You’ve asked for it, so here we are! I’m glad I got to inspire you to take the next step and start exploring these techniques further.
If you’re new here, hello! We’ll talk about everything resin and wood today so you can make some of the most breathtaking tables and boards. When you get the right tools and materials, this becomes easy work in a snap.
So, let’s go over the best choices of epoxy resin for wood. We’ll also learn a bit more about its characteristics, how to use it, and how to care about our works of art. Ready if you are!
Epoxy Resin and How it Works
Epoxy resin is a thermosetting compound that sets and creates a strong bond. To create that bond, you have to use a mixture of resin and hardener, and then allow it to cure for up to 24 hours under a certain temperature.
Some resins cure in mere minutes, but how long it will take and under which temperature varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
It can be used as both glue and a coating, and it can’t be “uncured”. Once set, you can’t remelt the resin and turn it back into its previous liquid state.
You must pay attention to personal protection when working with resin. Make sure you’re wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated room. Use an apron, smock, or other disposable clothing, and protect the workspace. Once resin sets on a surface, it’s very difficult to remove.
Casting vs Epoxy Resin
Casting resin is supposed to be cast in a mold, whilst epoxy resin is essentially a glue. So, why are we using it on wood?
Well, that’s because of its bonding power. Casting resin will not create as good of a bond with wood as epoxy will. And if you want your project to last, that bond sure is a good idea.
Even though you will be pouring epoxy into a mold, you still don’t want to mix them up. Nor do you want to do a quick swap if you’re out of epoxy.
What is the Best Epoxy Resin for Wood?
For a clear liquid that should do the same thing, there sure are great differences in the quality of the product.
All products below are tried, tested, and highly recommended by both professionals and hobbyists. My top pick is a great combination of price and performance, and it’s perfect for a beginner. However, all other entries are equally good and come with some interesting attributes and advantages.
Great all around.
Pro Marine epoxy is one of the best options for a home crafter. It delivers great results at a reasonable price. They also offer easy-to-follow instructions so it’s very beginner-friendly.
Once cured, you can look forward to a crystal clear surface that’s both impact and water-resistant. It’s perfect for tables and bars. Obviously, works great with wood, but also with numerous other surfaces.
When pouring, you’ll not have to deal with a lot of bubbles. It also eases into crevices without a lot of manipulation. It’s FDA-certified food-safe, so you can use it for cheese boards as well. And when you add color to it, it comes out very vibrant and stays that way for a long time.
If there is a big con, it’s the curing time. Pro Marine resin takes 72 hours to cure, and temperatures above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s below that, expect curing to last even longer. By the way, speaking of temperatures, you should store the product at 75 degrees or higher to maintain its viscosity.
At the very least, that also means that you have a lot of play time when you pour. It gives you more than ample time to mix the color and add micas, stones, etc.
Heavy-duty finish and easy to customize for any job.
- Very tough
- UV, water, and impact-resistant
You can use West System resin to repair boats. Enough said. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Okay, joking aside, I don’t know that many professional carpenters and handymen that don’t have something nice to say about it. And considering all the different formulas they offer, it’s easy to find a perfect and specialized combination for any job.
Pay attention to the numbers above because they are not random. There are multiple other resin and hardener formulas under their umbrella, and this one is great for making resin food tables.
The 207 hardener offers a high gloss finish, but you can also pick another one, like the 205 Fast Hardener. They also have a pigment in their collection, but the product will mix just as well with any other.
So, how good is this stuff? In terms of numbers, tensile strength is 6,750PSI and flexural strength of 11.300PSI. For those who don’t know what those numbers mean, it translates to “way stronger than competition”. Those numbers are if you are using the 207 Special High Gloss hardener, while other options are even tougher.
However, that comes at a cost. Curing time for 207 is up to 24 hours for a thin film, and a whopping 4 to 9 days for a project like a resin board or table. But that also means that you have a lot of time to play with it before it starts to set. You have about an hour to mix your colors and pour.
Great for testing and learning.
- Cures quickly
If it comes from a boating company, it must be good, right? And it’s one of those products that is specially developed and marketed to people who make river tables, resin boards, and other resin arts and crafts.
This resin is a pretty decent performer and will work just fine for your first projects. It sounds quite lukewarm, but that’s because it doesn’t outperform any of the other entries on this list. However, what makes it different is that, unlike others, it comes in smaller packaging. If you’re just experimenting and want to see if you like working with epoxy, you can do it with a reasonably good product in reasonably smaller packaging.
Though I recommend it to beginners, keep in mind that you have only 15-20 minutes of working time. So, you better be quick with mixing and pouring. But that means the curing time is also faster. In fact, it’s lightning fast. It takes only 30 minutes to cure completely!
But don’t waste your time on their epoxy paint mixer. It may be slightly more effective than a mixing stick, but it’s still a gimmick. A gimmick that will become more and more difficult to clean.
Meant for functional furniture.
Ounce per ounce, this is the most affordable option on this list. But, don’t let that fool you, since this is a high-performance item.
Designed for use on functional furniture like bars and tables, it offers crystal clear gloss with a lot of durabilities. When cured, the surface should be able to resist moisture, scratches, impact, and stains.
It’s very easy to use and the self-leveling claim is 100% true. Since it’s so clear and transparent, you can use it to embed objects and decorations seamlessly. It also holds pigment well and shows each color at its true vibrancy.
The surface is heat resistant up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can feel free to use this product on a dining room table. And you can enjoy all of its qualities whether you are pouring a thin coat or making a river table.
You get an average play time with this resin of about 20 minutes, and the curing takes up to 24 hours.
But, where’s the issue? Why isn’t this the top pick? Well, though it’s UV and water-resistant, it’s not suitable for use on outdoor furniture. Most users are blown away with the effects they get on their indoor tables, not so much when they apply it on patio furniture.
High shine without the high maintenance.
- High UV yellowing resistance
The previous entry was most budget-friendly, this one is the priciest. Still, give it a chance. Outside of its price, it doesn’t have any faults.
As the name suggests, you will get a glass-like glossy finish with this product. It pours easily, self-levels, creates little to no bubbles, and you can seamlessly embed even clear objects. Specifically designed for deep pours, it’s ideal for making river tables and resin boards.
And, when it’s cured, the surface is UV, water, scratch, and impact resistant. Each finished piece looks, feels, and behaves like a million bucks. They are also food safe and heat resistant up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for a dining table, whether it’s going to be placed indoors or on your patio.
You get a lot of work time as well. You have about 40 minutes to mix, pour, spread, etc. However, unlike other products that are generous with play time, this resin cures quickly. You are looking at 24 hours max for an average pour at room temperature.
Can I Dye Epoxy Resin?
Of course, and there are a couple of ways you can do it.
The best way is to use liquid resin dye since it’s meant to do the exact job. The best alternative is going for pure pigment powders and micas since they will have little to no impact on the formula.
The stakes are not that high here so you can choose any product that catches your eye or fits your budget. That being said, here are some that I enjoyed working with.
Lumino pigments are great for beginners. They are very affordable and have a great color payoff.
The best thing about them is that what you see is what you get. Every shade is true to color and you will not have to wonder what the final product will look like.
The shades are very bright which can be both a pro and a con, depending on what you’re working on. For example, the blue and turquoise may look too bright if you’re trying to achieve a calm ocean blue.
If you don’t like Lumino’s color palette, Let’s Resin may be up your alley. The colors are just a smidge more muted, making it easier to achieve a “natural” look.
They are also highly concentrated and easy to use. Though they will not break the bank, they are a bit more expensive than the first entry.
These are some of the best pigments I’ve worked with, no matter the medium. They are just all-around reliable, have a great color payoff, and perform great. Plus, they are super affordable.
The only problem is that there is a trial and error period included. Yeah, if you’ve never worked with loose pigments before, you will struggle a bit before you find your way around them.
How do You Make Colored Epoxy Resin for Wood?
It may sound counterintuitive, but you should add the colorants and pigments to the resin after mixing it with the hardener.
Yes, once the resin and hardener are mixed, it means that you are now on borrowed time and have to work quickly. If it’s your first time working with a colorant, it’s better to choose a product with a longer setting and curing time. This will give you enough time to play before you have to pour.
Other than that, the process is very simple. Pour the resin and hardener into the mixing cup and mix thoroughly. Add the colorant and mix through.
Pour the epoxy into the mold and use a blow torch or a heat gun to remove the bubbles from the top. Once it starts to set, scrape off any excess off the edges, and run with the torch once more to even out.
Once the project is cured, you can sand it to smooth it out, and then go in with a sealant, topcoat, other paints and colors, etc.
