Introduction: Live Edge Coffee Table
For this Instructable I will show you how I built a replacement coffee table for my front room. This is a project I had been wanting to start for a while as the current table was a bit old and I though of using resin with the live edge slab over 2 years ago, just didn't have the time it required. Plus I have timber coming out of every available space in my garage.
However it was only because I came across a nice slab of well priced Cherry that the build began, despite having a ton of slabs and boards already, you can just never have enough wood....or tools, shame about time though.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
For this build I used the following equipment and materials:
- Planer Thicknesser
- Chop Saw
- Mortise Machine
- Table Saw
- Pillar Drill
- Router, 1/4" palm and 1/2" beast
- Orbital Sander
- 15mm Pipe cutter
- Measuring jugs
- Heat gun/Hairdryer
- Various Hand Tools, Pull Saw, Chisels, Mallet, Sandpaper etc
- Cherry Slab
- Beech Lengths ~60mm x 60mm square
- Oak Lengths, varying sizes
- 15mm Copper pipe
- Wood Glue, Gorilla & Titebond
- Clear Casting Resin
- M6 threaded wood inserts
- M6 bolts
- Polishing Compound
As with anything like this I could of used any number of different timbers and everyone's tool availability is different. Hand tools alone would have done the job it just makes it much more time consuming and time is not something I have a lot of these days sadly.
Step 2: Levelling the Slab
My first job on this table was to level and flatten my newly acquired piece of Cherry.
The easiest way to do this was to use my router with a flat cutting bit in, running it over the surface of the slab using my homemade router sled.
I won't go in to too much detail about my sled but its basically two lengths of 2" x 3" running parallel to one another, screwed to my bench, with enough room between for the slab. I then have an old steel CD rack frame as the sled that my router sits on with two guide rails either side to stop it coming off.
It works for me but is by no means perfect and I've seen much better examples on here that other people have made. If you want to flatten large pieces of wood however then it is a very good solution for those of us that don't have industrial size planers and sanders.
Now to level the slab I placed it in my sled setup on the bench top, using small pieces of scrap timber and shims to try get it as level as possible and prevent it from rocking and moving when cutting with the router. If it does rock there's a chance that the router will cut too deep in some places and I'll have to remove a lot more material than I want to.
Once it was secure I placed my sled over the slab spanning from rail to rail and placed the router on top.
With the routers depth set to remove no more than 5mm at a time, (so its easier and safer no chance of sticking or tearing) I used a back and forth motion across the surface of the slab to cut away material, moving along the slab slightly left to right after every pass. ( in some places the router may not be set deep enough to cut as the slab is uneven by nature but these areas will be addressed on the next pass).
Once I had gone over the whole slab once there were still low areas where the router couldn't reach so I increased the depth of the cut and repeated the process to get down to these low areas and further level the slab.
After everything is levelled and looks flat there were tool markings from the router, which using my orbital sander I sanded out using 80 grit discs. At this stage I'm not too worried about going any finer as I'll finish the slab later.
The slab could now be flipped and the process repeated on the other side. Because the bottom side is now flat I didn't need any shims to level it, just blocks to hold it securely as the slabs not heavy enough on its own to stay in place.
Another few passes over this side with the router and the slab is level ready to use and the grain has really come out from the dark, dirty lump I started with.
Step 3: Frame Preparation
To build the frame which my top will sit on I have used a mix of Beech and Oak, mainly because its what I had lying around. However it was in no way ready to use as its warped and twisted from years of storage.
To get it in a useable condition I used my jointer and planer in combination to level each face and get the thicknesses I required.
The frame materials consisted of 4 similar lengths of Beech around 60mm square and two chunky beams of Oak offcut about a meter in length.
I used the Beech first as these would eventually become the legs so made sense to do them altogether so they were of equal size.
To begin I passed one face edge from each piece of Beech over my jointer to smooth it out. It was easy to tell once the first face was flat as all the saw marks and rough texture was no longer visible, replaced by a bright clean face with no marks or blemishes.
