LumberJocks

Epoxy finish bar top questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Paraphoe posted 04-06-2020 10:58 AM 353 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Paraphoe's profile

Paraphoe

4 posts in 52 days


04-06-2020 10:58 AM

Hey guys. Newbie to the forums, and not too experienced woodworking either, but I’m in the process of building a man-cave bar and came looking for advice. I’ve completed the base, you can see that in picture 1 below, and I know my plan for the top, but wanted to post for your opinions on the best way to go about it.

The top is 3/4“ 6 layer ply with a 2×2 edge frame. You can see it sitting on top of the unfinished base in photo 2. The plan is to finish it the way the bottom is – with a bunch of pallet boards (stained darker) which you can see in picture 3, laid out for visual on top of the bartop. From there, whereas the base is poly-coated, I want the top to be an epoxy pour. That’s where I’m looking for opinions. My current plan is this:

Begin to finalize positioning and cut and secure the ½” pallet boards to the top of the bartop frame.

Secure edge pieces around all sides, with the top part of the edge roughly 5/8” above the ply, or 1/8” above the pallet boards, so as to create a 1/8 inch (or possibly deeper) “bathtub” for the epoxy to fill before it pours over the edges. This will ensure the pallet boards are completely covered since they’re not all uniform with lots of imperfections and some may be slightly thicker than ½”.

A few questions for you guys. Do you think it would be better to secure the edging first, and then brush some glue/sealant/epoxy around all of the inside joint so when it’s poured none leaks out? Or would it be better to just assemble it all and do the pour with the seal coat and flood coat process I’ve read about? My current thought is not to seal the joint and to just piece the entire thing together, secure it all and then just do the seal and flood coats.

Also, if anyone has any advice to working with epoxy on such a large piece, it would be appreciated. I read you shouldn’t mix it in a giant batch because the heat will make it cure faster and can actually be hazardous, and instead use multiple small batches. But thinking I’ll need a few friends for that which isn’t possible right now with our COVID-world.

Appreciate any advice / thoughts / suggestions from the experts! Cheers…

MODS: Really sorry, absolutely no idea how to rotate photos and they are the correct orientation in my photo viewer. If anyone can fix, that would be appreciated.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3


14 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

1446 posts in 278 days


#1 posted 04-06-2020 12:24 PM

If you have zero experience with epoxy, I would suggest that you dont use it on this project. Poly will give you, more or less, the same finish and will be way easier to apply, and cheaper too.

Just one example of a problem you will encounter with epoxy, if you apply it to a vertical surface, most of it is gonna end up in a lake on the floor.

I will hold off on any further advice until some others comment here, and until you have decided if you are going to use epoxy.

Good luck.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2339 posts in 894 days


#2 posted 04-06-2020 01:11 PM

sorry I can’t rotate your photos.
but, the way I read your project is that you want to embed all those loose
boards in a sea of epoxy?
No. 1 issue: all those boards are porous and will soak up epoxy like a sponge.
they must be sealed first to prevent that.
No. 2 issue: all those boards will float unless secured firmly to the plywood base.
after #1 and #2 are addressed, pour the epoxy in 4 stages. allowing the first
pour to set up and cool down – then pour #2.
Like Brian said – if you have zero experience with epoxy, this could turn into
your worst (and very expensive) nightmare ever.

practice on a 2×2’ miniature project first – then you can establish your skill level.
you will have a zillion bubbles to deal with in each pour. you need to know how
to deal with them as they occur. (thus the small practice piece).
once epoxy starts to leak out of the form somewhere, it is almost impossible to
get it stopped before it all runs out on the floor.
exothermic heat is just one of the issues you have to deal with.
this is a multi-person project: don’t try to do it alone.

Additional Note: make the entire top removable ~ don’t fasten the plywood base
to the frame so it can not be removed. because once this “pallet wood craze”
passes, you will want to change out the top for the next “fad”. so you must be
able to adapt with the times. or, toss out your entire bar project and build another one
that will fall in line with the next craze.

use angle clips to hold the top to the frame – do not screw the plywood top directly to the frame.

.

