Really light up your next dinner party with a table that glows in the dark!

Photoluminescent (glow) powder mixed with clear casting resin fills the naturally formed voids in Pecky Cypress hardwood, creating a unique and stunning table. The glow powder charges up in sunlight and emits a cool blue glow when in partial or complete darkness.

Placing this table near a window will allow it to collect rays from the setting sun and then set off a pleasant glow from the transition from twilight to evening. Making your own is fun as you can customize it in any way you want. Instead of using hardwood you can use the technique of adding glow powder to resin to cast in all kinds of fun ways.

Let's make!

Step 1: Materials

The type of wood I used for this table is known as 'pecky cypress', which is regular cypress that has been naturally damaged with a fungal growth inside causing sections to rot - wiki on taxadium distichum (cypress).

These damaged pockets can be easily removed and create cavities in the wood which are perfect for filling with resin and glow powder. The pockets of damaged (rotten) cypress are soft and can easily be removed with compressed air and some light digging with a hand tool.

Aside from Pecky Cypress, we'll need:

Step 2: Mill wood

The wood comes from the mill to the store in rough shape, it's up to you as the consume to decide how you want the product to look. In North America most board lumber is sold in board feet.

Knowing I was going to make a table top by joining a few boards, I grabbed a few lengths of the Pecky Cypress and used a jointer to square the edges of both sides of the board. These clean edges will make a great surface to bond the planks together.

Step 3: Cut planks to size

With the board edges finished I could cut the boards to the correct length.

After marking each board to the desired finished length I cut them down to size with a sled on the table saw.

Step 4: Join planks to make a board

Using a plate joiner (biscuit cutter) I cut indents into the boards, then I glued in biscuits and clamped the boards together. To ensure the boards stayed even while being clamped I used a few scraps of straight wood on the top and bottom of the boards.

I let the glue dry overnight.

Step 5: Dig out fungus rot

The damaged pockets of wood in Pecky Cypress can be easily removed by gently digging with small tools to clean out the cavities.

Starting with a vacuum I gently pushed a flat-headed screwdriver into each rotted cavity to dislodge the rot and remove it. After, I used compressed air to blast out any remaining debris and ensure the cavity was clear of detritus.

This can get very messy and dusty, so wear proper safety equipment.

Step 6: Sand surface

After the glue has dried I sanded down the surface with a course 80 grit sandpaper on a random orbital sander. This cleaned up the transition between the glued boards. After, I brushed the surface clean to remove any dust. We'll need a super clean surface before we can move on to casting with resin.

Step 7: Mask and prepare board for resin

Before casting resin we need to ensure the table will be able to retain the medium. Since some of the cavities in the boards go all the through the entire underside was taped off, that way any resin that goes to the bottom will pool and not leak out.

To keep the resin from oozing out the ends I put scrap strips of thick acrylic along both ends. I didn't worry about the sides, as these boards didn't have any open cavities along the sides. The acrylic scraps were clamped into place and a short border of masking tape was put along the sides, just in case any resin migrated.

Step 8: Resin and glow powder

I used clear casting resin, which is a 1:1 ratio type - meaning you don't need to measure out specific amount of catalyst, just equal parts resin and catalyst. I prefer this method as I'm not very careful and have mixed up the mix ratio before. This resin is super easy to use and begins to set in about 7 minutes.

There's plenty of glow in the dark powder colours available, I chose blue glow in the dark powder which I got online. I'd recommend using more glow powder than less, as the effect is much more striking.

For my 41"x22" table I used 64 oz (2 liters) of casting resin and about 3.5 ounces (100 g) of glow powder. Yours measurements will probably vary.

Step 9: Prepare resin

To mix my resin I used large unwaxed paper cups. Pour equal portions of resin and catalyst into separate cups, ensuring to fill cups less than halfway full. Pour a portion of glow powder into either cup and mix thoroughly.

Know that when you combine the two liquids of the resin the chemical reaction will start, allowing you only about 5-7 minutes of working time before the resin sets.

When you're ready add the catalyst to the resin and briskly stir until the two liquids are one homogeneous mixture. Ensure to scrape the stir stick, and the sides and bottom of the cup. Pour the stirred mixture into the catalyst cup and continue stirring. The entire mixing process should take less than 2 minutes to ensure you have enough time to pour the resin without it setting.

