How to Make a Live Edge Epoxy River Table - DIY Style
You’ve probably seen them on Instagram, Pinterest, or even Facebook. You’ve definitely seen them on YouTube. They feature stunning slabs of hardwood with what looks like whatever running down the sides or middle.
They’re epoxy river tables. Some have a live edge, where the outside of the tree keeps its natural, knotted shape. That live edge can create an incredible, natural-looking river for epoxy that spans from one end of the table to the other!
Want to skip right to the instructions? Scroll down to our how-to section!
But making a table does take time—and requires some special techniques to get the best results. On this page, we’ll show you everything you need to know about making your own table. We’ll cover:
- What epoxy is and how to work with it
- Supplies you’ll need to get started
- Frequently asked questions about live edge epoxy tables
- Step-by-step epoxy table instructions
- A printable how-to guide for your epoxy river table
- Our recommended tools for the project
At the end, we’ll also point you in the direction of other epoxy tables you can make. Live edge, river, magma, you name it!
So, ready to get started?
Why Epoxy Is Great for Live Edge Tables
Epoxy is what makes live edge river tables possible. It starts as a liquid, so it gets the same fluid textures when it’s poured. And it’s clear, which allows it to be colored however you want. Add a touch of blue and you have a translucent body of water right in your kitchen, dining room, or living room!
But epoxy doesn’t stay liquid. It hardens into a dense, durable, and plastic-like product. As it dries, it bonds well with many surfaces, including wood. Thus, the final result is a structurally sound table that transitions smoothly from wood to “river” and back. It can also cover the wood to give it a glossy finish to preserve it.
Plus, epoxy makes a great table. It’s not just sturdy, it’s:
- Impact resistant (no cracks or chips)
- Stain resistant
- Heat resistant
- UV resistant
Not only that, but it’s easy to clean and maintain. It’s easy to work with. It’s fun to use. We could go on!
Frequently Asked Questions About Live Edge Epoxy Tables
Owing to their surge in popularity on social media and interior design circles, we get a lot of questions about epoxy river tables! We’ll try to answer a few of the most common here.
We hope that this section helps you decide if this DIY project is right for you.
- How much does it cost to epoxy a table? If you’re buying a live edge epoxy river table from a woodworker, expect to spend anywhere from $1,500–$15,000. For DIY epoxy resin tables, most of the cost will come from wood. Live edge slabs can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars each. The epoxy itself probably won’t cost you more than $100–200. If you’re just covering a table with epoxy, it’ll be even cheaper!
- How much epoxy resin do I need for a river table? It totally depends on the table. You may need to do some calculations. How deep is your river? How long is it? How wide? Multiply the length by width by height (LxWxH) for volume in cubic inches and convert that to liters or gallons . cubic inches. Converted, that comes to 2.5 gallons. We recommend buying extra for spillage, overflow, etc.!
- What is the best epoxy for tables? We recommend Stone Coat Countertops epoxy! We’ve been doing this for years, and we guarantee that our epoxy is top quality. You may find other good products out there, but you’ll want to do your due diligence to make sure it’s a quality product.
- How do you make a live edge epoxy resin table? We make it easy to create your own river table. Below, we provide a step-by-step guide. We also link to multiple YouTube video tutorials! Finally, we’ll link to a few supplies you’ll need to get started.
- How do I make a mold for my epoxy resin table? We use a combination of Tyvek tape, plywood boards, and a Kreg pocket hole jig system. This is all covered in steps 2–5 below!
How to Make a Live Edge Epoxy River Table
You have so many options when making a live edge epoxy table. You could make a coffee table, dining table, an epoxy resin river table, or a piece of artwork! The live edge slabs really showcase the look of natural wood. And epoxy lets it shine!
Don’t feel like reading? Watch our 30-minute how-to video here. It reveals how we made a live edge epoxy resin table with redwood:
Before you get started, here are some things to think about:
- Have you planned the project out? Don’t rush in without planning! What size table do you need? Which colors do you want? What kind of legs will you use? Do you want a river, or do you want pools all over the place?
