Make Your own!
DIY River Table Epoxy
Impress family & friend with your own epoxy table project!
How to Make an Epoxy River Table
Have you seen gorgeous epoxy resin tables? They are very popular at the moment but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them when it’s not too hard to make one for yourself. This isn’t too hard as long as you use the correct techniques.
Read on to find out in detail how to make an epoxy resin river table and learn some of the best tips from the professionals. A beautifully done river table is only achievable with the correct equipment and materials. Let’s take a closer look:
What is an Epoxy River Table?
This hybrid furniture is made with river table epoxy resin between live edge wood slab. These slabs typically have natural edges so the resin epoxy resembles a river flowing through it. For the last couple of years these river tables have been in high demand.
The popularity of this type of epoxy table started off in the United States but now people all over the world want to buy or make their own after seeing how gorgeous they are. These river tables are beautifully eye-catching and will look stunning in any room of the house.
The combination of dyed resin and wood gives epoxy resin tables their breathtaking contrast, which is why most people adore them and want their own. Such a table would pair with pretty much any style of furniture and furnishing style, which is why resin and wood pieces are very popular. Whether you love wood or you are excited to work with resin (or both!) you are sure to be delighted with the results of a DIY epoxy resin river table.
Reason to Own an Epoxy Table
I have been working with epoxy resin for several years. First I learned how to make a resin countertop for the kitchen, then I made one for the bathroom. After that, friends started asking me to do theirs and I found that I really loved working with epoxy resin. It’s so versatile. You can use it on countertops or even floors, or you can craft a stunning and unique piece of furniture, such as a river table. Keep it yourself or give it as a special gift.
Over time I experimented more and more with this substance and ended up getting good enough to create flawless pieces for sale. The demand is always high and everyone wants to order these tables. If you don’t want to wait though, why not make your own? I will show you how straightforward the process is.
The good news is you can make your own river table which looks every bit as good as one you would have to pay for and order and potentially wait a long time for. As a beginner you can construct such a table with a bit of practice, the correct equipment and some manual skill. You don’t need any huge, costly machines and you can get everything you need online or from a DIY store.
Take a look at the following instructions and find out how to make an epoxy river table.
Supplies Needed to Make an Epoxy River Table
Epoxy resin is of course half of the table, so this is a supply you need to choose well. Epoxy resin is sensitive while curing but durable when finished.
Choose only the best quality of resin to ensure your table is going to look as perfect as possible. You need laminating resin for the last coat on top as well as casting resin to make the table itself.
What else do you need? In addition to the resin you are going to want to get the following. All of these are available in a well-stocked DIY shop or you can order them online from Amazon or similar:
- Liquid color pigment in transparent
- Metallic color pigment in turquoise
- Liquid color pigment in matt blue
- 64-ounce mixing cups with scale (or a bucket for mixing your resin)
- Caulking gun
- 100% silicon caulking
- Duct tape
- Silicone spray
- MDF board
- Wooden chisel
- Soft mallet
- Polishing paste for glossy surfaces
- Spirit level
- Eye protection
- Respirator mask
- Folding carpenter’s ruler
- Wood oil
- Nitril gloves
- Live Edge Wood Slab
Equipment and Hardware Needed
- Cordless drill
- Butane torch or heat gun
- Paint mixer with a corded drill
- Hot melt glue gun
- Plunge router
- Orbitor polisher or buffer
- Orbital sander
You might also want hardware to prepare the wood for yourself, in which case you will need a planning machine as well as a hand circular saw. The wood must be cut to the correct angle and length and divided in the middle before you start. You also have to plane it to get it to an even thickness. If you prefer not to do this or if you don’t want to buy these large machines, or if your wooden panel is huge, you can get a carpenter to get the wood sawed and planed to the right size. Alternatively, you can buy a board which has already been planed. Unless you are an experienced woodworker it is probably best to buy the wood already planed or else hire a carpenter to prepare it for you.
Choose the Right Live Edge Wood Slab For Your Epoxy Table
You will need a tree trunk board or live edge wood slab at least 1.6 inches thick. Select a wood slab that looks as natural as possible for a river table. Pick out something with bark and a ‘natural edge’ or find a ‘raw’ wooden board online, at a carpenter’s shop, or from a wood dealer.
Another idea is to select a pair of wooden boards from the store, which you can lightly curve on one side using a jigsaw. Since you will be at the store anyway to pick up the rest of the materials, you might like to check out the wood options while you’re there.
Take your time in sourcing high-quality, stunning pieces of wood. It is worth getting the best wood slab you can since this will influence how beautiful the resulting river table will come out.
