Introduction: Make a "Marble" Table From Concrete W/ Torched Wood Base

I entered this in the Furniture Contest - if you like this Instructable, I would greatly appreciate your vote!

I made a coffee table top from concrete, that looks like marble (at least to me). The top is made using a glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) ready-made concrete mix, which is pre-cast in a melamine form. I separated out batches of different colored concrete (from white to dark grey), mixed them together in the form, and then swirled them together by hand to get the marble-like appearance.

I also used an ancient Japanese technique called “Shou Sugi Ban” to make the base for the coffee table. I used a modernized version of shou sugi ban, employing a propane torch to char the outside of the wood. The charred wood is natural way of protecting the rest of the wood, and when finished with a penetrating oil, such as Danish oil, provides a durable surface. This technique works well on any open-grained wood, such as Douglas fir, pine, and cedar. I used inexpensive 4x4 Douglas fir lumber from my local big box store.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials


- Three (3) 8 ft. 4x4s -- Douglas Fir, Cedar, or Pine

- 3/4" Dowels:

- 4'x8' sheet of melamine for the concrete form


• Two bags of Pre-Blended GFRC Mix:

• 1.5 Bag of AR Glass Fibers:

• Cake Fondant Tool for perfect edges:

• Concrete mixer (HUGE help for GFRC):

• concrete sealer I like:

• Black 100% Silicone Caulk:

• Paste Finishing Wax:

• Concrete Pigment:


- Propane Torch:

- Danish Oil:

- RZ dust mask:

- Diamond Grinding Wheel (for grinding underside of table):

- Forstner Bit Set:

- Level:

- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig:

- Herzo Dust Shround for Angle Grinder:


- Angle Grinder:

- Bosch 18V cordless circular saw:

- Bosch 18V cordless Drill & Impact Driver Kit:

- Dewalt Table Saw w/ 32” Rip Capacity:

- Japanese Flush Cut Hand Saw:

- Dewalt 12” Miter Saw:

Step 2: Make the Wood Base From 4x4 Lumber

Picture of Make the Wood Base From 4x4 Lumber

The base is made of 8 pieces of 4x4 lumber. I just used Douglas Fir. I passed all the 4x4 lumber through my planer on all 4 sides to get each piece down to exact 3.5"x3.5" dimensions. However, this is definitely optional. You can use the 4x4s as is - just do your best to pick out straight lumber. You'll need three (3) 8' 4x4s for this table base.

The eight pieces (shown in the attached figure) are:

4x Legs (A)

2x Outer Stretchers (B) - each of these goes between two legs

2x Inner Stretchers (C)

All your angles will be cut at 36 degrees (note: in the video I misspoke and said 35 degrees). However, I recommend cutting all your 4x4 pieces to rough length (e.g., 4" or so longer than needed) first, then setting your miter saw to the 36 degrees to make the rest of the cuts.

Cut the four legs (A) first. Rather than trying to do the trigonometry and get the length exact, I recommend making one 36 degree cut, then hold the leg so the angled end rests on a table, measure 15" perpendicularly up from table (or whatever you want the height of your base to be), mark it on the leg, then make the second 36 degree cut. Then use this leg to cut the other four legs.

Cut your two outer stretchers (B) next. To do this, I just propped up two legs with the scrap cutoffs from the legs (which will be angled exactly to support the the legs from the sides), and move the legs until the distance between the tops of the legs is what you want (e.g., I wanted 42"). Then measure the distance between the bottom ends of the legs, and this is the shorter length (e.g., length of underside) for your outer stretchers (B). Then use your miter saw to cut two pieces with 36 degree cuts, so shorter side length is what you just measured.

Now cut your two inner stretchers. To do this, put two legs and an outer stretcher together (again, scraps from the angled cuts work nicely to prop the legs up). Put a rough cut inner stretcher piece next to it, and mark the place for the angled cutoffs, then use the miter saw to cut them.

