In this tutorial, I show you how to make resin ocean art using reclaimed wood. Learn various woodworking tips and resin techniques to make your resin beach art come to life.
I included a free resin calculator at the end of this tutorial, so be sure to download this useful tool.
Resin Ocean Art 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!
Tools and MaterialResin Ocean Art DIY Plans
Best Epoxy Resin
Transparent Blue Dye (Weak)
Transparent Blue Dye (Strong)
Johnson Furniture Wax
Heat Gun (Or Hair Dryer)
Digital Protractor Angle Gauge
Worx Portable Workbench
Festool TS75 Track Saw
Festool LR32 Track
Gyokucho Razorsaw Ryoba Saw
12″ combination square
RO125 Festool Rotex Sander
Festool CT SYS Vacuum
Sandpaper (60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320)
Festool Polishing Sheepskin Pad
Often times, I experiment with many different products and tools while working with wood and epoxy resin.
For your convenience, I’ve compiled a complete list of my favorite epoxy resin material and tools and my 11 best epoxy tips.
Reclaimed Wood for Resin Ocean Art
For this resin ocean wave art project, I decided to use 2 pieces of reclaimed cypress wood to make ocean waves.
I say the wood is ‘reclaimed’ because my cypress dealer gave it to me during a previous trip there.
In addition, cypress wood has a light color which resembles the color of beach sand.
First, you can buy pieces of wood already prepared for resin beach art from a hardwood dealer or big box store.
Don’t worry if you lack woodworking experience.
In fact, any type of wood works for this project as long as it has a light color.
I partially prepared these 2 pieces of wood a few months ago.
Therefore, I only needed to trim the ends & rough sand to 120 grit.
In order for the resin ocean wave art to fit in the epoxy resin mold, I needed to trim the wood to at least 48″.
First, I used my combination square and marking knife to mark a line roughly 36″.
Why did I trim it to 36″?
The 2 pieces of cypress wood were level (flat surface) up to 36″ before it became thinner and sloped down.
The marking knife created a tiny groove, which made it easy to start the cross-cut with my Japanese pull saw.
As a quick tip, it helps to get the cut started with a ‘pushing’ motion when using a Japanese pull saw.
Otherwise, the teeth grab and cause the first pass to be uneven.
Sand Rough Cut Wood Slabs
To sand rough cut wood slabs, I use my festool RO125 sander.
I rough sand up to 120 grit to simply remove loose debris and reveal the wood grain.
My sanding sequence started at 40 grit with my sander in rotex (coarse) mode in order to knock down the resaw marks from my bandsaw.
Then, I used 60 grit, 80 grit, 100 grit, and 120 grit in rotex mode.
After I finished 120 grit in rotex mode, I changed my Festool RO125 to random orbit (fine) mode and went over the wood with 120 grit again.
I quickly realized the sun was shining directly on me.
So, I moved my work table in the shade and finished rough sanding.
Make Epoxy Resin Mold
First, use a piece of particle board, plywood, or MDF.
Next, cover the board with packing tape.
I sometimes use tuck tape or sheathing tape, but packing tape works and it’s much cheaper.
However, packing tape needs a release agent on top to prevent epoxy from sticking to it.
Then, I covered the packing tape with vaseline or furniture wax to serve as an epoxy release agent.
Seal Epoxy Resin Mold
The sides and ends should be as long, wide, and tall as the table.
I covered the sides with packing tape and secured them with brad nails to the rear of the table.
For this project, I only used 2 ends because the wood on each side served as the sides.
Most importantly, I used a silicone caulk (any type will work) to seal all edges, seams, and corners.
As a quick tip, clamp the wood to the resin mould before sealing with silicone caulk.
If I clamp the work piece down after sealing, I risk breaking the caulk seal which causes leaking.
Lastly, I used my digital protractor angle gauge to level the bottom of the epoxy resin mould.
Epoxy Mold Options
Obviously, I make epoxy resin molds many different ways.
For this project, I used the most cost effective method.
Melamine covered with sheathing tape is the best method to build a resin mold.
3D Resin Ocean Art using Layers
To clarify, I intentionally poured multiple layers of epoxy to create a 3D resin ocean wave art effect.
Pouring multiple layers of epoxy resin gives the ocean waves a realistic look by adding depth.
This technique especially works well for resin pours deeper than 1/4 of an inch.
Obviously, I could have poured everything in a single layer using deep pour epoxy.
However, the ocean waves would not have the 3D underwater effect.’
By the way, one of my favorite casting epoxy to use for up to 4″ pours is Liquid Glass Superclear 2.0.
