Introduction: The Wrong Way to Make a River Table

So I have wanted to make one of these river tables that have been so popular out there lately. I started my search and found a few ideas, and trying to keep the cost down as much as possible. Epoxy is expensive!! In my search I found out that I could use a cheaper alternative, which would be bondo brand fiberglass resin.

In the next few steps I will show you how to not make a river table, and the experience i had in making this project which went from river to looking more like a piece of bacon in my yard.

Hope you enjoy.

materials you will need.

1. singular or two pieces of wood that you can either cut or sort of book match to create your river effect.

2. gallon of fiberglass resin, I used bondo brand.

3. gloves

4. breathing mask( this stuff stinks and can be very harmful to your health.

5. planer

6. band saw

7. sander with different grit pads.

8. chisels

9. wipe on poly

Step 1: Prepare Wood

Gather all materials and set up shop.

I have had these pieces for over a year I milled them myself with a small chain saw mill. They worked great for this.
They were a little warped from air drying. and needed a little help. So I took them to the planner and made a few passes to get the. both to the right height.

I then squared of the ends to get them ready to build my resin dam.

Step 2: Resin Dam

I built a small box with a piece of melamine board and some scrap wood. this was to make a dam so that the resin would just fill in the river like area of the wood. I found that gorilla tape crystal clear worked amazing for this to make a strong dam. There are a lot of great people out there that are making these on a regular basis that are great resources on how to make your own dam. I used what I had and went on the cheap side of things.

Step 3: Warning Read the Lable


This was my big mistake, I do not have any photos of what happened in this step as I was dealing with the problems that occurred. sorry.

So I mixed fiberglass resin as directed on can, with hardener and resin in a small mixing cup and made small batches as directed and began to pour in to river area of wood. I repeated this step a few times until it filled up to top of wood where I wanted it to.

The next thing that I did wrong was to not listen to the flammable signs on can. I have seen so many people burn away the bubbles in their epoxy tables and every thing was fine. that is the key word there though EPOXY. fiberglass resin is a completely different chemical and does not react well to fire.

Having had read the can I lit the torch outside the garage thinking if it went up i would at least be outside the garage. i moved inside and just touch the table with the flame and up it went. in the immediate panic I was not able to take a picture to show the pure stupidity of what I just did. I was able to safely put out fire and remove wood from garage and put way out side. I can still smell the resin in the garage some seriously noxious stuff.

So moral of the story don't light fiberglass resin on fire like me.

It wasn't all a waste though.

Step 4: Life Burns Your Wood Make Bacon

So turns out it was really burnt like toast, and I had spent time money and energy on this project and I really don't want this to just end up in the trash. Again sorry for no picture of burnt product, just wasnt thinking about completing this instructable any more. so I took the burnt piece to my band saw and started to take some slices and see if I could fix what I had done. I couldn't save the table , but I was able to get a piece that I kinda liked and could make something work. So I squared of the end and went to town with the sander and just flowed with the piece until it was to a shape I liked and could keep going with. at this point it has become more yard piece than table.

Step 5: Make a Base

I had another piece of wood that I had milled that looked pretty cool and would work with this work.
I cut to desired size and then layed out where my larger piece would sit. I then cut with chisels to make the desired depth so that the piece wouldn't fall.

Step 6: Epoxy

I used jb weld epoxy to attach the two pieces together with no fire too. I let sit and the. used a wipe on poly to seal and finish.

Step 7: From River to Bacon

So my kids have decided that it looks like bacon. I tend to agree with them and my wife doesn't seem to mind the yard art.

Again just read the warning. this scared me and I usually am pretty good about researching this sort of thing and not just flying by the seat of my pants.

so one more time do not light fiberglass resin on fire it will go up. I would love to have more of a discussion with other who have had a similar situation or know more about river tables then I do.

thanks for reading.

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