Guide to Making Epoxy Tables

Epoxy tables come in various sizes with different shapes of live edge wood. If you're starting out on your DIY journey, then you need to read this. Here's a basic tutorial to help you with your next project and to understand the time and expenses that come with it. Next to each step tells you how many hours you might commit. Each project is different so this part is difficult to gauge.
 
Step 1: (1-2hrs)
Research and pick slabs and determine where you'll cut. It is important to utilize what you can from the slabs with little waste, getting a proper void for the epoxy pour, and also making sure the void is not too excessive. Remember that a larger river = larger volume of epoxy = more money. We used Spalted Maple for this one, but you can use any slab that suits the style you're going for. Click here to visit our website or Etsy to view our slab deals.
 

Two spalted maple slabs: $400 - $2,000 each (depending on the size and species)

 
Step 2: (1-2hrs)
You'll need to cut the slabs to its proper size then cut or modify some of the branches so it'll fit properly inside the mold. After cutting, clean up or remove the debris, dirt, or bark.
 


Step 3: (2-6hrs)
Depending on the condition of the slabs and the square footage you have to cover, this step could take up to 6 hours. Also, some are more twisted than others. When flattening the slabs, you can use a CNC machine, a slab flattening mill or your own customized router sled. After flattening, sand the live edge, and be sure to remove all debris.
 

DIY sled: $50

 


Step 4: (2-3hrs)
Build mold out of 3/4" thick melamine (Visit your local home depot for 4'x8' sheets of melamine). When finished, this table needs to be 72" x 42". Since the walls will sit on top of the melamine and screwed in from the bottom upward, we need to add 3/4" on each side for the base melamine. There will be 3 parts labeled A, B, C. One A; two B's; two C's.  

A) One base sheet at 73 1/2" x 43 1/2". 
Side and end caps will be 3" width so that the slab can sit inside of the mold and the epoxy will not overflow. 
B) Two side caps 73 1/2" length. 
C) Two end caps 42" length.
 
When all the parts are ready, screw-in from the bottom upward to create a box-like structure. This will be the mold that the slabs will lay inside in. Before adding the slabs, apply silicone/caulk on the seams to seal all areas and prevent any epoxy leakage then let it dry for 18-24 hours. This step is extremely important because it plays a huge role in whether or not your pour will remain inside of the mold or be wasted through the leaks and end up on the floor. If you don't let the silicone dry, the epoxy may leak through the wet silicone.
 


Melamine: $25 - $50
Silicone caulk gun: $4

 
Step 5: (2-4hrs)
We'll now proceed with the slab fitting process. First, double-check if the slabs fit the way you want them to inside the mold. This will give you a clearer preview of where the epoxy river will go. If all is fine, remove the slabs from the mold then set it aside.



Add a silicone wall (about 1/4" thick/high) along the live edge slabs where the river will run. This will help you with the over pour running all over the slab, at the same time limit epoxy waste. If applicable, we add silicone in the corners, seams, or edges of the slab where the epoxy meets the melamine. Doing this before it gets into the mold will allow the silicone to slightly harden and once tightly fit in the mold, it creates a barrier and prevent the epoxy from seeping in other areas.



While these slabs are set to the side, clean the mold of dust and debris. Apply 3-4 coats (5 minutes interval between each coat) of Chill Release 110 using a brush. 5minutes between each coat. 


Chill Release 110 (release agent): $63.50


Step 6: (2-4hrs)
Carefully place slabs into the mold and double-check areas, edges, corners to make sure you're addressing possible leakage. Caulk other areas that may need attention.  The next step is to fasten the slabs to the mold so that they're secured flat. You can either use clamps or screws from the bottom upward through the melamine into the slabs like what we did here in the photo. If need be, screw melamine into sides of slabs for tight seams overall. 

 

 

Step 7: (1-2hrs)
Before starting, make sure the room is at a controlled temperature of 72degrees F. Make sure the caulk/silicone is dry. Calculate the volume of epoxy you need. There are several ways to determine this: we find the total square footage of the void areas, and multiply by .554 to get the volume in ounces (oz), or depending on the amount you need, use the pint cups or 5-quart cups. These cups give you measurements in oz and liters. Convert oz to liters if needed.