How Long Between Epoxy Pours?
Normally, 24 hours is the length of time required between epoxy pours.
However, epoxy resins vary greatly.
I always follow the manufacturer’s instructions very closely.
First Resin Pour
For the first resin pour, I mixed 48 ounces of epoxy resin in a mixing container.
My daughter likes watching epoxy resin pours.”
She especially likes when I mix pigments and dyes in the epoxy resin.
Next, I mixed the material until it was clear.
Most epoxy resin gets cloudy during the mixing process.
The material becomes clear when fully mixed.
Add Transparent Blue Dye
In order make the resin ocean art translucent, I mixed resin and turquoise blue transparent dye.
I always add a very small amount of translucent dye to resin, mix, and inspect.
Keep in mind, I can add more if the color needs to be darkened.
Obviously, this shade of blue was not dark enough.
I had to add more transparent blue dye to the resin a total of 3 times to achieve the proper shade of blue.
First, I poured the resin into the mold and allowed it to settle for a few minutes while I checked for leaks.
Once I verified there were no visible leaks, I grabbed the white alcohol ink to create ocean waves.
Add Alcohol Ink
First, I add alcohol ink within 3 to 5 minutes after the resin pour.
It is important the resin to be fluid in order for the alcohol ink to disperse correctly.
I used the bottle to pour white alcohol ink across the length of one side near the wood.
Also, the point here is to make it appear as though waves are crashing on the shore.
Next, I used a hair dryer to spread the alcohol ink because my heat gun broke.’
However, the high speed may cause the resin and/or alcohol ink to splash around.
The more I moved the alcohol ink with the heat gun (blow dryer), the more it blended with the resin.
In other words, the resin looked more like white resin.
In order to get the lace effect or water effect, I only needed to move the alcohol ink a few times.
Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to go about creating resin ocean wave art.
I encourage you to do what feels right to you. After all, art is about self expression.
Second Resin Pour
After 24 hours, I proceeded to the second resin pour.
As a quick tip, the color darkens quickly when using transparent dye with multiple layers of resin.
In other words, the color compounds with each layer.
First, I mixed 48 ounces of epoxy resin.
Then, I used the stronger transparent blue dye.
Next, I poured the resin on the previous layer.
I really like this transparent dye as it produces a vibrant blue with only a few drops.
In comparison, 2 drops of this dye is roughly equal to 15 drops of the weaker transparent dye.
Then, I poured the alcohol ink in the tinted resin as I did in the previous step.
This bottle does not have a spout, so the alcohol ink dripped down the side of the bottle.
Consequently, I poured more than I intended.
Also, notice the first layer underneath this layer in the picture below.
By adding depth through multiple resin layers, this resin ocean waves art will have a 3D effect.
After about 30 seconds, the alcohol ink dispersed into the resin.
I used my heat gun to move the resin until I achieved an ocean wave pattern.
Additionally, less is more when creating resin ocean waves.
Third Resin Pour
After 24 hours, I mixed another 48 ounces and added blue transparent dye.
I poured the resin in the epoxy ocean.
Next, I filled a few wood cracks and imperfections with transparent blue colored resin.
Then, I poured white alcohol ink in a bowl and used a straw to add alcohol ink to the resin.
Essentially, the straw helps me control the amount of alcohol ink I add to the resin.
Since this is the third layer, I can’t make a mistake at this stage of the project.
I moved the resin around with my heat gun.
Next, I added a small amount of alcohol ink to the colored resin in the wood cracks.
I used my resin mixing stick to blend the alcohol ink.
In order to create more of a 3D ocean wave effect, I used my heat gun to roll some of the blue resin over the alcohol ink.
I did not want the surface to be too white considering I had one more epoxy resin layer after this one.
Final Resin Pour
After 24 hours, I started the final resin pour.
First, I mixed 48 ounces of resin and mixed it just like in the previous layers.
I poured 4 ounces of clear resin into a plastic cup.
Then, I added transparent blue dye to the 36 ounces and white alcohol ink to the 4 ounces of resin in the plastic cup.
In previous epoxy resin layers, the alcohol ink is very thin and watery.
As a result, it spread too easily.
So, I decided to mix alcohol ink to a small amount of resin for this pour to make it more fluid.
I figured adding thickness would give me more control
Next, I poured the final resin layer and allowed it to settle for a few minutes.
Resin Ocean Art Lacing Effect
I filled some of the remaining wood cracks with colored resin and added a small amount of the alcohol ink mixed with resin.
