improved a freebie table by adding an artsy reclaimed wood top, covered with polymer resin coating. Slices of an old 4"x4" post, and a large tree branch, add interesting shapes and texture.
Step 1: Get a Free Table, and Some Wood Scraps
Found a small table by the side of the road. Structurally it was in good shape, but looked cheap, and the top had some (minor) water damage. Also had a long piece of wood for a rim, a 3' length of weathered 4"x4" post, and about 3' of a tree branch that varied from 1" to 3" diameter.
Step 2: Slice Wood Into Pucks to Put on Surface
I had a bandsaw. 1/2" thickness was the thinnest I could reliably cut with it. this would have been easier with a chop/miter saw or a table saw. I just kept cutting until I has enough pieces to cover the top.
Step 3: Make a Wood Border
a wood border helps keep the pieces contained, and makes it look more "finished".
Measured the length and width of the top. the piece of scrap trim I had, wasn't quite long enough, so I sliced it in half lengthwise. this particular table was 30" by 17.5".
I would have mitered the edges but without a miter saw it would be tricky to make the edges match. so I lapped the edges instead with the band saw. I measured the thickness of the trim boards, and added that to the length of the table. If I were to do this again, I would have added twice the thickness to the to longboards, so that the ends would overlap same way on both sides.
I screwed the trim boards together. Because they were so thin, I drilled tap holes for the screws first. I also drilled a countersink inset so the the screw top would be flat with the surface of the wood.
Step 4: Glue Trim to Top of Table
This part is more important than it seems. The better the seal is between the wood and the table top, the less resin will leak out from under the trim while it's curing. And the less headache for you.
I used a glue gun but because of the size of the length of the trim, it was difficult to put enough glue down before the glue started to harden. If I were to do this again, I would probably use a generous coating of wood glue. And have taped around the sides with blue tape to seal it, while it was still dry. It was leaking when it was wet, and once it's leaking it's very tricky and messy to seal the leaks. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Step 5: Arrange Wood Pieces
I recommend starting out with the largest pieces first and filling the space with as many large pieces as you can fit. Then go to the next smaller size, then, the smallest size.
Another thing I would have done differently, is glue all of the pieces down. I didn't have too much trouble with pieces floating, except for a couple of small pieces. Hot glue would work fine for this. They just need to be tacked to the surface so they don't float away when the resin is poured on them. It's easy to tack them down after you have the pieces arranged, just lift each individual piece and put a little glue under it.
Step 6: Mix and Pour Resin
Follow the mixing directions on your resin. Mine said to stir for 2 minutes and mixing equal quantities. I used a plastic knife to stir it, & a piece of a plastic bottle. that way I could throw them both out when it was done.
I ended up using half a gallon of resin to cover a 30 inch by 17 inch table top. I could have probably put more resin on it if I had made the trim higher. That's another thing I would have done differently. Then it could have had a really smooth surface, if the border were high enough about 1 inch high, then there would be about half an inch above the wood pieces that could be just resin. I would do something that high, in two layers. It took about 2 days for the resin to dry completely, so I would wait two days and then put a second layer on the top.