Different sizes of measuring cups if your project calls for it: $7- $15

 


Here, we just needed 30 liters, so we used the 30-liter kit Chill Ice No.2. 20 liters of Part A, and 10 liters part B. This kit is great for pours up to 2" thick. We mixed this epoxy in two 5-gallon buckets.

 

 

30 liter Chill Ice 2 Kit: $900

Two CLEAN 5-gallon buckets: $7

 

 

With this project, we added 3-5 drops of the high concentrated blue transparent drops, and about 1tbsp of the Bermuda Pigment, and about 1tbsp of the Dirty Dog Pigment. If you're unsure what color you want, start small with just 1 drop and go up from there. Per Chill Epoxy instructions, "Mix well in order to obtain a homogeneous mixture. Scraping the sides and bottom of your container."  Use the small clear test cup to see what 2inch thick pour will offer. This is where you can gauge if you need more drops.

 

 

1 Chill dye and 2 pigments: $105

 

Clear plastic cup to act as the test cup. Depending on the thickness of your slab, here we can gauge the color of a 2" thick pour: $4 for a sleeve of cups

 

 

Step 8: (1-5hrs)

Before pouring, double-check that the base and mold are leveled to make sure that the epoxy doesn't overflow in a certain direction. Then pour the epoxy into the mold, carefully filling the void. No need to rush.

 

 

 

Make sure that the epoxy is going where it's supposed to. The extra epoxy should overflow the river and flow up to the silicone wall. This extra epoxy accounts for the amount that is absorbed by the wood, the amount that the thickness drops down as it cures, and any potential leaks throughout the mold. Once all poured in, check all sides of the mold and see if there are any leaks. Any leaks on the outside can be sealed with either packaging tape or tuck tape.

 

 

Tuck tape (just in case): $20

 

 

The curing process of this brand of epoxy is long, allowing bubbles to naturally pop on its own so torching is technically unnecessary. Throughout the day, check on the table from time to time. If needed, you can carefully hover the torch over the table and pop the bubbles. Do not let the torch sit in one place.

 

 

Torch kit: $40 - $60

 

 

Step 9: 

By the 14th to 18th hour, the consistency will be a bit thicker, similar to honey. There is no real way to keep the design you want in the pour. During this process, the metallic design will move in different directions and you can try to use a clean toothpick to create the swirls and design you want but there is no guarantee that it'll stay throughout the curing process.

 

 

 

By the 4th day, it'll be almost fully cured. The epoxy is hard, but don't be fooled, you can still stick your nail into it. By day 7, it's safely and officially ready to be removed from the mold.

 

Step 10: (14-24 hrs)

Sometimes the molds are made 1" oversized on all sides just in case, and if so, once it's out of the mold, you'll need to cut to size. Since most of these tables are large and heavy, a circular saw with a track guide helps, or you can clamp on your own fence (if track guide doesn't suffice) for accuracy.  

 

 

Circular saw and track guide: $400 - $700

 

After cutting, proceed with the sanding process using an orbital disc sander, belt sander, and a wet sander. The process starts from 100 grit dry sanding all the way up to 3000 grit wet sanding. Don't skip grits due to impatience. If you'd like an attractive finish, every grit counts to remove all the fine markings. If you have a translucent/clear epoxy pour, then the bottom side needs just as much love as the top. Any markings on the bottom will certainly be seen from the topside.

 

 

6" orbital disc sander: $150 - $400

 

 

 

Belt Sander: $200 - $500

 

 

Disc sand paper: $150- $250

 

 

 

4x24 belt sand paper: $200 - $400

 

 

 

Wet sand paper kit (600grit - 3000grit): $80 - $175

 

After sanding, touch up, polish, and that's it! You're now ready to make your very own epoxy table! All you need are the tools - visit our online store or visit your local hardware store, home depot, etc.

 

 

For inquiries, call (312) 637-1923 or email info@chicagofabrications.com.

 

 

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