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How-to Woodworking

Adding Epoxy Accents

Epoxy Accents

Epoxy can add amazing details to your work. This live edge charcuterie board is very nice on its own. The addition of an epoxy accent makes it very special and, since no two epoxy pours are alike, unique.

 

Epoxy Accents

Prepare for success. You have a limited amount of working time once the epoxy is mixed, so there’s no time to run around the shop looking for supplies.

Make sure you have everything you need before you get rolling. Start by covering your work surface with plastic and pulling your supplies together.

 

Epoxy Accents

Choose the right epoxy. If you’re only accenting your work with epoxy, not filling deep voids, the final layer will be thin. The best product for this type of work is often called tabletop epoxy.

Products like MakerPoxy are specifically designed for the work we’re doing here. Tabletop formulations of epoxy are generally not appropriate for deep pours. This video will help you choose the right product for the epoxy work you’re doing.

 

Epoxy Accents

There are a variety of ways to add color to the epoxy. Pigment is very concentrated. Just a few drops provide an opaque mix. A kit with a mix of colors gives you a lot of design options.

 

Epoxy Accents

Mica powder is very different from pigment. It provides a unique shimmer, rather than the flat color that comes from pigment.

Mica powder isn’t concentrated like pigment, so be prepared to use more to get an opaque layer. Again, a kit of assorted colors gives you the most design options.

 

Epoxy Accents

PPE is a must. You need a VOC respirator, safety glasses and gloves.

 

Epoxy Accents

A heat gun quickly removes any pesky bubbles, and also helps you manipulate the resin.

 

Epoxy Accents

Calculate how much epoxy you’ll need by measuring the length and width of the area you want to cover. In this application the epoxy will be about 1/8” thick, so calculate the cubic inches of epoxy by multiplying length x width x .125” (1/8”).

Look online for a converter that changes cubic inches to ounces, and you’ll know how much epoxy you need for the project.

 

Epoxy Accents

Pay CLOSE attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the epoxy. Most tabletop formulas are 1:1; one part resin and one part hardener. But you need to double check this for the specific product you buy.

Pay attention to the working temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Most recommend 68-degrees or so. Not paying attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and use is one of the primary causes of epoxy project failure.

Use a metered mixing cup, don’t guesstimate quantities. Be aware that some epoxies are mixed by weight, not by volume.

Again, read the directions for your chosen epoxy. Stir for the appropriate amount of time, typically about 3 minutes.

 

Epoxy Accents

Dispense the epoxy into smaller cups, one for each color you’ll be using. Disposable Dixie cups work great for this.

 

Epoxy Accents

Add pigment. Mix the pigment in and check its opacity. Start with just a few drops. You can always add more if you need it.

 

Epoxy Accents

Use a small wooden stick to scoop up the mica powder. Like the pigment, start with a small amount, mix it in, check the opacity and add more as needed. Keep in mind that, once mixed, the epoxy has a finite working time.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions for that info, but keep moving through the process so the mixed epoxy doesn’t start to cure before you’re ready.

For this project we’re mixing five colors; three made up of mica powder and two with pigment.

 

Epoxy Accents

Start pouring color onto your project. There’s no right or wrong about this. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The dark green show here is pigment. The shimmery green is mica powder.

The charcuterie board is elevated off the plastic on painters pyramids so there’s room for drips to fall from the board.

 

Epoxy Accents

Use your finger to paint the epoxy over the edges. You don’t have to make it perfect. You’re simply breaking the surface tension on the liquid so that when you use the heat gun the epoxy is “more willing” to flow over the edge.

The corners have been rounded with a ¼” roundover bit to allow the epoxy to easily waterfall over them.

 

Epoxy Accents

Use your finger like a paint brush, pulling it from one color to another, introducing swirls and curls and lines. This is a very fun part of the process.

 

Epoxy Accents

Use your heat gun, but don’t overuse it. As the heat hits the wet epoxy you’ll see bubbles popping.

This is the process that gives you a mirror-like finish on the cured epoxy. You can also use the air stream coming from the heat gun to manipulate the epoxy and move the color around.

If you overdo it, it’s possible to scorch the epoxy, and there’s no fix for that other than removing it and starting over. Use the airstream to “push” epoxy toward the rounded over edge, encouraging it to evenly flow over the roundover.

As the epoxy flows and waterfalls over the edges you may need to add more and use the heat gun again on the added epoxy.

 

Epoxy Accents

Know when to be done. It’s easy to keep messing with the epoxy, trying to make small changes. Remember that once it’s been mixed, the epoxy starts to cure.

There’s a point where your finger might leave dimples in it that the heat gun won’t level out. If you absolutely hate it you can use a piece of wood like a squeegee and wipe the board clean, resand it, and start over.

Denatured or rubbing alcohol will clean up epoxy while it’s still tacky. Use that to clean up as needed. Let the epoxy cure for the appropriate amount of time (read the instructions) and sand the drips off the bottom of the board.

Dry to the touch, which will probably happen overnight, isn’t the same as fully cured and ready to sand.

Many epoxy products are not food safe, so keep that in mind as you’re applying epoxy to the project. With only the end of this charcuterie board covered, there’s plenty of real estate left to put food on.

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