Step 10: Pour resin

With your resin mixed it can be poured into the cavities of the Pecky Cypress. Since the resin is not viscous enough to suspend the glow in the powder I had to take quick breaks from pouring to stir the mixture to ensure even glow powder distribution.

Gently pour the glow resin into all wood cavities. You may find that the resin gets absorbed into the wood, or that some cavities are slower to fill, this is normal. You can apply another layer of resin over previously poured sections.

I poured in smaller measures, about 10 pours in all. This process took about an hour to complete. I let the resin cure completely overnight.

Step 11: Let resin cure, then reveal

After allowing the resin to cure completely overnight the acrylic edges and masking tape can be removed.

The resin won't stick to the acrylic, allowing it to be easily peeled from the ends. The masking tape was a little more tricky, but can be easily removed with a little patience.

Step 12: Preliminary glow test

Eager to test out the results I took the cast resin table top outside and let it soak in some sunshine for about 5 minutes, then quickly took it inside an enclosed area and turn off the lights. The effect was incredible!

Picture 1 shows the table with the additional resin spill over in complete darkness. There is no photo trickery here, this picture is exactly as it appeared when the lights were off. If anything, the effect in person was more vibrant.

Picture 2 shows the same table top with the door slightly ajar, allowing some natural light to enter into the room. Here you can see the resin spill over next to the vibrant blue and grain of the wood.

Step 13: Clean up edges

Along the edges where the resin touched the acrylic or masking tape were small sections of raised resin due to capillary action. Even though the edges are going to be routed smooth, removing these raised edges now makes the sanding process easier. I used a sharp knife to cut away the raised edges.

Step 14: Rough sanding

I have access to a 25" drum sander. This sander has a very rough grit and is great at plowing through large flat pieces like table tops. However, this machine is totally not required and you can work the table top to a smooth finish by just using a power sander.

I fed this table top through multiple times, each time raising the bed a small amount until the entire surface was level.

Step 15: After a few passes

After a few passes through the drum sander the table surface has been leveled and the resin spill over high spots are removed. Now we need to bring the resin surface back to a high gloss, and smooth out the wood surface.

Step 16: Finish sanding

Using a random orbital sander I sanded from rough grit all the way up to 400 grit.

Since the drum sander I used had a 80 grit sandpaper, I started at 120 grit then stepped up progressively until I was at 400. Spending enough time with each grit of sandpaper to ensure a uniform finish.

Step 17: Fence for routing

After the surface was sanded I could turn my attention to the edges. Though my router bit had an end bearing to keep distance from the table edge, the holey nature of Pecky Cypress made uniform distance on the edge impossible with an end bearing, meaning the blade of the router would occasional dig into the table more where there was a cavity on the table edge. To solve this I made a fence for the router.

With the rounderover bit installed in the router I measured the distance from the edge of the end bearing to the edge of the router base, this distance would be the setback for the fence. I clamped a straight edge fence at this setback perpendicular to the edge of the table sides.

Step 18: Routing edges

With the fence installed I could run the router over the table edges to make a nice rounded edge.

Step 19: Polyurethane finish

After routing and sanding I could finally apply a durable glossy polyurethane finish. In a well ventilated area I applied a coat with a foam brush and allowed it to dry completely.

Step 20: Wet sand

To achieve a high-gloss finish I wet sanded in between coats of polyurethane. Once one coat was completely dry I sprayed the surface lightly with water, then used a 1200 grit sandpaper to smooth out any brush strokes from the previous coat of polyurethane.

The surface was then cleaned and dried completely before applying another coat of polyurethane. This process was repeated several time to achieve a very high gloss finish.

Step 21: Paint leg anchor plate

With the top finished I could turn my attention to the base. I used retro hairpin table legs for my table (the ones in the link were cheaper to buy with a table top than just the legs). These legs bolt into the table bottom. Since this table design is different than the one the legs were designed for I had to make a new way to anchor them to the table.

To hide the leg attachment and really keep the focus on the glowing table top I decided to paint the leg anchor plate flat black.

