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In this tutorial, learn how to build a DIY live edge river table with epoxy for an outdoor bar. Also, I show you many useful epoxy tips and woodworking techniques.
In this step by step tutorial, I reveal professional tips to show you how to make a unique epoxy resin table.
I review the following important steps to build an outdoor live edge river table with epoxy.
- Best Epoxy Resin To Use
- How to Prepare Live Edge Wood Slabs
- Epoxy Mold Tips
- Calculate Amount of Resin Needed
- Mix Epoxy Resin with Pigment and Glow Powder
- Suspend and Embed rocks in epoxy river table
- Sand Epoxy Wood Surfaces
- Finish an Outdoor Table
Table of Contents
- Supplies Needed for Epoxy Resin River Table
- Favorite Epoxy Resin to Seal Wood
- Tools Needed for Live Edge River Table
- DIY River Table Video Tutorial
- How To Make a Live Edge River Table
- Preparing Live Edge Wood
- Resin Wood Table Top Mold
- Calculate Amount of Resin Needed
- Mixing Epoxy Resin
- DIY Live Edge River Table Epoxy Pour
- Fill Wood Knots with Epoxy
- Embed Acrylic Rocks in Epoxy River Table
- Deep Pour Epoxy Curing Time
- Clear Table Top Epoxy
- Remove Epoxy Air Bubbles
- Demold Epoxy River Bar Top
- How To Sand Epoxy Wood Surfaces
- Outdoor Epoxy Wood Finish
- DIY Epoxy Live Edge Bar Top Table Ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
Supplies Needed for Epoxy Resin River Table
Selecting the best epoxy resin for your project is very important to produce favorable results.
For this live edge river table, I used a deep pour epoxy for the river, a table top epoxy for the top epoxy layer, and a penetrating epoxy to prepare the wood for the outdoor varnish.
Don’t worry, I’ll explain these in greater detail later in this tutorial.
Epoxy Casting Resin
The best casting epoxy resin for a thick epoxy pour is Super Clear Liquid Glass.
Ultimately, I prefer Liquid Glass because:
- It produces a crystal clear finish with minimal bubbles.
- Deep pours of 2” to 4” or more.
- High Grade UV resistance.
- It’s 100% made in the old U.S.A.
Best Epoxy Resin for Wood
My favorite epoxy resin for wood is TotalBoat Table Top Epoxy for the following reasons:
- It is easy to use and very forgiving.
- Resists scratches and extremely durable.
- Used for a wide variety of projects.
- 100% Made in the USA
Favorite Epoxy Resin to Seal Wood
First, I want to include TotalBoat Penetrating Epoxy in my list of the best epoxy resin to use for epoxy river tables.
I use penetrating epoxy to seal wood surfaces before applying an epoxy resin top coat or varnish.
Penetrating epoxy provides many benefits such as:
- Wood hardener for rotted wood.
- Penetrating wood sealer to protect against mold, mildew, moister, and fungus.
- This marine-grade epoxy resin is very thin, which allows it to penetrate deep into wood fibers and seal cracks and crevices.
Other Epoxy SuppliesTuck Tape
Best Deep Pour Epoxy
5 Gallon Buckets
Drill Paddle Mixer
Blue Pigment Powder
Fluroscent Blue Glow Powder
Table Top Epoxy
Small Mixing Containers
Halcyon Clear Gloss Varnish
Tools Needed for Live Edge River TableFestool Track Saw
Track for Saw
Festool RO125 Sander
Soft Sanding Pad
Pocket Hole Jig
DIY River Table Video Tutorial
There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to check out the video tutorial below.
How To Make a Live Edge River Table
These are the steps to make a live edge river table using epoxy and wood.
- Prepare Live Edge Wood Slab
- Build Resin Wood Table Top Mold
- Calculate Amount of Resin Needed
- Mix Epoxy Resin with Pigment Powder and Glow in the Dark Powder
- Pour Epoxy Resin
- Add Acrylic Rocks
- Pour Epoxy River Top Coat
- Remove Epoxy River Table From Mold
- Sand Epoxy Wood River Table
- Apply Finish
Preparing Live Edge WoodFestool Track Saw
Track for Saw
First, I used my track saw to cut the live edge wood slab directly in half.
