This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. See my disclosure page for info on affiliate programs.
In this free tutorial, I show you how to make a DIY epoxy river rock table using Walnut wood.
Tools I Used
- FREE DIY Plans (Complete form at bottom of post)
- Epoxy Resin
- Glow Powder
- Epoxy Resin Dye
- Heat Gun
- Silicon Caulk
- Construction Adhesive
- Johnson Paste Wax
- Orbital Sander
- Belt Sander
- Dewalt Grinder
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw
- Saw Horses
- Dovetail Clamps for Jointer Table Saw Sled
- Ridgid Drill/Driver Combo
- Drill Mixing Bit
- Rubber Mallet
- Melamine Board – Big Box Store
- Quikrete 5000 Concrete – Big Box Store
- Rustoleum Spray Paint for Table Legs
- Lie Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane
Also, I compiled a list of all my favorite resin tools. Be sure to checkout that page.
While perusing my local hardwood dealer, I came across a piece of sinker walnut. Part of the walnut wood appeared to be petrified like driftwood.
Furthermore, the surface of the walnut had unique colors and grain patterns.
Immediately, the idea of a reclaimed walnut river rock table raced through my mind.
So, I purchased the piece of walnut and decided to build a reclaimed walnut river rock table.
First, I prepped the reclaimed walnut wood for the walnut river table.
Next, I resawed the wood down the center with my bandsaw.
Then, I used my low angle jack plane to get a flat surface. Also, I decided not to send this wood through my planer for obvious reasons.
I used my jointer jig with dovetail clamps to get one straight side from each piece.
First, I purchased 3 pieces of melamine from my local big box store because cement and epoxy resin does not bond to melamine.
Once I ripped and cut the melamine pieces (2 sides, 2 ends, bottom) to size, I pre-drilled holes and used screws to fasten them together.
Next, I ran a bead of silicone caulk along all seams to seal the box.
Then, I used a rag to spread Johnson Paste Wax on the bottom and sides of the box.
Keep in mind, the paste wax was an extra precaution to prevent epoxy resin and the cement from adhering to the melamine.
First, I sanded each piece of Walnut for the Walnut River Rock Table with 80, 100, 120, 150, and 220 grit paper. Obviously, my orbital sander received a nice workout!
Next, I squared the sides of each piece of walnut with my miter saw. Afterwards, I performed a quick test fit to make certain the walnut fit into the melamine box.
Mix and Set Concrete
To start, I recommend to not incorporate concrete into this walnut river table. However, I incorporated the instructions in the event someone reading this article insists on making the same mistake.
First, I mixed and set the concrete into the melamine mold. I used roughly a half bag of Quikrete 5000 concrete, water, drill, and mixing bit.
Per the manufacturer’s instructions, I mixed the concrete to a paste/putty consistency.
Next, I spread the concrete into the melamine box to about 1.5 inches thick.
Then, I placed the pieces of walnut into the concrete and pushed down until a suction was formed. So, I made sure the wood was as level as possible with my leveler and rubber mallet.
Also, the vibration from the side of my sander removed the air bubbles from the concrete.
Finally, I let the concrete cure for 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.
First, I did not make sure the square sides of each piece of wood were against the melamine box.
I left about a 1/2″ space because I did not pay attention and didn’t notice until the concrete dried and hoped it would be ok.
Needless to say, I didn’t like the look and caused me a bunch of work later on in the process.
Resin Glow Powder & Epoxy Dye
To start, I didn’t have a set plan regarding how to mix the epoxy resin with the glow powder and dye for the walnut river rock table.
Additionally, I didn’t know what colors I needed to use.
Ultimately, I aimed to make the table look like it was in a Florida lagoon or spring.
In my mind, this involved creating a dark blue layer for the bottom, then a emerald green layer, and a few clear layers.
Also, I learned from my previous Pecky Sinker Cypress Project it is much easier to pour multiple layers of epoxy resin.
Therefore, each layer of epoxy resin used to make the walnut river rock table was 16 ounces (8 ounces of hardener, 8 ounces of resin).
Then, I used my heat gun to remove the bubbles after I poured each layer.
Most importantly, I followed the instructions that came with the Epoxy Resin as closely as possible.
First Layer of Epoxy Resin
For the first layer, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin, 3 drops of blue dye, and 1 tablespoon of yellow glow powder.
To summarize, I didn’t mix enough glow powder in this step. I should have mixed about 3 times the amount.
Second Layer of Epoxy Resin
First, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin, 1 drop of green dye, and 1 tablespoon of yellow glow powder.
Next, I poured the second layer roughly 3 hours after the first layer.
Also, refer to mistake #2 for more on this.
Third Layer of Epoxy Resin
Before I mixed the 3rd layer, I placed garden rocks on top of the second layer.
First, I gathered the rocks from my garden around my pond.
Next, I thoroughly cleaned the rocks with dawn soap and warm water.
Then, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin and 2 tablespoons of white glow powder.
I poured this layer 24 hours after the 2nd layer.
Fourth Layer of Epoxy Resin
First, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin and 2 tablespoons of white glow powder.
Also, I poured this layer immediately after the 3rd layer.
