefully so that your tabletop is not damaged.
- After you have removed the plate from the mould, it is time to sand the plate. The easiest way is with an eccentric grinder. Of course you can also do this by hand, the important thing is that no resin is visible on the wood. Start with grain 80 to grain 400.
- Optionally, you can also perfectly smooth the edges of your tabletop with a router before sanding or, if necessary, cleanly trim or plane them again with a circular saw.
Tip: The lighter the desired surface, the finer you should grind, so the higher the grain size.
Tabletop Polishing and Oiling
- The simplest way for the finish is to oil the tabletop to protect the wood. By oiling, you give the surface a smooth appearance with less shine, but a natural feel. I recommend the oil from Odie. It seals the wood and gives it a natural touch. Moreover, with this oil only one application is necessary and you don’t have to oil after.
- It is best to apply the oil evenly with a soft cloth onto the entire tabletop. Before you oil the tabletop, however, you should polish it – especially the resin River – with a polishing machine and polishing paste. This is to remove any traces of sanding and to achieve a silky surface.
Clear Resin Coating
- A DIY variant for a shiny surface of your tabletop is to coat it with crystal clear resin. Start with the underside of the tabletop. Apply a sturdy tape 0.4 to 0.8 inch overhanging on all four sides. This now acts as a barrier to prevent the resin from dripping unevenly across the sides.
- Pour the resin over the surface and spread it evenly over the entire surface with a plastic spatula. To avoid bubbles, torch the resin briefly with a heat gun. Allow the resin to cure completely.
- I recommend you to cast a second layer of resin, the first one serves only as a base. For this you should sand the first layer beforehand so that the layers bond optimally with each other.
- When everything is well cured, remove the tape. Now stick the lacquered underside at least 2 inch wide along the edge.
- Turn the tabletop over and underlay it with something suitable, e.g. wood scraps. Make sure that the tabletop is 100% in balance and that the already painted underside is not damaged. In addition with a fleece or similar underlay is therefore recommended.
- Now pour the resin over the top of the table including the table edges and distribute it evenly with the spatula. Let everything harden well and then remove the adhesive tape.
- Finally sleep off any sharp edges on the underside with a fine sandpaper.
- A 100% perfect hight glossy varnish is only possible with a polyurethane coating. For this type of coating however, a painting booth, special equipment plus the right technology and know-how are required. This type of coating can only be carried out by a professional and is quite expensive. But then this finish is absolutely perfect and very noble. So you give your table an impressive, mirror-smooth surface and in addition the tabletop is then very durable and well protected against external influences as for example scratch marks.
A polyurethane coating by a professional is not exactly cheap – but in my opinion, it is definitely worth investing in a professional varnishing of your tabletop with such a high quality.
Suitable Table Legs for your Epoxy Resin Tabletop
- Finally, you can screw legs of your choice to your tabletop. These can be made of matching wood or stylish metal table legs.
Different Types of Tables to Build Yourself
The following table types are particularly suitable for the Epoxy River Table technique:
- Dining table
- coffee table
- side table
- garden table
Would you like to read more articles about epoxy resin in combination with wood? Then you might also be interested in the following blog post: Epoxy Resin for Wood – Tutorial for Creative Ideas with Wood Epoxy
Célio Antonio Romani
Célio Antonio Romani is an autodidactic Brazilian artist, inspired by nature, driven by the universe and surrounded by atmospheric feelings. Célio lives with his wife and son in Curitiba, Paraná State, one of Brazil’s best and most advanced cities in terms of education, health, environment and infrastructure. Célio has always been very interested in learning new things and changing things. Although he has worked for the same company for a long time, he always wanted to try something new and do what he liked. So he began to paint and create art with different techniques. With art he found a way to express himself more freely and to convey a part of his personality and soul to the viewer. In addition to his artistic resin wood furniture, Célio also creates beautiful resin pictures and is a gifted photographer. With years of experience in international companies, Célio has the ability to deal with pressure and changing circumstances, and not long ago he decided to create a second foothold with his art, especially wood and resin furniture.
So he founded his own small company Wood’n Water Artwork and Design. Wood’n Water was born out of a deep desire to make art in a different way, to create new concepts, to combine extraordinary materials and processes. The sense of quality came from the depths of the artist’s soul, from his background and his need to do things with the greatest care, always with great attention to the smallest things. Among others, his customers appreciate this love of detail. Célio’s philosophy is to create unique and exclusive furniture of the highest quality. All this on an always sustainable basis, with the aim of protecting and respecting nature and the environment. Célio uses only recycled wood, looks for dead wood in the rainforest and collects trees that have fallen naturally. No tropical wood is felled especially for its furniture! Célio creates real masterpieces out of these exciting woods and the old trees live on in the living rooms of his customers and are given a second life. Célio’s customers include many regular customers and architects who appreciate his masterpieces.
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