Making a Carbon Fiber Table Out of Red Carbon Fiber Fabric
Step #1: Planning Your Carbon Fiber Table Project
There are two ways to go about building your carbon fiber table top using ¾” MDF:
doubling up two sheets or making a drop edge. In the video for this tutorial, we created a drop edge so that we could teach how it’s done. Also, it saves some wood and makes the table lighter. We made our table a freeform shape to really emphasize the red carbon fiber pattern. Whatever size your red carbon fiber sheets are, you’re going to want to cut your table small enough so that a significant “apron” of the red carbon fiber cloth hangs well over the edge. This apron will be cut off later.
Step #2A: Doubling Up Your substrate (Option A)
Use this step if you are doubling up on MDF for your carbon fiber table. Cut the substrate into two rectangles of equal size. We like to use MDF (medium density fiberboard) because it's smooth and solid all the way through. I get it in 3/4" thick sheets. Set aside one of the rectangles and draw out your freeform shape in the other. We’re going to cut out the freeform shape using a jigsaw and sand the edge to smooth out any jagged parts from the jigsaw. Next, glue the freeform shape on top of the other piece of MDF using your favorite wood glue (here we're using Titebond II Premium Wood Glue). After the MDF sheets are glued, drive some pin nails through the two sheets for extra strength. Since we're going through two stacked sheets of ¾” MDF, we're gonna use 1¼”, 23-gauge micro pins in our pin gun. Pin a perimeter about an inch away from the edges and then distribute some pins inside that perimeter for good measure. Thoroughly wipe any excess glue off of the seams so that the dried glue doesn’t interfere with routering the bottom sheet into our freeform shape. These MDF sheets will be bonded together at maximum strength once the glue sets.
Step #2B: Making A Drop Edge (Option B)
Use this step if you are using mdf to make a drop edge for your carbon fiber table top. Cut the substrate into two rectangles. One will be our freeform shape and the other will be cut into strips for the drop edge. We like to use MDF (medium density fiberboard) because it's smooth and solid all the way through. I get it in ¾” thick sheets. Set aside the drop edge section and draw out your freeform shape in the other. We’re going to cut out the freeform shape using a jigsaw and sand the edge to smooth out any jagged parts from the jigsaw. Next, go ahead and cut your drop edge strips out of the other rectangle (2½” should be wide enough for these). Place your first strip so that it hangs slightly over the edge of the freeform shape, trace a line so that you know where to place your glue (here we're using Titebond II Premium Wood Glue), then glue the strip and pin nail it in place using 1¼”, 23-gauge micro pins. Thoroughly wipe excess glue from the joint and then repeat the process until the entire perimeter of the freeform shape is covered. Cut drop edge pieces at angles as necessary so that they fit each other tightly. Pin a perimeter around the edges for good measure. Thoroughly wipe any excess glue off of the joints and seams so that the dried glue doesn’t interfere with routering the drop edge into our freeform shape. The MDF pieces will be bonded together at maximum strength once the glue sets.
Step #3: Trim Excess & Roundover With Router
Once your glue is all dry, set your project on a good surface for routering (I like to use a sheet of insulation foam on my shop table where I make cuts). Use a top bearing flush trim bit on a router to cut the excess MDF off of the edges of your freeform shape. This is best done in multiple passes to minimize stress on the router bit. Next, sand the edge until flush and then change to a roundover bit on the router. Test the roundover on a scrap of MDF to make sure the curve comes out smooth and then router the top edge of the project. You can use your favorite super glue to fill in any joints that may have voids and sand off any excess glue for an extra smooth finish. At this point, the tabletop is complete. Now we’ll apply the red carbon fiber.
Step #4: Apply Red Carbon Fiber Fabric
Prop your project up on buckets, paint cans, or something similar so that the red carbon fiber cloth will hang freely off the edges. Mix up two ounces per square foot of our Stone Coat Quick Coat using a paint stick to not retain a lot of air. Quick coat sets up fast, so be ready to pour and squeegee before you start mixing. Once the quick coat is mixed, pour it directly onto the MDF surface and spread from the center outwards using a squeegee or similar tool. Avoid pushing the epoxy over the edge of the project before the entire top surface is coated to not waste any. Using either the squeegee or a gloved hand, rub the epoxy onto the edges of the carbon fiber countertop. Lay the carbon fiber fabric as evenly as possible over the surface and press it into the epoxy using the squeegee. At this point, the Quick Coat should be starting to set up. Continue to carefully press the red carbon fiber cloth over the surface and edges until no wrinkles remain and the fabric is confidently glued. Step back and let the Quick Coat set up over the next few hours.
Step #5: Apply First Flood Coat to You Carbon Fiber Table
Mix a batch of clear Stone Coat Countertop Epoxy at a 1:1 ratio. Measure 3 ounces of epoxy per square foot, and mix for 2 minutes with a paddle mixer and drill. Pour the clear epoxy for carbon fiber onto the center of the project, use a ⅛” notch trowel to once more mix the puddle of epoxy and then evenly spread it from the center outwards. Use the heel of our Chop Brush to chop the surface in a random fashion, which will remove trowel lines and mix one last time. Don’t forget to pull any loose bristles from the brush, and remember to brush the edges of the carbon table. At this point, use a propane torch on your carbon fiber table top to pop any air bubbles in the epoxy. Sweep the torch from side to side 2-3'' from the surface. Let stand for about 5 minutes and then repeat torching at least two more times, waiting five minutes between each torching.
Step #6: Repeat Flood Coats
Once the first flood coat is dry, it’s time to remove that apron of hanging red carbon fiber cloth. I used a grinder disk and one of our 50-grit sanding disks first to cut off most of the apron and then cut the remaining bits and sand flush to the bottom of the carbon fiber table. Once the bottom is flush, flip the carbon table over and sand the flood coat, being careful not to burn through to the red carbon fiber. When sanding clear coats, I recommend starting at 60-grit and working up to 220-grit disks. Sand the round-over edge by hand, turn your sander speed down for the edge of the project, and be sure to sand the top surface last to remove any scratch marks from hand-sanding the round over. Once the project is all sanded, repeat the flood coat step (#5) and let the epoxy dry again. That should be enough flood coats, but if more is needed, just sand and coat again until the surface is as smooth as glass.
Step #7: Install and enjoy
Once the last flood coat is all dry, your new carbon fiber table is ready to install!
You got this!