After cutting the 8 pieces, you'll glue them up. Ideally, you should make a clamping jig for the 144 degree inner angle between each leg and the outer stretcher. However, I just applied glue, used scrap 4x4s to hold them in place by hand, and used screws to hold the legs and stretchers together while the glue dried.

After the glue dried, I added 6" lag screw to outside of each leg (running parallel to the ground) to hold the leg to the inner stretcher. To do this, I first drilled a 3/4" hole so the screw head would be inset, then drilled a 1/4" pilot hole in the inset, and then drove the lag screw in.

I then used 3/4" dowels to fill in the holes and cover the lag screw heads, and cut off the dowels with a flush cut saw.

Lastly I used a belt sander to sand the base stretcher pieces flush and sand down the dowels. Then it was time to burn.

Step 3: Torch the Wood!

This is the fun part! Just follow the directions on your torch to hook it up to the propane tank. It really is pretty safe, but you should have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.

There isn't a whole lot to it. Aim the torch at the wood, make sure the hottest part of the flame (the tip of the blue part) is just touching the wood, and watch it start to brown, and then blacken. Stop when it gets to a look that you like, and then spray it down with water. (I just used a spray bottle.) Then use a brush to lightly brush off any grey ashy parts.

After it cools a bit, apply an oil finish. I used Danish oil because it penetrates the wood, and hardens inside of it. This made the charred "alligator skin" on the wood harder and more durable. Be prepared to use A LOT of oil. The process really dries the wood out and opens it up, and you are already dealing with a soft open-celled wood, so it soaks up an amazing amount of oil. I did three heavy coats of oil, and still might go back for another.

Step 4: Build the Concrete Form From Melamine

Picture of Build the Concrete Form From Melamine

This is a pre-cast design, so the table is being cast upside down.

To make the base form you'll need to do the following:

(a) Cut melamine strips for the sides of your form to the height of your table + 3/4". In my case, the table was 1.5" thick so the sides were cut at 2.25" It is easiest to cut these strips on a table saw, but it can be done with a circular saw if you are very careful to make cuts consistently. Cut all the strips at once, so the height is identical. Then use your miter saw to cut the strips to the lengths you need. Cut each side a few inches longer than the base (e.g., 17" or so for a 14" side of table top). The extra overhang gives you leverage to pull the sides away from the concrete when you demold.

(b) Cut a base piece of melamine to the size of your table, in my case 48" x 21".

(c) Pre-drill holes in your sides, and then screw the sides to your base. I used 1.25" drywall screws for this.

(d) Apply paste wax to the inside of your form and bottom/sides of slab.

(E) caulk the inside edges using black silicone caulk, then run a metal ball tool around the edges to give you a perfect caulk line, let it dry, then remove excess caulk on either side of the line. (See my previous instructable for more detail: )

IMPORTANT LAST STEP I LEFT OUT: You'll want to make 2x4 stretchers to hold down foam inserts so these can be attached halfway through the pour. See the video, which shows these stretchers in place. To make them, you'll use a similar technique as I used in my previous Instructable to hold the french cleats in place, except you'll want to position them so the foam is inside the form and level with the top of the side walls.

Step 5: Cut Foam Inserts for the Concrete

Picture of Cut Foam Inserts for the Concrete

You will cut inserts from 1/2" pink insulating foam (i.e., Foamular) to go inside the form, so the concrete is only 1" thick (except at the sides, where it is the full 1.5" thick). Just use an exacto knife to score the foam sheet so it is about 3-4" less than the size of the table in both directions. After you score the foam, it snaps easily by hand. If you want it precise, you can also cut the foam with a circular saw or table saw.

Step 6: Mix and Pour the Concrete

Picture of Mix and Pour the Concrete

Check out my previous Instructables on GFRC concrete for more details on mixing. For this project, I used a just-add-water Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) mix. You mix it by adding 1 gallon of water for every 50 lbs (one bag) of mix. Just adjust the ratio for the size of your tile, factoring in about 10 lbs of mix per square foot of tile (to err on the side of having more than needed).

I used two 50 lb bags for this project. I separated out 20 lbs to use as a face coat (w/ no glass fiber) and the remaining 80 lbs to use for the backer coat (w/ glass fibers). I only used 1.6 lbs of glass fiber for the 80 lbs.

