In this article we will explain to you how to make a live edge epoxy table and how to make it right.
What are live edge epoxy tables?
A live edge wood slab retains the natural beauty of the tree by preserving the natural edge of the wood, its shape, and bark. There are special challenges involved in working with this type of wood, and several methods for live edge have developed. Some leave the natural holes and cracks in the wood while other artists fill them with resins.
Live edge epoxy table is a style that the natural edge of the wood is incorporated into the design of a table together with epoxy resin.
Some trending live edge epoxy resin table styles
Live edge walnut surrounding by blue ocean epoxy table
Live edge walnut island gradient blue epoxy round coffee table
Dark Walnut live edge clear resin table Irregular shape
Live edge Golden camphor black resin table
How to make a live edge epoxy table
One of the critical features that makes these tables stable and long-lasting is the bond between the epoxy resin and the live edge of the slabs. Get this wrong, and your beautiful table may have a very short life.
Step 1 choosing your wood slab
Besides considering the slab shape, color, and grain, make sure the wood slab is both air and kiln dried. The moisture level of the wood slab should be at least lower than 12%.
Step 2 Cut the slab to size and flatten the slab
Cut the slab to the size of your design. Add 1-2’’ to the length and width. Flatten the slab using a slab flatter or router with a track system to remove the high spots on the slab, on both sides.
Step 3 Remove any bark that has remained on the live edge of the slab.
Despite the rugged beauty of the bark, leaving it on the slab is going to be a fatal flaw, so you need to be quite meticulous in removing it.
You can debark the wood in many ways, the most popular seem to be the chisel and the draw knife. Usually, there is a distinct boundary between the two layers, so the bark should come away quickly. With the bark removed, use small nylon or wire brush to gently scrub away loose or stringy cambium-layer fibers.
Step 4 Sand and seal the wood
when sanding the wood, don’t go too high, typically 120 grit is a good start, and you can work your way up to a finer grit with 240.
Sealing the wood edge or not has been a bit of debate. Some resin table builders think it is not necessary and didn’t see any problem by skipping it. However, we always seal the wood edges when we built them. Not just for better bonding with the resin, but also for helping prevent bubbles. Sealing will greatly reduce the number of micro-bubbles.
Step 5 Make a mold frame to Hold the Epoxy and Live Edge Slab
This Step is essential to the finished result.
Put a flat piece of melamine or plywood under the wood so that the epoxy will dry on a flat surface. Make your walls 3″ tall, and add 1-2” to the length and width of the frame. Next, make sure to screw the walls together and down to the floor of the form to hold the frame together. Use silicone to seal the seams, inside and out. Avoid acrylic caulk, which can fail.
Spray the frame evenly with mold release and make sure it covers everywhere. But don’t do it anywhere near your wood, you won’t want the mold release to get on your wood. Wait 20 mins and use paper towel to clean the frame.
Step 6 Place the wood in and Secure your wood to the mold
Use clamps to hold the wood down to prevent the wood from floating or moving on top of the epoxy. If your coaster molds are too tight to fit clamps, use small wood blocks covered in tape and scrap wood with clamps to hold them down.
Step 7 Choose the right and good quality resin
Two common types of epoxies are tabletop epoxy and casting epoxy (or called deep pour epoxy). While the two are very similar, they each have their unique properties and ideal uses.
Table top epoxy is a self-leveling epoxy meant for thin pours in thicknesses of usually 1/4’’ or less and cures faster.
Casting epoxy is used for thick pours of up to 2’’. Casting epoxy is commonly used for river tables, oceanic tables
Important: Regardless of the epoxy needed for your project, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions because mistakes can have a huge impact on the final product.
Step 8 Calculate resin volume for the table for each layer (we usually do 2 or 3 layers for a 2’’ thick dining table)
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.
We usually do 2 or 3 layers for a 2’’ thick dining table to ensure a long-lasting table. So we will calculate the resin volume for each layer usage and mix them right before we are ready to pour them into the table.
Step 8 Mix the test coat of resin
Follow the instructions for mixing your epoxy resin that the manufacturer provides. Each company can require different instructions for mixing the resin.
