Finished Pine River table with blue streak at the workshop

How We Do It: Creating A River Table

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Creating a river table can be a rewarding woodworking project, but it requires some skill and careful planning. A river table typically features a “river” of epoxy resin flowing between two pieces of wood, often cut along natural edges to resemble the banks of a river. Here’s a general outline of the steps involved:

Materials and Tools:

  • Wood slabs with natural edges (such as live edge pieces)
  • Epoxy resin and hardener
  • Woodworking tools (saw, planer, jointer, router, chisels, etc.)
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper and sanding equipment
  • Protective gear (gloves, eye protection, mask)
  • Mixing containers for epoxy
  • Pigments and dyes (optional, for coloring the epoxy)
  • Blowtorch or heat gun (for removing air bubbles from epoxy)
  • Sealant or release agent

Steps:

  • Select Wood Slabs: Choose your wood slabs for the tabletop. Make sure they have appealing natural edges that will create the river effect.
  • Prepare Wood Slabs: Clean the slabs, removing any debris and dirt. If necessary, use a planer, jointer, or sandpaper to flatten and smooth the surfaces.
  • Create a Mold: Build a mold or containment structure around the wood slabs to hold the epoxy in place. The mold can be made of plywood or melamine. Seal or coat the inside of the mold with a release agent to prevent the epoxy from sticking.
  • Position Slabs: Place the wood slabs in the mold, arranging them with the natural edges facing each other, leaving a gap in between where the river will be.
  • Mix Epoxy: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the epoxy resin and hardener. If desired, add pigments or dyes to color the epoxy. Mix thoroughly but avoid introducing air bubbles.
  • Pour Epoxy: Pour the epoxy into the gap between the wood slabs, creating the “river.” It’s a good idea to pour in layers, allowing each layer to partially cure before adding the next. This can help reduce the risk of excessive heat buildup and air bubbles.
  • Remove Air Bubbles: To remove air bubbles from the epoxy, use a blowtorch or heat gun on low settings. Pass the flame over the surface of the epoxy to help bubbles rise and pop. Be cautious not to overheat or scorch the epoxy.
  • Curing: Allow the epoxy to fully cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes several days.
  • Finishing: After the epoxy is cured, remove the mold and clean up any excess epoxy. Sand the entire surface of the table to create a smooth finish. Begin with lower grit sandpaper and progressively move to higher grits for a polished appearance.
  • Final Touches: Apply a finish to the wood, such as oil, varnish, or lacquer, to protect and enhance the wood’s natural beauty. Make sure to apply multiple coats and sand between coats for a smooth finish.

Remember that making a river table requires attention to detail, patience, and safety precautions. It’s a good idea to research and possibly practice on smaller projects before attempting a full-sized river table. Additionally, woodworking and epoxy work can be hazardous, so always wear appropriate safety gear and work in a well-ventilated area.

Have Any Questions?
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Call us at 661-972-9095
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