Need help with an Epoxy home built bar top

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Forum topic by Johnathon1989 posted 01-12-2019 07:56 PM 369 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 245 days

01-12-2019 07:56 PM

Greetings everyone! This is my first post here and I hope the first of many! I recently retired from the military and have taken up woodworking as a hobby and I need some advice from some experts!

First of all, a quick story…My grandfather ran a sawmill business for 40 years of his life. It was hard, honest work. Some of the best memories of my childhood were helping him in his shop or in his barn cutting beautiful pieces of cedar, oak, walnut, etc. I got this idea about 2 years ago to attempt to build a bar for our new home with wood that my grandfather cut 20-25 years ago. My dad and I went out to our land and were able to get a lot of great looking oak and walnut pieces to use. We found a neat design online for a small 4-6 person bar and got right to work. I wanted to use mostly all wood my grandfather cut so it really has a lot of sentimental value to it, despite our less than perfect work!

Story time is over…So, we are at the end of the build and today my wife and I did about 4 hours of sanding and we applied a light beeswax and linseed oil finish to give everything nice natural look. The reason I am coming for help today is I am struggling to find anyone who has experience pouring an epoxy top. My original idea was going to be to pour the epoxy top about a half inch deep to come up to the edge of the trim. We built the trim around the outside to come up about a half inch around the outside and in the middle where we made the bar detachable to come apart in two pieces for ease of moving. My question is two fold:

1. The trim is not perfect around the outside. This wood is decades old so none of it is perfectly straight so I have a few spots where I need to seal some small gaps around the outside of the bar top where it meets the trim. I have read that silicone sealant is a no-no with epoxy and that you should use clear acrylic latex cauk to seal. Is this true? Does anyone experienced have any other recommendations?

2. Is a half inch of epoxy on top of this thing going to be too much to try to tackle all at once? Should I pour it in layers? The idea was to have the epoxy come right up level with the outside trim on top. The more I think about that, the less of a good idea I think it may be. We may end up only applying about half way up the trim and then using a router to smooth out the outside trim for comfortable arm resting. Does anyone have any suggestion as far as that goes? Dimensions on this thing are about 42×28 and 51×28

I have attached an image of our bar during the finish application! I apologize it isnt right side up! Thanks!

5 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


814 posts in 1578 days

#1 posted 01-12-2019 10:33 PM

My first reaction is to the bees wax/linseed oil application. I’m not sure your epoxy finish will stick to it. I’m sure others will chime in here. I have no experience applying epoxy bar top finishes, but intuitively, 1/2” seems way too thick. I would think that most applications end up being in the area of 1/16”.

Nice looking bar.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1737 posts in 1970 days

#2 posted 01-13-2019 08:23 AM

+1 beeswax will prevent epoxy from sticking to top. Linseed oil? Raw linseed oil never cures and will also prevent adhesion. Both of these need to be removed with solvents, followed by sanding. If it was boiled linseed oil, it will cure/oxidize and be less of a problem, but still need to remove the surface wax with solvents and sanding.

Epoxy top coating is different than 1/2 inch thick slab casting. Some epoxies are capable of doing both, some can not. Read labels and pick right one. Epoxy is exothermic, and thicker the cross section, the faster it cures. Even if casting a thick slab, will need to pour it in many 1/8-3/16 thick layers. Besides the supplier of your epoxy, a good source for additional information on casting thick bar top would be ‘how to threads’ on creating latest wood fad – river tables.

Sealing gaps/holes at edge trim on table can be done with epoxy. Can use structural epoxy with gel consistency like T-88 from System Three. Can also use small amounts of Cabosil to thicken your bar top epoxy, and use this the patch up holes before pouring the top. The filler will cure clear in thin cross sections, with some cloudiness where it is thicker, but wont’ notice in those corner gaps.
I would not recommend using any caulking material to seal gaps, as epoxy will not bond well to even paint-able acrylic, and might get moisture intrusion in the seam (it is a bar with drinks, right?)

Epoxy can be expensive, roughly $100/gallon. Pouring a top that size and depth is ~1350 cubic inches, which requires ~3.5-4 gallons of epoxy. Suggest not making the top any thicker than you really need to create a smooth level surface. :)

Not knowing porosity or grain density of wood used for top, have to add another tip:
If wood is porous (like oak), has cracks, or less than perfect seams; you might want to seal the top surface before epoxy coating. Unsealed large grained woods have tendency to create massive amounts of bubbles as they epoxy wicks down into pores. Can use de-waxed 1 lb cut of shellac sealer to help seal these pores. If any defects continue all way to bottom side, the epoxy will find these ‘holes’ and seep out bottom.
If you know about any defects now, might even want to put clear packing tape on bottom and pre-seal the cracks/defects before 1st top coat. Make a simple damn using masking tape on top around the defect, and with bottom sealed; pour just enough epoxy to fill and cover the defect. Sand flat when cured, and will never see the filling after thick layer is applied.

Best Luck.

PS – Has this project/question been posted before under different name? I’m having a deja-vu moment. But then it could be a senior moment, on a common project question? oh well.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Johnathon1989's profile


2 posts in 245 days

#3 posted 01-13-2019 01:26 PM

Hey guys, just a quick reply because im out of pocket today and dont have my laptop! Captain clutz and bilyo, thank you so mich for the quick replys.

I didnt apply the linseed and beeswax to the top! I only applied it to the outsides, I figured it wouldnt adhere with that stuff so i left it off. I saw you guys left some suggestions on sealing before i pour the epoxy. This wood is very porous, worm holes, small gaps (part of the charm in my opinion) but i hear you on needing to seal before pouring! I will do a more lengthy reply when i can get to my laptop!

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1967 posts in 638 days

#4 posted 01-13-2019 06:08 PM

if the wood is porous and has cracks, wormholes, etc. there is a chance
that some of the voids go all the way through the wood. these must
be sealed closed prior to flooding the top with epoxy.
two methods:
one is to fill all the voids with thickened epoxy using the sanding dust
and the other is to tape the backside of the top to prevent the epoxy
from just flowing out. (do both if you are unsure of anything).
a small brushed on amount first to seal the top. a sealed surface will
drastically reduce any bubbles down to a manageable level.
looking closely at your photo, it appears that you already have the molding
permanently in place that extends 1/2” or so above the table top.

normally, a finish flood coat of 1/8” is sufficient for a nice finish. a 1/2” thick
pour is only used if embedding objects into the top for decorative purposes.
to use less epoxy, the wood trim must be reduced down to 1/8” of the surface.
or – pour in 1/8” increments to reduce the exothermic heat and better manage
the bubbles as they occur.
a full flood coat of 1/2” in one pour could yield less than satisfactory results..


-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View anneb3's profile


64 posts in 2029 days

#5 posted 01-13-2019 06:56 PM

Please take the following in a positive way, If you want a plastic top, just go buy a sheet of plastic and put it on top.

BUT if you want something that will reflect in a positive way your work and and feeling for your grandfather use something else, if it were mine I WOULD JUST USE POLY. Not original to the time but works for now and provides

an decent finish. Beeswax would be better but is not tough enough to take the usage a bar top gets.

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