- Is your wood prepared? There are a few preparation steps to take with your wood. You’ll need to plan which part(s) of the wood you’ll use and where it’ll set. You’ll also need to remove any bark, nails, and anything else that gets in the way of showing off the wood edge.
- Do you have all the tools you’ll need? Some of the equipment we list below is necessary to get the best final product possible. There may be workarounds, but we haven’t provided instructions for it.
Step 1 - Wood prep and cutting: Layout your wood slab and see where you’d like to cut it in half. You may want to measure and mark everything out so you get the cut right the first time. Live edge slabs aren’t cheap!
Then, use a circular saw to cut the slab into two pieces. The straight cut sides will be the table’s edges—the live edges will form the river.
Step 2: Casting prep. Prepare the area where you’ll be laying out your table and pouring your epoxy. You can simply apply rows of Tyvek tape. The tape will ensure that the dried casting epoxy can be easily removed from your worktable.
Step 3: Prepare your plywood for your table mold. Use a table saw to cut a sheet of 3/4” thick plywood into 3” strips. These boards will be used as the form for your table.
Apply a layer of Tyvek tape on both the bottom and side of the board boards. The tape will keep the epoxy from sticking to your mold!
Step 4: Drill your plywood for your table mold. Use a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig to drill a hole every 6–8 inches in your plywood form boards.
These holes will help you screw the boards in place down onto your work table. This ensures a better seal so that your epoxy doesn’t spill everywhere. Plus, it makes it easy to complete the form/mold!
Step 5: Screw down the form boards. Screw down your plywood forms to the worktable (the one you applied the Tyvek tape to). Keep your form boards square as you screw them down.
Try to avoid gaps between your plywood form boards. Large gaps will need to be sealed and may let your epoxy run.
Step 6: Seal your wood with quick coat epoxy. Many people suggest that live edge slabs don’t need to be sealed before pouring epoxy. However, we recommend it because it creates a better look without compromising the bond.
More importantly, sealing the bottom surface of your wood slabs does two things. First, it keeps them in place in your form. Second, it ensures that colored epoxy doesn’t seep underneath the slabs when you pour in your tinted casting resin!
So, mix up a small batch of Quick Coat. Using your gloved hands, apply the Quick Coat to the bottom and sides of your live edge epoxy river table project.
Step 7: Mix your casting resin. Mix up Super Cast using a paint stick for 10 minutes. Using a stick keeps the air bubbles to a minimum, and you don’t want air bubbles in an epoxy river table!
In a smaller cup, pour clear Super Cast and tint the epoxy with Crater Lake Blue metallic powder. Add the metallic until the epoxy is no longer transparent. When it looks like a good color of blue to you, pour the tinted Super Cast into your river.
Remember, casting epoxy is slightly different than other epoxies! It uses two parts of resin to one part hardener or a 2:1 ratio of A to B.
Step 8: Torch the river epoxy. After every 1/4” of river epoxy that you pour, hit it with the torch. The torch will keep the epoxy bubble-free and uniform.
Step 9: Pour in the clear epoxy. Once you’ve finished pouring and torching your blue epoxy, add in the clear Super Cast. You can pour in the remaining amount of epoxy and fill it until it starts spilling onto the wood itself.
As you pour in the clear Super Cast, feel free to make swirls and other cool effects. Continue torching the epoxy to remove any new air bubbles! You can also use a paint stick to mix the tinted and clear epoxies to create amazing depth.
Casting epoxy does shrink slightly. So, make sure to overfill things a bit!
Step 10: Remove the plywood form boards. YYou’ll need to wait for the epoxy to harden before you do this! When the epoxy is good and hard, then it’s time to take off the form boards.
To de-mold your project and remove it from the form, remove all the pocket screws. Then, score the Tyvek tape and pop off the form with a hammer. You may be able to reuse the form for another project!