When mixing the face coat (and back coat), add the concrete mix slowly to the water. E.g., add a third of the mix, then mix it up, add another third of the mix, mix it up, and so on. You can add a bit more water (but careful not too much) if you need to get it more flowable. The face coat should be like runny pancake batter.

To get the marble look, I separated out three smaller paint cups full of the pure white mix. I added a lot of pigment to one paint cup so it was really dark grey (almost black). I then added a bit of pigment to the remaining face coat in the main mix bucket, and mixed it slightly so the concrete in the bucket had a swirled look. I then added all three color variants, and swirled it around by hand until it covered the entire concrete form in a thin (.25" or less) layer. Just swirl it by hand until you get a look you like. Then let it set up for 30 minute to an hour (however long it takes for it to firm up, but still be slightly damp to the touch. You want it firm enough the back coat doesn't push through the face coat, but still damp so the back coat will bond to the face coat.

NOTE: There is NO need to vibrate GFRC mix.

Then mix the back coat the same way, except after it is mixed, add about 1 lb of glass fibers per 50 lb bag (or 1.6 lbs for 80 lbs in this case). Add fibers in slowly, e.g., a third at a time. Add water if needed to get the mix so you can pour it right out of the bucket into the form. Pour it in and use your hands to work it into the edges and corners, and make sure it covers everything. Again, there is no need to vibrate. If you made your mix flowable (so it pours easily), it will self-level. Add some of the back coat without any pigment (e.g., pure white), then swirl the pigment in to the rest of the back coat in the bucket, so it is unevenly mixed. Then pour the back coat until it is about 1" high in the form. At this point, add the foam, and screw in the 2x4 stretchers on top of the foam to hold it down. Then pour in the remaining back coat to fill the form.

Step 7: Grind Down the Underside of the Form

Let it sit for at least 24 hours (36 hours if it is under 70 degrees). Then, if your concrete has gone over the edges of the form, you'll want to use an angle grinder with a diamond cup to grind down the underside, before you remove it from the form. It is important to do it before removing the top from the form, so that you can use the sides of the form as a guide to grind the underside evenly all around.

Step 8: Demold the Concrete, Sand and Seal

Picture of Demold the Concrete, Sand and Seal

After grinding the underside down to be even with the edges of the form on all sides, it is time to demold the table top. Just unscrew / and pull the form apart.

If the side walls don't come off easily, use a rubber mallet to gently tap the sides of the form away from the concrete. If you flipped the piece over before demolding, it should be fairly easy to remove the bottom of the form (which is now on top). If it doesn't come off, then use a plastic putty spackle (not metal or anything sharp that could scratch the concrete!) to gently pry the bottom off. If it is really tough, then there is likely a vaccum between the form and concrete. In this case, you can use an air gun attached to your air compressor to shoot air between the form and concrete. This will break the seal created by the vacuum, so you can remove the bottom of the form.

Next given the whole service a quick wet sand, by hand, with 400 grit sandpaper. Just sand until you feel it smooth a bit. You'll feel it when you've removed the texture of the melamine, which is all you need to do.

Then, apply a concrete sealer of your choice. Just follow the instructions that come with your sealer.

Step 9: Put the Table Base and Top Together -- You're Done!

Picture of Put the Table Base and Top Together -- You're Done!

Place the table top on the base, and get it lined up so it is perfectly centered. Carefully lift one side at a time and add construction adhesive to the tops of the legs (basically the same way you'd attach a countertop). Before the adhesive sets, double check and make sure your table top is centered over the base (and adjust if necessary).


doing2much (author)2018-01-03

Fantastic 'ible! I hope you don't mind me asking this but I am a tad confused here...

Quote #1: "To get the marble look, I separated out three smaller paint cups full of the pure white mix. I added a lot of pigment to one paint cup so it was really dark grey (almost black)."

Question #1: What did you do with the other two cups of pure white?

