Epoxy Prep

Get your workspace set up! Don't skimp on proper prep, or you'll end up with rock-hard epoxy permanently stuck to your floor. Since you'll be pouring the epoxy over the edge, you need to prepare for lots of epoxy to land on the floor. I laid down cardboard under plastic sheeting. In case the plastic tears at all, the cardboard can absorb some drips. However do not use cardboard alone, as the epoxy can soak through!

Second, think temperature: this epoxy will only cure properly at 75 degrees or more. So your cold garage might be out unless you have some space heaters handy!

Third, think dust. The table needs to cure for 72 hours, and anything that lands on it in the first 10 will stick. Since I don't have any outdoor space and I have a cat and dog with hair, I built a makeshift dust tent using plastic drop cloth, masking tape, and a few chairs. If you've been sanding in the same space, wait at least 12 hours after vacuuming for the dust to settle before doing any epoxy work.

Not only does the room and wood need to be 75 degrees or warmer, but your epoxy should also be acclimated to the same. I stored mine in an upper cabinet in the kitchen for a day to ensure it was over 75 degrees the whole way though, and measured its temperature with my multimeter's IR thermometer.

Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when working with epoxy! Work in a well-ventilated area and/or wear an organic fume respirator.

Now it's time to test the whole process. This was my first time taking on such a big, unforgiving epoxy project, so I wanted to practice to make sure I had prepared for all the problems that could occur. So I mixed up a two-ounce batch of epoxy (always pour the thicker epoxy into the thinner hardener) and mixed for five whole minutes, scraping down the sides.

I couldn't use my special mixing drill attachment for such a small batch, but a wooden chopstick works fine. 

I set up some extra bits of maple from the same tree on elevated stilts on the plastic and poured on the small batch of mixed epoxy.

Use a foam brush to get the epoxy into the bark, or even to pick up a bit of the spill over from the plastic to drip it back into cracks. These pieces are for practice, so feel free to overwork them and test out different application methods.

 

Gently wave a heat gun over the whole surface to pop any bubbles. A blow torch or hair dryer can also work, just be careful not to burn the epoxy with the blow torch or push it around with the forceful air blowing out of the hair dryer (which can cause rippling).

Close the dust tent and let the epoxy cure for 24 hours. It'll take an additional two days to fully cure but can be handled after a day, when the risk of dust sticking to it has passed.

While the epoxy dries on your test pieces, you can do the final prep on the actual table. Flip it up on its side and use some E6000 to fill any through-holes at the bottom. You can use a flashlight or your phone screen to help find the holes and cracks that go all the way through. A toothpick can help spread it around to make a good seal.

 

Still you may not find them all, so be prepared for epoxy to drip out from new and exciting spots once you pour it on.

Wrap the legs in plastic and tape to protect them from epoxy drips, and get your table into the dust tent. I laid down additional plastic to cover the entire interior after seeing how flow-everywhere it was during the test. Use a dry lint-free cloth or duster to remove any last remaining surface particles.

This guide was first published on Nov 04, 2014. It was last updated on Nov 04, 2014. This page (Epoxy Prep) was last updated on Oct 16, 2019.