Step 11: Level out your table. Pouring epoxy will get it kind of flat, but a slab jig and sanding will make it perfect. Bring your project back to level quickly by using the slab jig to remove the overfilled Super Cast. (You can use pocket screws around the table to keep it from moving for this step.)
The slab jig will leave a rough surface, so go over it with a 4-tooth router (for a smoother surface). The router will still leave marks, so you’ll need to sand it afterward. Start with 50-grit on a grinder, then move to 100, 120, 150, and 220-grit with a random orbital sander.
Step 12: Square up the table edges. Forms don’t always create perfectly square edges. In fact, they never do! Use a table saw to square up the edges of your table.
Pro tip: The Tyvek tape may have left lines on the underside of your table. You can sand them out using 50-grit and a grinder. If you’re very particular about the bottom of your live edge epoxy river table, go ahead and sand with a higher grit!
Step 13: Round the table edges. Router the edges with a 1/4” round-over bit on the top side. Use a 1/8” round-over bit on the bottom side.
Step 14: Seal your live edge epoxy river table. By this point, your table will have a dull, matte look to it. Hit the surface with some compressed air or wipe away any residual dust. It’s time to make it shine!
Mix up enough epoxy to cover the entire surface of the table, including the sides. You’ll need about one ounce of epoxy per square foot of the table to seal it.
Apply the mixed epoxy to your river table with a shower squeegee. You can use your hands to apply epoxy to the edges.
Step 15: Prepare for a second seal of epoxy. Two coats are better than one when it comes to sealing your table! Let the first seal coat fully dry. Then, lightly sand it with 220-grit sandpaper.
Spray a small amount of 91% isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel to wipe the dust off. Then, apply your second seal coat. (Again, mix 1oz of epoxy for every square foot you’ll need to cover. Apply with a squeegee and your hands. This step is when you get to see the table come to life—as the colors become vibrant and bright!
Pro tip: If you don’t seal the table before the final flood coat, air will seep out into the final product. Don’t forget to use a propane torch to pop any bubbles!
Step 16: Apply your third seal coat. Repeat all the steps from step 15. That was easy!
Step 17: Fill in any pits with Mohawk Fil-Stik. You may find pinholes or other little imperfections in the surface of your epoxy resin table. This last step will remove any last flaws.
Melt the edge of the Mohawk Fil-Stick and fill any small holes. Scrape it flat and repeat as necessary until it’s filled.
Step 18: Apply the flood coat. Sand down the surface of the table with 220 grit. This will rough up the surface and give your flood coat a strong mechanical bond. Clean it with 91% isopropyl alcohol.
Flood coats use 3oz per square foot of space. Mix it for two minutes. It may look white, but don’t worry—it will dry clear!
Pour the epoxy on the surface of your live edge table. Then, use a square notch trowel to spread it evenly. Chop it randomly with a chop brush to remove the lines, and torch it to remove air bubbles. Torch it a few times for the best results. It should look like liquid glass at this stage!
Wrap it up! Give it some time to fully cure. In the meantime, put away your tools and give yourself a pat on the back!
How to Get Started on Your Project
We love resin epoxy, and we’ve made several DIY river tables, live-edge tables, and more. If you want some ideas about how to make your project super unique, watch the videos below!
Check out these DIY live edge epoxy table instructions:
See this epoxy resin table with a live edge slab:
Have you ever seen an epoxy table top with magma down the middle? We made one!
For this specific live edge epoxy river table, you may need the printable PDF guide and the recommended tools in the widgets below. But if you want to see all of our tutorials for other kinds of epoxy tables, check out our woodworking guides here!
Next Steps for Your Project
We’re sure by now you have tons of inspiration for your dining room or coffee table. We don’t blame you—we’ve made several ourselves!
Check out some of our complete kits and don’t hesitate to reach out to ask questions or get advice. And always remember…
You Got This!