Before you pour that first epoxy project, make sure you have thought of all the variables that could negatively influence your project. I have spent a lot of time pouring projects, and the last thing you want is to realize you made a mistake during or after your pour.
Here are my top 13 tips before pouring that epoxy project:
- Know What You Need
- Do a Practice Pour First
- A Level Workspace is King
- Seal the Wood (If it’s a Wood Project)
- Get Out the Bubbles (before, after, or both)
- Remove All Bark (or prepare for it)
- Pour a Little Short of the Edge
- Measure and Mix Thoroughly
- Do Small Pours with Measuring Cups
- Don’t Mix Brands
- Watch the Mold Type
- Make Sure the Room and Wood are up to Temperature
- If Using Silicone, Know What Kind
Know What You Need
This is a classic most important step. This can apply from everything to the mold, the wood, the tools, and the amount of epoxy resin. Be sure to do lots of reading on the subject, if you need tools I have a post on tools needed for a river table.
If you need to know a pour amount, make sure to google how to get the cubic inches and convert it to liters or gallons as needed. Basically – make sure you know exactly what you need before starting any project. Nothing can ruin a project (or your mood) as much as not being prepared for it.
Do a Practice Pour First
This won’t be as important if you’re making jewelry or coasters – but once you get to a large project it will be huge. You’ll want to make sure you do some practice pours on smaller pieces to learn how epoxy works and if there are any surprises you need to know about ahead of time.
When I first started, I got into the river tables (maybe that’s why you’re here – good choice). I did a couple practice river end-tables first that were only about 12″ by 12″ and used less than 2 quarts of epoxy. This was a great way to learn and make mistakes (one of them I messed up and can’t use).
A Level Workspace is King
This is one I learned the hard way… I was making coasters in a simple mold, but had left them on an old cabinet/counter where they were at a slight angle. Needless to say, they came out at an angle and were not good at being coasters.
Make sure you have a level on the surface you’re working on, and check it before and during the pours.
Seal the Wood (If it’s a Wood Project)
This is all about the bubbles. Just before your pour, take a small bit of epoxy and use a foam brush to spread it out where the epoxy will be going to rest. This will keep the porous wood from making as many bubbles in the resin.
Also note that the cut sides of any wood will soak up a lot more epoxy resin than the rest – give them multiple seal coats before pouring to avoid a rough edge.
Get Out the Bubbles (before, after, or both)
There are multiple ways to do this. The most simple is to purchase an epoxy that doesn’t allow for bubbles as easily. If you want to see my recommendations those are here. Here are many ways to release bubbles from Epoxy:
Use a Heat Gun:
This is a popular (and satisfying) way of releasing bubbles from a pour. Post pour, you want to wait about 10-15 minutes. The bubbles will rise to the surface, and you just want to use a simple propane torch or heat gun to get rid of those.
If you are doing multiple pours on a project, I suggest doing it after every pour for best results.
Use a Vacuum Container:
After mixing your epoxy resin, you can place the container into a vacuum or pressure container. The vacuum will actually cause the epoxy to bubble up and expand but will remove 99% of the bubbles in the mixture. This is a great way to get a super clean pour.
Easy on the Mixing
If using a drill or electric mixer, keep the head under the surface the entire time you are mixing. Any break in the surface will cause tons of extra bubbles that are unwanted.
If you’re mixing by hand it is more difficult, but try to not scrape the container on the sides at the top of the surface, under the surface or slowly will help minimize bubbles.
Remove All Bark (or prepare for it)
Bark is the least stable part of wood for this. If you are doing something with a live edge, I suggest removing the bark beforehand. You can do this will a draw knife or chisel, or any other number of ways.
If you want to keep the bark, make sure you seal it. A creative way to strengthen it is to drill holes straight into the bark (into the wood too) to allow the epoxy resin to soak all the way through and add a layer of strength.
Pour a Little Short of the Edge
This is especially for wood tables, river tables, casting, etc… when sanding down a piece, it is much much harder to sand the epoxy than wood. If you can, allow the epoxy to be lower than the wood, even just barely, in order to make the second half of the project that much easier. If you own a planer or something similar, this won’t be as big of a deal.
Measure and Mix Thoroughly
One of the most common mistakes when pouring epoxy is not taking the time to measure and mix properly. It is time consuming to make a perfect measure, but so worth it. If not done well, this can leave the resin feeling tacky or cracked.
The easiest way to avoid this heartache, is to make sure you read all directions very thoroughly, and do exactly what they say.
Do Small Pours with Measuring Cups
When I’m doing small projects (coasters, jewelry, etc) I like to just take a plastic cup and a measuring cup, and pour water in and make a mark. This allows me a perfect 1/2 cup worth of epoxy per line in the cup so I don’t have to clean out a large measuring cup. It also beats eyeballing and messing up the mixture.
Don’t Mix Brands
Epoxy resins are made differently – please do not mix them and expect it to cure well. This is a surefire way to mess up a project. When you have multiple old bottles, or you maybe got a gallon cheap but need 3 gallons, buy the same type for large projects. It will save you a lot of headache and heartbreak in the near future.
Watch the Mold Type
If you have a bad surface to pour on, it could cause all sorts of problems. Make sure you look into what types of materials the epoxy sticks too. This will help you know how to build the mold to cast your project in.
Also, make sure it is square (or whatever shape it is supposed to be). The level is an import part of this, like near the top, you want to make sure the material of your mold is level and won’t cause a wedge shaped coaster.
Make Sure the Room and Wood are up to Temperature
This one is a little more flexible, but both for bubbles and for casting, the temperature is important. Most resins cast best at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the wood was in a basement or garage that is too cold, give it (and the mold) time to come up to temperature. Although this will likely not cause huge issues, it could and it’s best to eliminate any wildcards possible.
If Using Silicone, Know What Kind
This is for smaller and unique pours, but a lot of people use silicone for pouring their epoxy resin. If doing so, know that you can purchase baking and ice molds, but lookout for what type. Make sure when buying, that there is a glossy side, almost like a non-stick coat on it. Having this will prevent it from sticking to the silicone and ruining both the project and the mold.
I hope this was helpful for all new (or recently messed up) epoxy pourers! If you are unsure about what to do first, or have related questions check below for some answers. If you want to see a certain type of post – leave a comment below!
Easy First Project for Epoxy and Wood?
This is a common question, and one that isn’t too easily answered. I would stray away from doing any river type projects at first, do either a coating or something small to see how the epoxy works. Maybe try something similar to this live edge table that is just coated on top.
Coasters, jewelry, and other crafts will let you experiment with sanding, polishing, and embedding objects without a high risk.
What Happens if I Mess Up My First Pour?
It’s bound to happen, we are all human and we need to accept that we are working with some difficult materials. First, think about why and how you messed it up. If it is just a small bit or a blemished surface, there are ways of fixing these things. If it is a really big mistake, live and learn. This is a sunk cost and now you have learned. It does suck and sometimes you can salvage it, but it will happen if you are doing this regularly.