How to Make Ocean Resin Wave Art

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About: Hi Everyone, I'm Jeremy Hoffpauir. I write instructables about unique DIY woodworking and home improvement projects. I use unique design elements with a rustic coastal style in my creations such as epoxy...

In this resin ocean wave art instructable, I show you how to make an epoxy beach scene using resin and wood.

Obviously, I love ocean-inspired projects. In fact, most of my inspiration for just about everything comes from the beach and ocean.

I did not intend to publish a tutorial or video for this project. Instead, my plan was to record the build to use as future reference.

However, this resin ocean wave art turned out better than I hoped for, so I decided to write this resin ocean art tutorial.

I hope this article provides you more than enough information to make this on your own.

Be sure to read to the end to learn various techniques such as how to sand and polish resin.

Tools & Material Used

Epoxy Resin Used for this Project
My Recommended Epoxy Resins
Transparent Blue Dye (Weak)
Transparent Blue Dye (Strong)
Alcohol Ink
Mixing Containers
Mixing Sticks
Straws
Lexel
Johnson Furniture Wax
Heat Gun (Or Hair Dryer)
Digital Protractor Angle Gauge
Worx Portable Workbench
Festool TS75 Track Saw
Festool LR32 Track
Chisel
Tape Measure
Gyokucho Razorsaw Ryoba Saw
12" combination square
Marking Knife
RO125 Festool Rotex Sander
Festool CT SYS Vacuum
Sandpaper (60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320)
Festool Polish
Polishing Sponge
Festool Polishing Sheepskin Pad

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Prepare Wood

I decided to use 2 pieces of reclaimed cypress wood to practice making ocean waves. I say the wood is 'reclaimed' because my cypress dealer gave it to me during a previous trip there.

I resawed these 2 pieces of wood a few months ago, so I only needed to trim the ends & rough sand to 120 grit.

First, I used my combination square and marking knife to mark a line roughly 36".

Why did I trim it to 36"? The 2 pieces of cypress wood were level up to 36" before it became thinner and sloped down.

The marking knife created a tiny groove, which made it easy to start the cross-cut with my Japanese pull saw.
As a quick tip, it helps to get the cut started with a 'pushing' motion when using a Japanese pull saw. Otherwise, the teeth grab and cause the first pass to be uneven.

Oh, I forgot to mention. I use mostly mobile power tools & hand tools while doing projects at my home in Florida. Essentially, I only use larger power tools when I don't have another option because of the small space. Since most of my tools are portable, I have all my power tools except my bandsaw with me; however, I try to avoid using them. Sanding and cutting cured resin could ruin my hand planes and japanese pull saws, so I was forced to use my track saw and festool ro125 sander.

Step 2: Rough Sand

Next, I rough sanded each piece of cypress with my Festool RO125.My sanding sequence started at 40 grit with my sander in rotex (coarse) mode in order to knock down the resaw marks from my bandsaw. Then, I used 60 grit, 80 grit, 100 grit, and 120 grit while in rotex mode. After I finished 120 grit in rotex mode, I changed my Festool RO125 to random orbit (fine) mode and went over the wood with 120 grit again. Additionally, I felt very hot and quickly realized the sun was shining directly on me. So, I moved my work table in the shade and finished rough sanding.

Step 3: Epoxy Resin Mould

First, use a piece of particle board, plywood, or MDF. Next, cover the board with packing tape.

In theory, I normally prep the wood before making the epoxy resin mold.

However, I did things a bit different this time for no good reason other than convenience.

I don't remember why this was more convenient.

Then, I covered the packing tape with vaseline or furniture wax.

The sides and ends should be as long, wide, and tall as the table. I covered the sides with packing tape and secured them with brad nails to the rear of the table.
For this project, I only used 2 ends because the wood on each side served as the sides. Most importantly, I used a silicone caulk (any type will work) to seal all edges, seams, and corners.

As a quick tip, clamp the wood to the resin mold before sealing with silicone caulk.
If I clamp the work piece down after sealing, I risk breaking the caulk which causes leaking.

Lastly, I used my digital protractor angle gaugeto level the bottom of the epoxy resin mold.