Even though it was painful to cut the slab, I did not have a choice.
My customer requested a live edge facing his outdoor kitchen, a live edge facing the pool, and 2 live edges for the river.
As a result, I needed to make an artificial live edge facing the river.
Create Live Edge on WoodAngle Grinder
As you can see in the picture below, I need to make an artificial live edge for this river table.
Essentially, I used my grinder with a kutzall sanding disc to mimic the look of the natural live edge.
This took some time, but it was not a difficult process.
Live edges on wood slabs are generally not perfect.
In turn, this makes the process of creating a live edge very forgiving.
Resin Wood Table Top MoldTuck Tape
Pocket Hole Jig
I notice many folks using melamine to build an epoxy resin table top mold.
While melamine works well, it is a bit expensive.
To reduce costs, I use plywood covered with Tuck Tape for most of my epoxy table molds.
I used 1 sheets of 3/4” plywood to create the mold for this epoxy live edge bar top table.
First, I ripped the plywood to 20” wide and 8’ long.
The width is 2” wider than the live edge wood slab.
Then, I used pocket holes to join 2 8’ pieces of plywood at each end. This made the the plywood 16 feet long and 20” wide.
I trimmed off 1.5’ feet from each end and used these pieces at each end of the epoxy river.
This left me with 6” at each end of the epoxy bar top.
Also, I chose to not close in the mold on the sides b/c I don’t think it’s necessary.
Finally, I covered the plywood with tuck tape.
Tuck tape is sheathing tape, which releases epoxy easily.
Place Live Edge Wood in Resin Mold
After I applied the tuck tape, I laid each piece of wood in the resin mold and positioned them correctly.
Next, I used silicone to seal the bottom of the live edge to prevent epoxy from leaking under the table.
I let this dry for a few hours
Resin Mold Release Agent
Apply a thin layer of vaseline or furniture wax to the tuck tape in order to make the resin mold release from the epoxy table easier.
Calculate Amount of Resin Needed
The formula to use to calculate how much epoxy resin needed for a river table is:
Gallons Needed: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.004329
Quarts Needed: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.017316
Volume (Cubic Inches) = (Length (inches) x Width (inches) x Depth (inches)) + 10%
Please note, the 10% compensates for spills and to purchase more than the amount needed.
Obviously, the 10% is optional.
Mixing Epoxy ResinBest Deep Pour Epoxy
5 Gallon Buckets
Drill Paddle Mixer
First, I should mention I performed 2 epoxy pours for this live edge river table.
The first layer filled the epoxy river roughly 3/4 and the second layer filled the remaining 1/4.
More on this later in this tutorial.
Deep pour epoxy normally requires a 2:1 mixing ratio.
So, 2 parts A to 1 part B.
I used 3 buckets to mix epoxy resin.
By using 3 buckets, I make certain the measurements of part A and part B are accurate.
Next, I pour part A and part B in the third bucket.
Then, I use my drill with a paddle mixing bit to mix the epoxy resin.
Epoxy resin turns cloudy when it is initially mixed. When it is appropriately mixed, it turns clear.
Coloring Epoxy ResinBlue Pigment Powder
After the epoxy turned clear, I slowed down my drill speed and added a small amount of blue pigment powder.
It is a good practice to add a little pigment powder at a time – especially if this is your first time using a certain color or pigment brand.
Obviously, you can always add more if needed.
Photoluminescent Powder for Glow in the Dark TableFluroscent Blue Glow Powder
I used glow in the dark powder in a river glow table I built as an experiment.
My customers obviously see this table and ask me to add glow powder (photoluminescent powder) to epoxy tables I build for them.
Photoluminescent powder is charged by natural or artificial light and glows based on the amount of light it receives.
In turn, the glow in the dark table glows without lights.
I added and mixed the fluorescent blue epoxy glow powder immediately after the pigment powder.
