Fire Epoxy Table- Woodworking Projects - Resin Art [VIDEO]
Hey, this is Cam with Blacktail Studio and this week I'm pretty excited because I have something totally different for you. I started with an old maple slab, sealed it with epoxy, buffed it out to a crazy high gloss and it actually turned out even cooler than expected. Stay tuned
Quick thanks to The Great Courses Plus for sponsoring this week's video, since it is something a little bit different, something a client didn't exactly ask me for, because it started with this old $20 maple slab I've had sitting around for probably five years and wasn't really going to do anything with and just decided to burn it and got this weed burner from Home Depot. It actually works really, really well. It was about, I don't know, 40, 50 bucks, hooked it up to a propane tank and I just started going to town on it. And this isn't going to be an exact recipe or an exact science because this is my first time, this is figuring it out. I did it on some coasters just as kind of a proof of concept a few weeks ago and those looked really cool. So I wanted to see if I could do it on an entire table.
So I like the really deep, they call it kind of a gator skin char, so that's what I was going for with just really burning the heck out of this table. And I will say that the wood tends to warp a little bit as you burn it, so try to burn it an even amount on each side. So even setting up a timer would probably be helpful if I was going to do this again to make sure that I even out the burning from the front to the back. Believe it or not, the slab actually didn't really want to catch on fire, which is a good thing. We just wanted to char it, we didn't want to completely set it on fire, but I was still extra careful, I hit it with the hose to cool it off after I was done charring it, just so it didn't keep smoldering through the night.
And like I said, it did tend to warp a little bit and there you can see, that's pretty aggressive, but the cool thing is that you can actually bend it back. So the side that was bent down is on the bottom right now, and this is going to help bend it back by burning that pretty aggressively on the other side. And you'll see here in a second that as I continue to burn it, I put my level down, checked it. It wasn't quite far enough. And so I just kept burning that top side, which was going to bend that bottom side back.
The more time you spend here getting it as flat as you can, is going to save you the most epoxy later because we're basically going to completely encapsulate this slab. So if it's bent up an inch on one side, you're going to have to have the whole slab an inch thick, which we don't want. So what I'm doing here, building an epoxy mold, just like any epoxy table I would make. I actually have an entire video just on building these forms if you want a little bit more thorough explanation, but I'm just using fast-dry caulk, melamine, and then making sure to hit it with some mold release spray in the end. Before I put it in my mold, I wanted to seal up the bottom side really well. And I'm using a deep pour epoxy, and I'll put a link to my favorite deep pour epoxy in the description below, which actually isn't the epoxy I was using here. This was just some old stuff I had laying around.
So if you're going to buy some stuff just for this project, go with the stuff I'll put in the link in the video description below. And I will say, don't pool it on here. I actually got a little bit thick in some areas as I was sealing it up and I'll show you why you don't want to do that later. But for now, just put as much as will soak in, but not really saturate and stand on top of the epoxy. Just kind of brush it in, let it sit, stabilize that charred wood and that will be good enough for now. I built my form about a half inch bigger on the length and the width than this table is going to be because I want to have about a quarter inch buffer all the way around the perimeter and that's going to give us that clear epoxy look, even on the edges, not just the top.
One thing I didn't mention is make sure the wood is good and dry if you did hose it off, because you do not want to be pouring that epoxy over wet wood, you would have tons of problems. I would actually be really curious to see what would happen, but I know it wouldn't be good. So make sure your wood is perfectly dry. Some of you are probably wondering why do we need to seal the wood up like we're doing here? Why can't you just pour the entire thing right now? And the reason is, bubbles. And epoxy and bubbles seem to go hand in hand, so what we're doing here is we're just sealing the wood up. If I was to just completely encapsulate it now, it would just be an absolute sea of bubbles because they would stick to all of that charred wood.
And so right now we're just stabilizing the hardwood and then we can come back and do our deep pour. And you can actually see here in the end that I left too much pooled up at this point, which caused a lot of little micro bubbles. So lesson learned, only get as much as the wood will saturate, kind of soak it up, do not pool any epoxy on it at this point. Like you see there to the left how it's kind of pooled up, those left some pretty aggressive micro bubbles, which didn't look great in the end.
I let that slab cure for about a week before coming back to mix up the epoxy for my top coat or deep pour epoxy that I'm going to be doing. And while I was doing it I actually had something I had never experienced before and I'll show you kind of a problem I had and then a solution I came up for that actually worked in the end. This was a chill epoxy, if you're curious, and it's not my favorite epoxy, but I've used it on some projects in the past. But you can see here, there was just all this debris floating in it and I'd never seen it, didn't know what to do with it. But I did know in the past heat fixes a lot of problems with epoxy.
So warmed up a bath, got it really hot to see if it would actually melt because I've seen crystallization, kind of these sugary deposits in epoxy and believe it or not, got it up to about a hundred degrees and it all went away and it was crystal clear. So if you experienced something like this, try warming up the epoxy and that usually works. And what I'm doing now is just submerging the entire slab in epoxy. And if you're confused by this angle, so am I, I don't know if I was trying to get artsy or if my dog ran into the tripod or what happened, but this is the best footage I have of it. So I apologize for the footage, but right now I'm just submerging the entire thing about a quarter inch over the top of the epoxy and then just covering it up to make sure no loose debris falls in it while it's curing, which will take about three days.
So a few days later, came back and at this point it came apart pretty much just like any of my epoxy tables. I don't think I showed putting the mold release on, but make sure you don't miss that step. Definitely, definitely, definitely want mold release on your forms if you're ever going to pour any epoxy with this melamine.
I have a planar that is 20 inches wide, but I believe this table was about 21 inches wide so it's too big for my shop. And I was going up to Creative Woodworking in Portland, a big commercial shop that lets me use their 50 inch planar for a pretty small fee. So you can see I got a couple of tables I'm taking up there and a lot of people ask, is the epoxy a lot harder on the planar blades and these wide belts? And yeah, it is a little bit harder, but it's not terrible. It does surface pretty much like wood, I don't think I really ever get any chip out, which is a question I get a lot. So they are just running it through, it's actually a planar and two wide belts on there. I believe it's 80 and 120 grit. So they are going to get it nice and flat for me. And then I can take it from there.
I know I talk about a lot of random tools, a lot of random products that probably isn't exactly clear to everybody. Some of the epoxies I use aren't a traditional epoxy, a wide belt sander isn't something everybody has seen. So if something isn't clear, please don't hesitate to ask me in the comments below because if you look at my past videos, you realize I respond to basically a hundred percent of all the questions and comments in there. The only thing I ask is that if you liked this video, if you learned something from it, if you enjoyed watching it, please just hit that subscribe button, that little bell up in the corner right now and that will help me keep making more content just like this.
You can see there the track saw is a great tool, but even it has its limits. And I actually completely clogged it up with these epoxy shavings, which it's kind of a nightmare dealing with epoxy working with this type of stuff, but it is part of the process. So it's harder on sandpaper, it's harder on the planer blades, it's harder on the saw blades. It clogs everything up, but if you want to do something really different, this is just kind of the cost of operations. I don't know about you, but I struggled with sandpaper storage for a long time, so I found these bins. They're not even actually made for sandpaper, but I got them on Amazon. They're not too expensive and I will add a link in the video description below, along with all the tools and products I used or products I recommend for doing a project like this.
I took a lot of time sanding this up to 320 grit before moving onto my tabletop epoxy. And I'm using a tabletop epoxy by Better Boat, super clear, super hard resin, but it is not a deep pour. Don't try to seal your slab with this. This is going to be just for our top coat. And here's a little tip that I didn't do on my first coat that you should do on all your coats, it's really, really thick and so warm it up in that warm water bath and that's going to make it self-level, thin it out a little bit, and really give you a much, much nicer finish when applying.
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This first pour I made a few mistakes and the first mistake I made was not using that warm water bath, which caused the epoxy to be a little thicker, which actually made more bubbles, which is why it looks so white there, which isn't a big deal. I was able to pop them with a torch pretty easily, but it made it a little bit thicker, so in the end after it cured, it didn't level super well. And my next pour after this went much, much better, but lesson learned on this first pour.
Since my shop is so dusty, I had to come up with a way to cover it in this. Again, it was not the best idea I've ever had, still got a lot of dust in there. You can see it didn't level super well, but next pour, promise is going to go much, much better. So sanding it back down a little bit, using just 400 grit here to get the tops a little bit more level, microfiber towel, wipe it clean, make sure it's nice and dust free. Another tip I learned is warming your piece up and you don't want the epoxy directly exposed to the sun so I put a trash bag over it to warm it up out in the sun, and this is going to help thin that epoxy out and help it really level and be just a nice flat top coat unlike that last coat.
And you can see this time I'm using an epoxy spreader, which is actually just a notch trial, like they used for applying mastic to the back of tiles. And you'll see here a much, much better top coat, super flat, super clear, really, really happy with how this turned out here. Even if you did your pour in a completely clean room, you're still going to get tiny little dust nibs, little tiny hairs that land on this while it's curing over about that 12 hours. So I'm doing the old automotive thing and just wet sanding it. And I'm starting with 800 grit, sanding out any of those little dust nibs, trying to get it pretty flat. And it didn't take a ton of time here, probably an hour total sanding from 800 up to 1200 grit. And that's going to give me a good enough sanding pattern to move on to my polishing compound.
I should mention, I am not an automotive guy, I'm not a professional at cutting and buffing like this. So don't take this part of the video as an absolute end all tutorial on how to buff up to a high gloss. It worked out pretty well for me. Overall, I was pretty happy with my effort, but again, it probably wouldn't fly if you're buffing out a Lamborghini or something.
The grits I used was 800 then 1,000 and then ended with 1,200 and that gives me the finish you see here, just kind of a smooth frosted foggy look. And this is going to enable us to use our 3M Perfect It compounds. And I'm using, it's got three different compounds, plus I'm using a fourth one, which is that heavy cut one there and got a wool pad and I'm just kind of going to town buffing it. And again, not a pro, but I can make things look pretty shiny. And this was after the heavy cut. So started to bring some gloss in there, not great yet, but we will get it a little bit shinier. And this is the stage one, which is the one I probably spend the most time with, the step one of the three in Perfect It.
After step one, you get to really see the shine here, not quite perfect, but we can get it a little bit shinier. The step two that I did here gets a really high gloss and I actually can't really tell the difference between step three and step two. So I've heard some people say that going beyond step two isn't really necessary, but a table like this, we're going to need some kind of unique legs and I am doing something I've never done before, and I'm just burning some wood legs. And since this was kind of a spec piece that I'm doing just for fun, I ordered these legs on Amazon for like, I can't remember, 25 bucks, something cheap and just charred them. And I'm not going to do the same epoxy gloss, I'm going to leave it a more natural char for a little bit of contrast with the top.
If you decide to do something similar to this, remember that the legs can bow just like the top does, so try to burn an even amount on all sides or you can actually warp those legs. And to finish them, I'm just using the Osmo 3043 and brushing it in, and I'm going to kind of wipe off any excess. And this is just going to stabilize that char, so if you grab it it doesn't get your hands charcoaly, but still gives you that cool wood charred texture.
I'm using a very DIY friendly mount for this, so no fancy joinery here. This is just about, I don't know, maybe a $5 steel table leg mount that came with those legs, screwing them in. I did them at about a slight taper to the outside and they're sitting on also a 10 degree taper, so they won't go straight up and down. I want it at a little bit of an angle, kind of a bit of a mid-mod look, which I'm not sure which is the best look for a epoxy Shou Sugi Ban table, but this is the look that I came up with. I will probably actually use this piece to hang on a wall instead of actually using it as a coffee table. But I wanted to give you guys some inspiration of what you could do if you want to make a similar table.
And I haven't addressed that burnt spot in the front right corner, which was actually a mistake that wood was kind of warped and twisted up and so when I planed it down, it exposed some wood and I actually ended up loving it. It was one of my favorite parts of the table. So if I did another one of these tables, I might try to induce more of that warping, more natural wood so you could see it flow into the char. But I'd like to know what you guys think, if you think that looks awful, my wife actually hates that spot, but I think it's pretty cool. So let me know if you like the contrast or if I should have done it more consistent, all char all the way across.
I'd also like to hear from you guys on what I should do next with this burnt pattern. I've heard some people suggest guitars. I've heard some tiles for a backsplash. I think there's a lot of cool possibilities that you can do with this epoxy and burnt wood, so let me know in the comments what you think the next project should be. And if you are a regular to my videos, you know that every week I like to give a little bit of credit to the people that actually watch the entire video. So this week, start your question or comment with your favorite tool or your favorite tool brand and I will know you watched the entire video and I promise I will get to all of your questions or comments first. And thanks again so much for watching. If you liked this video, please subscribe for more just like it. Have a great week.