Step 22: Transfer anchor openings

Once the paint on the leg anchors was dry I placed the anchor plates on the underside of the table and transferred the opening location to the table. An opening was drilled at the marks, ensuring to only drill as deep as the anchor nuts.

Step 23: Add anchor nuts + plate

The anchor nuts were installed in the openings, then the anchor plate was installed over the anchor nuts. Since the Pecky Cypress had irregular cavities some minor tweaks were needed to ensure the bolts and anchor plates had sufficient coverage on the underside of the table.

I used E-6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive which bonds almost anything to anything else permanently. This stuff is nasty, but magic.

Step 24: Attach legs

When the adhesive has dried completely the hairpin legs can be installed. Align the legs and screw in the anchor bolts to secure the legs to the underside of the table.

Step 25: Place your table + glow!

Your table is all set to glow the night away. This glow powder needs UV light in order to activate, so dusk is a great time to enjoy the transition.

This table has a really neat effect, and looks great even in twilight. Depending on how much UV exposure your table has it can glow for up to 20 minutes.

<p>Buy it: <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/mikeasaurus" target="_blank">www.etsy.com/ca/shop/mikeasaurus</a></p>
<p>My problem with my work, an din the bidness I ran for a few decades, is that I never, ever, ask what I, or my work's, worth. I know the scale/metric for calculating but I can never get myself to do it.</p><p>The table's amazing and I thought, if I were to sell one....$900. (Which I know is slave wages).</p><p>How do you do with it at that price point???</p><p>I especially dug your leg mounting system...</p><p>cheers</p>
<p>Hi Mike. Thank you so much for your instructions. I have been wanting to make a glow in the dark table since I came across your instructions some time ago. A friends wedding finally gave me the excuse I needed. As a complete amateur with limited woodworking experience I found the instructions easy to follow. A friend helped me by sourcing a large plank of sweet chestnut (no pecky cypress in the UK?!), saw it &amp; join 2 pieces for the table to be the gift so I could make a river for teh resin down the middle. I made 2 - one a prototype to make all my mistakes on first. I had only 2 problems was there was a bit of a delay in getting the resin, as was difficult to get large volume in the UK, so had to order from the US and my damming of the resin wasn't effective on the prototype due to unseen cracks going all the way through the wood which meant I resined the plank to the floor, but all sorted. I finished them with 2-3 coats of teak oil rather than varnish which will hopefully mellow over time. Didn't get a photo of the finished gift table glowing in the dark due to my poor photography skills, but some here of the tables, glowing table tops &amp; finished prototype table in semi daylight.</p>
<p>Both tables look amazing! Thanks for sharing your work.</p><p>Pecky Cypress is difficult to source, but any wood with voids will work (and can look just as good, as you have shown). Buying resin online is the best way I've found to reliably get the quantity you need, there's loads of types but <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Y46G10/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004Y46G10&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwmichaelsau-20&linkId=TI2XDYBDSCXA5J3Y" target="_blank">this is what I used</a>.</p><p>Love the pictures, thanks again for sharing them. Enjoy the Pro Membership!</p>
I love the idea and had one question. thinking of making a patio table and was wondering what type of finish, outdoor varnish has a UV blocker in it so was wondering your suggestions.
<p>Mike, I love the concept. I would love to do this just for the color and not the glow effect. What powder could I use? I am thinking countertops in a kitchen.</p>
<p>A <a href="http://amzn.to/2bzzcl7" target="_blank">powder pigment</a> would be fine. Always cast a small test before committing to the final project. I'd love to see your results! A colorful countertop sounds so nice.</p>
<p>Will this type of epoxy work, and do I need to buy a full gallon of this. This is for 16 oz.</p><p><a href="https://www.michaels.com/easy-cast-clear-casting-epoxy/10408248.html" rel="nofollow">https://www.michaels.com/easy-cast-clear-casting-epoxy/10408248.html</a></p>
Im in the process of doing something similar, do you think it would still glow as well with a thin cout of clear resin poured across the top?
<p>A thin layer will glow a little, but the depth of the voids is what gives the glow resin the look you see here.</p>