I moved the alcohol ink around to create the lacing effect on this resin ocean wave art with a straw instead of a heat gun.
In order to create resin ocean waves, I poured the alcohol ink mixed with resin near one piece of wood.
Next, I used a straw and lightly blew on the alcohol ink to sink it more in the resin.
Although this worked well, I needed to add more alcohol ink.
The alcohol ink mixed with resin behaved exactly how I thought, but I wanted a more dramatic resin ocean wave effect.
So, I pulled out the bottle and promptly added more alcohol ink.
I didn’t have time to use a bowl and straw because I need the resin to be fluid.
Then, I used a straw to sink the alcohol ink in the resin to get a light blue color and a 3D effect.
Additionally, the ocean wave appears as though half of it is under the surface of the water.
As a final step, I used my heat gun until I reached a resin ocean wave effect I thought looked good.
As a quick tip, I find it really helps to roll the blue resin over part of the white alcohol ink to create depth at the very end.
After I rolled the blue resin over, I left it alone.
Remove from Epoxy Resin Mold
After the resin beach art cured for 48 hours, I removed the epoxy mold without issue.
Obviously, this part of resin beach art projects causes me to feel anxious.
If leaks exist, it means a lot of messy work to clean it up on the underside.
I removed the leftover silicone from the underside of the resin ocean art.
This prevents the silicone from ruining my sandpaper.
Trim Wood to Final Size
I used my Festool TS75 track saw and track to trim the ends and sides.
In order to trim the sides, I measured from one corner across the table 24″ and made a mark.
I repeated the process at the other end.
Next, I placed my track on the 2 marks and secured it to the table.
Then, I lowered the saw to 1.5″ (the thickness of the resin ocean wave art is 1.25″) and set the depth.
I cut one strip of wood from the side.
After I trimmed one side, I measured 23″ from the freshly trimmed side just like I did for the other side.
The final width is 23″.
Finally, I trimmed 2.5″ from each end following the same process.
The final length is 31″.
How To Sand and Polish Resin
After I cut the resin ocean wave art to its final dimensions, it was time to sand it flat and smooth.
I realize some folks may get nervous when sanding epoxy resin.
Most believe the scratches caused by sanding won’t come out.
Ultimately, the process is not difficult as long as the proper sequence and technique is used.
In addition, a tool like the Festool RO125 makes sanding and polishing much easier.
So, my resin sanding technique consists of the following sanding grits.
Also, the ‘C’ stands for coarse mode and the ‘F’ stands for fine mode in my dual action sander: 40C, 60C, 80C, 100C, 120C, 120F 150F, 180F, 220F, 320F.
On this table, there were a few high spots I needed to address with the 40 grit sandpaper.
I use festool MPA5010 orange polish with the orange waffle sponge to polish wood and resin.
Again, you don’t need this setup to polish resin.
Simply polish the resin the same way as a vehicle – with a car buffer and polish.
First, I spread the material on the surface and rub it in with the sponge to prevent splattering.
Next, I use the lowest speed setting and gently go over the surface as if I were sanding.
Then, I use the sheepskin bonnet to buff the polish out.
I flip the piece over and place it on a soft towel to prevent scratching.
Since this resin ocean wave art is translucent, I repeat the polishing process on the resin only.
Ultimately, I don’t sand the resin because the irregularities in the surface helps distort the view through the resin.
This adds to the resin water effect.
This resin beach art looks great and exceeded my expectations.
Most importantly, I hope the tips in this tutorial showed you how to make resin ocean art.
Let me know in the comments what you think about this resin art tutorial.
- Best Finishes for Epoxy Wood Table
- How to Make a Resin Seashell Table
- DIY Epoxy Beach Table
- 11 Best Epoxy Tips You Need to Know
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to make ocean waves with resin is use transparent dye mixed with resin for the ocean. Next, mix white alcohol ink or white pigment powder with resin for the waves. Blend the white resin with the blue resin using a heat gun.
In order to mix sand with resin, you should mix a small amount of resin with sand in a cup to moisten the sand. This allows the sand to sink to the bottom of the resin.
The formula to use to calculate how much epoxy resin needed for a river table is:
Gallons: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.004329
Quarts: Volume(Cubic Inches) * 0.017316
In order to determine the volume in cubic inches, measure the widest part of the epoxy river and use the following formula: Volume (Cubic Inches)= (Length (inches) x Width (inches) x Depth (inches))
Resin art is expensive because they cannot be duplicated and are truly unique. A cheaper alternative is to purchase a set of Resin Art DIY Plans.