In this tutorial, I show you how to make a DIY epoxy river coffee table with live edge wood. Also, learn many woodworking and epoxy resin tips to help you save time and money.
Most tutorials explaining how to build epoxy river tables are confusing.
Often times, they are DIY experiments which lack unreliable advice and detailed instructions.
In this article, I share a system of reliable and proven techniques to build epoxy tables – even for those with little experience..
In fact, I built this epoxy resin table for one of my clients.
So, let’s get started with a list of materials and the right tools to make this coffee table.
Table of Contents
- Tools and Materials
- Video Tutorial
- Sand Rough Wood
- First Epoxy Pour
- Mix Epoxy Glow Powder
- Final Epoxy Pour
- Glow in the Dark Epoxy River
- Remove Table from Mold
- Cut To Final Size
- Epoxy Wood Table Finish Options
- How To Finish a Coffee Table with Epoxy Resin
- Sand and Finish Table Underside
- Finish Table Underside
- Extra Wood Project
- Free Resin Calculator
- Frequently Asked Questions
Tools and Materials
First, I encourage you to download my FREE resin calculator at the end of this article.
The resin calculator helps you minimize waste by determining the exact amount of resin need for your epoxy project.
Fluorescent Blue Glow Powder
Table Top Epoxy
Sander – Festool RO125
Sheathing Tape for Mould
There are many things which are difficult to explain with words and images, so be sure to checkout the video tutorial below.
A client reached out to me and requested I build a resin river coffee table for his living room.
In addition, he wanted a blue epoxy river that glows in the dark.
My client requested I use 2 live edge slabs of white oak wood from his family’s land in Alabama.
The dimensions of this epoxy resin coffee table is 46″ x 28″ x 1 1/8″ (L x W x Thickness).
Live Edge Slabs Coffee Table
Each slab of wood had one live edge and measured 50″ x 10″ x 1.25″ (L x W x Thickness).
These wooden planks contained one live edge, which make each piece of wood perfect for a river table.
The wood imperfections and age added unique qualities many refer to as rustic.
However, the wood surface was in rough shape and needed to be sanded.
Sand Rough Wood
I wrote a complete DIY tutorial on how to sand rough wood, so be sure to visit this article for more detailed instruction.
In order to get the best results on any wood and epoxy projects, I encourage you to adopt a proven sanding technique.
First, I use a festool RO125 dual-action sander on the highest speed setting in rotex mode.
The sanding grits I used for this project are as follows: 24 grit, 40 grit, 60 grit, 80 grit, 100 grit, 120 grit, 150 grit, 180 grit, and 220 grit.
Normally, I start with 60, 80, or 100 grit sandpaper rough wood.
However, I decided to start with 24 grit sandpaper due to the rough shape of the live edge wood.
Best Wood Sanding Technique
The wood sanding technique I use is simple, but the most important thing to do well.
First, I choose a small section to sand which is usually one third of the size of the surface.
Next, I sand across the grain and overlap my passes by an inch or so.
Then, I sand parallel to grain.
Finally, I sand in small circles parallel to the grain.
Once complete, I move to the next section and repeat with every grit.
While this may seem cumbersome, it is required to achieve a great result.
How To Clean Sandpaper
Obviously, it’s always a good idea to get the most out of your sandpaper.
To preserve and reuse sandpaper, I use an abrasive cleaning stick to clean my sandpaper immediately after I use it.
I simply allow the abrasive stick to clean the sandpaper while the sander runs.
The abrasive stick makes the sandpaper look brand new.
First Epoxy Pour
I used TotalBoat clear casting resin for the first epoxy layer on this live edge epoxy table.
This casting epoxy is a 2:1 mixing ratio, cures slowly, allows for deeper pours, and soaks into the wood fibers to form a strong bond.
Additionally, I mix enough epoxy resin to fill the resin river roughly 1/8″.
This bottom layer helps protect the glow powder (more on this later).
Once I poured the epoxy, I used my spark lighter and torch to remove air bubbles.
Fill Wood Knots with Epoxy
Next, I used a syringe to force epoxy resin deep into the wood knots to properly seal them.
Mix Epoxy Glow Powder
After the first epoxy layer cured enough to pass the fingerprint test, I mixed glow powder and TotalBoat casting epoxy resin for the second pour.
As I mentioned earlier, the first epoxy layer protects the glow powder on the underside of the epoxy river coffee table.
Essentially, it shields it from being removed if I need to sand or flatten the underside of the epoxy river.
First, I mixed the epoxy resin completely.
Usually, the epoxy resin turns crystal clear when mixed properly.
Next, I added blue glow powder to the epoxy resin.
This glowing blue pigment also produces a blue epoxy, which is not the case for most glow powders.
Additionally, I use this type of glowing fluorescent pigment for other epoxy projects such as this black walnut dining table and
I used 8 ounces of glow powder for this epoxy wood coffee table.
Then, I thoroughly mixed the epoxy glow powder by scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing container.
A consistent epoxy color requires extra mixing to ensure the blue pigment completely dissolves.
Finally, I poured the epoxy resin in the middle at a slow rate until it filled the river table about 3/4″.
I saved a few ounces of resin to fill the wood knots with blue epoxy.
