Building a live edge epoxy river coffee table seems super easy, right? Get a live edge piece of wood, cut it in half, build a form, pour the resin, remove the form…easy peasy. Well, that’s not exactly how it went for me. If you’re thinking of making your own epoxy resin river table, you can learn a thing or two from my mistakes.
*This post is sponsored by Environmental Technology Inc. I received epoxy resin in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own*
1. Don’t assume you know everything
The basic steps to build a live edge river table seem pretty easy, but this is not an inexpensive project so you really don’t want to mess it up. Do your research. I didn’t do enough research ahead of time. I usually like to jump right in with a project, and then learn from my mistakes. In hindsight, these are some tutorials that I should have read ahead of time:
- Live edge waterfall table from Fix This Build That
- Follow these guys on Instagram
- River coffee table Youtube build
2. Don’t use 1/4 mdf for the forms
I started this river coffee table with a live edge piece of cherry wood that I bought from The Wood Source in Ottawa. It was about four feet long and 18 inches wide. Tony cut it in half for me on the table saw, then I sanded it down and removed the bark from the live edge.
Next I built the forms. I used 3/4″ mdf strips for the sides of the forms, and 1/4″ mdf for the bottom.
I assumed the 1/4″ mdf for the bottom was smooth and the coffee table would pop right off once the resin was cured. Don’t do this!
The 1/4″ mdf did not pop right off in one piece. No, it was more like a thousand pieces. And that was only after a few hours of chiselling it off, and using the belt sander to get the rest off. Save yourself some time and use thicker mdf for the forms!
3. Don’t assume the color will turn out the way you want
After I prepared the cherry wood, and built the form it was time to pour the resin. I first mixed up a small amount of two part epoxy resin and covered the bottom of the form. This way you won’t get bubbles on the bottom of the coffee table. Then I carefully put the two live edge pieces of wood in the forms, and clamped them down to the form.
Next it’s time to mix the resin for the river. I mixed up a liter of resin and added blue transparent dye and a tiny amount of green dye. The plan was to make the river a light aqua blue color to look like a tropical ocean. I just assumed that the amount of dye I added would be the perfect color. It looked alright as I mixed it up, but when the resin cured it changed color. It looked more like a toxic dump in the river rather than a beach in Jamaica, and I didn’t like it.
4. Don’t think you can get away with No sanding
My goal was to do one resin pour, have a perfectly smooth glassy finish, and be done with it. That didn’t happen. Like I said, I spent hours sanding off the mdf from the bottom, and then I spent a lot of time sanding the top to make it level. This is how the top looked after sanding…
…and this is how the bottom looked.
Now let’s get back to the problem of the color, because the story of this coffee table does in fact turn out well
To fix the color, I mixed up a small batch of epoxy resin and added a lot of transparent blue dye, and a small drop of opaque black pigment. I poured it on the bottom of the coffee table, just on the river part of the coffee table.
Once it was cured, I sanded the resin to give it a matte finish. From the top of the table, the color was deepened to a beautiful teal blue.
5. Don’t touch the table until it’s fully cured!
The last step for this resin coffee table was to pour a flood coat over the top. I mixed up the resin, poured it on top, and spread it over the top and edges using a straight piece of cardboard.
Then you can pop all the bubbles using a blow torch or a straw. Once you’re happy with the top and you make sure there are no drips along the sides or bottom, leave it alone! Let it cure for 24 hours without touching it.
My final mistake was that I (or Tony, I’m not really sure who to blame) must’ve touched the resin before it was cured, and left a finger print. I thought about sanding the whole thing down and giving it a matte finish, but the shiny epoxy is so beautiful. So I gave the top a light sand with 400 grit paper to get rid of the finger print, and poured another coat of epoxy resin. The end result was perfect with no finger prints and a smooth and glossy finish.
6. Don’t use super long screws when you install the legs
Wouldn’t that just rot your socks if you spent all that time working on the table top just to have a screw pop through the top when you install the legs? No, not funny Tony. This did not happen to me. Actually installing the legs was the smoothest part of this coffee table build.
I bought the metal legs from Lowe’s and spray painted them matte black. To install them I pre-dilled a hole and used 5/8″ screws to attach the legs to the top.
Live edge epoxy resin river coffee table
All in all I’m very happy with how this river coffee table turned out. I made some mistakes, but I managed to fix them and still ended up with a beautiful piece of furniture. Have you ever made a river coffee table? Was your build a littler smoother than my experience?
I made this coffee table as an auction item for a charity event, and it looks amazing in its new home!