This flat edge could now be used on the planer to remove material from the opposite top edge and level that out. I set the planer height to just allow the largest Beech leg in and fed in the timber with the newly flat edge facing down. The other legs were then passed through with each having a different amount of material removed. Once they'd all been through once I lowered the planer height half a turn on the wheel and passed them through again.
I repeated this until like the jointing stage all saw marks and roughness was removed from all 4 legs along this second edge with a flat face on each.
Now that I had 2 of the 4 edges flat and level on each leg it was back to the jointer to finish the other two.
With the fence set at 90 degrees to the cutting blade I used one of my new flat Beech edges pressed up against it (so that a remaining rough edge was face down) and ran the leg through the jointer again, doing each leg in turn one after the other, one cut at a time until again all the legs had a flat 3rd edge.
Back to the planer again using the same method as before with this 3rd flat edge on the bottom and the last remaining rough edge face up. Set the planer to the largest Beech legs depth and pass all 4 legs through one after the other adjusting the height after every legs been through once at the set depth. I repeated until this final edge was level and I had 4 square legs all the same size.
All that remained to do now was repeat all the above steps for the two Oak offcuts I had so that they were both square on all 4 edges as well.
Step 4: Ripping the Rails
Now everything was square I needed to split the chunky Oak into smaller thinner rails that would connect the legs and provide the support for my top.
The easiest way to do this was using my table saw, I simply set the fence the correct distance away from the blade, 20mm and with the blade height adjusted to just above the timbers thickness, passed the Oak beam through the saw until I had enough rails to start building my frame.
For the smaller rails around the base of the table I simply passed a couple of the initially larger rails (turned 90 degrees to their side) back through to get my desired smaller thinner size.
Once finished I had 4 larger rails for the top of the frame and 4 smaller, thinner rails for around the base. Using my Chop Saw I could then cut the individual rails to length so that I had two pairs for both the bottom and top of the frame.
Step 5: Joinery - Legs
To secure all my legs and rails together I used a combination of mortise and tenon and cross halving joints cut in to the top of the legs.
My first joints to tackle were the cross halving, where I cut half way through the timber rails on both pieces of wood removing a notch of material. The two pieces would then interlock with one another where the notches were removed giving a secure joint.
To make it even stronger these joints were then cut into the top of each leg giving extra support.
The first stage was marking all the timber up where my cuts would be made. To do this I started by marking the centre point of each leg running top to bottom. From these centre lines I could then measure out half the overall width of the top rails either side of the centre line corresponding with the thickness of the rails to be inserted (approx 10mm either side of the line) running down the length of the leg the same depth as the rails (approx 70mm). To make the measurements and marks I used a square, a tape measure, ruler and pencil marking out the lines so they matched the rails in depth and thickness.
Now that I had the legs marked up it was time to use my Mortise machine to remove the material. I could have cut them by hand with a chisel and my Japanese pull saw but I have the Mortiser so why not make use.
As all the legs are identical once the Mortise is set up for one it was set up for all of them. The first step was to set the fence the correct distance so the edge of the chisel sits flush on the inside edge of one of my marking lines. I can then slide the leg along the fence to cut away the material after each cut.
After I've cut along one face of one leg, I can simply rotate the leg to the next face and repeat the cuts. Replicating on all four faces and over all four legs. Unfortunately my chisel wasn't wide enough to remove all the material in one go, so to remove the rest I need to move the fence again, but not before I've made all cuts in this position on faces on all the legs.
Once the fence was adjusted to line up with the other side of my marks, it was the same process as before, repeating each cut moving the leg along the fence, rotating to the next face and moving to the next leg.
With all the material removed I was left with a cross shaped hollow on each leg with 4 square pins surrounding it that my rails should now fit between.
Step 6: Joinery - Rails
Now that I had the top of my legs cut to house the wider top rails, I needed to cut the top rails themselves and make the cross joints.