If you plan on coloring the epoxy, now is usually the time to do so. If you bought a pigment, simply follow the instructions on the packaging to add it to your epoxy. You can choose from many colors for your epoxy, including blue, turquoise, red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, and more.
We usually pour a thin first layer and let it dry to ensure we have the correct mixture and the color the customer likes. This also shows us if we have any leaks that need to be fixed in our mold.
Step 9 Mix your deep-pour epoxy right before you are ready to pour it into the table
If you are going to pour your entire piece in one pour, you could mix all your epoxy at one time. But if you are going to do several layers as we do, you should mix the epoxy only for one layer usage, pour them and wait 20-36 hours for it to harden, then repeat this process again according to your design.
We usually do 2-3 layers for a 2’’ thick dining table to ensure the most durability of the table.
Be sure to mix it for at least 5 minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed and scrape down the sides and bottom. If the epoxy isn’t mixed properly, the epoxy may not get hot enough to harden or may overheat and break.
Then let your bucket of epoxy sit for 15 minutes to allow most of the microbubbles to rise to the surface. Then use a torch to clear the bubbles.
Step 10 Wait for the Epoxy to dry
The time it takes for the epoxy to harden depends on the epoxy type, brand, air temp, pour depth and width and length, and overall epoxy mass.
Typically, for deep-pour resin, it takes 36-72 hours to cure. And please allow at least 7 days to fully cure the epoxy.
Important: Make sure the room is dust-free and bugs-free, you don’t want them set into your great piece.
Step 11 Make the table legs while waiting for the resin gets dry
Just don’t forget to take into count the table top thickness when you are calculating the table leg Height.
For example, if you want 30″ height as the total table height, then you should make the table leg height 28″ if your table thickness is 2″.
Step 12 Remove the frame holder
This Step is as simple as it sounds. 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.
Step 13 Flatten the slab again and cut the edges
If you have any low spots on the slab or epoxy river, flattening the slab is the best way to fix it. This Step is faster than sanding, so it saves you time.
Step 14 Router the edges and corner
We always router the edges on the tables so they have a 1/8″ rounded edge, unless the customer tells us not to. This way, the edges aren't sharp. Then, sand the rounded edges using 320-grit sandpaper so they're smooth to the touch.
Step 15 Sand your tabletop
This step is essential to getting a beautiful river table, very time-consuming though.
We have a pretty big workshop so we purchased some tools that most DIYers wouldn’t consider getting. One of those tools is wide belt sander. While it makes the sanding job a lot easier, it isn’t a must-have. You could use an orbital sander and sand from 100 grit to 320 grit hitting 100, 120, 150, 180, 240, 320. Don’t skip any grits. You can go higher than this if you are looking for more smooth glass-looking feel.
Sanding epoxy tabletop is very critical so we will make a separate guide for you.
Step 16 Sand the Bottom
No one really sees the bottom side of the table, so sand to 150 grit is pretty good to go and touch up with 2 coats of finish.
Step 17 Finish the Tabletop
Now that your table is about to complete, it’s time to finish the top. There are many options for this, you could do UV clear resin finish, UV coat, oil-based finishes, or even use polyurethane.
Typically for these, we use eco-friendly non-toxic UV coats and a special UV lamp to dry it, to ensure better durability and performance for UV protection, scratch resistance, and liquid stains.
For your DIY project, you could also do other oil-based finishes that do not require a special cure lamp. The most used high-quality oil-based finishes are Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2c, Odies and Osmo.
Rubio is kind of low satin in sheen and you can still see a lot of the pores of the grain coming through the finish.
Osmo makes a greater high-end shiny look and smooth, more of a semi-gloss than satin.
Odis is more matter out of these three. It does have a glass-like feel to it. Perform the best out of the three for scratch resistance. Here is a YouTube video comparison of these 3 if you like to find out more.
Step 18 Mount the table legs
Typically we use metal/wood legs made in hairpin, round and square styles. Be sure to mount it across the entire table to help hold it flat for years to come. And also using furniture felt on the bottom of metal and wood bases to keep the table from scratching hardwood floors is recommended.
Now time for a drink to reward yourself! Enjoy your table! Share photos with your families and friends, or maybe even better, invite them to come over.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding live edge epoxy tables. Comment below, or have a live chat with us.