Epoxy River Table DIY step-by-step guide with images
What is an epoxy river table?
Epoxy river tables are made of raw wooden planks and epoxy resin. Usually, a piece of wood is sliced into two pieces from the middle, the uncut two live edges would be placed face to each other to form a narrow channel in the middle of the table. A “river” of epoxy is then poured into the channel to create a solid tabletop.
The epoxy river tables can be very vibrant and colorful, and with techniques like swirling, glowing pigment, or using inlays like rocks, seashells, model fish, and mini boats in the epoxy, you can create some truly unique and incredible river dining tables and river coffee tables.
First, what do you need to make a river table?
Epoxy river table DIY tools and materials list:
- Wood slab
- Table saw
- Draw knife
- Wire brush
- Orbital sander
- Klingspor sandpaper (80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 240, 320 grit)
- Melamine or plywood (for making epoxy table mold)
- Silicone caulk (Fast-drying Latex Caulk)
- Caulk gun
- Mold release
- Duct tape
- Deep-pour Epoxy
- Finish Coat
- Buckets for mixing epoxy
- A long stick (for mixing epoxy)
- Two pieces of clean dry towel
- A spray bottle of clean water
- Dust Mask (to protect yourself from the dust)
- Heat gun
Making an epoxy river table step-by-step instructions
Select and prepare your wood slab
Select your wood slab and cut it to your desired tabletop length. We suggest that you get a pre-cut wood slab, or bring your uncut wood to a local woodworking store. It will save you tons of time.
Debark the edges of the wood slab using a chisel and drawknife, then use a wire brush to gently scrub away loose or stringy cambium-layer fibers.
Fully flatten the wood on the bottom, and make sure the wood slab completely touches the bottom surface of the mold. Doing so could help prevent the epoxy from leaking everywhere and waste.
The top side of the wood slab can still have some curved shapes or voids as it will be cast with epoxy creating small 'potholes' on the table. Sand the wood slab flat and smooth with grit 180.
Create epoxy river table mold
Make the mold with smooth surface melamine or plywood, and add an inch extra to the length and width.
Next, make sure to screw the walls together and down to the floor of the form to hold the frame together. Use silicone caulk to seal the seams, inside and out. Leave it overnight for the silicone caulk to dry.
Spray the frame evenly with mold release and make sure it covers everywhere. If you don’t do this, your slab and epoxy might get stuck on the mold. Wait 30 mins and use a paper towel to clean the frame.
Important: Don’t do it anywhere near your wood, you won’t want the mold release to get on your wood.
Place the wood in and secure your wood to the mold using clamps. This is important because you don’t want the wood floating or moving when you pour the epoxy.
Prepare your epoxy resin
Calculate the epoxy volume for the first layer.
Calculate the volume of the first part of your casting epoxy. Measure the length of your pour., and the width in multiple areas and average them.
Mix epoxy and add color pigment.
Pour the epoxy into a bucket and mix thoroughly using a long stick or paddle.
If you plan on coloring the epoxy, add the color pigment you bought, simply follow the instructions on the packaging to add it to your epoxy.
If using multiple colors, assign each color to its own cup, pour the mixed epoxy resin (slowly) and mix in the pigment.
Seal the wood edges
Sealing the wood edges with epoxy. This can help prevent microbubbles after the poured resin is cured.
Pour a testing first layer
Pour a thin first layer to check if the color mixture is right, and if any leaks that need to be fixed in the mold. If everything looks fine, finish your first part epoxy pouring and let it cure to a semi-state.
Mix epoxy and pour the second layer
Calculate the volume of the second part of your deep-pour epoxy. Repeat the epoxy mixing process.
Place rocks, shells, model trees, etc. if that’s in your design. Then filled the entire river with epoxy.
Create waves, water splashing effects if that’s in your design
If you like to add some tiny waves or water splashing effect to the table, now it is the time to have some fun. Pour a small line of white resin on the spots you like, then use a heat gun to blow on it. Practice first before you do it on the real table if you are not confident about how it works.
Wait for the epoxy gets dry
Allow at least 7 days for the river table to dry. And make sure the room is bug-free, dry, and ideally at 65~70°F.
Flattening and Sanding River Table
Remove the mold frame
Simply remove the clamps and any screws from the mold after your epoxy has hardened. You’ll likely need to use a wooden wedge to get the top off the frame base.
Flatten the slab and cut the edges
Flattened the entire slab on both sides with a router. Carefully cut half an inch of the slab edges using a table saw.
Router the edges and corner
Router the table edges and corner to 1/8″ rounded edge, otherwise, the edges will be sharp. Then sand the rounded edges using 320 grit sandpaper so they're smooth to touch.
Sand the river table
Sand the top side of the table from 100 grit to 320 grit hitting 100, 120, 150, 180, 240, 320. Don’t skip any grits. Spray clean water onto the table and wipe it out after each level of grit sanding, wait 30 minutes for the water to dry out.
For the bottom side of the table, and sand to 150 grit is pretty good to go, and touch up with 2 coats of finish.
Sanding epoxy tabletop is very critical, read this guide for more detailed instructions.
Finish the Tabletop
Pour the finish coat over your tabletop and spread over the surface evenly using a squeegee. Leave to set for 3-4 days.
Mount the table Legs or Base
Assemble table legs to your river table. Carefully drill your pilot holes and choose the screw length, to ensure you don’t drill through the tabletop.
The river table is now ready. Enjoy your new table!
Some useful links:
More how-to tutorials for epoxy tables:
Epoxy river dining table for sale