As I said I joined the rails using a cross halving joint. The easiest way to mark where I needed to cut for these joints was to offer up the rails in the legs I had just cut and mark the timber where the gaps were at the top of the legs.
I numbered each leg and corresponding rails so once they were all cut I new where each piece went, so if there were any variation later on I knew I had the right pieces for that joint.
Offering each rail up to each leg in turn I drew down the inside of the pins at the top of each leg on both sides. This gave me two lines on both faces at the end of each rail.
Next measuring the depth of the rail I marked the centre line between the two vertical lines I'd just marked using the legs. This gave me a large H marked on the end of each rail and I had to now remove either the top half or the bottom half of the H to create the joints.
On the shorter rails I removed the lower portion of the H shape at either end, meaning for the longer rails I needed to remove the top of the H shape otherwise they wouldn't fit together when offered up.
To remove the notches of timber I used my Japanese pull saw to cut down the vertical lines marked until I got to where the horizontal line intersected them. Next using a wood chisel and mallet gently tapped the edge of the chisel along the horizontal line so that the material between the two vertical lines started breaking away.
I repeated this process on all 4 rails at both ends until I had removed 8 notches of material in total. All the pieces could then be overlapped with one another to check the fit, removing any excess material with the chisel before slotting the whole frame into the 4 legs to check the fit there.
Step 7: Joinery - Mortises
Okay I now had the top rails cut and roughly fitted in, the next step was to cut the mortises in the bottom of the legs to hold the smaller base rails in place.
This step was similar to the cuts made in the top of the legs, using the mortiser except they were not going all the way through this time, but again once the mortise machine was set up all 4 legs could go through quickly as the cuts were all in the same place on each leg.
My first decision was how high from the floor I wanted the rails to be, once this was decided I could draw a horizontal line round the base of each leg that lined up with the bottom edge of each base rail.
From the line I could then measure the centre point and draw upwards the height of the base rail before then drawing another horizontal line round. This then gave me the height of the lower rail and as a result the height of the hole I needed to cut.
To get the width of the hole I simply measured out from the centre line on either side, half the width of the actual rail and drew vertical lines between my two horizontal height lines.
These lines were drawn on the two inside faces of all 4 legs, so that I had a small rectangle shape on these faces on each leg where the rails would go in to the leg, matching the orientation of the larger top rails.
I could then set up the mortise machine again, setting the fence so the chisel edge lines up with the inside edge of one corner of my rectangle shape. Set the depth stop so I don't cut to deep and end up with the holes meeting each other, then power up and make a cut before moving the work along the fence to make another cut until I hit the next line making a corner of the hole. Rotate the work and repeat for the second rectangle on the same leg before moving on to the next leg.
After all 8 holes have been cut once adjust the fence again to cut the other side of the hole (due to my chisels lack of width) and repeat all the cuts again for the other side on all 4 legs.
I now have 8 holes, 2 in each leg ready to receive rails.
Step 8: Base Rails
The base is made up of 4 rails the same as the top, except these rails are shorter in height and will incorporate a shelf.
The first stage of the base is to cut the 4 rails to the correct length on the chop saw 2 short and 2 long.
To get the lengths of the rails I re-assemble the frame using the top rails and the legs. Making sure everything is square. I can then measure the distance between the inside edges of the legs on both the long and short sides. I can then add to these measurements the depth of each hole I've just cut using the mortise. These added together then give me the lengths of my rails, the distance between the legs plus the hidden distance you can't see once the rails are fixed into the legs.
This measurement is then marked on the base rails and using the chop saw they are cut to length, so I end up with two long base rails and two shorter ones.
Step 9: Base Construction
As I said the base also incorporates a shelf and I wasn't sure how to do this originally, I wanted something different that wasn't just a solid base board or planks. In the end I came up with using copper tube as it would give a good look with the timber and would be easy to install.
