Where should I send your "Walnut River Rock Table Plans"?
FREE DIY Plans will be delivered to your inbox in PDF format.
Walnut River Rock Table
I purchased a unique piece of walnut from my local hardwood dealer (Riverside Lumber) a few months ago to make a Walnut River Rock Table with epoxy resin. The piece of Walnut was in the Sinker Cypress portion of their warehouse, which confused me. My hardwood dealer jokingly referred to the piece of Walnut as ‘Sinker Walnut’ or ‘Walnut Driftwood’. The river bottom of this table glows in the dark.
The piece of walnut had characteristics of driftwood and sinker cypress, so the names accurately described the wood. Part of the wood appeared to be petrified like driftwood. The surface of the wood had unique colors and grain patterns like sinker cypress.
I purchased the piece of walnut for it’s uniqueness without a specific project in mind. On the drive back home, I decided to build a Walnut River Rock Table with epoxy resin, glow powder, and concrete.
Stuff I Used
- Table Top Epoxy Resin
- Table Top Epoxy Resin – Better
- Epoxy Resin Glow Powder
- Epoxy Resin Dye
- Heat Gun
- Silicon Caulk
- Construction Adhesive
- Johnson Paste Wax
- Orbital Sander
- Belt Sander
- Dewalt Grinder
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw
- Saw Horses
- Dovetail Clamps for Jointer Table Saw Sled
- Ridgid Drill/Driver Combo
- Drill Mixing Bit
- Rubber Mallet
- Melamine Board – Big Box Store
- Quikrete 5000 Concrete – Big Box Store
- Rustoleum Spray Paint for Table Legs
- Lie Nielsen Low Angle Jack Plane
I prepped the wood as the first step of the walnut river rock table. I resawed the wood down the center with my bandsaw. Next, I used my low angle jack plane to get a flat surface. I decided not to send this wood through my planer for obvious reasons. Lastly, I used my jointer jig with dovetail clamps to get one straight side from each piece.
I purchased 3 pieces of melamine from my local big box store because cement and epoxy resin does not bond to melamine. Once I ripped and cut the melamine pieces (2 sides, 2 ends, bottom) to size, I pre-drilled holes and used screws to fasten them together. Next, I ran a bead of silicon caulk along all seams to seal the box. After the silicon dried, I used a rag to spread Johnson Paste Wax on the bottom and sides of the box. The paste wax was an extra precaution to prevent epoxy resin and the cement from adhering to the melamine. This precaution makes removing the melamine shell easier.
I sanded each piece of Walnut for the Walnut River Rock Table with 80, 100, 120, 150, and 220 grit paper. My orbital sander received a nice workout!
I squared the sides of each piece of Walnut with my miter saw. Afterwards, I performed a quick test fit to make certain the walnut fit into the melamine box.
Mix and Set Concrete
Next, I mixed and set the concrete into the melamine mold. I used roughly a half bag of Quikrete 5000 concrete, water, drill, and mixing bit. Per the manufacturer’s instructions, I mixed the concrete to a paste/putty consistency. I spread the concrete into the melamine box to about 1.5 inches thick. Next, I placed the pieces of walnut into the concrete and pushed down until a suction was formed. I made sure the wood was as level as possible with my leveler and rubber mallet. The side of my sander removed the air bubbles from the concrete.
I let the concrete cure for 24 hours before proceeding to the next step.
I did not make sure the square sides of each piece of wood were against the melamine box. I left about a 1/2″ space because I did not pay attention. I didn’t notice until the concrete dried and hoped it would be ok. Needless to say, I didn’t like the look and caused me a bunch of work later on in the process.
Epoxy Resin, Glow Powder, & Dye
I didn’t have a set plan regarding how to mix the epoxy resin with the glow powder and dye for the walnut river rock table. Additionally, I didn’t know what colors I needed to use. I aimed to make the table look like it was in a Florida lagoon or spring. In my mind, this involved creating a dark blue layer for the bottom, then a emerald green layer, and a few clear layers.
The ingredients I used for each layer are listed below along with pictures and a brief explanation. I learned from my previous Pecky Sinker Cypress Project it is much easier to pour multiple layers of epoxy resin. Therefore, each layer of epoxy resin used to make the walnut river rock table was 16 ounces (8 ounces of hardener, 8 ounces of resin). I used my heat gun to remove the bubbles after I poured each layer.