Also, I used 16 ounces of glow powder which is plenty for this glow in the dark table top.
How To Remove Air Bubbles from Deep Pour Epoxy
To remove air bubbles form deep pour epoxy, I allow the epoxy to sit for roughly 8 to 10 minutes after mixing.
Due to the thin viscosity of deep pour epoxy, the bubbles rise to the top.
Then, I use a heat gun to remove the bubbles.
Keep in mind, this procedure will not work for table top epoxy resin with a 1:1 mixing ratio.
DIY Live Edge River Table Epoxy Pour
Once the all the bubbles, I slowly pour the resin on one end of the live edge bar top river table.
As a quick reminder, this epoxy pour will only fill the river bar top about 3/4 or 1.5”.
Next, I carefully inspect the sides, ends, and bottom of the epoxy resin table for leaks.
Fill Wood Knots with Epoxy
I used a finish sponge to fill wood knots with epoxy in the live edge wood.
First, I pladed the sponge in the epoxy and moved it around to absorb resin.
Next, I quickly placed it over the wood knot and allowed it to fill the knot with epoxy.
Embed Acrylic Rocks in Epoxy River TableAcrylic Rocks
Immediately after the epoxy pour, I added blue acrylic rocks to the epoxy randomly.
Previously, I used fire glass in river rock tables; however, fire glass introduces a few problems:
- Fire Glass reflects light which prevents the epoxy glow powder from charging.
- Broken pieces of glass are sharp, which makes it dangerous to work with.
- Fire glass ruins or dulls saw blades if the bar top has to be cut.
- Glass sinks, which requires an additional step (thin epoxy pour on bottom) to suspend in resin.
Acrylic rocks work best for epoxy river rock tables for the following reasons:
- They are translucent which allow light to shine through.
- Acrylic rocks are safe to work with and easy to cut.
- They float, which makes it easy to suspend in epoxy.
Since the acrylic blue rocks partially float, I left 25% (1/4” of space between the first epoxy pour with acrylic rocks and the second pour.
In other words, the second pour will adequately cover and submerge the acrylic rocks in epoxy.
Deep Pour Epoxy Curing Time
The curing time for deep pour epoxy depends on the thickness of the epoxy pour and environmental conditions.
Essentially, curing time varies and it is not an exact science.
In my experience, epoxy pours 2” or greater require 5 to 7 days to completely cure.
However, river tables requiring multiple epoxy pours do not have to wait 5 to 7 days.
How Long Between Epoxy Pours?
First, it is best to pour a second layer of epoxy once the first coat is tacky.
Essentially, the tackiness of the first layer provides a suitable surface for the second epoxy layer to adhere to.
I use the ‘Thumbprint’ test when adding a second epoxy pour.
If I place my thumb on the first layer of epoxy and it leaves a fingerprint without sticking to my thumb, it is ready for the second pour.
At times, the epoxy cures quickly and I cannot leave a thumbprint in the epoxy.
If this happens, I lightly scuff the surface with a scotch brite pad or 400-1000 grit sandpaper before applying the second layer of epoxy.
The high grit sandpaper scuffs the surface just enough to provide the second layer a surface to bond to.
Clear Table Top EpoxyTable Top Epoxy
Small Mixing Containers
Table top epoxy cures faster, requires a 1:1 mixing ratio, and generates more heat than deep pour epoxy.
With this in mind, I chose to allow the deep pour epoxy completely cure before adding the second layer of total boat table top epoxy.
So, I proceeded to the second pour.
For the second epoxy pour, I determined the amount of resin I needed to fill the live edge epoxy bar top river table up to the surface.
Next, I mixed the resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions and poured the table top epoxy in the river.
Due to the thickness of table top epoxy, I distributed the pour down the river instead of pouring only at one end.
Remove Epoxy Air BubblesHeat Gun
Next, I used my heat gun to remove epoxy air bubbles from the table top epoxy.
Demold Epoxy River Bar Top
Before I removed the DIY live edge river table from the mold, I turned off the lights to see it glow in the dark.