To hold the tubes in the base I used a series of holes drilled into each of the longer base rails. I worked out a distance apart for each tube that would look good and have enough tubes to hold larger items when finished without things falling through like magazines etc.
Once I had the distance between all the pipe centres I drew a centre line down one face edge of each of the longer base rails. Starting from where the rail would emerge from the leg I then measured along the line and marked a dot where each pipe centre would be. I repeated this on the other rail making sure that the marks line up exactly otherwise when it comes to assembly the pipes wouldn't be straight and it would look awful.
Once all the centres were marked I went along with my bradawl to mark a small hole on each centre, this was to help guide my drill bit and make sure all the holes are in the correct places.
To drill the holes I used a 15mm Forstner bit placed in my pillar drill, I could of used my battery drill but with the pillar I can set the depth so all the holes are the same.
I drilled 13 holes in each rail meaning I then needed 13 pieces of copper tube. To measure the distance of the tube needed it was again measure between the two inside faces of the rails then add on the depth of each hole, which worked out about 400mm per pipe.
I'd bought 6 meters of copper tube and marked it with a scribe at intervals of 400mm. Using a pipe cutter I then cut off my 13 sections. The pipe cutter is useful as there's little swarf and it gives a neat slightly rounded straight cut.
Before assembling the rails and tube I gave each tube a rub down with steel wool to polish it and used furniture wax to stop it tarnishing again.
Now I could insert each tube into one of the holes along one of the rails. As the holes I drilled were 15mm the pipe fitted tightly so no further fixing medium was required and the rounded edge left by the cutter aided in pushing them in. However I did still need to use a wooded blank and mallet to hammer them home firmly without damaging the tubing.
Once one rail was done I simply lined up the other one and pushed the other ends of the tubes into this second rail, again using the mallet and blank to hammer them home tight and flush.
That's it the base was finished and it now all needs assembling.
Step 10: Frame Assembly
Now I have all my frame components it was time for assembly.
Before I started however I gave each piece a good going over with my orbital sander up to 400 grit, so everything was nice and smooth. This did however make some joints a little looser as I forgot to take into account the material I would remove at this stage when I originally cut everything, sad face.
I also decided at this point to add a little bit of further detail to my legs. This involved cutting a chamfer along each square corner edge of the legs to make a sort of hexagon cross section.
To do this I used my little palm router (amazing for this sort of thing takes two minutes, thanks Santa) with a 1/4" chamfer bit inserted. It was then was just a matter of running the bit along the edge of each leg to give the desired shape, nice and easy.
Once they were done quick sand over again to remove any scorch marks and its get the glue out time.
To try and prevent further cleaning later I used decorators tape to mask off around all the joints that would be glued, my hope would be that after it dried the tape would simply peel off along with all the dried residue, rather than have to re-sand the wood in a now awkward area.
After taping was done I applied my glue into all the holes and joints that I had cut and using my numbered pieces inserted them with the corresponding numbered pieces. It was at this stage I realised I had not used enough tape which might be a good thing as its less to try and wrestle off afterwards, but glue went everywhere, didn't think I'd used that much, I was wrong.
Now all the parts were gluing together I used my two large sash clamps to hold the base rails in place between the legs. Because of my top rail design I didn't really need any clamps round the top as there was no way or where for the joints to move, but to be safe I used a luggage strap wrapped tightly round just in case.
Now I just needed it all to dry to see what the tape fiasco would yield.
Step 11: Finishing the Frame
So the glue was now dried and it wasn't as bad as I first thought, I managed to clean most of it up whilst it was still wet, but I did have a fair few runs down the legs that had occurred once I left it to dry. If I tried to pull or peel it off it just pulled the timber away with it leaving a scar in the wood, demonstrating the strength of the glue.
Because the frame was now one solid piece the joints where the glue was were difficult to get into to remove all the residue.
To help me get in all the corners and joints I used my detail sander starting with some course 80 grit mesh sanding pads, and my orbital sander for the rest of the easily accessible areas also with some 80 grit paper.