As a quick tip, leave at least 1/8″ of space when pouring epoxy and glow powder.
Essentially, this will add protection above the epoxy layer with glow powder.
Final Epoxy Pour
After the second layer cured for 24 hours, I measured from the top of the cured epoxy to the top of the live edge.
I used this number along with the epoxy river table dimensions to determine the amount of resin I needed.
Don’t forget to download my resin calculator at the end of this article as it makes it easy to determine the resin you need.
First, I mixed the same type of epoxy resin as the previous 2 layers.
Next, I poured the clear epoxy resin until it completely filled the epoxy river.
Then, I filled the wood knots with clear resin.
Glow in the Dark Epoxy River
While the third layer was curing, I decided to test the epoxy glow in the dark table.
First, I left my shop lights on for roughly 4 hours to charge the photoluminescent powder.
Then, I turned the lights off to see the glowing river.
Remove Table from Mold
I removed the epoxy resin coffee table from the mold with relative ease.
Cut To Final Size
First, I flipped the table over with the underside facing up to cut to final size.
Essentially, this avoids scratching the top of the table with my saw or track.
Next, I cut the table to final size on each end and on each side using my track saw and track.
Epoxy Wood Table Finish Options
There are many techniques and finishes for an epoxy wood table.
I explain in great detail my 4 best finishes for epoxy wood table article.
Ultimately, sheen and protection determine which type of finish I use on table tops.
In fact, it is possible to achieve an epoxy matte finish by using the right finish and sanding technique.
How To Finish a Coffee Table with Epoxy Resin
For this epoxy river coffee table, my client requested a high gloss epoxy finish.
So, I used TotalBoat penetrating epoxy to seal the wood and TotalBoat table top epoxy as the final finish.
Apply Penetrating Epoxy
TotalBoat penetrating epoxy sealer preserves, protects and repairs wood.
This makes it ideal to use before applying table top epoxy.
First, I mixed the penetrating epoxy at a 2:1 ratio and poured it on the table.
Next, I used a plastic spreader to move the material around the table.
Once the epoxy covered the entire table, I allowed a small amount to roll over the epoxy river coffee table ends and sides.
Then, I used my hand to spread the material on the ends and sides.
I allowed the epoxy to dry to the point the material felt tacky.
Then, I applied a second coat following the same procedure and allowed it to dry for 24 hours.
Table Top Epoxy Finish
I applied 2 flood coats of table top epoxy to the wood coffee table.
First, I mixed the epoxy resin at a 1:1 ratio and poured it on the DIY coffee table.
A flood coats is meant to ‘flood’ the table top with little to no intervention.
In other words, I didn’t use a trowel or tool to move the epoxy.
Then, I forced the resin to move easier using a heat gun.
Keep in mind, a plastic spreader or trowel can be used to spread the epoxy.
However, I get better results by using heat to move the epoxy if needed.
I allowed the first coat to sit for 6 hours and applied the second coat.
Finally, I allowed the table to cure for 72 hours.
Protect Epoxy Coffee Table from Debris
Protecting the epoxy finish in my workshop allows me to work on other projects.
First, I attached a scrap 2×2 piece of wood to each corner of the resin mold.
Next, I wrapped plastic drop cloths around the 2x2s and securing them with a stapler.
Then, I used tape to seal the gaps and prevent dust from entering on the sides and top.
Sand and Finish Table Underside
Once I cut the table to size, I lightly sanded the table underside to remove the resin drips with 120 grit sandpaper.
I used my vacuum brush attachment to remove the resin dust.
Finish Table Underside
First, it is NOT necessary to finish the underside of tables.
However, I finish all my wood table projects as it gives me a feeling of completion.
I use Odie’s oil to finish the underside of my table projects.
It is easy to apply and leaves a nice satin wood finish.
First, I use a white scotch brite pad to apply Odie’s oil by hand.
Next, I use a terry towel to remove the excess after allowing the oil to setup for 45 minutes.
The final result turned out really nice.
In fact, I prefer this finish over an epoxy resin finish for this live edge river coffee table.
Extra Wood Project
I had some extra white oak and decided to make my client a surfboard towel rack.
Since both my customer and I live in Florida, this extra wood project seemed fitting.
Also, you can purchase one of these surfboard fin storage rack from my Etsy store.
Free Resin Calculator
Complete the form below and I’ll send you a FREE resin calculator for your next project.
This epoxy river coffee table turned out to be a gorgeous table.
The rustic wood species combined with the blue flowing river created contrasting and unique color combinations.
I hope this tutorial provided you with new epoxy and woodworking tips and techniques to make an epoxy river coffee table of your own.
- 5 Amazing Epoxy Glow Table Projects
- How to Protect Outdoor Epoxy Table
- How to Get a Matte Finish on Epoxy
- Sanding Epoxy Resin Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
To calculate the amount of epoxy you need, determine the volume in cubic inches then convert to gallons or quarts.
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.
Gallons: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.004329
Quarts: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.017316
Most glow powder manufacturers recommend to use 4 parts resin to 1 part glow powder.
Penetrating epoxy sealer preserves, protects and repairs wood. Often times, it is used before applying table top epoxy.
A flood coat is poured on a flat surface and self levels to 1/8″ thick.