Glow in the Dark Live Edge Table (Part 2: I Fucking Hate Epoxy)

Welcome to part 2 of my 3 part tutorial. Part 1 is here. In the last article, I covered the wood aspect. Now it’s time to deal with the epoxy.

Welcome to my nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s start with the supplies. And these are the supplies for the entire project. Also, I am trying to setup an Amazon Associates account, where I get a small commission of each purchase made through these links. Even if you buy something else. So if you are feeling generous, consider clicking through these links any time you want to purchase something from Amazon.

  • Live edge wood. The live edge is wood with the bark still on it. The size is up to you. For me, I wanted a kitchen table, so I wanted my table to be roughly 30 inches wide and 48 inches long. I contacted a localish guy who would sell me the wood for $700.  The problem is that it was an hour drive away (and I don’t have a car, so I’d have to rent one), and I’d have to go there, pick the wood, then either wait around while he planed it, or come back another day, and another rental car later. Besides, I was going to go camping in a month, so I decided to hold off on this project. While camping, it just so happened that there was a dude selling live edge wood on the side of the highway. Greg, from Tide Tables, sold me the two boards for the top and four boards for the legs for $300. Plus, I already had the rental car because I was in Oregon.
  • Epoxy. You’ll need a lot of epoxy. I tried two different kinds. First, I tried this. It worked pretty well. Sadly, I used it all up, and so when I got more, I got some liquid glass type of epoxy. This was far more likely to have tiny bubbles. So I’d recommend the first epoxy. I ended up using three gallons. That was about $235.
  • Glow in the dark powder. This is mixed with the epoxy, and has a 1:4 ratio. I kept buying more. In total, I used about 400 grams of blue. $120.
  • Glass Gems. I needed about 15 bags. $70.
  • Lots and lots and lots of latex gloves. $30
  • Plastic buckets. $20
  • Plywood. $20
  • Wood for the frame. $15
  • Acrylic. $5
  • Primer, Black, and White paint, wood stain. $45.
  • Wood Glue and Gorilla Glue. $15

This is in addition to tools, like a heat gun (or torch), sander, saw, level, paint brushes, etc.

Epoxy is a two part resin consisting of the catalyst and the hardener. They are mixed in a ratio of 1:1. Stir for about 5 minutes, and that starts a chemical reaction. The two parts mix and go from a liquid state to a goo state and finally harden like glass.

There are a few things to know ahead of time. One, while the epoxy is in it’s liquid state, no matter how gooey it seems, it will still seep through any hole or crack. So make sure you have your workspace covered, and plug as many holes as you can. You will miss some.

Two, epoxy is ridiculously difficult to clean. So expect to throw anything away that you’ve used during this process. The mixing bowls, the stirrer. Everything. Use lots of gloves. Trust me on this.

Three, dust and hair will get stuck in the epoxy. So have some tweezers or something on hand to pick them out. We used a shish kabob skewer left over from my Knife Block project. Even then, if you have access to a NASA clean room, that might be best.

In order to plug any holes, we hotglued the edge of the live edge. Then we hotglued acrylic strips around the entire table. Go ahead and go thick with the hotglue. I later realized that I made a mistake in the size of the acrylic. The wood is 1.25 inches thick, and I got two inch tall acrylic. While this was perfect for containing the epoxy, in the end, the epoxy rolled up the acrylic. Think of how when water is on a penny, it creates a dome. This is the opposite. That meant that I had to sand that edge down. What I should have done, is gotten acrylic that was maybe 1.5 inches tall. That would have given the table about a quarter of an inch top, then it would dome, like that penny.

Epoxy sticks to almost everything, so you should really plan out your work area. First put latex gloves on. Seriously. Before you even open the epoxy. Next, set out some wax paper. It’s cheap, and it’s one of the few things that the epoxy won’t stick to… too much. Put the epoxy, the buckets, the scale, etc. on the wax paper. Get a heat gun or torch ready. As the epoxy mixes, it will form bubbles, and the heat will pop them. If you missed arm day at the gym, this will make up for it. Also, since the epoxy is self leveling, be sure to level your table first. And check that it’s still level before pouring each layer.

 

The idea was to mix some glow powder into the epoxy, at a ratio of 1:4. That would flow around the glass gems, which would add a texture to the look. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how cloudy the glow powder would make the epoxy. So after one layer, the gems were hardly visible. This was the first glitch in my master plan. Luckily, the gems were small enough, that I could add more gems on top of that layer (once it hardened, of course), but spread out more. From that point on, instead of doing more glow epoxy, I did just clear epoxy. That looked a lot better, and the glow still shined through.

Here’s the process. You’ll need gloves. I can’t mention that enough. You’ll need three buckets. We started using plastic cups, but that was taking forever. I don’t do drugs, so I had no idea how small a gram really was. in the end, we were doing 500 grams of each part per layer, and it took about 6 layers. Mark the first bucket “Catalyst”, the second bucket “Hardener” and the third bucket “Mixed”. Don’t confuse them. The catalyst bucket is always for the catalyst. Decide how much you want to pour, in this case 500 grams of each. Pour that amount of the catalyst in one of the buckets. Then pour that amount of the hardener in a different bucket. Once you have equal amounts (you can be off by about 5% before it causes issues), pour both at the same time into the third bucket. Once the two parts touch, the chemical reaction starts, so mix. Mix mix mix. Don’t use a drill, like mixing paint. Don’t whip it. you have to use your hand. Mix for about 5 minutes. You’ll see bubbles and cloudiness. That’s fine. Keep mixing.

After 5 minutes, it should be mixed well enough to pour into the table. Now the moment of truth. Did you plug all of the holes? Pour into the center of the project. It will self level, but feel free to help it along. Once it’s poured, grab your heat gun or torch, and run it along the epoxy. You’ll see the bubbles pop. More bubbles will form. Keep at it. Don’t hold the heat gun in one place for too long. Just move it back and forth. Back and forth. Once you’ve gotten most of the bubbles, go ahead and give yourself a break, but check it again in about fifteen minutes. There will probably be more bubbles, so hit them with the heat gun again. Keep doing that for an hour. While you’re doing all of that, if you see any dust or hair, pick them out, or they’ll be stuck in the epoxy for all time.

Once there are no bubbles, and you’ve gotten as much dust and hair out, leave it for a few hours. It will be pretty hard in about eight hours, and fully cured in 24 hours. Wait at least 24 hours before pouring another layer.

 

 

 

 

 

Keep doing that same process until the epoxy has filled the “river” part of the table. Then do a layer or two or three along the entire top of the table. I used a squeegee to even it out, and that didn’t work very well. Maybe it will work better for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, peel off the acrylic. This might take some work. You can slightly tap the acrylic with a hammer, but be careful not to crack the acrylic, or scratch the epoxy. Next, scrape off any hotglue from the edge. The heatgun will help soften the glue.

Now pour one final layer of epoxy. Without the acrylic, this will most likely leak off the side, so be prepared for that. Use a drop cloth or something.

Once that’s done, you’re most of the way complete.

In my case, the top layer had a few dents in it. I have no idea why. It just didn’t self level perfectly. So I’m going to have to put a piece of glass on the top. Oh well. It still looks pretty sexy.

In the next (and final) part, I’ll talk about the legs. Here’s a teaser: I absolutely and unequivocally fucked it up.

 

Below are some extra images.

 

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