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LED Epoxy Table Tutorial

In this video tutorial, I show you how to make a live edge LED Epoxy Table using reclaimed sinker cypress wood.  

Tools and Supplies

Epoxy Resin Used in Project
Better Epoxy Resin
Fire Glass
HairPin Table Legs
Stanley Block Plane
Trim Router
1/4″ Roundover Bit
Ryobi Circular Saw
Straight Edge for Saw
Dewalt Planer
Spray Adhesive with Activator
Hot Glue Gun
WEN Electric Hand Plane
Shellac
Acetone
Buffer
LED Lights
Porter Cable Heat Gun
Silicon Caulk
Dovetail Clamps
Johnson Paste Wax
Milwaukee Orbital Sander
Sandpaper
Drill
Bandsaw
Table Saw
Miter Saw
Saw Horses
Melamine Board: Big Box Store
Lie Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane

Often times, I experiment with many different epoxy products and wood finishes in my shop.  
For your convenience, I’ve compiled a complete list of my favorite epoxy resin material and tools.

Introduction

So, I received a text from my friends at Riverside Lumber in New Orleans about some unique Sinker Cypress they received.  
I love working with Sinker Cypress because it is such a beautiful wood with lots of history. 
Ultimately, I purchased a piece of Sinker Cypress that was about 8 feet in length and 17 inches wide.  

Also, the picture below is a picture of the wood after I cut it in half.

Sinker Cypress Slab

The Sinker Cypress sat in my shop for 3 months and I finally decided to use it to make an LED Epoxy Resin River Table.

Milling Sinker Cypress Wood

I normally start my woodworking projects with preparing the wood and this project is no different.  
Sinker Cypress is a beautiful wood species, but it can be a bit soft depending on the condition of the wood.

First, I cut the 8 foot piece at 50″ long to form the length of the sinker cypress table.  
I used my straight edge and circular saw to make the cut for the resin table.
The LED river table will be 48″ long, but I left an extra inch on both ends to square the edges in a later step.

cross cut with circular saw

Straight Sides

Next, I ripped the sinker cypress wood with my bandsaw.  
Why did I use my bandsaw and not my table saw?  
Good Question.  

The Sinker Cypress did not have a straight side to ride along the fence of the table saw.

Obviously, it is not safe to run a piece of wood this heavy through a table saw without a fence or sled to keep the wood from moving.
So, I had to cut it in half on my bandsaw to prepare the sinker cypress to go on the jointer jig.

I didn’t care if the cut was not exactly straight.
Essentially, I needed to trim off some of the wood anyway.  
Good thing I didn’t care because it was definitely not straight.

Then, I took the two pieces of sinker cypress and straightened out one side using my jointer jig with dovetail clamps.  
I really love this jointer jig because it really gets the sides very straight safely.

rip sinker cypress wood on bandsaw
Rip
table saw jointer jig for straight sides
sinker cypress slab

Removing Bark from Live Edge

First, I used a few of my general use chisels to remove the loose bark from each piece of sinker cypress. 
This cleans up the live edge sinker cypress.
Ultimately, I wanted to maintain the shape of the live edge, so I was careful during this process.

remove bark from live edge wood slab

Flat Wood Surface

The sinker cypress was relatively flat as it was planed by my hardwood dealer.
However, I sent each piece through my planer a few times and removed 1/64″ on each pass.

pass wood through planer

Sanding Wood

Next, I sanded each piece of sinker cypress with my orbital sander.  
I sanded the faces, sides, and smoothed out the live edge where I removed the bark.  
Essentially, I started with 120 grit, 150 grit, and finally 220 grit.

Quick Tip:  For a very smooth finish, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth and sand again with your highest grit. 
The water lifts the grain a bit and helps remove the excess.

Sand Wood slab
raise wood grain

Square Ends

First, I used my miter saw to square each end of the sinker cypress. 
Ultimately, it was only necessary to remove about 1/2″ from each side to get it square.  
This worked out because I may need to square it again at a later step and I would have 1″ remaining.  
Remember, I cut the piece at 50″.

square ends with miter saw

Melamine Box

The melamine box helps prevent leaking during the epoxy resin pour.
Obviously, it is a very important step for the LED Epoxy Table.  

Epoxy resin doesn’t adhere to melamine, which makes melamine a perfect material to contain the epoxy resin. 
As a cheaper alternative to melamine, I use plywood covered with tuck tape.

Epoxy Resin Mold

I constructed the melamine box to the exact dimensions of the LED table.
This measurement includes the width of the epoxy river.

melamine mold for resin

The bottom of the melamine box needed 2 pieces of melamine because I didn’t have a piece wide enough. 
So, I glued the 2 pieces together using spray adhesive with activator. 

