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Forum topic by Joeham posted 03-12-2018 09:23 PM 458 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Joeham's profile


3 posts in 904 days

03-12-2018 09:23 PM

Hi all,
I could really use some suggestions here. I purchase a red oak burl and have several questions that hopefully can be answered.

1) there are 2 really large voids that have made it very weak to lift to the point where I think it could snap. Would you suggest epoxy or bow ties or both?

2) I’ve read a lot where people say it’s really tough to keep the bark on. Does anyone have any experience with this? The red oak has been air dried for over a year and it just came out of the kiln last week(30 days worth). It’s 2” thick

3) do you have and suggestions how to sand in between the voids and crevices?

4) some pieces look like dry rot or decay, being there pretty soft, would you suggest knocking them through?

5) some of it is termite tunnels which are old. Would you scrape them out or leave it as is?

6) this is going to be a pub table for some friends who are opening a brewery, what type of finish would you use for it?

Photo 3 is where the large voids are

Sorry for so many questions but I want to get this right.


Also I built a sled and flattened it and have sanded with 80g so far

4 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


681 posts in 1426 days

#1 posted 03-12-2018 09:45 PM

I’ve done a couple of slab projects, only for use in my home, so take my advice lightly.
Looks like you’d be best off using both bow ties and epoxy. Those look to be some major voids.
While some folks dye the epoxy black, I did not. Instead, I added semi-precious stones as a kind of aggregate in the voids. Cheaper stuff deeper, better stuff near the surface. I also did not try to sand the voids. Made no sense to me to try to sand something I was going to drown in epoxy.
I would also at least skim coat the entire surface of the slab to fill in the termite tunnels.
I didn’t try to keep the bark on the ones I did, so I have no suggestions for that. The wife was concerned that the bark would just be a dust catcher, so off it came.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Rich's profile


5696 posts in 1395 days

#2 posted 03-13-2018 05:31 AM

Smart man. A router sled is a great way to flatten pieces like that. I do mesquite rounds that way.

LittleShaver gives some excellent advice. What I do is to fill the voids with epoxy. Since epoxy with black pigment is pretty much the norm for mesquite, that’s what I use. Get a good epoxy, like West Systems or System Three. I’ve found that the epoxy at the big box stores is too viscous. The good stuff flows better. If you do the epoxy fill properly, then it’ll be completely stable. You can add butterflies for decoration, but they aren’t necessary.

One thing you’ll realize when you’re done is to do the epoxy fill before you flatten the top. It’s good to flatten the bottom so the tape will stick to keep the epoxy from leaking, but it’s easier to do the top after the fill so the epoxy gets leveled with the wood. No big deal to do it now, you’ll just lose a bit of wood you didn’t need to.

Tape off the bottom and do the pours in stages. If you try to fill it completely, the epoxy will run out. Pour it maybe 1/4” deep and let it gel. You don’t need to wait for it to fully cure, just let it get firm so it won’t run. You’ll also need to tape off the sides, and that’s more difficult to do to keep the epoxy from leaking.

Regarding the bark, I take it off. And finally the finish. Something like Waterlox is great, but there are lots of choices.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Kelly's profile


3050 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 03-13-2018 06:03 AM

If you use a two to one part mix epoxy warmed to high room temp, it’ll soak soak into soft wood. Those areas will be as or more solid than the rest of the unit.

I pay around a hundred bucks for a 1-1/2 gallon of the glue (not pouring) version. For pouring, I’d switch to casting resin.

You can brush the very liquid epoxy into voids around and over the bark. If you do the project over plastic, you can keep scraping it off the plastic with wood wedges (I use tongue depressors) and putting it back where it soaked in.

As others said, fill deep voids in stages.

You can use something like clay or plumbers putty to seal tough spots.

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2796 days

#4 posted 03-13-2018 12:22 PM

Coffe grounds make a good filler

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