Since the table sits in the dark for most of the day in my shop, the glow powder doesn’t charge that much.
Keep in mind, glow powder needs sunlight or artificial light to charge.
To demold the epoxy live edge bar top, I simply used a pry bar and gently lifted up all around the river table.
The table released from the resin mold very easily.
Obviously, sheathing tape and vaseline work really well for epoxy molds.
In fact, I reuse most of my resin molds numerous times before I discard them.
How To Sand Epoxy Wood SurfacesSoft Sanding Pad
First, I always sand epoxy tables outside if possible even though my dust collector and sander produce minimal dust.
So, I carried the epoxy table outside and placed it on my saw horses.
Essentially, I use an air compressor to clean the resin build-up on the sandpaper while sanding.
As a result, this produces an enormous amount of dust.
After building many epoxy wood tables, I believe I perfected an epoxy wood table sanding technique that produces great results.
More importantly, my epoxy wood table sanding technique consists of the following guidelines:
- Sand wood and epoxy separately
- Keep sandpaper clean with an air compressor
- Use quality sander and dust extractor
- Sand surface in 2 directions (vertically and horizontally)
- Use sandpaper grit to control sheen levels
Outdoor Epoxy Wood Finish
This live edge river table bar top will be used as an outdoor bar top under a patio.
As a result, it needs a durable outdoor wood finish to withstand the exterior elements.
First, I should mention to you that no epoxy table top resin can withstand direct sunlight or constant exposure to exterior elements.
I realize some manufacturers produce UV epoxy; however, this doesn’t fully protect it from direct exposure.
Essentially, the UV inhibitors delay the epoxy yellowing and other common problems such as cracking, de-lamination.
Additionally, Hindered Amine Light Stabilizer (HALS) is a newer epoxy additive that further prevents yellowing.
Again, UV inhibitors and HALS simply delay the inevitable.
If not protected properly, the heat from the sun and UV rays will soften/weaken the epoxy surface and moisture will creep in.
Once this happens, ball game is over.
With this in mind, epoxy can survive outdoors under these 2 conditions:
- Direct sun exposure is limited to a few hours per day or eliminated altogether.
- The epoxy surface is inspected monthly and maintained annually.
Apply Penetrating Epoxy
The marine industry makes great products to protect wood surfaces as well as epoxy.
So, I called my friends at TotalBoat and explained my project to them.
Essentially, they recommended I use 2 products to protect my live edge epoxy river table from the outdoor elements.
First, I used penetrating epoxy on the epoxy wood river table to seal the surface.
Penetrating epoxy is super thin which allows it to penetrate deep into cracks and crevices.
Outdoor Epoxy Wood Varnish
Next, I used Halcyon Clear Gloss Varnish.
Halcyon varnish is great to use because:
- Water Based Formula
- Dries quickly
- Allows up to 5 coats in one day
- Doesn’t require sanding between coats
I applied 5 coats to this outdoor epoxy wood table and it was ready to go.
This stuff is truly remarkable – THANK YOU TotalBoat.
DIY Epoxy Live Edge Bar Top Table Ideas
The following list of epoxy river tables should give you ideas and inspiration.
Additionally, use the techniques in this tutorial for each of the following live edge river table ideas.
- Epoxy Wood Slab Bar Top
- Transparent Epoxy River Rock Table
- How to Make an Ocean Table
- Epoxy Seashell Table
- How To Make an Epoxy Resin River Table (Glow In the Dark Table)
In conclusion, I hope this tutorial showed you how to build a DIY live edge river table with epoxy.
Also, leave a comment down below if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say ‘hello’.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although bark on a live edge table looks great, you should not leave the loose bark on the live edge.
The best wood for a live edge table is black walnut, cherry, redwood, and maple.
To make a table glow in the dark, you can add LED lights to the underside. Or, you can make an epoxy river table and add glow powder to the epoxy.
The best epoxy resin for tables depends on the application. For most scenarios, TotalBoat Table Top Epoxy is a great epoxy resin to use for almost all projects. The best epoxy for thick pours is Liquid Glass Superclear 2.0.