How to Make an Epoxy Resin Table with Pecky Sinker Cypress
Hey Everyone, Jeremy Hoffpauir here. In this article, I show you how to make an epoxy resin table with pecky sinker cypress. Pecky sinker cypress is a rare and highly sought after wood. Check out the steps I took to build this epoxy resin table from Pecky Sinker Cypress.
Tools I used:
- Epoxy Resin
- Oil and Urethane TopCoat
- Wood Carving Chisel Set
- Shop Vacuum
- Dust Deputy
- Orbital Sander
- Belt Sander
- Table Saw
- Japanese Finish Saw
- Biscuit Joiner
- Pocket Hole Jig
- Electric Hand Planer
- Benchtop Planer
- Bar Clamps
- Drill/Driver Combo
- Brad Nailer
- Wood Glue
- Silver Foil Tape
- Premium Tack Cloths
- GoPro Hero
My mother-in-law brought over 3 slabs of her Bald Cypress tree that was cut down from her front yard. She asked to make an outdoor bench or kitchen table from these slabs. These wood slabs were cut horizontally and very unevenly by an arborist with a cheap chainsaw. I quickly realized this wood could not be used for a bench, a table, or anything except firewood. Additionally, the wood was very brittle. This made it even more difficult to work with.
Christmas is only a few months away & the adults in our family pick names to exchange gifts. I made sure I picked my mother-in-law’s name so I can make her a table.
Search for ideas
I searched for cypress table ideas for about a day. The unique look of sinker cypress quickly grabbed my attention. This wood is fairly common in my part of the country (South Louisiana) & I thought it would be a great choice of wood for this epoxy resin table. The wood is not only beautiful and unique, but it also has a lot of historical/geographical significance. My Mother-in-law would appreciate the historical value.
I called a friend of mine who knows the best places to purchase reclaimed wood in the New Orleans area and he referred me to Riverside Lumber.
I visited Riverside Lumber the following day and noticed they not only had sinker cypress, but they also had pecky sinker cypress. Charles at Riverside Lumber was very helpful during my visits and I would highly recommend them if you live in the area and in need of exotic or any type of lumber.
“Pecky” refers to a fungus that causes hollow tubes to run vertically throughout the tree. The fungus grows while the tree is alive and only germinates when the tree is around 125 years old. The fungus dies when the tree dies.
Preparing the Wood
I decided to purchase these 2 slabs to make the pecky sinker cypress table.
However, I later realized I needed an additional slab after my wife informed me 2 slabs were not wide enough to make a suitable table. Off to get another I went.
I also brought the first 2 pieces back with me to get planed down b/c the slabs were about 2.5” too wide for my planer. I didn’t realize this when I purchased the first 2 slabs (smh).
The pieces didn’t need to be planed down to any exact depth, but I wanted the surface as flat as possible b/c they were very rough and uneven.
Below are the 3 pieces for the pecky sinker cypress table:
Remove Soft Wood from Pecky Pockets
Next step was to remove the soft/damaged wood from the pockets on the pecky sinker cypress table.
I accomplished this by scraping as much of the wood out as possible with my wood carving tools.
This was quite a time-consuming process b/c many of the soft pockets caused by the fungus were much deeper and longer than I anticipated.
I scraped each pocket on both sides of each board and used my shop vac to remove the debris. It may have been easier to use an air compressor and blow-out each pocket after scraping.
Once all the debris was removed, it was time to break out the belt sander and orbital sander to get both sides of each board as smooth as possible. I started with 150 grit sand paper on the belt sander and finished with 220 grit sand paper on the orbital sander.
Planing & Joining
After the boards were sanded and cleaned, it was time to square the sides of the boards in preparation for them to be joined together. I need to upgrade my table saw soon with a nice table saw to make ripping long pieces of material easier.
I don’t have a jointer, so I used my table saw to rip an equal amount off of each board to make the table 36” wide (each board would be 12” long). This worked out really well b/c 2 boards were 14” wide and 1 board was 15” wide.
Next, I ripped 2” off 1 side of the first board, 1” on each side of the second board & 3” on one side of the last board.
I saved the 3” board I ripped off of the last board to use on the table legs (more on this later). I didn’t care if the outer edges of the table were perfectly straight b/c it is a reclaimed table. Perfectly straight outside edges on the pecky sinker cypress table were not important considering the irregularities of the wood.
The 3 slabs lined-up nicely, but I was concerned about which joinery method would be best to use on the pecky sinker cypress table.
Some of the ‘pecky pockets’ in the wood tunneled the length of the board and close to the edge. I figured the strength of the table would be at risk if I used pocket holes or mortoise/tenon methods to join the pieces near one of these tunnels.
I decided to use biscuits to join the 3 slabs b/c I can place the biscuits in solid parts of each board & the width of the #20 biscuits provided extra stability.
Most importantly, I had an excuse to go buy a new tool b/c I did not own a biscuit joiner.
Placement of Biscuits
It took me a while to figure out where to put the biscuits and how many to use. I decided to use 6 biscuits per join (12 total). There were a few biscuits that were visible on the underside of the table, but that was the best I could do.
Once I got over the pure awesomeness of my new biscuit joiner & how easy it was to use, I clamped the pieces and let the glue dry overnight.
There were very minor creases between boards where I joined them together. I lightly sanded the surface of the pecky sinker cypress table one more time.
However, I elected to use the dust bag attachment that came with the sander instead of connecting my sander to my dust collection system.
I mixed the sawdust in the bag with glue in a clear plastic cup to a putty-like consistency – this was so easy that I was able to talk to my wife on the phone and mix at the same time (view pic below).
I’m a man, which means I’m not very good at doing 2 things at the same time. Next, I liberally spread the mixture over the creases and gently wiped off the excess with a popsicle stick because it was the closest thing within arm’s reach.