I used an offcut of carpet as a soft cushioned surface on my bench whilst sanding so the areas I had finished sanding didn't then get marked or scratched again from being laid on the bench as I rotated the piece to sand it all down.
The tape came away fairly easily in the end so once it was all removed I could go over the whole frame using my combination of sanders.
For some really tight areas like where the rails went in the mortises I used my chisel to scrape away the glue along the edges where the sander couldn't reach, before sanding by hand with some folded over sandpaper.
After I'd managed to get all the dried glue off the frame, I changed the pads on my sander to 240 then 400 grits and gave the whole thing another going over to get the timber down to a nice smooth finish.
With everything nicely smoothed and sanded back to a 400 grit finish, I then applied some clear wax to the legs to protect the timer and sustain that smoothness.
Once the wax had dried I buffed the whole thing up to a nice shine.
Step 12: Slab Mould
Because my Cherry slab top has a live edge it isn't quite the length of the legs I've made. Obviously I knew this so my plan was to make up the rest of the top with a clear casting resin so that you can still see all of the interesting live edge goodness, but it provides a solid square top to fix the legs to.
I bought some clear casting resin in which to encase the slab, but before I could get to that stage I first need to build a mould which I could pour the resin in for it to set around the slab.
My plan for this was to build a simple box slightly deeper than the slab made from plywood and softwood sides or similar. I could then cover this in a waterproof material to stop resin leaking out.
The water proofing I used was a combination of packing tape (as I've seen other people use similar and its worked well) and thick polythene sheet for the base of the mould. A lot of people use plastic or Perspex sheet to line a mould but here in the UK prices for that are ridiculous even just 2mm stuff, so I went with the inexpensive tape and I already had the polythene laying around.
To make the mould I used a piece of 180mm thick marine ply as the base that was longer and wider than my slab of Cherry. To this I then laid over my polythene sheet making sure I had enough to cover all the plywood.
Next I needed to make the barriers for my mould, basically the sides that hold the resin in place. These were made from some old pine floor joists I acquired. To get them to the right size I used the same jointing/planning method as I did for the legs and rails of my tables base, as I described earlier on. Cutting them down on the table saw until I had enough timber for four sides.
The size of my mould was pretty much the size of the cherry slab formed to make a rectangle that the slab would sit inside. To get the length of my side barriers I simply measured the length and width of my slab then cut two barriers the same length for each, remembering to add on the thickness of the barriers x2 for one pair of the sides so I could butt joint them together at the corners of the mould.
To stop the side barriers from leaking and absorbing my resin I then used the packing tape to cover the inside face and bottom edges of each barrier, making sure there were no creases or air bubbles in the tape once applied.
Laying out the barriers on top of my plywood I drew round the frame they formed to leave a pencil line rectangle on the plywood's surface. This allows me to know where to drill holes to hold the side barriers in place.
Once the holes were drilled I could lay the barriers back on top and screwing from underneath mark some holes in the underside of the barriers so I knew their positions once the marks were covered with the polythene.
Now all the barriers were marked I could assemble the mould. I placed the polythene over the plywood and screwed two screws for each side through the bottom surface of the ply so that the tip of the screw just pierced the polythene. I could then line up my holes on the bottom of each side barrier with these screw tips.
Before screwing the barriers down however I first applied some hot melt glue using a glue gun along the bottom edge of each barrier and the butt joints where the sides meet. This was to stop any resin leaking out between where the barriers met the polythene sheet.
I did one barrier at a time as the glue sets fairly quickly so I had to be fast, running the glue along the edge then lining up the holes and screwing in place from underneath. My impact driver helped greatly here as it bangs the screws in quickly and with it being softwood no pilot holes were needed other then the couple I drilled to line the sides up in the first place. I had screws at around 100mm intervals for strength.