Dry: First of all you need to carefully dry the wood. Make sure it’s either properly dried (less than 12% moisture) or sufficiently seasoned.
Saw: Next, saw it in half lengthwise using a circular saw. If you don’t have your own saw you can get a carpenter to do this for you. Make sure both halves of wood are the same length and also ensure the side edges are cut at right angles to the long, straight sides. A circular saw can also do this. Again, if you don’t have one hire a carpenter for this task.
Plane: Ensure both wooden parts are flat enough and evenly thick, using a planning machine. No planer? In that case, ask a carpenter or your wood supplier to prepare the wood for you.
You will need the proper working conditions to make this table. Either use a dust-free, dry workshop or a garage that can be heated during the colder months. The area must also be well ventilated. Keep the temperature at least 20C (68F) for the duration of the curing time as well as during the setup period.
Suppose your working environment is somewhere humid, hot, or cold. In that case, this will affect the drying, appearance, and performance of your resin, resulting in ruined epoxy, so choose your working area carefully.
Don’t keep the resin on the floor either, since the floor is typically the coldest part of a room. It is usually several degrees lower than the ambient room temperature. Allowing the resin to get too cold can develop little bubbles that you won’t even get out with a heat gun.
You can get started on your river table when you have all your materials, equipment, machinery (if needed), and a suitable working environment. Here is a step by step guide to creating your own beautiful resin river table.
Clean & Seal Your Live Edge Wood Slab
The bark on your wood always looks beautiful, but it has to be adequately removed and then sand the edges by hand. This allows the epoxy to bond properly with the wood later. You can take the bark off with a chisel.
Sand the wood using 80 to 220-grain sandpaper, getting rid of the dust after each grain. You can use sandpaper to sand the sides by hand or else use an orbital sander if you have one. Remove all the sanding dust afterward with a vacuum cleaner, then use a microfiber cloth to remove any dust residue.
It is essential to fill all uneven areas, porous parts, and cracks in the wood with epoxy resin. Use unpigmented crystal clear resin for this. If there are any irregularities on the edges, use stable adhesive tape before sealing so you can seal the edges without the resin running over them.
After completely curing all uneven areas and filling every crack, the next step is to use resin to seal the wood. You will need crystal clear resin for this. Generously use it to coat the wood. Apply it with a brush and make sure you coat the whole thing. This stops any gas coming out of the wood later.
Let the coating dry well (this can take 5 hours or more). Once it is cured, the edges which will come into contact with cast resin later need to be roughened up with sandpaper so the resin can bond well.
Create Your Epoxy River Table Mold
It would help if you made a mold from MDF boards the size of the tabletop and the length of your wood so that you can cast the epoxy later. This is not difficult to do, but you should take your time to measure and take care when preparing the mold accurately. Use 15mm MDF boards on the sides and bottom. You should have the side panels 10mm or so higher than the tabletop and fasten them to the understand using hot glue or screws.
Apply silicone for edge sealing, ensuring you get it completely sealed. Apply a release agent to the mold once it’s finished. You can use liquid release wax or glue it completely using duct tape. Another option is to spray it with Teflon spray or silicone spray. If you choose to use silicone spray, you should add 2 or 3 layers.
It is essential to add a release agent; otherwise, you won’t get the tabletop out of the mold later on. The resin would stick to the MDF and be very difficult or impossible to remove cleanly. Also, make sure the work surface or substrate is perfectly balanced using a spirit level. If you don’t, the resin will not be straight and might leak later.
Insert the Wood Slab to the Mold
Once the mold is done, you can go ahead and insert your wood slab. Make sure you push it into the exact position you want it and then use some parallel clamps to fix it perfectly. You can use bricks or something similar to weigh it down if you're making a smaller table. Bear in mind that every part or device used to fasten your wood might contact the resin.
I recommend that you apply a silicone barrier to your wood along the void to ensure the resin will not rise on top of your wood if you do not want the resin to overflow on your river table. Don't put it flush against the edge - it needs to be between 0.4 and 0.8-inch away or, you won't be able to pour in the resin cleanly.
Mix & Pour
It is recommended to put on goggles, nitrile gloves before you attempt to work with any resin. You will need a big enough round container to prepare the resin; you should use something big enough for either all the resin or the first resin layer.
You might have to cast your resin in layers because some resins can get reall boiling hot at some thicknesses. If it boils it will get cloudy and be unusable. The number of layers depends on how thick your epoxy river table is going to be. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions to see what the maximum thickness layer is. You might also want to consider a one-step casting special epoxy resin.