Step 4: Epoxy Resin Layers & Tint Resin

For clarification purposes, I intentionally poured 4 layers of epoxy resin for this resin ocean art project.

I used the word 'intentionally' because a thin epoxy pour is the only option with most epoxy resin.

This was the case with the resin I used in this project. Of course, I could have poured everything in one deep layer using slow-curing casting epoxy. By the way, my favorite casting epoxy for up to 4" pours is Liquid Glass Superclear 2.0. However, I wanted to experiment with 3d resin waves by pouring multiple thin layers about 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Ultimately, this allows me to test different techniques to create epoxy water effects.

Tint Resin

For the first resin pour, I mixed 48 ounces of epoxy resin in a mixing container. My daughter likes watching epoxy resin pours and the proper way to mix epoxy resin.

Next, I mixed the material until it was clear. Most epoxy resin gets cloudy during the mixing process. The material becomes clear when fully mixed.

In order make the resin ocean wave art translucent, I mixed resin and turquoise blue transparent dye.
As a side note, I have 2 types of blue transparent dye in this project.

I did not do this on purpose. Originally, I thought all transparent dye were essentially the same when I purchased more dye for this project.

One dye is weak while the other is strong. In other words, I use more of the weaker dye to achieve the desired shade of blue. Essentially, I started out using the weaker dye in this project and eventually transitioned to using the stonger one.

While the weaker dye allows more color control, it was a bit aggravating to keep adding to the resin.

I always add a very small amount of translucent dye to resin, mix, and inspect. I can add more if the color needs to be darkened.

Obviously, this shade of blue was not dark enough.

Needless to say, I had to add more transparent blue dye to the resin a total of 3 times to achieve the proper shade of blue.

Step 5: Pour Resin & Add Alcohol Ink

I poured the resin into the mold and allowed it to settle for a few minutes while I checked for leaks.

Once I verified there were no visible leaks, I grabbed the white alcohol ink to create ocean waves.

First, I add alcohol ink within 3 to 5 minutes of the resin pour. It is important the resin to be fluid in order for the alcohol ink to disperse correctly.
I used the bottle to pour white alcohol ink across the length of one side near the wood. Essentially, the point here is to make it appear as though waves are crashing on the shore.

Next, I used a hair dryer to spread the alcohol ink because my heat gun broke. I ordered a new one, but it didn't arrive in time for this project.Keep in mind, a hair dryer works fine; however, the high speed may cause the resin and/or alcohol ink to splash around.Ultimately, I wanted to get a feel for how it flowed in the resin.

I noticed something interesting while moving the alcohol ink in the resin. The more I moved the alcohol ink with the heat gun (blow dryer), the more it blended with the resin. In other words, the resin looked more like white resin. I learned to get the lace effect or water effect, I only needed to move the alcohol ink a few times. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to go about creating resin ocean wave art.

I encourage you to do what feels right to you. After all, art is about self expression.

Step 6: Second Resin Pour

After 24 hours, I proceeded to the second resin pour.

As a quick tip, the color darkens quickly when using transparent dye with multiple layers of resin.

In other words, the color compounds with each layer.

I made this mistake once and there is not a way to fix it.

So, be sure the color doesn't get too dark by the time you reach the final epoxy resin pour. First, I mixed 48 ounces of epoxy resin. Then, I used the stronger transparent blue dye.

Next, I poured the resin on the previous layer. I really like this transparent dye as it produces a vibrant blue with only a few drops. In comparison, 2 drops of this dye is roughly equal to 15 drops of the weaker transparent dye.

Then, I poured the alcohol ink in the tinted resin as I did in the previous step.
This bottle does not have a spout, so the alcohol ink dripped down the side of the bottle.

Consequently, I poured more than I intended. Also, notice the first layer underneath this layer in the picture below.

By adding depth through multiple resin layers, this resin ocean wave art should have a very cool 3D effect.

After about 30 seconds of the alcohol ink sitting in the resin, it created a cool effect.

I used my heat gun to move the resin until I achieved an ocean wave pattern.
I avoided moving the resin around too much.

Step 7: Third Resin Pour

After 24 hours, I mixed another 48 ounces and added blue transparent dye.I poured the resin in the epoxy ocean.