Fifth Layer of Epoxy Resin
First, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin.
Next, I poured this layer 24 hours after the 4th layer.
Sixth Layer of Epoxy Resin
For this layer, I poured it immediately after the 5th layer.
Seventh Layer of Epoxy Resin
To start, this layer was the same as the 6th layer.
Also, I poured this layer immediately after the previous layer.
First, I used a rubber squeegee to spread the epoxy resin across the wood surface – this is referred to as a seal coat.
Next, I let this coat dry for 48 hours before I proceeded to the next step.
Additionally, I thought about not spreading the epoxy resin on top of the walnut river rock table to preserve the natural finish of the wood. The decision ended up being a coin flip – literally.
Next time, I’ll preserve the natural finish of the wood.
Epoxy Resin Bubbles
As I mentioned previously, I used a heat gun to remove bubbles after each layer.
First, I removed the screws from the melamine box and tapped the sides a few times with my rubber mallet.
Next, I flipped the piece over and removed the bottom. The melamine sides, ends, and bottom fell off with little effort.
Finally, the melamine really helped.
Fix Concrete Problem
First, I had to make a repair to the concrete bottom due to my inability to ask for help.
So, I used construction adhesive that bonds concrete and it worked better than I expected.
For mistake #3, I attempted to pick up the walnut river rock table and move it across my shop. Not very smart, I know.
About halfway to my destination, I tried to gently place it on the floor. Next, I lost my grip and dropped it. A piece of concrete came loose. :(
To cut off the embedded rocks in the epoxy resin, I moved the walnut river rock table outside to grind the concrete.
I didn’t want epoxy resin to be on the outer edges of the walnut river rock table. This step was necessary because of Mistake #1.
First, I used my grinder with a cement cutting disc to round the edges and cut off the sides and ends.
Needless to say, this made an absolute mess.
Next, I used my belt sander to knock down the high spots on the top as much as possible.
First, I decided to apply concrete stain to the bottom of the walnut river rock table. Honestly, the cement was a bad idea. However, hindsight is always 20/20.
Essentially, I wanted the bottom piece to look like a brown sand from a river bed.
Then, I applied the stain with a chip brush, allowed it to soak for 5 minutes, and wiped the excess off with a towel.
To control the color, I didn’t allow the stain to soak any longer than 5 minutes.
Finally, I let it dry for 24 hours then sealed it with concrete sealer.
Final Sanding & Planing
It was time to finish the reclaimed walnut river rock table top.
First, I started with 120 grit sandpaper because I used 80 grit sandpaper in the belt sander in a previous step.
Next, I used 150 grit sandpaper. I noticed a few high spots on the walnut river rock table top and decided to use my low angle jack plane to knock these down.
Afterwards, I went to 180 grit then 220 grit sandpaper.
First, I used Acetone to clean the table after the final sanding on the walnut river rock table.
This is the recommended chemical to use between epoxy resin coats and I’ve used it successfully in the past.
However, the Acetone soaked into a few parts of the reclaimed walnut river table.
In turn, this caused the epoxy resin to not adhere properly during the flood coat. The epoxy resin beaded up in a few spots similar to the way water does on a windshield with Rain-X.
Ultimately, the spots were very small. So, I had to work in the epoxy on the flood coat in these areas and it eventually spread correctly.
Epoxy Resin Flood Coat
First, I ran the reclaimed walnut river table through my table saw to square the walnut on one side before the flood coat.
Then, I applied the epoxy resin flood coat and used 8 ounces (4 ounces of hardener, 4 ounces of resin).
Next, I used a rubber squeegee to spread the material, but I did not press down on the epoxy resin. I gently spread it across the table and let it blend together.
Lastly, I used a chip brush to apply the epoxy resin to the side of the walnut river rock table.
First, I used 3/4″ black steel plumber’s pipe to make the table bottom.
Next, I cleaned each piece with acetone because they were covered with grease and grime.
Furthermore, I did not need to cut the black steel because I designed my dimensions according to the standard pipe sizes sold in the big box store.
Obviously, I needed to figure out a way to attach the top flanges to the bottom of the walnut river rock table without drilling into the concrete.
Also, drilling into the concrete would have not caused an issue.
However, I was not going to risk cracking the concrete again. So, I decided to use a scrap piece of wood, trace the flanges, and cut them out on the bandsaw.
Next, I used screws and construction adhesive to secure the flange to the wood.
Afterwards, I finished the bottom assembly.
Spray Paint Bottom
I used Satin Primer/Paint (Black) spray paint to paint the reclaimed walnut river table bottom.
Also, this spray paint dried fast which allowed me to apply 2 coats within a half hour.
Afterwards, I applied a liberal about of construction adhesive to the top of the wooden flange pads.
Next, I placed the reclaimed walnut river rock table on top and let it dry for 24 hours.
Additionally, the weight of the table top is plenty heavy enough to ensure proper adhesion.
In conclusion, this reclaimed walnut river rock table project was a lot of fun and I hope it provided you with value.
FREE DIY Plans!
FREE DIY Plans will be delivered to your inbox in PDF format.
FREE DIY Plans!
FREE DIY Plans will be delivered to your inbox in PDF format.