Keep to the manufacturer-recommended mixing ratio and make sure the components are well combined. Use a drill with a mixer if you can for the best results. This is the only way to guarantee the components are mixed perfectly.
Use a butane torch or heat gun to remove any air bubbles you see in the resin. Don’t use the torch more than necessary; hover the torch over only briefly, else the heat might damage the resin.
Coloring the Resin & Making Effects
Using a special deep pour epoxy resin would be optimal for time-saving since you can fill the whole thing with one casting rather than having to make several layers. Of course, you can use conventional resin instead if you don’t mind applying it in multiple layers.
Once you have combined the epoxy and hardener to make the resin, you can add any color or pigments you choose.
You can fill the resin in 2 different containers for a typical water appearance, making them slightly different ratios to pigment to epoxy. Add a smaller amount of pigment to one of them, so you get slightly different colors.
Pour the contents of both containers into the mold at the same time. Apply gentle circular movements with the container while you pour, so it resembles a water effect. This is especially important if you’re using a metallic pigment. After the mixture has all been poured, you can use something like a wooden stick to reinforce or alter the pattern in your resin however you want.
Let everything harden. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how long you have to let it cure.
Sanding your River Table
Once you have taken your epoxy river table out of the mold, you may need to sand it. An electric sander is the simplest way to do this. You could also do it by hand, using grain 80 to grain 400. If you prefer, you can use a router to smooth the tabletop edges before you sand them, or you could plane or trim them using a circular saw.
Polishing & Oiling your Epoxy River Table
Polishing: You need to polish the resin before applying a finish on the tabletop. This is useful to get rid of tiny scratches caused by the process of sanding. If you are working with a large table, it is best to use a buffing machine for the best result. A towel and polishing compound would be fine for a small table so that you can do it by hand.
Oiling: Oiling the tabletop will protect the wood. Oiling makes the surface very smooth. The shine might be less, but it will still be very soft and natural-looking. Odie oil is a good choice because it gives a natural look and seals the wood very well. If you’re using Odie oil, you will only need one application.
Use a soft cloth to apply the oil over the whole tabletop, but polish it before oiling (especially the resin parts) to remove any sanding traces and produce a smooth surface.
How to Apply a Clear Coat on a Epoxy River Table
If your pour did not cover your wood slab completely and you want an epoxy resin clear coat on top of your live edge wood river table, you can always clear coat with a crystal clear countertop epoxy resin.
You will need to coat the top of your table using crystal clear resin. Begin with the underneath of the table. Apply some tape 0.4 to 0.8 inches and let it overhang all four sides of the table to act as a barrier. This will stop resin dripping across the sides unevenly.
Now pour the prepared resin over the surface, using a plastic spatula to spread it out in an even layer. Torch it with a heat gun to eliminate any bubbles, and then let the resin completely cure.
I like to add a second epoxy resin layer on top of my river table since the first one is just a base coat. Sand the first layer down first so the two layers will bond together properly. Once everything is cured, you can peel off the tape. Stick the lacquered underside along the edge a minimum of 2 inches wide.
Turn the tabletop over. Use wood scraps or similar to underlay it. Ensure the table is perfectly level and the underside you already painted isn’t damaged. I like to use a fleece underneath to protect it.
Pour the resin over the tabletop, including the table's edges, then use the spatula to distribute it as evenly as possible. Leave everything to harden completely before you peel off the tape. Use fine sandpaper for sanding off any sharp edges on the underside of the table.
What Kinds of Epoxy Resin River Tables Can You Make?
These tables typically sell for between $1,000 and $10,000 depending on the type of wood, how large the table is, and other factors as well. You should expect to pay at least $1,000 for a custom epoxy coffee table or at least $2,500 for a dinner table which is, of course, much larger.
It isn’t so straightforward to figure out how much epoxy resin you are going to need, but it is possible. The first thing to do is measure the length, depth and width of the space you are looking to fill. Next use an epoxy resin calculator to work out the quantity required.
Yes, you can add LED strips if you like. Make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high during casting else the casting resin might overheat and melt the LED strip. Fix the connectors properly so they can be connected later. Because you can’t change the lights after casting, ensure you are using good quality LED lights.
Crosscut tree slices can be used in a DIY resin table, as long as you ensure the wood is very well dried. You need to glue the disc top and bottom and then fill the cracks at least once. After that, use epoxy resin to seal the tree disc and finally mount the table legs.
I personally love to use River Table Epoxy Resin which has been around for years and yields excellent results when making river tables. This resin is crystal year, doesn’t turn yellow over time, and it’s easy to work with. It’s also a great price considering the excellent performance you can expect from it.