-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1596 posts in 3580 days


#3 posted 04-06-2020 03:24 PM

A couple of things that might be of help, Matt Cremona has done some recent projects along the lines of what you want to try. There are differences between resin & epoxy, but both are not cheap,.. Here’s some info of epoxy vs resin

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View LesB's profile

LesB

2509 posts in 4174 days


#4 posted 04-06-2020 04:48 PM

I support the polyurethane method. If you get a “floor” grade type and put on 4 to 6 coats it will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

As far as rotating your pictures. All photo programs have a feature that allows you to rotate. I corrected both of these in about 20 seconds. I recommend you take the time to learn how before posting more pictures. Also for those pictures that are under or over exposed the programs can correct this too.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2951 posts in 2529 days


#5 posted 04-06-2020 05:20 PM

I don’t see how polyurethane will fill all the gaps and voids to create a flat surface.
This project looks like a disaster to me.

-- Aj

View Paraphoe's profile

Paraphoe

4 posts in 52 days


#6 posted 04-06-2020 06:01 PM


If you have zero experience with epoxy, I would suggest that you dont use it on this project. Poly will give you, more or less, the same finish and will be way easier to apply, and cheaper too.

Just one example of a problem you will encounter with epoxy, if you apply it to a vertical surface, most of it is gonna end up in a lake on the floor.

I will hold off on any further advice until some others comment here, and until you have decided if you are going to use epoxy.

Thanks Brian. I’m not going to epoxy the vertical portion, that’s already been poly-coated like I mentioned, so that’s all good. I do plan to go with the epoxy so that it’ll fill the cracks and level itself. Perhaps I’ll practice first, though.

but, the way I read your project is that you want to embed all those loose
boards in a sea of epoxy? No. 1 issue: all those boards are porous and will soak up epoxy like a sponge.
they must be sealed first to prevent that. No. 2 issue: all those boards will float unless secured firmly to the plywood base.after #1 and #2 are addressed, pour the epoxy in 4 stages. allowing the first
pour to set up and cool down – then pour #2. Like Brian said – if you have zero experience with epoxy, this could turn into your worst (and very expensive) nightmare ever.

practice on a 2×2 miniature project first – then you can establish your skill level. you will have a zillion bubbles to deal with in each pour. you need to know how to deal with them as they occur. (thus the small practice piece).
once epoxy starts to leak out of the form somewhere, it is almost impossible to get it stopped before it all runs out on the floor. exothermic heat is just one of the issues you have to deal with. this is a multi-person project: don t try to do it alone.

Thanks John – I already have the brackets to make the bar top removable, good advice. I planned to secure all of the pallet wood first as mentioned above, so it won’t float. I can certainly coat the boards first with poly to prevent them from soaking up so much, that’s a good tip. I also like the idea of a practice piece. Might be worth it to make sure I’m more confident working on it.


A couple of things that might be of help, Matt Cremona has done some recent projects along the lines of what you want to try. There are differences between resin & epoxy, but both are not cheap,.. Here s some info of epoxy vs resin

- ChefHDAN

Thanks – I’ll be certain to check it out. Appreciate the info and link.


I support the polyurethane method. If you get a “floor” grade type and put on 4 to 6 coats it will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

As far as rotating your pictures. All photo programs have a feature that allows you to rotate. I corrected both of these in about 20 seconds. I recommend you take the time to learn how before posting more pictures. Also for those pictures that are under or over exposed the programs can correct this too.

My photo program was showing these oriented correctly, that was the issue. But thanks for the fix. I updated my post.

Poly won’t really work for this since the boards are so uneven – that’s why I need a self-leveling epoxy pour, to even it all out and make it smooth as glass, but I appreciate the thoughts on poly. I just don’t think it will work for this particular job.


I don’t see how polyurethane will fill all the gaps and voids to create a flat surface.
This project looks like a disaster to me.

- Aj2

This is exactly why I’m planning to use poly. I thought that through already. Man, this is a tough crowd.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

1596 posts in 3580 days


#7 posted 04-06-2020 06:13 PM

Paraphoe, welcome to LJ’s, it’s tough but it’s tough love, there are a few topics here that can quickly raise the ire of the woodworkers here, and pallet wood is one of them, and for reference, “what kind of wood is this” with a bad photo or… “Can anyone recommend a Table Saw for me….

Fortunately pallet wood was not a thing for me as I am approaching old fart-dom, but I did do a couple with particle board once upon a time, and when I look at anything made from pallet wood, (except bonfire), I just do not get the appeal of all of the randomness. You though are the only one that has to find the appeal unless your married, or worse if your mother in law live nearby.

