Deep Pour Resin For DIY Epoxy River Tables
Pouring epoxy resin river tables require certain types of epoxy and certain techniques. Most coating epoxies require thin pours of no more than 1/8 to 1/4" per application. Because many DIY epoxy river tables are much thicker than 1/8 inch multiple layers must be used or a thinner epoxy must be used.
How To Make An Epoxy River Table
Whether it is a live edge river table or a simple coffee table with a river, prep is almost always necessary. In addition to prepping the surface as done with any epoxy table, a river project normally requires a frame or dam on either end of the river. Because most epoxies self level, a dam is necessary to prevent the epoxy from flowing out. Essentially the dam or frame will allow the epoxy to be built up thicker than the self leveling thickness. Most coating epoxies will self-level to 1/16" to 1/4". This is why choosing the best epoxy for your river table project is paramount.
When making a dam it is important to consider whether or not the epoxy will adhere to the material used. Many people are inclined to use a wooden frame (not treated) and are disappointed to discover the epoxy sticks to the frame. This will result in pounding, wedging, prying and sanding to remove the frame. Needless to say, it's important to choose wisely the frame materials.
Pro Tip: Most epoxies will not stick to silicone and certain tapes. A cheap option is to use clear packing tape as the epoxy will not stick to the tape.
Deep Pour Resin
After the project has been properly prepped, taped and dammed off, it's time to mix and pour the epoxy. Pouring epoxy too thick can ruin an entire project. As previously mentioned, most coating epoxies like Table Top & Bar Top Epoxy requires thin pours of no more than 1/4 inch per application. For a table that is to be 2" thick, this would require 9 pours of epoxy when considering a seal coat and then 8 applications at a quarter inch each. Mixing and pouring epoxy this many times is not only time consuming but makes the project susceptible to dust & particle exposure.
An alternative to using a coating epoxy is thick pour epoxy resin or some may use a casting resin. These types of resins are thinner in viscosity, lower exotherm; thus can be poured much thicker. The caveat is that these types of resins take much longer to cure, often 36-48 hours for a full cure. The downside to long cure times is more time for foreign substances (i.e. bugs, dust, hair, etc) to land on the curing project. Additionally, thinner epoxy requires a tighter dam/frame. Thin epoxies tend to work behind loose dams and ultimately seep through.
Each type of epoxy has Pros and Cons when pouring a river table project. Some find working with a coating epoxy easier while others find a single pour easier. One advantage of pouring multiple layers (whether using a coating or thick pour epoxy) allows for corrections to be made along the way. For example, if bubbles were to develop early in the project, they could be sanded down and then recoated.
Thick Pour Resin
Cured Epoxy Must Be Supported
Once cured, epoxy river tables MUST be support. Cured epoxy is not flexible, if the table/project is allowed to flex the cured epoxy can crack. This is especially true when epoxy is used to fuse two slabs/live edges of wood together or when the river is exposed on top and bottom of the project. Supporting the project can come in all shapes and sizes and the woodworkers out there cease to get creative with support systems, but suffice it to say that cured epoxy must be supported.
Thick pour applications must consider how porous the substrate.
Some may be inclined to prep the project and immediately pour multiple inches thick without considering initially sealing the project. Most river tables are constructed out of wood, which is very porous. Without sealing the wood prior to a thick pour, bubbles could remain in the epoxy as it cures. The best way to prevent bubbles is to seal the project with a very thin seal coat of epoxy. A thin seal coat allows the epoxy to flow into all porous areas of the project and air to easily rise to the surface, and ultimately eliminated.