I followed the instructions that came with the Epoxy Resin as closely as possible. This is very important!
For the first layer, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin, 3 drops of blue dye, and 1 table spoon of yellow glow powder.
I didn’t mix enough glow powder in this step. I should have mixed about 3 times the amount.
For the second layer, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin, 1 drop of green dye, and 1 table spoon of yellow glow powder. I poured the second layer roughly 3 hours after the first layer. Refer to mistake #2.
Before I mixed the 3rd layer, I placed garden rocks on top of the second layer. I gathered the rocks from my garden around my pond. I thoroughly cleaned the rocks with dawn soap and warm water. Next, I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin and 2 tablespoons of white glow powder. I poured this layer 24 hours after the 2nd layer.
I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin and 2 tablespoons of white glow powder. I poured this layer immediately after the 3rd layer.
I mixed 16 ounces of epoxy resin and poured this layer 24 hours after the 4th layer.
The same as the 5th layer and poured immediately after the 5th layer.
The same as the 6th layer and poured immediately after the 6th layer. I used a rubber squeegee to spread the epoxy resin across the wood surface – this is referred to as a seal coat. I let this coat dry for 48 hours before I proceeded to the next step.
On a separate note, I thought about not spreading the epoxy resin on top of the walnut river rock table to preserve the natural finish of the wood. The decision ended up being a coin flip – literally. Next time I’ll preserve the natural finish of the wood.
As I mentioned previously, I used a heat gun to remove bubbles after each layer.
I removed the screws from the melamine box and tapped the sides a few times with my rubber mallet. Next, I flipped the piece over and removed the bottom. The melamine sides, ends, and bottom fell off with little effort. I believe the paste wax really helped.
Fix Concrete Problem
I had to make a repair to the concrete bottom due to my inability to ask for help. I used construction adhesive that bonds concrete and it worked better than I expected.
I attempted to pick up the walnut river rock table and move it across my shop. I made it about half way to my destination and tried to gently place it on the floor. My grip came loose and I dropped it. A piece of concrete came loose and I was pissed off at myself.
I moved the walnut river rock table outside to grind the concrete and cutoff the embedded rocks in the epoxy resin. I didn’t want epoxy resin to be on the outer edges of the walnut river rock table. This step was necessary because of Mistake #1. I used my grinder with a cement cutting disc to round the edges and cutoff the sides and ends. Needless to say, this made an absolute mess.
Next, I used my belt sander to knock down the high spots on the top as much as possible.
I decided to apply concrete stain to the bottom of the walnut river rock table. I wanted the bottom piece to look like a brown sand from a river bed. I found leftover concrete stain from our concrete floors in our house and decided to use it. I applied the stain with a chip brush, allowed it to soak for 5 minutes, and wiped the excess off with a towel. I didn’t allow the stain to soak any longer than 5 minutes to control the color.
I let it dry for 24 hours then sealed it with concrete sealer.
Final Sanding & Planing
It was time to finish the walnut river rock table top. I started with 120 grit sandpaper because I used 80 grit sandpaper in the belt sander in a previous step. Next, I used 150 grit sandpaper. I noticed a few high spots on the walnut river rock table top and decided to use my low angle jack plane to knock these down. I learned over time it is safe to use a hand plane between 150 grit – 200 grit sandpaper. This eliminated the need to regress to lower sandpaper grits. After I planed down the high spots, I went to 180 grit then 220 grit sandpaper.
I used Acetone to clean the table after the final sanding on the walnut river rock table. This is the recommended chemical to use between epoxy resin coats and I’ve used it successfully in the past. However, the Acetone soaked into a few parts of the walnut. This caused the epoxy resin to not adhere properly during the flood coat. The epoxy resin beaded up in a few spots similar to the way water does on a windshield with Rain-X. The spots were very small, so I had to work in the epoxy on the flood coat in these areas and it eventually spread correctly.
Epoxy Resin Flood Coat
Before I applied the flood coat, I ran the walnut river rock table through my table saw to square the walnut on one side. I couldn’t do this with the grinder because I had a cement grinding disc.
I applied the epoxy resin flood coat and used 8 ounces (4 ounces of hardener, 4 ounces of resin). Next, I used a rubber squeegee to spread the material, but I did not press down on the epoxy resin. I gently spread it across the table and let it blend together. I used a chip brush to apply the epoxy resin to the side of the walnut river rock table.