Good luck with the project, don’t forget you’ll need a torch to pop the bubbles.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

1446 posts in 278 days


#8 posted 04-06-2020 07:29 PM

A heat gun can substitute for a torch to eliminate bubbles. So can a hair-dryer in a pinch.

Sorry, I sorta missed the part about leveling and filling the wide joints between boards.

Make sure you have that top perfectly level, side to side, front to back. Epoxy is subject to gravity. Also, I think you can do this in 2 pours. A thinnish float pour first to get everything sealed up and level. Then a second final float. If you do it this way, you should do the second pour before the first is entirely cured.

Whats your plan for preventing the epoxy from just pooling over the edges of the top, again? I ask because if there is even the tiniest gap anywhere, the epoxy will find it and most of it is going to end up where you dont want it.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View Paraphoe's profile

Paraphoe

4 posts in 52 days


#9 posted 04-06-2020 11:51 PM


Paraphoe, welcome to LJ s, it s tough but it s tough love, there are a few topics here that can quickly raise the ire of the woodworkers here, and pallet wood is one of them, and for reference, “what kind of wood is this” with a bad photo or… “Can anyone recommend a Table Saw for me….

Fortunately pallet wood was not a thing for me as I am approaching old fart-dom, but I did do a couple with particle board once upon a time, and when I look at anything made from pallet wood, (except bonfire), I just do not get the appeal of all of the randomness. You though are the only one that has to find the appeal unless your married, or worse if your mother in law live nearby.

Good luck with the project, don t forget you ll need a torch to pop the bubbles.

- ChefHDAN

Yea, I get it, just think there’s a nicer way of saying things, but that’s the nature of the internet. I appreciate your response, and thankfully both the wife and mother-in-law love it so far, so I’m golden. Haha.


A heat gun can substitute for a torch to eliminate bubbles. So can a hair-dryer in a pinch.

Sorry, I sorta missed the part about leveling and filling the wide joints between boards.

Make sure you have that top perfectly level, side to side, front to back. Epoxy is subject to gravity. Also, I think you can do this in 2 pours. A thinnish float pour first to get everything sealed up and level. Then a second final float. If you do it this way, you should do the second pour before the first is entirely cured.

Whats your plan for preventing the epoxy from just pooling over the edges of the top, again? I ask because if there is even the tiniest gap anywhere, the epoxy will find it and most of it is going to end up where you dont want it.

- wildwoodbybrianjohns

Thanks for the reply Brian. I plan to make it as level as possible. I would be doing the final pour in my garage, and I have a 6 foot level I’d be using would likely place that on top of a 10’ 2×4 to make sure it’s as level as possible.

I think you nailed the plan on the two pours. I was thinking seal the boards first per the advice above, with a poly or something, then do the “seal coat” pour to fill in all the cracks, and finally a “flood coat” pour to level and finish it.

The plan was (based on tutorials I’ve read and watched online) to have the bartop on a stand and have the floor of the garage beneath it covered in plastic/paper. I’d then pour and allow the epoxy to flow out over the edge boards (which would be able 1/8” higher than the center boards to keep the epoxy pooled) and then brush it on the edges for full coverage and let it cure. Drips could be sanded off afterwards, but this way the edges and everything would be coated in one solid/continuous layer and there would be no “seam”.

What I was asking in the OP was if I should secure the edge boards first and then brush in a poly to seal the cracks to effectively “trap” the epoxy in the “bathtub”the edges create. This exactly ties to your point about making sure there aren’t cracks for the epoxy to leak out of. That would be a disaster! Haha.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

1446 posts in 278 days


#10 posted 04-07-2020 12:39 AM

It sounds like youve got things pretty well planned out. So, again, good luck. And post us a photo of your result.

When you are smoothing out the edge of the top, a sponge type brush/applicator is good, a bit wider than the edge. And you can just chuck it after epoxy is cured. Be careful where you put it when its heating up though, a glass jar would be ideal. And you might want to cut back the drips once they are solid but not yet cured to minimize sanding. I suppose you know this, but sanding epoxy is a nasty business.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View garethmontreal's profile

garethmontreal

34 posts in 77 days


#11 posted 04-07-2020 01:13 AM

I posted a couple of epoxy kitchen counter tops with cut outs for appliances a few years for work. My suggestion is don’t do it. If you do decide to do it definitely don’t do it by yourself especially something that big solo. Itll leak every where in my experience it whent straight through glued joints and taped joints. Secondly its really hard to mix that much properly which ends up leaving streaks, discoloration and weak spots. If you decide to do it batches it can end up like bad laminate and not bonding to the other batches properly and start to come apart. Also you will be running around with with blow torch chasing bubbles for ages. Even after that the epoxy counters were really susceptible to scratching and wear from minimal contact.

