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Re: River table
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Re: River table ()

Barry Irby
Mark has more experience with this than I, or at least different experience.

I have done a table that required pouring epoxy, not a river table, maybe similar. I made some mistakes that you can avoid. The epoxy I used was very low viscosity, about the consistency of water and took a LONG time to set, something like five to seven days. I taped the underside of the wood with aluminum tape and it leaked. The job of that epoxy is to find every crack and crevice and flow into them and unfortunately on out. In my case it leaked out of cracks I could not see.

So, if you are using tape, sand the surface smooth, clean it thoroughly, tape more area than you think and roll the tape firmly. As a side note, the tape can be very difficult to remove. VERY difficult.

If I were building a form I would use Melamine coated MDF. Strips of the same thing for the sides. Screw the sides on securely. Caulk the inner corners with acrylic latex caulk. Either wax the form thoroughly or spray with Mold Release. Then install your pieces and clamp them down so they don't float. Be sure the setup is as precisely level as you can.

Mix your epoxy slowly and thoroughly to avoid bubbles. Add pigment to taste, following manufacturer's directions. Pour in and clear the bubbles off the surface with a heat gun or torch. Wait. Wait some more.

When the epoxy is hard enough you can't dent it with a thumb nail you can remove the form. Might be wise to wait an extra day. Likely to be harder to remove the form than you thought.

Some random thoughts. I am frugal by nature....tightwad. I see the epoxy as shockingly expensive. Goes against my grain to waste it. Pouring into a form has waste. Some epoxy will leak under the wood and you will grind it off. You must pour the epoxy deeper than you think because it shrinks as it cures. Therefore you need dams around the voids to allow you to flood the surface perhaps an 1/8 or 1/4" deeper or you will have to do a second pour or grind away the entire top. I was concerned about applying silicon based caulk to the surface for fear of silicon contamination in the finish. I used Rubio Mono Coat for the finish and it was not a problem.

When I do this again I will also line the form with a piece of polyethylene like a pool liner. Poly does not stick to the epoxy and gives a second barrier to leaks. Another thought is to search out some of the people on line doing this and watch their videos and some of them sell forms made of HDPE that are expensive but don't leak and easily removed.

I have learned a lot from Blacktail Studio, Black Forest, and Canadian Woodworks.

I would like to find a local shop that has a four foot planer and or sander and would clean up these tops for me. If you follow that path be aware that big tops warp more than you think and you could lose considerable thickness doing this. If you would like contact me off the Forum and we can talk.

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