With all 4 sides in place I could then check the fit by dropping my slab in between, thankfully it fit first time (I did measure many times before assembly to make sure, but hey its good when it works out). To further waterproof my mould I then removed the slab and using the hot glue again ran a bead around the bottom inside edge all the way around the mould. The hot glue is good as it sets fast as opposed to using something like silicone which would require 12-24 hours.
With the glue dried I needed to then test to my mould, which involved taking it outside levelling it up on the uneven ground and then pouring in some water. Initially things were good water stayed put, but then inevitably the leaks started, not too bad just a couple down one of the longer edges.
I emptied the mould and dried it out with paper towel, before getting the glue gun out again and running more glue along the mould where the water had being leaking from. This time I did both the inside and outside edges to make doubly sure it wouldn't leak again. Re-filling the mould a second time after the glue had dried revealed that the fix had worked all my water now stayed put inside the mould, so I was confident at this stage that the resin would stay put also, so I emptied out all the water after letting it sit 10 minutes and dried it all off ready for use.
Step 13: The Resin Nightmare
This stage I hoped was basically a case of putting my slab in the mould then pouring resin over the top to encase it, let it set then remove and place on the legs. However it didn't quite go the way I hoped.
I have used resins before but never on the scale I was about to embark on. I had this resin pour idea 2 years ago but just never got round to making it happen on a project until now. Back then very few people were doing it, as opposed to now where its very popular, so these days there's plenty of advise and tips around, which I utilised best I could.
The first problem I had is that in the UK large quantities of resin are hard to come by easily (need to order online from specialists) and then its not cheap. Working out how much resin I actually needed was also a problem due to the irregular nature of my slab and resultant cavity I was filling. In the end I bought a 5 litre kit at a cost of £90 hoping it would be enough.
Before the pouring began I first made sure my slab was nice and clean of dust and dirt, sanded flat with a smooth finish. I then placed my slab in to my mould on top of some more polythene sheet to protect my carpet should the mould leak (I had to do the pour in my dining room as my garage has an ever changing temperature that can affect the resin during curing, where as the house was a stable 15-20 degrees)
With the mould set up I then used my 110V power transformer (very heavy) to hold the slab down to the bottom of the mould and stop resin from going underneath and cause the slab to float up. With all that in place I was now ready for the resin.
The resin I had bough was a 2:1 water clear epoxy resin. Due to the size and nature of the build I could only cast the resin in sections of up to 25mm as stated by the manufacturer, otherwise the clarity of the resin would be affected. Since my slab was around 40mm in thickness I would need to do multiple pours to fully encase the Cherry.
Knowing this, before I placed the slab in the mould I drew a line round the inside at 25mm up from the bottom so I had a reference line when pouring. to make the line I taped a pen to stick to get the 25mm height and ran it round the inside of the mould.
For my first batch of resin I mixed 3 litres, it seemed a good amount to take me to my 25mm max thickness and if I had spare left over I could use it to make a blank for a turning project.
To mix the resin at the 2:1 ratio this meant I added 1 litre of the hardener to 2 litres of the resin. I used a simple kitchen measuring jug to measure out the volumes and a wooden spatula to mix the resin, often pouring the resin between the two jugs to make sure everything was fully combined.
After a few minutes of mixing I then poured the resin in to the cavity of my mould so It flooded round my slab. To my amazement the 3 litres I had mixed took me exactly to the 25mm max line and I had 2 litres remaining for my second pour later. With all the mixed resin poured I then used a blow torch to pop all the little bubbles that had formed on the surface to leave a flat glossy finish. I then left the resin to dry for around 12 hours.
Because I was pouring in multiple stages in order for the next pour to bond with the first, the first pour needs to not be fully set, still tacky to the touch to allow chemical bonding, otherwise I'd have to abrade the cured resin with sandpaper before pouring another layer to make a mechanical bond.
Returning after around 12 hours my resin had set but was indeed still tacky, a perfect time to do the next pour and where my problems began.