Melamine Resin Mold for led river table

Essentially, this will create a strong enough adhesion to hold together.

The melamine box bottom was 20″ wide, 49″ long.  
I cut the sides at the same length as the bottom and they were 2 7/8″ high (wood is 2″ thick, melamine 3/4″ thick).
Next, I attached the sides with screws after drilling a pilot hole.

Mold assembly

I placed the sinker cypress pieces on the bottom and measured the ends to get an exact measurement.  
The ends were 21.5″ wide.

Quick Tip:  Tape measures are great, but use the board itself for a more accurate measurement.

Seal Melamine Box

First, I used my hot glue gun to seal the melamine box on the sides and corners for the LED Epoxy Resin River Table.  

Seal Resin Mold

Next, I put a generous coat of Johnson Paste Wax on the bottom, sides, and top of box where the particle board was exposed.  

epoxy mold release substitute

Johnson Paste Wax serves as an epoxy release agent.
This makes it easy to remove the LED epoxy table.

resin mold release agent

Then, I placed the pieces of sinker cypress into the box and sealed around the edges and corners to prevent the epoxy resin from seeping out.

Seal Epoxy Mold with Hot Glue

I put down a thin piece of silicon caulk down the seam of the melamine box bottom.

seal resin mold with caulk

Secure Wood to Mold

First, I used 6 blocks, 3 2x4s, and 6 f-clamps to hold the sinker cypress in place.  
This helps with minimizing the epoxy resin from seeping under the table as you can see in my video.

Epoxy Pour

Keep in mind, it is so important to follow the instructions when using epoxy resin.  
This stuff is not cheap and if you think you can skip an unimportant step – think again!
First, I mixed the epoxy resin at a 1:1 ratio (1 part hardener, 1 part resin) at a total of 16 ounces.

epoxy mix ratio

This amount is easy to handle.  When the material is first mixed (not whip b/c that causes bubbles) it will turn cloudy.

mix epoxy resin

After a few minutes of mixing the material it will begin to ‘break’ and become easier to stir.

Also, the epoxy turns from cloudy to clear when fully mixed.

Epoxy Resin no bubbles

Then, I slowly poured the epoxy resin and covered the entire bottom about 1/4″ thick.

resin pour

Finally, I used my heat gun to remove the bubbles.

heat gun to remove bubbles

Quick Tip:  In order to remove as many bubbles as possible, use the heat gun every 2 to 3 minutes for about 15 minutes.

Epoxy Resin Second Pour

First, I removed the f-clamps, 2x4s, and 2×4 blocks from the LED Epoxy Resin River Table.
The epoxy holds the table in place, so there is no need to hold it in place.

Ultimately, the second pour repeated the same process as the first pour with the same amount of material (16 ounces total).

river table resin pour

Embed LED Lights in Resin

Before proceeding to the next step in this LED epoxy table tutorial, I strongly recommend visiting my latest article on how to embed LED light strips in resin.

embed led lights in resin

Ultimately, this procedure works much better than the procedure in this tutorial as it makes it easy to replace the LED strip in the future
If you decide to not use this procedure to embed led lights in epoxy, simply proceed to the next step.
I cover installing the LED lights using super glue in a later step.

Fire Glass in Epoxy Resin

For the third pour, I embedded blue rocks in the LED epoxy table. 

First, I poured the fire glass on top of the second layer of epoxy resin.
Also, I made sure the height of the fire glass was below the height of the resin table.

fire glass for river table

Next, I poured a layer of epoxy resin to cover the fire glass.

fire glass resin pour
fire glass epoxy pour

Finally, I used my heat gun to remove the bubbles.

Remove Melamine Box

The melamine box released easily from the table.

remove resin mold

Honestly, it is a pain in the rear to prep the melamine box with wax, hot glue, etc., but it is very much worth the time.
I removed the sides, back/front, and then the bottom from the epoxy resin table.  
Unfortunately, I discovered epoxy resin leaked under the table.

leaking resin mold

Remove Excess Epoxy

First, I used my electric hand planer to remove 1/64 of an inch per pass.  

It took quite a few passes to remove the excess, but it worked.  Also, I rarely use my electric hand planer, but I’m certainly happy I have one.

remove resin from wood

Next, I used my Lie Nielsen low angle jack plane to flatten out the bottom of the LED epoxy table.  
Keep in mind, I only used it on the wood – not the epoxy.

wood jack plane

This hand plane is one of my favorite tools in my shop.

Finish Sanding

First, I sanded the table and epoxy resin very lightly with 220 grit sandpaper on the top and underside of the table.

sand led river table

Next, I used my stanley block plane to make sure one side was straight.

block plane for table sides

Then, I ran the piece through my table saw while referencing the side I flattened with my hand plane.

table saw straight sides

Finally, I used my worx bench, straight edge, and circular saw to remove 1/2″ from each end.  This makes the table exactly 48″ wide.

trim ends LED river table

Roundover Edges

I decided to use a 1/4″ roundover bit and my trim router to put a small roundover around the top of the LED Epoxy Resin River Table.  

It was perfect – I’m glad I didn’t use a 1/2″ roundover bit.

roundover edges with router

Epoxy Resin River Underside

Since I planned to place LED lights under the epoxy table, I wanted the epoxy to be transparent.
In turn, I had to finish the underside of the epoxy river.

First, I decided to use HVAC tape to tape around the epoxy to prevent it from leaking on the wood. 

seal with hvac tape

Next, I mixed 6 ounces of epoxy resin and applied the final coat with a chip brush.
I didn’t have a foam brush at the time, so I used what I had in my shop.

LED River Table final coat

Afterwards, I immediately removed the tape.

remove hvac table from epoxy

Fix Bubbles in Cured Epoxy

First, I flipped the table over so the top side faced up.

Somehow, I managed to miss these bubbles in epoxy resin after the initial pour.
No worries, I know how to remove bubbles in cured epoxy using a simple procedure.

fix resin bubbles

In turn, I used my drill with a round countersink bit to gently bore out the bubbles.  
It worked like a charm.

fix resin bubble

Next, I mixed a very small amount of epoxy resin to fill the hole. I allowed this to cure.

Top Coat for Epoxy River Only

First of all, I hand sanded the surface of the LED river table with 1000 grit paper before I applied the final coat (hopefully, the true final coat this time). 

Resin fine sanding

Additionally, I also spent some time removing the debris from the hole I drilled.

Next, I repeated the process for the previous final cut.

final epoxy coat

However, I decided to test my painting ‘cut in’ skills by not using tape this time.

LED Table final resin coat

Actually, I ran out of HVAC tape so I didn’t have a choice.  :) .

As a result, it worked out well – no accidents.

Best Finish for Epoxy Wood Tables

While the finish I used on this table worked fine, it is not the best.

After I completed this project, I tested many finishes on many resin tables.

I wrote a detailed article with video of the best finishes for epoxy wood tables, so be sure to check that out before proceeding to the next step.
This article will be well worth your time.

best finishes for epoxy river table

Apply Finish

First, I decided to use Shellac (transparent/clear) for the finish on the LED Epoxy Resin River Table.

I bought foam brushes for this part of the project.  

shellac finish for wood

Shellac dries very quickly and it is a great finish to use on wood. 

shellac finish for wood

Also, I applied one coat and sanded with 220 grit paper.

sand wood slab table

Then, I repeated this exact process for the second coat.

Second Coat

First, I used 1000 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block to very lightly hand sand the final coat.

fine sanding

Next, I mixed Acetone with the Shellac to thin the mixture a bit.

LED Epoxy River Table finish

Then, I applied the second coat.
Also, you can repeat this step to add as many coats as you wish. For this project, 2 coats worked fine.

Hairpin Legs

The hairpin legs are 28″ and they are sold in 2 colors – raw steel or black. 
Furthermore, I chose raw steel because it matches the style of table and the hardware in our house more than the black.
The quality of these hairpin legs shocked me because I did not expect them to be such solid legs.

First, I had to clean them using mineral spirits as they were full of residue.  
Presumably, the residue was put on them intentionally to prevent rust during shipment.

clean hairpin legs

Then, I placed them on the ends of the table and marked the holes with a double sided pencil.

attach hairpin legs

Finally, I pre-drilled the holes and screwed them in place on the underside of the LED Table.

attach hairpin legs

River Table LED Lights

Honestly, this LED Epoxy Resin River Table was fine without the LED lights.

I purchased them for this table, so I put them on using CA glue.

attach led Light Strip Installation

First, I made sure to install the strip of lights on the edge of where the wood meets the epoxy to hide it.  

LED Table install lights

Ultimately, it worked because they are not visible at all when they are not turned on.
Next, I flipped the LED river table over and it looks ‘ok’ with the lights. 
Also, I should have bought the less bright LED lights.

LED River Table Light Strip Installation

Ultimately, some people love the lights while others don’t.
I only turn them on during Christmas time as I use this table for my Christmas village.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, this was a fun project and I’m really happy with the final result of this sinker cypress LED epoxy table.

LED Resin Table

Also, visit my online store to purchase handmade items and download digital plans and purchase my handmade items.

LED River Table

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