Now that said the client we poured the counters did decide on some weird crazy expensive epoxy that was relatively new. And we had no experience doing it before but still while I mite be incompontent the guys I was working with weren’t. Honestly I’ve never heard a good epoxy counter experience from anyone I worked with. But that’s just my experience in sure other people have had better experiences. Good luck if decide to go for it. It looks pretty bad ass already I’m sure whatever you do will be cool.

-- it never ends well if you start by unscrewing the split nuts

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2951 posts in 2529 days


#12 posted 04-07-2020 02:40 AM

I don’t understand why anyone would want to take moldy rotten wood barely fit for the burn pile for a woodworking project. And then spend several hundred dollars on epoxy on it. https://youtu.be/KOWckOfARBE
I thought the shabby chic thing was over.
You still have time to buy some decent wood like Alder with knots. Beat it up with chains burn some edges with a propane torch carve your Initials. Then cover it with a minimal finish.
Let your guests run their hands on something real. :)
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Paraphoe's profile

Paraphoe

4 posts in 52 days


#13 posted 04-07-2020 11:56 AM



It sounds like youve got things pretty well planned out. So, again, good luck. And post us a photo of your result.

When you are smoothing out the edge of the top, a sponge type brush/applicator is good, a bit wider than the edge. And you can just chuck it after epoxy is cured. Be careful where you put it when its heating up though, a glass jar would be ideal. And you might want to cut back the drips once they are solid but not yet cured to minimize sanding. I suppose you know this, but sanding epoxy is a nasty business.

- wildwoodbybrianjohns

Good thought – appreciate that advice and will post when I’m done. Upright photos, of course, so as to not raise any further ire. smirk


I posted a couple of epoxy kitchen counter tops with cut outs for appliances a few years for work. My suggestion is don t do it. If you do decide to do it definitely don t do it by yourself especially something that big solo. Itll leak every where in my experience it whent straight through glued joints and taped joints. Secondly its really hard to mix that much properly which ends up leaving streaks, discoloration and weak spots. If you decide to do it batches it can end up like bad laminate and not bonding to the other batches properly and start to come apart. Also you will be running around with with blow torch chasing bubbles for ages. Even after that the epoxy counters were really susceptible to scratching and wear from minimal contact.

Now that said the client we poured the counters did decide on some weird crazy expensive epoxy that was relatively new. And we had no experience doing it before but still while I mite be incompontent the guys I was working with weren t. Honestly I ve never heard a good epoxy counter experience from anyone I worked with. But that s just my experience in sure other people have had better experiences. Good luck if decide to go for it. It looks pretty bad ass already I m sure whatever you do will be cool.

- garethmontreal


Thanks – I’m hoping it comes out half as good as some of the epoxy bar tops I’ve seen out there (quick google image search shows some awesome results). I understand it’s a huge risk with a piece this large and the mixing and pouring worries me, that’s why I posted on here for advice and tips. I guess we’ll see how it ends!


I don’t understand why anyone would want to take moldy rotten wood barely fit for the burn pile for a woodworking project. And then spend several hundred dollars on epoxy on it. https://youtu.be/KOWckOfARBE
I thought the shabby chic thing was over.
You still have time to buy some decent wood like Alder with knots. Beat it up with chains burn some edges with a propane torch carve your Initials. Then cover it with a minimal finish.
Let your guests run their hands on something real. :)
Good Luck

- Aj2

...And I don’t understand why someone would continue to offer a condescending and unsolicited critique of project materials when what’s being asked about was finish. And yet here we are! Cheers.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

1020 posts in 1950 days


#14 posted 04-07-2020 12:34 PM

if i was to do this- if im reading it right the top will be the pallet wood embedded in epoxy- i would make the pallet boards as thin as possible. pretty much a veneer maybe 1/8” thick.id want all the wood to be a uniform thickeness. that would cut down drastically on the amount of resin necessary plus i dont see a need for the wood to be any thicker. id use epoxy glue to mount them to the substrate.
frame around the perimeter that will remain when done and have the top of that frame 1/8” ish above the pallet wood.
then a seal coat of epoxy resin. i believe most resins suggest that.
then a 2nd pour to level.
id do the work with the top in place.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com