Firstly over the 12 hours the resin level had dropped around 10mm as the slab had absorbed some of the resin. Having only 2 litres left I mixed all of it up, however this time for simplicity and laziness, I simply poured the hardener into the resin container, shaking and swirling the bottle to mix the two.
Now the resin had been stored in the garage over the 12 hour delay between the first pour and this one. As a result the resin inside the container had crystallised due to the cold drop in temperature and gone a lumpy white colour, something I didn't realise until I poured it all out onto my slab.
This completely ruined the work I'd done up to this point. Still it was too late now the resin was out so it was damage control time.
Thinking the cold had crystallised the resin I set about using a hairdryer and electric heater to warm up the poured resin moving it around with the spatula as I went to try and break up the crystals and get it back to being clear. Over around half an hour the resin did indeed start to clear up until all the crystals were dissolved and I was at where I should of been had I checked the resin before pouring.
Sadly now It was apparent I didn't have enough resin to cover the whole slab and so I would need to order more. As I said resin here is hard to get and expensive and I now only had a 12-24 hour window before this pour would set hard and I'd miss the chemical bonding window and have to mess on sanding the resin back to form the mechanical bond. This was made worse by the fact I did this second pour on a Sunday and my resin supplier was shut. Never the less I ordered some more online to arrive on the Tuesday hoping my second pour would still be tacky by then.
My resin arrived and by now the resin I'd poured was rock solid, to get this new resin to bond with the already poured stuff I now had to abrade the poured resins surface. This meant sanding all over to provide a rough surface the new resin could flow in to and once dry have a mechanical bond with. It was awkward to sand as the slab was still in the mould so getting round the live edge and into corners was difficult, but after a while I'd managed to sand the whole surface back.
I could now mix up batch number 3 of the resin. After what happened on the last pour I made sure the resin was clear before mixing and that no crystallisation had taken place. With that checked I mixed up half the new 5 litre resin batch 2:1 same as before and looking at the space I had left to fill thought it would be enough.
I continued by mixing up smaller batches of around 600ml of resin and pouring them in one at a time until my whole slab was covered, at this point I had around 700ml left over of unmixed resin. Using the blow torch again I popped any surface bubbles and had to maintain doing this over the next few hours as air from the wood was continually expelled.
I then left the resin for 12 hours again overnight. Upon my return in the morning the wood had again absorbed some of the resin, so I mixed up all the remaining resin and poured it all over the top of the slab. Sadly there wasn't enough left to cover the whole thing, but enough for the cavities where the resin was absorbed.
At this point I'd spent £180 on 10 litres of resin so wasn't keen on ordering yet more, as originally I thought 5 litres would have been enough. I left this final layer to dry with a plan that once sanded and polished it would look okay and be flat.
Step 14: De-Moulding
At the point of de-moulding the slab I had let it sit for 48 hours to make sure all the resin was cured hard and I could sand it back to finish it.
To remove the slab I took the whole thing in to the garage and laid face down on a piece of carpet to stop it getting further scratched or damaged.
With the mould now upside down I could remove all the screws from the underside that were holing my side barriers in place. This then allowed me to lift off the plywood base revealing the polythene sheet underneath.
Peeling back the sheet the base of the table top was revealed and it was at this point I realised why it took so much resin when pouring the slab. Despite me weighing down the slab resin had managed to get underneath and set hard.
Unfortunately it hadn't set flat and looked like a range of hills meaning I would have to re-flatten the base so it sat level on the legs.
I had also used packing tape on the reverse of the slab to hold the resin in place when pouring the in the few voids from the top. This was all now set within the resin and I was unable to remove it.
With the polythene sheet off I could now remove the final few screws holding the sides together where they butted up to one another. With the screws removed I used my rubber mallet to tap the two long edges of the mould away from the cast resin. I had left some little tails when I built the mould so when it came to this stage I had something to tap to help me release the slab.
