Introduction: LED Lit Walnut and Resin-River Coffee Table That Charges Your Phone!
I couldn't count the amount of times I've sat on my couch playing on my phone with an ever decreasing battery life and wished I could just plug it in to the coffee table. Yeah, sure, we have outlets all over the walls where I could plug my phone in, but they are always a little too far to plug the phone in and set it on the coffee table, not to mention the tripping hazard that comes with that solution.
Ive recently been building a lot of experimental furniture incorporating epoxy resin, and I have always loved incorporating LEDs into pretty much everything, so I figured I would combine all this ideas into one project. This table was pretty ambitious, and there were several points where I could have totally screwed it up; but it all worked out and Im very happy with the finished piece!
Step 1: Cut Up the Slab and Flatten the Parts`
I started this project with a pretty warped/cupped, wild ride of a Walnut slab. One beautiful thing about making resin river tables, is that you can take a very warped slab and cut it in half, which effectively takes half of the warpage out of the board. You can then flatten the two halves, which results in much less wasted material than flattening the entire slab whole. I could explain this concept to death, but that's already been done all over the internet. Look it up!
Once I had my two halves, I threw them on my home built CNC router flattened them by running a surfacing program which basically routes a thin layer across the entire surface of the board, leaving a dead flat surface on top. I then took those boards and fed them into my Planer with the newly surface sides down. The planer cuts the top uneven surface parallel to the nice flat bottom side. After this process, I had acceptable flat boards to work with!
Step 2: Assemble the Framework
I had a couple extra nice straight boards from the same walnut tree, so I decided to use them as the end caps for this project. I usually make resin tables without end pieces, and just let the resin hold the two halves together, but this time I knew that I would have LED tape running the full perimeter of the river and I didn't want to see the actual LEDS or any wiring on the ends, so I ended up using the end caps. Normally I would do some sort of tongue and groove type joinery to attache these breadboard style ends, but in this case the live edges on the inside make that much harder/wierder to do. I decided that I would just do a straight end graine/face grain glue joint and reinforce it later. After-all, the resin river will have some serious holder power to keep all these components together.
Step 3: Route in a Home for All Those Electronics
I decided that the best way to make a nice home for the battery, dimmer module, LED's, USB port, Charging port, and wiring was to make a proper CAD design and route all that in with my CNC machine. I utilized my photo-trace-scale method of translating a real life wonky thing into a precise CAD environment. Check out my walnut dining table build here on Instructables for more on that method.
I designed a way to fit all that crap into the assembly, and went for it with my fingers crossed. As you can see, it worked out! I used the same CAD file to create an insert out of thin Mahogany plywood to hide all the inner workings. After all the CNC work, I did have to make some holes at the end of the assembly for the USB port and charger port. For those I used a normal drill with forstener bits, and a chisel.
I stuck the LED strip into its home, and stuffed the wires and battery in theirs as well and captured it all in with the Mahogany insert.
Step 4: Pour That Resin!
I clamped the whole assembly upside down to a piece of Melamine, which Ive found is a good material to use as a form for resin work. I did the pour upside down because I knew that I didnt want to have the resin actually encapsulate the LED tape, in case it ever had to be replaced years down the road.
First I poured a thin layer of clear, I cant give you a ton of rational reasoning why I thought this was a good idea, but I just had a feeling that it was the way to go. I like to experiment!
Next I did a thicker layer of blue tinted resin along with some glow powder and color shifting sparkles I had lying around. I did some swirly effects before leaving the resin to set. After that layer fully cured, I did another layer of Darker blue resin. Before that layer cured, I did some streaks of even darker resin and then swirled them around in a latte-art style fashion.
Once I felt I had a pretty good balance of translucency with the blue layers, I did a couple more layers of clear just to make the resin slab a little thicker.
The resin layer ended up being around 5/8" or so, which feels nice and rigid.
Once the Resin was nice and cured, I popped it off the form sanded the top side nice and flat down to 320 grit.
Ill get ahead of all of you real quick and give you a link to the epoxy resin I like to use.... Its great stuff at the best price I could find. I highly recommend it!
Step 5: Reinforce the End Caps and Round Over the Edges
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves here, but I basically screwed the end caps on and capped the holes with Mahogany plugs. This method is easy, effective and in my opinion, attractive as well. I usually try to use metal hardware as little as possible, and opt for fancier wooden joinery, but in this case I figure I might as well embrace the modern components throughout.