<p>Hey Mike, do you mind providing the source of where you buy the Pecky Cypress in a size that's manageable for cutting into the right dimensions? I'm having a tough time finding a local source.</p>
<p>This type of wood is a regional thing, but can be found at some lumber yards. Luckily, any type of wood that has voids in it will work, so the type of wood isn't as important as the process.</p>
<p>I plan to build an electric guitar at some point and when I get into inlays this looks like it will come in handy!!! Might even make a similar table at some point :D</p>
<p>Very nice table, it looks great. That being said, I mean no offense in anyway from these questions, I'm just curious, but...</p><p>Any time in the past that I've applied epoxy resign to wood I'd go over it with a small torch/heat gun/hair dryer to get out as much of the trapped air as possible as to avoid the epoxy looking hazy/milky white. Was there a reason this wasn't done? I didn't know if it was an aspect of this type of epoxy additive (to glow in the dark) that would be ruined by doing this step? Was it this omitted step for the reason why the spots that were epoxied having a milky appearance when not glowing or is it the additive that allows it to glow? Beautiful table regardless I'm just checking because I just wanted to get an idea of what the appearance will be when not glowing. Thanks a lot and again, very nice table.</p>
<p>Step 10 explains the pour process here. Since there were so many small voids I did several small pours to ensure the coverage needed and stay within the pot life of the mixed resin. The milky appearance is a function of how the glow powder looks in daylight, a bone white color. Even with small air bubbles, the resin is clear but looks hazy from the glow powder. You could easily use a torch to remove any air bubbles, or give it a hot breath from your mouth at close range will also work.</p><p>I used a propane torch to remove bubbles in epoxy, you can see that in <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Lumberjack-table/" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">Step 10 and 11 of my Lumberjack Table.</a></p><p>I'd love to see your creation based on this when you're done. Good luck!</p>
<p>thanks for the reply and I'll definitely post some pics if i make it with this type of inlay...where I could use anothers opinion is with this- I don't want to take away from the very rustic looking wood I'm using but love the way the turquoise looks when glowing, I'm just nervous that the glow pigments when not glowing would look bad (like a bad epoxy job full of air bubbles). Any thoughts? Thanks a lot for your input!</p>
<p>The natural color of the glow powder is bone white, an alternative would be to accent the feature and use a glow powder that stays a color in natural light like this: <a href="http://amzn.to/1PMgBV3" style="background-color: initial;">http://amzn.to/1PMgBV3</a>. Either way, you will see something in the voids, just depends on what look you are going for. </p><p>I always recommend trying a sample mix and pour on scrap before committing. If you have more of the same type of wood it's best to try on that. This way you can dial in the amount of glow powder, the technique, and analyse the results. </p>
<p>Hi! I&rsquo;m an editor for Remodelaholic.com and am writing to request permission to use one of your table photos in an upcoming post. We would like to feature this in a round up and would include a backlink and clear credit to you.</p><p>Please let me know if this would work for you. Thanks for your consideration!</p><p>Kimberly</p>
<p>Any practical experience on how long glow powder lasts? And the referenced resin doesn't mention UV resistance. Are you really keeping this outdoors or just for photo op?</p>
<p>Glow powder should last a very long time, years.</p><p>Look for a resin that is UV stable and non-yellowing. The stuff I link to in Step 1 is both. </p><p>If you're planning on having a table outside it needs to be sealed with exterior polyurethane and an exterior grade resin.</p>
I was under the impression that UV stable resin and outdoor polyurethane both block UV light and therefore reduce our eliminate the effectiveness of glow in the dark paint. Could you shed some light (pun intended) on the apparent error in this rumor?
<p>I haven't noticed any reduction in efficacy with the UV coatings I've used. Since I can't test every variation, I suggest testing your glow powder/resin/poly combination on a small piece before committing to your final project. </p>
<p>ok. Thanks!</p>
<p>Doing something for my deck. Curious, how much powder should I mix with the resin? It's going to fill voids between pallet boards.</p>
<p>HI Mike i am just starting a couple of projects which are inspired by your work but during my tests on test pieces i found that if the reisin is not charged it just looks like glass. So my problem is that im aiming to get a color thats also visible during day time or normal light conditions. Any advice ?</p>