The sides all came away really easily thanks to my packing tape I used to line the side barriers. I was a bit unsure how this would perform as online retailers sell expensive so called release tapes, which to me just looked like very expensive packing tape, now I know it is and I can highly recommend just using ordinary cheap pound a roll packing tape.
With all the mould parts now removed it was clear my casting stage hadn't gone nearly as well as I would of hoped for.
The bottom was all uneven with tape encased in the resin, the top had some air bubbles that had set hard overnight and there were other rough areas too where not enough resin had been poured.
Step 15: Flattening the Slab......Again
Okay because my casting had gone horrendously I found myself back at my router sled set up ready to plane down the underside of my slab once more.
This was exactly the same process as the first time round and I needed to remove enough material so the uneven surface was level and the encased packing tape was removed.
With my bit set in the router I passed it back and forth over the slab removing around 5-10mm of material at once depending on the surface of the slab at the place of cutting.
This was a very disheartening process watching all the resin be cut away that only days earlier I had spent £90 on.
With enough passes over the slab I was back down to the cherry and left with a few vertical cutting lines across the surface of the slab that would need to be sanded and polished out.
Step 16: Sanding, Sanding and Yes......More Sanding
Now that I had levelled out the slab for a second time my resin and timber were marked again and had some scratches.
To get it to a smooth finish and so that I would be able to see through my resin, I used my orbital sander with various grit papers to remove all the marks and get the slab nice and smooth and see through where the resin was.
I started off with an 80 grit paper working all over the slab until I had the larger marks and scratches removed.
I then repeated the sanding process again many times, each time using a finer grade of paper to remove the marks left by the previous grade.
I went up as follows, until I had a smooth clear surface, with each higher grade making the resin more and more translucent :
- 80 grit
- 120 grit
- 240 grit
- 400 grit
- 800 grit
- 1000 grit
- 1500 grit
Once I sanded the bottom side back to 1500 I then changed my sanding discs for a lambs wool polishing head.
I then applied some fine abrasive polish and using the polishing head worked the polish all over the surface of the slab.
The polish was the final step in getting the slab smooth as it removed any final marks from the 1500 paper and gave the surface a nice shiny smooth finish.
Now that the bottom was finished I could flip the slab over and repeat the same process on the other side and edges.
When flipping over I made sure I had some carpet underneath so as not to undo all my hard work when sanding the top.
The top and sides were more difficult to sand as the whole slab was covered in resin in these areas, meaning I had to spend a lot more time going over the slab to make sure all the marks were removed and not visible in the final piece.
After a few hours sanding and polishing increasing the grits gradually as on the bottom, the slab was finally about there with a good clarity and a smooth finish.
With the resin polished to a shine I flipped the slab over again and I waxed the cherry with my Briwax where it had been exposed after re-levelling with the router.
Now the table top was finally finished it just needed fixing to the legs.
Step 17: Final Assembly
With the top and legs now finished it was time to unite them.
I drilled 4 holes through the long side rails on the tables leg frame 2 holes on each side first marked with my Bradawl so as to stop the drill bit slipping.
Then with the table top upside down I placed the legs over it, also upside down and using a tape measure centred the legs on the slab. 110mm away from each end and 90mm away from each side edge.
With the legs positioned I could mark the hole locations on the underneath of the slab using a long thin pointed rod that passed through the holes, like a long nail basically.
With the holes marked I removed the legs and drilled some small pilot holes to allow the screws easy access into the slab.
I then re-positioned the legs over the slab lining up my 4 holes. I inserted a screw into each hole and tightened by hand using a Phillips head screwdriver until the slab top was firmly secured to the base and that was it done.
Step 18: Final Photos
Here are some photos of the finished piece.
It was a difficult build in the end this, the resin caused me all sorts of problems and a ton of extra work.
I am planning a dining table using a similar method so with everything I've learned here hopefully that'll go a lot smoother and I'll know what not to do.
Thanks for reading through hopefully it helps you guys out with some of my experiences whilst building this.
See you again on the next build
Runner Up in the