Working with Epoxy Resin

12 Aug

This resin desk is one of the coolest, yet most challenging project I’ve done so far.

A friend of mine had a stack of coasters that she and her husband had collected from a trip to Europe. They were just tucked away in a Ziploc bag, and after she saw my post about the Starbucks table, she was wondering if I could do something similar for her with the coasters. She was hoping to make them into a desk for her husband as a surprise for his birthday. I figured, how hard could it be? 🙂 Famous last words…

Here’s the desk that we started with (sorry; I didn’t assemble it after she brought me the desk, but you’ll see that it’s white, and it would end up black).

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This is the resin I used. I bought it at Lowe’s for about $24 a box.

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First, I primed all of the desk pieces with a black spray primer. After doing some testing with the resin on some other pieces, I decided that it was necessary to create a sort of “fence” to hold in the resin. After all, resin is first poured on in liquid form and cures to be hard, so somehow I needed to hold in the resin in. Tape didn’t work on my test pieces – the resin leaked out of the tape. So a fence it was. However, this fence had to stay put – I wasn’t going to remove it after the resin was cured. So it had to look like part of the desk.

I found some simple 3/4″ trim that had rounded edges on the top, and I had Ryan cut it to size for me. I glued it to the desk, then used the air nailer to make sure it was secure.

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I had some pretty sharp corners, so I hand-sanded those down to blend into the rounded corners of the desk.

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Next I filled the inside and outside seams with some paintable caulk. Even though the fence holds the resin in, it still needs to be “water-tight,” otherwise the resin would leak out (like it did with the tape).

The last thing I did before putting the desk back together and starting on the resin portion was painting the whole thing black. I used spray paint again, as there are lots of nooks and crannies on this desk, and spray paint ensured an even coat.

Okay – on to the fun part! We set up and arranged the coasters, and I glued them on using simple Elmer’s Glue All.

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After some intense leveling, we mixed up the first coat of epoxy resin and poured it on (there are two bottles that you mix together on a 1-to-1 ratio). There is one main thing to remember when working with resin – mix and mix some more! If you read the directions and follow them carefully, you’ll be fine. I overlooked one step, and that would come to bite me in the butt down the road – in a big way.

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Then pour… DSC_0470

We then used a combination of stick pins, a hair dryer and blowing on it with our own breath to bring the bubbles to the top. We had to deal with bubbles for quite awhile (I think we had an hour or so of working time before it started to cure up) because the coasters still had a bit of air under them when I glued them down.

One coat of resin didn’t quite cover the coasters, so after 3 days of cure time, we added another coat…and this is where I went wrong. I ended up scraping some of the last bits of resin out of the cup, and it hadn’t gotten completely mixed together. It all looked great until we came home after being gone for the weekend. There were a few sticky spots about 3″ in diameter. After some major panic, I contacted the company on the box and they assured me that I could sand down those sticky spots and flood the desk again. So, Ryan and I actually dug out the worst sticky spot with a razor blade and sanded that down along with the other spots, and boy did it look terrible! 🙂 It was very cloudy and I hoped and prayed that the 3rd coat of resin would clear it up as the company told me.

Turns out, they were right! The third and final coat cleared those sanded spots up like magic. It turned out beautifully, but it was a long road to get there! Both my friend and her husband like the desk, and that’s all that counts. 🙂

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