How-To Apply Epoxy FinishDecember 12, 2012 • By Scott
Are you ready to learn how to apply epoxy finish to log furniture? You have come to the right place. In this video tutorial we are going to learn how-to apply epoxy finish on an aspen table top…
And because I don’t have hundreds of hours applying epoxy finishes, I recruited friend and fellow builder Kris Williams, from Rocky Blue Woodworks. Kris is going to show us how this is done!
The first thing I found out is that the method I used to glue up table tops was not going to work well with epoxy. It turns out, epoxy increases the effects of warping in the wood, so it was time to make a few simple changes.
- Instead of using full width boards, I ripped each board down to 5”. This decreases the width to thickness ratio allowing for a more consistent and even glue-up.
- Instead of placing every board with the more colorful sides facing upwards, I was forced to alternate the curve in the end grains. If all of the grain patterns end up going in the same direction, all the boards will warp in the same direction creating one large warp across the entire table.
- Lastly, we sealed the bottom of the table with polyurethane. This will help with moisture control, which also reduces the effects of warping. One extra step we could have done is to actually coat the entire table in poly instead of just one side.
Click on the image below to view video
To see my video about how to glue up a table top (keeping in mind the changes I just discussed), simply CLICK HERE!
There are many choices of table top finishes. Typically, Danish oil is the finish I use on all of my pieces because it’s a natural finish that’s environmentally friendly while bringing out great colors in the wood. For a table top that may be exposed to more moisture, Danish Oil is not going to hold up well.
In the video, Kris shows us two other finishes in addition to the epoxy that could work on table tops:
- Water-Based Polyurethane: Many coats are required to help preserve the wood but it is still susceptible to damage caused by impact or abrasion as well as discoloration from sunlight.
- Deft Brush-On Lacquer: Offers easier application and leaves less brush marks. It is slightly more durable than the poly finish but still not as durable as the epoxy.
- 2-Part Epoxy Mix: This finish gives you a perfectly flat finished surface even if you apply it to a surface that isn’t perfectly flat – allowing you to inlay objects such as saw blades – as Kris has done. It’s also impact and scratch resistant and won’t discolor as drastically in the sunlight. Application of epoxy is, however, very difficult compared to other finishes. But that’s why we made this tutorial!
Let’s get started!
Steps for Safety:
- Wear gloves! Epoxy is a harmful substance. If it comes in contact with your skin, it can cause irritation, slight burning, and is extremely hard to wash off once dry (if you can even stand having it on your skin long enough to dry).
- Lay down cardboard or a drop cloth on the floor under your workspace to avoid damaging your floor.
- Once you’ve poured the mix out of the mixing container, do not let it sit. The left over mix will begin to heat up and could combust if thrown into a trash can with flammable materials such as saw dust or paper. To dispose of leftover mix, pour it on a piece of cardboard so that it can spread thin. The more of it you have in a small area, the hotter it gets.
Click on the image below to view video.
Step 1: Level the table. We’ve attached the table top to the legs to help hold the table flat – yet another added attempt to reduce warping. We’re going to level the table to make sure the epoxy does not run off one side or pool to one side since it is a liquid.
Step 2: Mix the two-part epoxy per the instructions. You can get two-part epoxy at your local hardware store but we highly recommend investing in professional grade epoxy that you can order from pro suppliers.
Be sure you use brand new, clean supplies when stirring and handling the mix because dust and dirt will show in the final product. Stir the mix slowly as to not add any bubbles. Kris recommends pouring the mix (after stirring it for about 4 minutes) into a second container so that any unmixed parts that stuck to the sides of the first container, don’t pour out on to the table. Once you transfer the mix to the second container, proceed stirring very slowly until all the bubbles are gone.
Step 3: Pour the mix onto the tabletop. When you do so, pour all over, not just in one big pile in the middle. This will help in spreading it evenly. Do not pour all of the mix out as you will need extra for touch up.
If you have knots or porous spots that might soak up extra moisture, be sure to dump a little extra mix on those spots. Also be sure to plug any holes by putting tape over the hole on the bottom side of the table. This will keep the epoxy from spilling through and it’ll fill your hole. Use painters tape so that you can easily remove it later.
Step 4: Spread the epoxy using a one-time-use paintbrush. You can buy paintbrushes for a single dollar but be careful to watch for any fibers that fall off the brush. If you see a fiber in the mix, simply pluck it out and keep spreading the mix.
Spread the mix slowly to avoid creating bubbles or other odd formations in the mix. Patience will pay off in the end. Remember, you have about 30 minutes to work with the mix before it begins to dry, so it’s no rush.
Lightly push the mix to the edge of the table but it’s best to not let it spill over on the first coat. We’ll cover the edges on the second coat.
Step 5: Go over the entire surface of the table with a heat gun to pop any bubbles that may have developed. You can also use a torch, but heat guns are recommended because they disperse heat more evenly and with less intensity. Do not hold the heat in one location for any amount of continuous time or you may burn the epoxy mix.
Step 6: Let first coat sit for about 24 hours.
Step 7: Sand down anything sitting above the surface such as bubbles with very fine sand paper, preferably 220 or finer. Blow the dust off with an air compressor.
Step 8: Mix the second coat same as the first but use less mix as the wood is now sealed.
Step 9: Pour thin layer and spread it same as the first coat. Brush the epoxy on the side, do not allow it to drip. On areas where the epoxy soaks in, go over it again.
Step 10: Use the heat gun again to rid the surface of bubles.
Step 11: WALK AWAY! Don’t keep messing with it. The longer you play with it, the harder it will be to get it right.
That’s it! This process isn’t very easy which means lots of practice should be expected before you get really good at it. So basically, get a few practice rounds in before you finish that awesome mini bar you built in your man cave.
One more bit of advice: Almost any surface with any sort of object inlayed may be finished with epoxy. Kris Williams (whom gives this presentation in the video) makes really cool tables with old saw blades inlayed inside them. That’s a great idea! Covering a table with felt and laying down poker chips and cards to enshrine your favorite man cave past time is a bad idea (true story). Why? The felt is porous and will create so many bubbles that you won’t be able to see anything. So try sticking to non-porous items and surfaces.
For more from Kris and Rocky Blue Woodworks, please visit www.RockyBlueWoodworks.com or find him on Facebook!
For more from Scott and San Juan Carpentry, please visit www.SanJuanCarpentry.com or find him on Facebook as well!