("I then added a bit of pigment to the remaining face coat in the main mix bucket, and mixed it slightly so the concrete in the bucket had a swirled look." This seems clear, so no question here...)

Quote #2: "I then added all three color variants, and swirled it around by hand until it covered the entire concrete form in a thin (.25" or less) layer."

Question #2: This is more for confirmation... The color variants, I assume are from the three cups and they were added to the face coat after pouring it out onto the form/mold, or were they the first thing that hit the form - in other words, under the main face coat that was poured out from the bucket?

Sorry, this is so long!


1) I left them pure white so I'd have some super white parts. (In retrospect, I might have done like half the face coat in pure white, but you can vary how much white there is this way.)

2) Almost, I had pure white cups, dark grey/black cup, and swirl mixture from the main bucket. I added the white first, then dark grey black, and then the swirl mixture from the main bucket on top of that. This was all done at back to back, so the three mixed together. (Check out the YT video, and you can see me add all three and mix -- should be easier to understand when you see it.)

mathnado (author)2017-12-21

Although, I haven't tried it, one can add limestone crushed or sand to concrete to make "marble". It can then be polished.

I've done some concrete with exposed and polished aggregate. It is a cool look. IMO it is closer in appearance to a granite, but cool none-the-less.

doityourself1954 (author)2017-12-21

I've done some small concrete projects like this. This table is awesome. I would love to finish it with a stainless steel band around the edge. Maybe rounded on the top edge.

Rounded edge would be easy -- when you buy the metal ball tools I linked to, they come in a set of four double sided ball tools, so 8 sizes in total. I used the second smallest. If you use the larger sizes, your silicon edges will give you a much bigger round-over. The steel band is a really cool idea. It would be awesome I think if you glued the steel band to the sides of the form, and cast the concrete around it so it would actually be inlaid in the sides of the table. I might borrow this idea for a future build if you don't mind?

Don't know if my image came through. I thought if you really want to get artistic, (lol). you could stamp the steel band. Also you could use pins (like rebar) behind the band to hold it in place so when you pour it locks in.

The picture didn't come through, but I get the idea. Casting over pins or something to hold it in place internally is a good idea.

agelbert (author)2017-12-21

I just wanted to add that a dark stain with a clear coat lacquer finish on wood works just as well as the burn plus oil method. You are thus able to achieve a variety of colors in your finish, not just black.

That is a good look, certainly. However, it isn't necessarily the same look. Color is similar, but the texture can't be replicated. Check out the alligator skin effect of the char, when you look closely at the wood. here is a better picture of it (not my project):

Also, with shou sugi ban, it darkens wood grain in the reverse way that a stain does. So you can get a lot of looks other than just black if you use a wire brush to brush off the char. When you brush it, the parts of the grain that don't absorb stain as well remain very dark (black/brown), and on the parts of the grain that do absorb stain well, the char brushes off leaving lighter wood. This creates a cool inverse stain effect on its own (if you watch the burn video in the middle of the 'ible, you can see how the wood colors initially when the flame hits it).

You can really take shou sugi ban to the next level by applying a stain or dye after brushing off the shou sugi ban char. Keep your eye out for future videos where I experiment with these techniques. in the meantime, this link should give you a good idea of what is possible (again, not mine):

Excellent info! I did watch the video.

Thank you for providing the benefit of your experience.

No problem!

sheldon hills (author)2017-12-21

Always like your videos. Very creative and informative.

Thanks! Glad you enjoy them.

agelbert (author)2017-12-21

Beautiful table! I imagine bathroom and kitchen "marble" countertops could be made this way, as well as tiles and possibly a floor.

Certainly! GFRC is definitely a lot more expensive than concrete from your big box stores, but it also gives much more professional-looking results. GFRC countertops are a great way to get a very high end look for less than paying for marble slab. I have a friend who is a home builder, and they always tell homeowners that concrete (GFRC) is the most expensive material for countertops, so you usually only see it in high end homes. But, a lot of that expense is because of the labor, so if you are willing to do it yourself....