Remove Excess Glue
I lightly sanded the surface of the pecky sinker cypress table one more time to remove the excess glue/dust mixture and the creases disappeared – gotta love when little tricks like this work out. Next, squared off the each end of the table with my circular saw to make it an even 76” long.
I used a damp towel to wipe the surface in order to raise the grain of the wood a small amount and lightly sanded again with 220 grit sandpaper.
Next, I vacuumed the pecky sinker cypress table surface again and used a tack cloth to make sure I get all the loose debris.
I used 2 tack cloths to wipe down this table while making sure to use a clean side of the cloth for each wipe.
Sealing the Table
Now to the tedious part. I flipped the pecky sinker cypress table top over and began taping the indentations and pockets with HVAC foil tape. The idea was to pool the epoxy resin at the bottom to fill the cavities and prevent the epoxy resin from dripping through when poured on the top.
Reasons for HVAC Tape
I chose this tape for 3 reasons:
1.) I had an extra roll laying around my shop.
2.) It sticks really well to any surface & it is really strong.
3.) I didn’t know any better.
Instead of tape, a plastic sheet secured tightly to the bottom of this table should work as I’ve read epoxy doesn’t adhere to plastic.
However, I didn’t feel like running around the house or the big box stores searching for plastic and figuring out a way to secure it to the bottom to prevent sagging.
This process took me roughly 2 hours, which isn’t too long. It just seemed like this took FOREVER probably b/c I was excited to start using the epoxy.
I made sure each pocket in the wood was covered completely even if the cavity seemed contained.
As I mentioned previously, many of the pockets formed channels in the middle of the wood that ran from one side to the other. I also used a flexible plastic spreader to flatten the tape on the wood.
Straight Edge Mistake
This information will be included in a future step, but it is worth mentioning now to save time. The ends of the table top had open cavities so I decided to create a straight edge with the tape. This was a MISTAKE.
When the epoxy resin is poured the weight of the epoxy causes the tape to ‘sag’ a bit, which causes the edge to buckle inwards (towards the table).
I recommend using a plastic strip to form the edge &/or tape secured to the bottom to ensure the epoxy resin pools. Don’t worry about creating an edge if the sides or ends of the table don’t have pockets where epoxy could leak out. Rather, let the epoxy resin roll off the table during the pour.
Prevent Sagging Tip
Before I move on to the next step, it is worth mentioning a subtle mistake I made that could have easily been prevented and saved me a ton of time.
I poured the epoxy resin on the table while it was resting on saw horses. I did this b/c I wanted to make sure there were no major leaks through the bottom.
Ultimately, I should have trusted my taping skills (if there is such a thing) and placed the table on a flat surface (work table) covered in a plastic sheet. This would have saved a lot of sagging and less material to fill the pockets.
I used this epoxy resin for this project as it is cheaper than the stuff from the big box stores. This is a 1 gallon kit (1/2 gallon of resin & 1/2 gallon of hardener) and I used 3 of these for this project. There is also a ‘table top’ version of this on Amazon and I used 1 gallon of this during this project for the final coat.
However, I didn’t notice any difference between the ‘table top’ version and what you see in this picture.
I had no idea how much resin/hardener I was going to need for this project before I started, so I bought 4 kits (totaling 4 gallons), but I only needed 3.
Keep in mind, this wood had a LOT of cavities/pockets – more than the typical Pecky Sinker Cypress slab I have seen. This product has a formula to calculate how much material you will need; however, this formula is based on using the material on a flat surface.
Best Advice for Epoxy Resin
The best advice I can give regarding using resin/hardener is follow the manufacturers instructions. Most men tend to glance over instructions and sort of figure it out as you go (I definitely fall into this category), but you WILL have problems if you do don’t follow the instructions with any resin/hardener.
I’m not going to fully explain how to use this stuff in great detail in this post as this information is covered in the product’s instructions, which vary from product to product.
Epoxy Resin Mixture Tips
I started by mixing 1:1 ratio of resin/hardener that totaled 8 ounces. I knew this was a very small amount, but I wanted to make sure I got the hang of it before jumping to 10oz, 12oz or even 20oz mixtures. This step is VERY important as most underestimate the amount of mixing this stuff needs. I mixed (no whipping as this will create bubbles, which creates more work later) until the material was clear.
3 Stage Application
From reading the instructions, I decided it would be best to apply the epoxy resin mixture in 3 stages (instead of 2 stages as recommended in the epoxy manufacturers instructions), which I listed below. I will refer back to these 3 stages often – here is a brief explanation of each.
1.) Seal coat = this coat would basically ‘wet’ the entire surface of the table top and seal any potential air pockets in the wood. The mixture is poured onto the surface and then worked into the surface with a rubber squeegee. There should not be any material build-up with this coat. If the seal coat goes on too thick, air bubbles can get trapped in the cured epoxy.
2.) Fill coat = this coat will fill the cavities/pockets in order to achieve a level surface. This stage is specific to this type of wood. If this was a flat surface, this would be accomplished in stage 1.
3.) Flood coat = this is the final coat and should be poured in the middle of the table and settle outwards (towards the ends). This coat self-levels (no squeegee wiping) up to 1/8” thick. If you desire more than 1/8” thick, multiple coats need to be applied at least 4 hours apart. A squeegee or foam brush may be used to ‘guide’ the material around the surface, but no wiping.
The pictures below depict the seal coat. 8oz basically covers 1/3 of the surface.
Some of the material in the seal coat dripped into the cavities, so I used a blow torch 6 to 10 inches away from the surface.
Seal coat part 2.
After I finished the epoxy resin seal coat, I used a brush to ‘seal’ the edges of the table. This can also be done in stage 3 (flood coat), but either way wo