<p>What type of glow powder are you using? </p>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Glow-Dark-Pigment-Powder/dp/B00H9103XW?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Glow-Dark-Pigment-Powde...</a><br>I made my tests with this 1 .</p><p>Do you think that this is the problem ?<br></p>
<p>Not all glow powder has color under normal light. Here's one that glows blue, and looks blue under normal lighting: <a href="http://amzn.to/1PMgBV3" target="_blank">http://amzn.to/1PMgBV3</a></p>
<p>Thank you Mike i'm ordering this one and ill post the result in the end .</p>
I wondee if you you put the glow in the dark substance in AND stain the wood. I'm partial to a deep cherry oak stain or even a black stain which actually looks really nice. I'd be interested to know if there is a way to combine that with this
Meant if you could put both the glow-in-the-dark pattern and stain it
<p>I don't see why that wouldn't work. Please share your results!</p>
<p>Excellent idea , I will do it. How much glow powder I need for a table of 100 x 80 cm?</p>
<p>So, if you were to use a board with rot along the edges but wanted to maintain a straight boxed edge/rectangular what would you use as a barrier so you could pour the resin? Is there a material you could use to hold the epoxy in while it dries so that you could get the glow along the organic edge without getting epoxy everywhere?</p>
<p>Acrylic or melamine would be good choices, as they have a smooth surface that the resin has a hard time sticking to. If you look, I used clear acrylic strips to box my table in when I was pouring. </p>
<p>Epoxy, not resin. But I guess technically both could be used.</p>
<p>I absolutely love what you've done. I want one too, I'll be forwarding your instructable to my husband.</p>
<p>really like the idea and the finished results in some of the pictures shown are awesome. I haven't read through all the comments, but if it hasn't been mentioned before, a stencil and a bit of work with a router just opens up another world of possibilities. In my head, I have the mortal combat logo for some reason, I don't even like the game! Or am I missing something here?</p>
<p>Look in the comments, there's a router designed logo of a monkey :)</p>
<p>heyy how are u = </p>
<p>Wow, that looks amazing! Is that your table?</p><p>Is that all resin in the middle, and if so how many pours did it take?</p>
<p>hi mike </p><p>You taught us this job . Thank you</p><p>ı did 6 cm glow resin table</p><p>I Finished it's 6 days </p><p>All Items are not finish I'll send you a picture.</p>
<p>love it! looks like a google earth shot of water and beach/land... </p>
<p>That looks incredible! Thanks for sharing, you did a great job. </p>
<p>Hi Mike,</p><p>I really enjoyed reading your instructable and want to try something similar myself. There is just one problem, and immediately it's a big one. On this side of the big pond I can find all of the materials, except the right wood. It looks like this specific type of cypress doesn't grow in western Europe. </p><p>Do you have any advice on which type of wood I can use which has more or less the same characteristics? It seems like everybody who sells lumbar over here has wood which looks perfect and that's nice for building houses and everything but I just want those perfect imperfections :)</p><p>I really hope you can help me with this, thanks in advance!</p><p>Steven </p>
<p>Hey Steven!</p><p>I think Pecky Cypress only grows in the southern USA, so sourcing some can be difficult. Though the rotted voids are desirable for this application, there's no reason why you couldn't use splintered wood (reclaimed or barn wood), or even create your own voids artificially with a router or chisel. The results may look a little different to what I show, but people are more blown away with the glow than the wood.</p><p>I'd love to see your version when you make it, please keep us updated. Good luck!</p>
<p>I suggest you plan ahead and leave wood out in a field for a while. The wood rots differently according to what is affecting it. www.finehomebuilding.com explains it in the Aug/sep 2015 issue clearly.You want brown rot- sometimes called dry rot- (a misnomer as dry wood doesn't rot). This fungus consumes the lighter cellulose leaving the geometric appearing lignin to continue shrinking and checking. I think it would lend itself to a treatment like described, but wonder if it should be sealed first. I am purely an observer and wannabee craftsperson.</p>
<p>Mike have you ever used Ambrosia Maple? It looks just like your Pecky Cypress and and is the same as far as how it gets its fungi characteristics. </p>
<p>Thanks for the info, I'll have to look into that the next time I'm at the lumber yard!</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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