Now for floors, if you are going for the marble tile look, I'd just get marble tile. Marble tile is about $10 sq ft. or less, as compared to $60-100 sq. ft. (or more) for solid slab marble. So the labor vs. cost tradeoff doesn't make as much sense if you are tiling a floor.

I'll keep that in mind about the tile. Thanks for the tip.

Mike Eby (author)2017-12-21

I know it was a lot of work. I love the simple design while maintaining an expensive look.

Thanks! Sometimes it is more challenging to make things look clean and simple, than to make a complex design :)

edosda (author)2017-12-21

1.Excelente artículo, gracias por su valioso conocimiento

Modustrial Maker (author)edosda2017-12-21

Thank you! (Gracias!)

MathewO (author)2017-12-21

Cool table! I hope you don't mind a couple critiques of the base. The biggest concern I have is with wood contraction. You mentioned that the wood might dry out in the burning process. But this is unlikely. The wood will take longer than that to dry out. The moisture content of Douglas fir Timbers is typically quite High when purchased new. Fur is often sold as "green". That means that it's not Kiln dried. Over the course of a year inside, the base of this table will dry out significantly. I would expect all the joints to separate. So I would not cover the lags with dowels. Also, I would recommend putting small feet on. As the wood dries, the table will likely become tippy. The feet would mitigate this.
I would recommend drying the wood first. Plane it once, then let it dry for at least six months. I love using green fir, but it really needs drying time.

Modustrial Maker (author)MathewO2017-12-21

I always welcome constructive criticism! This is definitely good info. It is too late to undo the dowels, but I drilled pocket holes on the underside of the base pieces (shown in the video, but not mentioned in the 'ible) as a backup. As for the legs, I will probably use some steel stretchers to reinforce them, in case they decide to pull apart.

thatswho (author)2017-12-21

Absolutely wonderful! Love concrete surfaces.

Farmers in the days before Creosote used to char the ends of fence posts to keep them from rotting in the ground. But I love the idea of using it as you did, really beautiful!

Thanks! And cool bit of historical info there about the farmers.

silkier (author)2017-12-21

Lovely 'ible.

How durable are these concrete table tops? Would they be suitable for outdoor cafe/bar tables or would they stain?

Modustrial Maker (author)silkier2017-12-21

Yes, GFRC is great for outdoor projects because it is less likely to crack due to temperature swings, and holds up well to hot and cold weather.

jeanneambro (author)2017-12-21

Thank you for sharing this. I am planning to make concrete counters in my kitchen remodel, and may just have to rethink that after seeing this. AND I've been dying to try Shou Sugi Ban on something, just haven't figured that one out yet!

GFRC is a bit more expensive, but for $500 or so to do a kitchen, is still less expensive than granite, and will give you much more professional results. It also lets you get pure white counters if you want (which you can't do with standard concrete). Check out my past YouTube videos and Instructables if you want to see a few more options for GFRC. My Instagram (@modustrialmaker) also has some GFRC projects (a grey desk, white bench, and grey waterfall coffee table) that aren't on Instructables or YouTube.

CovertProductsGroup (author)2017-12-21

Awesome design! Shou Sugi Ban is one of my favorite finishing techniques, but I have never tried it on something as large as a table base. Great design, construction and finishes all in one piece.

Thank you!

cyclamencrafts (author)2017-12-21

Great.will make it after the festive seson

Looking forward to see what you make!

chrisp15 (author)2017-12-21

Pros and Cons to using GFRC for kitchen counter tops?


(1) lighter

(2) ability to do amazing integrated features (built in drain ramps, cutting boards, etc), one-piece waterfalls

(3) stronger, more durable surface

(4) easier to get "professional" results

(5) complete control over color


(1) price

dchall8 (author)2017-12-20

Never heard of GFRC. Can you get it at Home Depot or Lowe's?

Doesn't your poured concrete get minute bubbles forming against the Melamine? I never figured out how to conquer the bubbles problem.