What Does Epoxy Resin do to Wood?
If you’re worried that it will ruin it, don’t Epoxy resin want physically damage wood, unless you try to rip it off.
What it does do is create a strong, waterproof bond. The bond is actually a lot stronger than the one that’s made with glue. While the glue bond has a strength of up to 500lbs for every square inch, the one made with epoxy goes as high as 2,000lbs per square inch.
Can You Put Epoxy Resin on Wood?
Yes! You can achieve an amazing glossy surface if you pour the epoxy over the wood. You can also place objects or photographs over the surface and then pour the resin to seal it all in.
This may even be a better option for your first since it’s slightly easier to execute.
How Strong is Epoxy Resin on Wood?
The strength of the epoxy resin bond to wood is about 4,000 PSI on average, but it can reach up to 6,000 PSI. This will greatly depend on the quality of materials, epoxy blend, and chosen straightener.
Once cured, this bond should last at least 10 years for a table, and up to 20 years for other decorative items. However, improper care and harsh chemicals will shorten the lifespan of your work.
By the way, good news for our friends from Cali and Alaska: epoxy is very shock-resistant so you don’t have to worry about an earthquake destroying your tables.
Do You Need a Frame to Pour Resin?
Depends on the design. If you want to pour the resin only over the surface of the wood, you only need some masking tape to make things neat.
But, if you want to make those impressive tables that look like a river is flowing through them, you’ll need a frame.
You may also need to build it yourself from scratch. However, this is done with thin planks, thick cardboard, plastic, or styrofoam. The only thing that matters is that you have at least an inch of extra height to prevent overspilling.
Do You Need to Treat the Wood Before Pouring Resin?
Yes. Wood is porous so you need to seal that surface before pouring resin.
You don’t have to buy a separate product since you can use resin for this job as well. Start by sweeping the dust and other particles from the surface you plan to treat. If there is some oil on the surface, either from seasoning or from your hands, wipe with acetone to remove it.
Take a paintbrush and spread a thin coat of resin over the surface. Let it cure and proceed with the rest of your project.
How do You Build a Resin Table?
This process is not too different from making a table with plain timber. However, there are a few things you need to pay attention to.
First, you need to keep the resin surface covered until you’re done. Resin can get scratched and that will ruin all of your hard words. You can cover the surface with plastic or tape some old newspaper on top. Ideally, get your hands on some bubble wrap.
And second, watch how you attach the legs. You can drill into resin, but it will cause some cosmetic damage. It may also cause the resin to crack in some cases. To be safe, attach only all nails and screws only to wood.
All of the questions above are about working with epoxy resin, but here are a few frequently asked ones about what happens when you finish the project.
How Do You Care for an Epoxy Resin and Wood Project?
Pretty much the same way you would care for wooden furniture and cutting board.
Don’t use paint thinners, acetone, and similar chemicals on resin. Other than that, you can clean the surface with wood or all-purpose cleaner, or a plain damp microfiber cloth.
Watch what you put on the surface because it can get scratched. Use coasters on the table, and don’t use a resin cutting board for cutting or chopping.
Should I Buy a Large or a Small Bottle of Epoxy Resin?
If you plan on working with this medium more often, feel free to pick up a larger bottle. After all, it needs to be activated before use, so you don’t have to worry about it hardening in the bottle after your first project.
That being said, resin still has a shelf life. So, don’t stock up if you’re working on a project once every decade or something.
Can I Remove and/or Recast Epoxy Resin for Wood?
You can, and all you need is some humble acetone. Soak the resin until it softens, and it will pop right out.
If you want to recast the project after, make sure that all acetone evaporates first, then do all necessary prep again.
You will have to use a new resin, though.
I Found a Crack. What Happened?
It could be the age of your project, or you’ve worked with damp wood and now it’s dried and contracted. Or you messed up and didn’t prep well before casting.
How Can I Repair an Epoxy Resin and Wood Project?
Okay, good news and bad news.
Good news first. If the resin started separating from the wood you can either pour more resin to reconnect it or break out some bonding super glue.
Bad news, if you have scratches on the resin, there’s not much you can do. Your best bet is to start from scratch.
You can try and pour a thin layer over the existing one, but it will change the look of your work.
Your only option lest if to go for a decorative solution. For example, if you’ve used ocean blue or green resin to paint in some seafoam.