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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

 

Prep Wood

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.

Melamine Box

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.

Sanding

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!

Square Sides

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.

 

 

Mistake #1

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.