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DIY Live Edge Epoxy River Bar Top (Step by Step)

DIY Live Edge Epoxy River Bar Top (Step by Step)

In this epoxy table tutorial, learn how to build a DIY live edge epoxy river bar top table for an outdoor kitchen. 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
DIY Live Edge River Table Bar Top

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 Supplies

Tuck Tape
Heat Gun
Best Deep Pour Epoxy
Acrylic Rocks
5 Gallon Buckets
Drill Paddle Mixer
Blue Pigment Powder
Fluroscent Blue Glow Powder
Table Top Epoxy
Penetrating Epoxy
Small Mixing Containers
Card Spreader
Halcyon Clear Gloss Varnish
Synthetic Brush

Tools Needed for Live Edge Epoxy River Top

Festool Track Saw
Track for Saw
Saw Horses
Festool RO125 Sander
Soft Sanding Pad
Sandpaper
Air Compressor
Angle Grinder
Shaping Disc
Pocket Hole Jig

DIY Epoxy River Bar Top 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.

  1. Prepare Live Edge Wood Slab

  2. Build Resin Wood Table Top Mold

  3. Calculate Amount of Resin Needed

  4. Mix Epoxy Resin with Pigment Powder and Glow in the Dark Powder

  5. Pour Epoxy Resin

  6. Add Acrylic Rocks

  7. Pour Epoxy River Top Coat

  8. Remove Epoxy River Table From Mold

  9. Sand Epoxy Wood River Table

  10. Apply Finish

Preparing Live Edge Wood

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.

Cut Live Edge Wood slab for River Table
Prepare Live Edge Wood for River Table

Create Live Edge on Wood

As you can see in the picture below, I need to make an artificial live edge for this river table.

Live Edge Wood for Outdoor Bar Top

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.

Epoxy Bar Top using Reclaimed Wood shape live edge

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 Mold

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. 

Even though 3/4” plywood is sturdy, the epoxy mold should be supported at each end and in the middle to prevent bowing.

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.

Resin Mold Furniture Wax Release Agent

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 Resin

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.

mixing epoxy resin
mixing epoxy resin

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 Resin

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.

coloring epoxy resin with pigment powder
mixing epoxy resin and pigment powder

Photoluminescent Powder for Glow in the Dark Table

Fluroscent 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.

mixing epoxy glow powder

Most of the glow powder tends to sink in deep pour epoxy.  So, this may pose a problem if you plan to sand the underside of the river table.

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.

remove epoxy 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.

Live Edge River Table Epoxy Pour

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.

Use hot glue to quickly seal an epoxy leak.

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.

filling wood knots with epoxy
filling wood knots with epoxy

Embed Acrylic Rocks in Epoxy River Table

Acrylic Rocks

Immediately after the epoxy pour, I added blue acrylic rocks to the epoxy randomly.

rocks for epoxy river table
add acrylic rocks to epoxy river table

Previously, I used fire glass in river rock tables; however, fire glass introduces a few problems:

  1. Fire Glass reflects light which prevents the epoxy glow powder from charging.
  2. Broken pieces of glass are sharp, which makes it dangerous to work with.
  3. Fire glass ruins or dulls saw blades if the bar top has to be cut.
  4. 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:

  1. They are translucent which allow light to shine through.
  2. Acrylic rocks are safe to work with and easy to cut.
  3. They float, which makes it easy to suspend in epoxy.
add acrylic rocks to epoxy river table

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.

Thumbprint Test

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 Epoxy

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.

pour table top epoxy river table

Due to the thickness of table top epoxy, I distributed the pour down the river instead of pouring only at one end.

pour table top epoxy river table
pour table top epoxy river table

Remove Epoxy Air Bubbles

Heat Gun

Next, I used my heat gun to remove epoxy air bubbles from the table top epoxy.

heat gun to remove epoxy bubbles

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.

epoxy glow in the dark table

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 Surfaces

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.

epoxy river bar top

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
epoxy resin sanding tips

These 5 simple epoxy resin sanding tips help me sand epoxy like a pro.
Additionally, I can get a matte finish on epoxy, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss sheen level.

Outdoor Epoxy Wood Finish

This live edge epoxy river bar top table will be used 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:

  1. Direct sun exposure is limited to a few hours per day or eliminated altogether.
  2. 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.

outdoor epoxy wood finish

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.

apply TotalBoat penetrating epoxy

Outdoor Epoxy Wood Varnish

Next, I used Halcyon Clear Gloss Varnish.

apply halcyon 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.

apply varnish to epoxy wood table
apply varnish to epoxy wood table
apply varnish to epoxy wood table

DIY Live Edge Epoxy Bar Top 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 epoxy river bar top table ideas.

Conclusion

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’.

diy epoxy glow in the dark table

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave bark on a live edge table?

Although bark on a live edge table looks great, you should not leave the loose bark on the live edge.

What is the best wood for a live edge table?

The best wood for a live edge table is black walnut, cherry, redwood, and maple.

How do you make a glow in the dark table?

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.

What is the best epoxy resin for tables?

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.

Alan" ace"Cullum

Monday 28th of December 2020

How do I contact you about a build. two, 8' or 10' or 12' long (preferred 12feet) sinker cypress. thanks, ace

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