Adding Epoxy to your Live Edge Wood project
In this guide, we will teach you how to take a piece of wood that is beautiful but not square and make it usable. We will learn how to fill holes from bugs (or rot) that would otherwise make your table unusable and finally, we will talk about how achieve great results for river tables – you will learn how to put two pieces of wood together into one piece.
Following are some steps to help your project come together smoothly. Any hardwood will work for this: Some of our favorites: Black Walnut, Cherry, Oak, Poplar, Ash, Maple… as long as it’s a hardwood, it should be fine. If you want to use softwood (Pine, Ceder, Balsa), make sure to encapsulate the piece of wood in at least 1/4″ of epoxy, so the wood doesn’t dent.
STEP 1:Choose your epoxy wisely
EPOXY’S are not all the same; tabletop epoxy is for pours no deeper than 1/8″. There is deep pour epoxy, which is intended for 2″ -4″ in depth depending on the project. Also, not all brands are made the same, and you will have to do some experimentation to find the right balance between cost and reliability. To start with, we recommend using Ecopoxy; it’s a rock-solid epoxy but some of the most expensive, then once you get it down, you can begin to use other brands. We recommend this brand of epoxy and have had great results with it EcoPoxy
If you pour tabletop epoxy deeper than 1/8″-1/4″, it will likely heat too quickly, which in industry lingo is called a “flash” (which means get hard really quick), and can lead to cracking. Inferior deep pour epoxies will do this as well when it reaches a specific volume.
Step 2: Make a Frame to Hold the Epoxy and Live Edge Slab
here are different ways to make a frame; we have found that it doesn’t matter what product you use to make your base and walls if you don’t care about reusing it. You can use melamine, which is a particle board with a white laminate over it. You could use a 1/4″ pic sheet and a regular 1/4″ luan underlayment covered with packing tape. Of course, they sell HDPE molds, depending on what size you want – But that gets a bit pricey.
If you’re looking to make multiple productions from a mold, I recommend checking out this manufacturers site: jeff mack supply
We like using corrugated plastic and use Polymershapes as they have fast shipping times and always have what we need in stock. Polymershapes
Make your walls 3″ tall, and make sure the frame is about 1.5″ wider than the wood slab so you can cut it to square when it is hard. Next, make sure to screw the walls together and down to the floor of the form to hold the frame together.
To seal the seams, you can use poly sheathing tuck tape, or caulk to seal the seam. If you caulk it, use silicone; avoid acrylic caulk, which can fail. Let the caulk cure the recommended amount of time to avoid epoxy leaking from the mold.
We recommend this Caulk for sealing the seams.
Step 3 - spray it with mold release
This step will improve your life dramatically (it stinks to break apart your mold and have parts of your form stay stuck to the table) A can will easily do a 4×8 mold. (Before you move to this step, make sure you have either caulked or taped up the seams and allowed the proper amount of time for the caulk to dry) Spray it in a well-ventilated area with a mask on; this stuff is potent and potentially deadly if breathed.
Step 4: Prep and place your wood in the form
Make sure that you clean all of the wood so they are clean and free of bark and dirt before you put your wood slab into the mold.
Step 5: Calculate your epoxy volume.
Measure the depth of your pour and Measure the length of your pour. As you’re filling the mold, make sure to measure the width of your pour in multiple areas and average them…. (Then go to this site, so you don’t have to do any math:Epoxy Calculator
Step 6: Secure your wood in the form
You need to get some blocks that are the same size, cover the area that touches your wood in packing tape, or another house wrap style tape, so it doesn’t stick if epoxy gets on it and the table. Next, run a board with a clamp across the blocks and clamp it to the table. Doing so will keep your wood from floating on top of the epoxy.
Step 7: Pour the epoxy
We recommend that you mix all the epoxy you need for your project with the same color. We have made our lives very difficult by pouring in lifts and not matching the color correctly. Also, be careful with the type of dye/powder you use. The client will let you know if it should be a solid color with a dye, or if they want a metallic sheen. (Which would be mica powder)
Pour the epoxy to the level of the wood, or slightly over, and hit with a plumbing torch (We recommend this one). It will help remove the bubbles.
Step 8: De-mold your piece and sand it forever
Another option we recommend for this part, find a shop like ours and rent a wide belt sander for a half an hour, well worth it to save yourself from roughly 6-14 hours of hand sanding. Remember, it’s important not use to rough sandpaper. We recommend starting with 220 grit and stepping up to 600 grit finish grade paper for a smooth finish. Once Sanding is complete, it is time to apply a tongue oil to allow the natural beauty to shine through. Learn how to take care of your live edge wood furniture here
5) important 'Do Nots' to remember when working with epoxy and live edge tables
- Do not use an acrylic sheet. It warps under heat and will cause issues under your table as the epoxy catalyze
- Do not apply caulk to your seams after you spray mold release into the mold. It doesn’t stick.
- Do not use hot glue for your seams. The epoxy heats up, which softens the hot glue, and after 30 minutes, it leaks.
- Do not pour within 2 hours of installing caulk in your seams. It’s not long enough for it to cure, and epoxy, like nature, will find a way to leak all over your floor.
- Do not rush the process; if you don’t take your time, it will end up with your epoxy on the ground more often than not.
Contact us today to inquire on our Live Edge Wood Furniture.
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