Today I’m going to show you how we made a desk top and two stair treads using some reclaimed fir, and finished them with a shiny coat of epoxy resin. This desk top is part of the spring One Room Challenge, where we are making built in beds for our two sons’ shared bedroom. You can click the links below to check our plans and progress over the last few weeks.
Watch this video for a 2 minute summary, or continue reading for all the details
*Many thanks to ETI USA for providing me with the Epoxy resin for this project, and Home Depot Canada for providing supplies for the build*
Start with reclaimed fir cross arms
Tony works for a hydro company, so on occasion when they have to replace the old poles and cross arms the employees can take the old wood home. I didn’t know this until recently, but hydro cross arms are made from solid fir. Fir is a soft wood with a beautiful grain and has a slightly redish color. They don’t look like much now, but just you wait and see how this turns out.
Cut the cross arms in half
Tony cut the cross arms in half on the table saw. The cross arms are about four inches square, so that gave us two nice thick boards to work with from each cross arm
Plane and joint the reclaimed boards
Next Tony ran the reclaimed fir boards through the jointer so the edges were perfectly square. Then we ran them all through the planer several times until they were about an inch and a half thick.
Arrange the boards
We arranged the boards out in the order we thought looked nice, on top of some large clamps. Some of the boards were pretty beat up, and they all had holes in them, but that adds to the character of the wood. When you make a table or desk top, you want to make sure the end grain goes in the opposite direction of the boards next to it. This helps the desk or table top to stay flat and not to curve over time.
Glue and clamp
Using some wood glue, Tony added a fair amount of glue to each side of the boards.
Then we laid all the boards all down and clamped them real tight. The glue will squeeze out of the cracks, but you can clean it up with a damp cloth while it’s still wet.
Cut the desk top to size and sand
Once the glue was dry we removed the clamps and cut the desk top to the right dimensions for our space. Then we sanded it smooth with a palm sander, starting with 60 grit and working up to 180 grit.
Stain the top
I had the hardest time choosing a stain color for the top. Tony wanted to keep the top natural, but I wanted something a little darker. Fir has a bit of a reddish tone, which is very beautiful, but wasn’t exactly what I was picturing for the boys’ bedroom. So finally we decided on Minwax Weathered Oak. This is a very light stain, but just tones down some of the red color in the wood.
Apply the epoxy resin coating
This was my first time using epoxy resin on a desk top, and I have to say that it went pretty well:
- First we taped the holes underneath using tape. Make sure to use several layers of tape, because the resin will drip through.
- Put plastic on the floor because resin is messy.
- Mix the resin – I used Envirotex Lite, which has a high gloss finish. To mix the resin, I poured the hardener in a small pail, and an equal amount of resin in it as well. For the resin to harden properly, it has to mixed exactly 1:1. You also have to do double mixing, which means stir for two minutes in the first pail, then pour into another pail and mix for another minute.
- Then I just poured the resin on the top and spread it out with a really fancy tool – a piece of cardboard. The resin will drip over the sides, but I gently scraped the sides to get rid of the drips.
- As the resin dries bubbles will start to rise to the top. You can get rid of the bubbles by using a heat torch, but you can also pop the bubbles by blowing through a straw.
I tended to this top for a few hours after the pour, scraping the sides and underneath and popping bubbles. It has a soft cure after about 12 hours, and is fully cured after 72 hours.
It dried to a perfect high gloss finish. It’s hard to hide how messy our garage is when you can see all the stuff reflected in the mirror finish!
Epoxy resin reclaimed wood desk top
We did this same process for two smaller stair treads for the built in beds. Then we installed the top and the treads on top of the drawer boxes that we built a few weeks ago. I’m incredibly happy with how this desk turned out! If you’re looking for a table top epoxy resin, I highly recommend Envirotex Lite.
Other updates for the One Room Challenge
Last week we also installed the rest of the drawer slides, put on the remaining drawer fronts, and installed the hardware. I finished painting the dresser I found at a thrift store, and you will see that next week. We still need to finish the upper platform and railings, and I should probably start sewing if I’m going to finish the bedding. And as if that wasn’t enough, I decided to start a last minute project that involves plastic aquarium plants, lego, and resin.
Still to do
Mud and sand all the joints in the cabinets, prime and paint the bed Paint trim and doors Move the electrical outlet and install a wall sconce Touch up the walls with drywall mud Repaint the room Build drawer boxes Install drawer slides and drawer boxes Find cabinet hardware for the bed Finish the desk top Install desk
- Make a platform for the loft bed
Install drawer fronts and hardware
- Make railings for the bed
Refinish a dresser Find a window treatment Make matching bedding
- Make floating bookshelves
- Hang some picture frames