Step 6: Final Sand and Finish
I sanded the whole thing down to 320 grit, and finished the it with a zero VOC hardwax oil from Unearthed Paints. This finish is comparable to the more popular OSMO and Rubio Monocoat brands. A friend of mine works at this Unearthed, and he turned me on to this product. I love the stuff and have had excellent results with it.. The process is simple. saturate the surface with a thin layer of the oil, wait 30 minutes, and hand (or machine) buff the oil/wax vigorously until nothing would come off on a clean paper towel. Then leave it to cure for at least a day or two. Thats it!
Step 7: Attach the Legs and Share All Over Social Media!
For this piece I decided to use simple steel hairpin style legs. I wanted to buy some ready made simple unassuming legs that would not end up being the focus of the piece. These legs are also all the rage these days and are pretty affordable. Attachment was simple; 5 screws per leg. I did have to cut a small nibble out of a corner of each leg bracket, as to not interfere with the removable Mahogany insert.
Done with the table!
Next I flooded all my friend's social media feeds so I could brag about my new project. This Instructable is part of that mission!
Also, if you love Instagram, check me out there as well @partcraft
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Instead of just gluing and later adding hidden screws, try either dowel joining or biscuit joining the ends on. I’ve used this method for joining boards with great success
Tremendous instructables. I'm in the process of a magnolia live edge/poplar dimensional slab desk with a resin river project, so found this and your custom table with the glass/polycarbonate river instructables extremely useful
Q: I'm planning on either end caps, or 4 inlaid 6/4 thick mahogany strips about 2 inches wide to hold the halves together. You indicated that you believe that the resin is strong enough to hold the halves together. My table is 76x35 (desk really), and I'm using East Coast resin. Will the resin be strong enough on its own? (The river will average about 3 inches wide, with LEDs inlaid out of sight.)
Thanks for your instructables and your attention to my question.
I am not familiar with that brand of resin, but my guess is that it would be fine without end strips or inlays if you didnt want to use them. This is assuming you are doing a full depth pour of resin. The main reason I did breadboard style ends on my table is because I only wanted the resin to be about 3/8" thick so that I could save on material and avoid encapsulating the LEDs. Also I did not want the LED tape to be visible on the ends. There are plenty of people out there (myself included on some projects) relying on the resin alone to hold two slabs together. Bonus stability points if you use a leg system that spans the gap and helps keep everything in alignment; like the dining table I did. Good luck! Keep an eye out for my next project that Ill be posting on here soon. The "Cosmic Rift" table.
I have wanted to do something similar for years. Have you had any problems at the wood/resin interface due to wood expansion/contraction? If so, how significant is it and is there anything to be done to fix/prevent this?
I have only been building these resin river tables for about 6 months, but no issues yet. From my experience the resin does have a little bit of flexibility that I believe will accommodate the small amount of gradual wood movement. I built a table many years ago that was fully encapsulated by resin at about 1/8" thick, and the shell seems to move with the wood just fine. I can tell in certain areas around Inlays and knots where the resin has flexed to accommodate inconsistencies.
Great table, love to make same....
Could you let me know information of your CNC milling table please
I have made one but it isn't firm and can not get reasonable finish.
Have you made it or its purchased?
I built the entire CNC from scratch. I may eventually do a write up for it, but I would have to dig through a lot of old pictures to make it happen... I wouldn't hold your breath On that one! The short of it is that I recommend building your CNC on a dead flat torsion box table.
Looks great! Thanks for recommending the epoxy, I've been wanting to try that one. Question: do you use pumps with that epoxy? or pour measurements? looking for pump recommendations.
Thanks! I use graduated 1 quart mixing cups. I buy them 100 at a time off ebay
I totally understand selling this piece to help build your business and fund other projects but I have a question because I would love to make this for myself, where did you get your electronics system that controls everything? You can send me a private message if you’d like. Many thanks,
Thanks a bunch! I’m a novice but I have a very active imagination and think with the right knowledge I could come up with some cool stuff! I was actually thinking about how to do something similar to this project a few days ago so I can’t wait to get something made! I will post when I do.
I got all of the electronics on amazon. There are tons of affordable options there. Search Lithium Ion battery bank, LED tape, and Remote Dimmer and you will find tons of viable options.