Modustrial Maker (author)dchall82017-12-20

No, unfortunately, you can't buy it at big box stores right now. The answer to your bubbles problem is GFRC ;) It uses a defoaming admix to remove bubbles (there is quick shot of this in action in the video, when I show the liquid mix close up), and a superplasticizer that reduces the amount of water needed to get a pancake batter consistency. This combined with the fact you do a face coat where the only aggregate is fine sand, results in a nearly pinhole free surface. GFRC is definitely more expensive, but like everything you get what you pay for.

dchall8 (author)Modustrial Maker2017-12-21

At $35 a bag it is wildly more expensive, but we're not building a house. Certainly you cannot buy a marble slab for anywhere near what this costs. Table top is an excellent application for GFRC.

Modustrial Maker (author)dchall82017-12-21

Yes, it is definitely more expensive. But, maybe not as much as you think.

(1) you only need about half as much GFRC, since it is cast thinner (this table used 70-80 lbs, and would have required 140-170 lbs of standard concrete)

(2) time is money. The fact I didn't have to slurry coat and grind after removing it from the form saved 4-5 hours of hard labor.

And, the fact is, you can do things with GFRC you simply can't with a normal bagged mix. Because of the larger aggregate in bagged mix, I don't think you could do the hand swirling like I did here.

Also, if you really want to get into GFRC and make your own, you can save a ton of money, probably getting costs down to about $15 per 50 lbs. Check out my past GFRC instructables on my hearth and other tables if interested in the details to make your own mix from scratch. To do this, you have to buy in bulk, so are looking at about $500 in upfront costs. But for $500, I made a fireplace hearth, a desk, a countertop for a bar, a side table, a waterfall coffee table, and still had material leftover. If you take the plunge to do multiple projects, you can really get a lot for your money with GFRC.

kgcooper (author)2017-12-21

How durable is gfrc for exterior applications? Could this be used for memorial markers?

Very durable. GFRC is used for many architectural castings since it can be made so flowable. I think there may be some slight differences in how it is mixed, but if you do some googling for "architectural GFRC" you should find more details.

kenimt (author)2017-12-21

If you read the directions on the material for the "marble" it requires the addition of glass fibers. Most use of marble on counter tops is used as a cutting board or as a kneading board where food is placed directly on the marble. It appears from the directions that the glass fibers are not melted into the concrete rather they are molded into the concrete mixture. This could be problematic as the glass

could contaminate the food over time.

fibers could contaminate the food.

LucasB40 (author)kenimt2017-12-21

You should never cut on open benchtops anyway, great way to scratch your nice marble top. I've lived in some damn nice houses.

That is kinda what I was thinking. But, to each their own....some people value convenience over aesthetics. (Although, if you really care that little about aesthetics, concrete and marble probably aren't the best use of your money.)

Modustrial Maker (author)kenimt2017-12-21

Interesting point, but, I don't know anyone who cuts food on their countertops...that is what cutting boards are for :) However, if you really wanted to scratch your counter up with knife marks, it wouldn't be an issue, since there are no fibers in the face coat, which is about 1/4" thick. The glass fibers are all in the backer coat. GFRC is used frequently for concrete countertops -- most professionally made concrete countertops you see in magazines like Dwell are made from GFRC.

VivianM20 (author)2017-12-21

How heavy is it?

I would estimate 70-80 lbs. Since GFRC can be cast thinner, it is much lighter than standard concrete (a table this size with regular concrete would be 140-170 lbs depending on thickness).

sturose (author)2017-12-20

Ah, I see. I don't know much about gfrc because it doesn't seem commonly available over here in the uk. I'll have to see if there are any suppliers online.

Definitely worth doing this, looks very unique. Voted for you.

Modustrial Maker (author)sturose2017-12-20

Check out this place. Haven't worked with them, but I have used the same GFRC products they carry, and they are high quality.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a DIY hobbyist who loves making things, especially with wood and concrete ( and recently, LEDs). Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more builds ... More »
More by Modustrial Maker:Waterfall Countertop w/ LED River Inlay (from Concrete)Make a "Marble" Table from Concrete w/ Torched Wood BaseBluetooth Speaker W/ Music-Reactive LED Matrix
Add instructable to: