Have you ever pictured a gorgeous river wood table in your living room? If you’re reading this tutorial, you’ve probably looked through all of the pinterest boards for inspiration, and selected the perfect piece of wood for the project. Now you are ready to begin!
In this tutorial, we will go through the step-by-step process of creating a river table using reclaimed cedar wood and Smooth-On clear epoxy resin. This is a multi-day process, but the end result will be a high gloss and UV resistant custom table - well worth the time and effort.
You will need the following supplies to complete this project:
EpoxAcast® 690 (Clear)
⅛” acrylic sheet
Hot Glue Gun
Step #1 - Preparing the Reclaimed Cedar
For this tutorial, we will be starting with a piece of reclaimed cedar which measures at approximately 89” x 22” x 2.25” (226 cm x 56 cm x 6cm).
Use a bandsaw to cut the cedar in half to create two pieces that measure roughly 73” x 14” (185 cm x 36 cm).
Run both pieces of wood through a planer to ensure that they are a uniform thickness of 1 13/16” or 4.6 cm thick.
Use a sanding tool to remove any dirt or other imperfections in the wood, and then lastly, use a belt sander to achieve a smooth and even edge.
Once the wood has been clean up, and is free of any unwanted bark, dirt, or debris, it is ready to be placed into the mold form.
Step #2 - Building the Mold
For the next step, we will need to build a container, or mold, to house our tabletop while the liquid resin dries. Start by cutting a piece of melamine to the desired dimensions of the table top. Using additional pieces of melamine, cut walls for the mold which will be tall enough to house the panels of reclaimed cedar, and any minor overflow of resin.
Remember, to achieve a “river” effect with the clear resin, leave a gap in the middle between the two pieces of cedar. This gap will later be filled with clear resin.
Next, cut a sheet of acrylic. For our table, we will need a piece which measures 24” x 73” x ⅛” (61 cm x 185 cm x 3 cm). This will sit on the bottom of the mold, directly under the reclaimed cedar, to prevent the resin from bonding to the melamine board.
Assemble your mold by screwing the walls melamine walls into the base, and then placing the sheet of acrylic inside. Once this is done, the reclaimed cedar boards can be placed inside the mold form. The wood should fit snugly inside the mold and be sealed with hot glue to prevent any surprise leaks.
Seal any exposed melamine on the inside wall with Sonite Wax to prevent the liquid resin from bonding to the sides of the mold.
Lastly, use clamps and pieces of 2x2 to apply a downward pressure on the cedar and the mold, to prevent any epoxy from seeping underneath while it dries.
You are now ready to begin pouring the resin!
Step #3 - Pouring EpoxAcast 690
Why are we using EpoxAcast 690? This Smooth-On product is ideal for this project for a number of reasons. First, it dries clear, so we get our desired “river” gap in the middle of the table. Second, it dries tough with negligible shrinkage - perfect for building a table to last. Third, EpoxAcast 690 is not moisture sensitive like many other epoxy resins. Any excess moisture trapped within the porous surface of the wood will not prevent EpoxAcast 690 from curing.
The mixing ratio for EpoxAcast 690 is 100A:30B by WEIGHT, so use a scale and carefully weigh out 2500 grams of part A and 750 grams of part B. Be sure to stir the product inside the container before measuring to ensure an even mixture every time.
Combine with parts in a large container and mix thoroughly. No need to rush, EpoxAcast 690 has a pot life, or mixing time, for this product is roughly 5 hours at room temperature. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing container to mix in any trapped product. Transfer the product into a second container and stir thoroughly one more time to ensure a thorough mixture.
Pour the EpoxAcast 690 into the open cavity between the two pieces of reclaimed cedar. Be careful not to pour EpoxAcast 690 in layers more than ⅜” (0.95cm). Pouring excess material can cause the epoxy to overheat, which can lead to bubbles and suckback.
For best results, pour in a thin stream and avoid splashing to help prevent air bubbles and other imperfections. Allow the resin to slowly flow down and level itself inside the bottom of the mold form.
Use a smaller cup or container to pour ⅜” of resin into open areas of the wood’s surface.
That is it for the first layer. Leave the EpoxAcast 690 to set in the mold for 24 hours at room temperature (73F or 23C). It is best to allow the epoxy to cure in a temperature controlled environment, such as a workshop. Temperature may affect the curing time of the epoxy. Check Smooth-On’s product pages for detailed instructions for your product before beginning a project.
Step #4 - Additional Layers of Epoxy
The next step of this project is to repeat step #3. EpoxAcast 690 will need to be poured in layers, allowing 24 for hours for each layer to cure fully in between. Using the instructions above, mix additional batches of resin and fill the cavity in between the cedar, as well as open cavities in the table surface, ⅜” at a time.
You should end up with 6 layers of EpoxAcast 690 in total, with the gap between the two pieces of wood completely filled.
Wait for the final layer to cure for 24 hours before moving onto the next step in the process - demolding. Once all layers have been allowed to cure, it is time to remove the clamps and unscrew the walls of the mold from the base.
Now that the tabe top is one solid piece, it is time to sand it sound and seal the wood. Let’s move on to the next step in the process.
Step #5 - Finishing
Run the newly demolding tabletop through a planer to level out any high spots and create an even thickness, and use a table saw to clean up the edges. Finish the edges with a router, to achieve a nice beveled table edge. Continue to refine the table surface with an orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper.
Now that our tabletop is smooth, it is looking a little dull, isn’t it? Give it back its shine with, you guessed it, another smaller batch of EpoxAcast 690. Use a lint-free cloth to spread a layer of epoxy over the surface of the table. This top layer will bring back the glossy finish and seal the reclaimed cedar. Allow to cure for 24 hours at room temperature.
Mix another batch of EpoxAcast 690 and pour it over the table surface in a layer about 1/16” (0.16 cm) thick. Allow the excess to run off the edges. Cure for 24 hours, and then cover with adhesive film to protect the top while the underside is being worked on.
Belt sand the underside of the table to remove any excess epoxy, pour some EpoxAcast 690 on the sanded, and spread with a lint-free cloth to seal the underside of the table.
Allow to cure for 24 hours as room temperature. Mix another batch of epoxy for the underside of the table and pour a layer about 1/16” thick over the clear portion between the cedar panels. Let the excess material drip over the edges, and allow the epoxy to cure for 24 hours.
Step #6 - Add the Base
The tabletop is finish and it is time to add the legs. For this tutorial, a frame is welded together for the base. Once the frame is built, bolt it to the bottom of the tabletop to secure it.
Remove the protective plastic we placed on the top, and viola! The table is now ready to be used. Using reclaimed cedar and EpoxAcast 690, we have created a high gloss river table.
Interested in building one of your own? Experiment with different shapes and varieties of wood and build your own unique and eye-catching tabletops. Smooth-On manufactures is a full lineup of epoxy resins, along with a series of tints, so the possibilities are endless.