Next, I filled a few wood cracks and imperfections with transparent blue colored resin.

Then, I poured white alcohol ink in a bowl and used a straw to add alcohol ink to the resin.Essentially, the straw helps me control the amount of alcohol ink I add to the resin. Since this is the third layer, I can't make a mistake at this stage of the project.

I moved the resin around with my heat gun.

Next, I added a small amount of alcohol ink to the colored resin in the wood cracks.

I used my resin mixing stick to blend the alcohol ink. Essentially, I figured the heat gun would blow too much of the resin on the wood surface.

In order to create more of a 3D ocean wave effect, I used my heat gun to roll some of the blue resin over the alcohol ink.I did not want the surface to be too white considering I had one more epoxy resin layer after this one.

Step 8: Final Resin Pour

After 24 hours, I started the final resin pour.

First, I mixed 48 ounces of resin and mixed it just like in the previous layers. I poured 4 ounces of clear resin into a plastic cup.

Then, I added transparent blue dye to the 36 ounces and white alcohol ink to the 4 ounces of resin in the plastic cup.

So, I decided to mix alcohol ink to a small amount of resin for this pour to make it more fluid.
In previous epoxy resin layers, the alcohol ink is very thin and watery. As a result, it spread too easily.

I figured adding thickness would give me more control Next, I poured the final resin layer and allowed it to settle for a few minutes.

Step 9: Resin Wave Effect

I filled some of the remaining wood cracks with colored resin and added a small amount of the alcohol ink mixed with resin.I moved the alcohol ink around to create the resin ocean wave effect with a straw instead of a heat gun.

In order to create resin ocean waves, I poured the alcohol ink mixed with resin near one piece of wood.

Next, I used a straw and lightly blew on the alcohol ink to sink it more in the resin.Although this worked well, I needed to add more alcohol ink. The alcohol ink mixed with resin behaved exactly how I thought, but I wanted a more dramatic resin ocean wave effect.

So, I pulled out the bottle and promptly added more alcohol ink. I didn't have time to use a bowl and straw because I need the resin to be fluid.

Then, I used a straw to sink the alcohol ink in the resin to get a light blue color and a 3D effect. In addition, the ocean wave appears as though half of it is under the surface of the water.

As a final step, I used my heat gun until I reached a resin ocean wave effect I thought looked good.

As a quick tip, I find it really helps to roll the blue resin over part of the white alcohol ink to create depth at the very end. After I rolled the blue resin over, I left it alone.

Step 10: Remove Resin Mould

After the resin ocean wave art cured for 48 hours, I removed the epoxy mold successfully.

Obviously, this part of resin projects causes me to feel anxious. If leaks exist, it means a lot of messy work to clean it up.

I removed the leftover silicone from the resin ocean wave art. This prevents the silicone from ruining my sandpaper.

Step 11: Trim to Final Size

I used my Festool TS75 track saw and track to trim the ends and sides.

In order to trim the sides, I measured from one corner across the table 24" and made a mark. I repeated the process at the other end.

Next, I placed my track on the 2 marks and secured it to the table.

Then, I lowered the saw to 1.5" (the thickness of the resin ocean wave art is 1.25") and set the depth. I cut one strip of wood from the side.

After I trimmed one side, I measured 23" from the freshly trimmed side just like I did for the other side.
The final width is 23".

Finally, I trimmed 2.5" from each end following the same process. The final length is 31".

Step 12: Sanding

After I cut the resin ocean wave art to its final dimensions, it was time to sand it flat and smooth.

I realize some folks may get nervous when the thought of sanding their hard work comes up. Most believe the scratches won't come out, but this is not true. The process is not difficult as long as the proper sequence and technique is used.

In addition, a tool like the Festool RO125 makes sanding and polishing much easier. Keep in mind, you don't need a sander like this to do this project. A regular orbital sander and car buffer works just as well.

So, my resin sanding technique specifically for polishing consists of the following grits. The 'C' stands for coarse mode and the 'F' stands for fine mode: 40C, 60C, 80C, 100C, 120C, 120F 150F, 180F, 220F, 320F.

On this table, there were a few high spots I needed to address with the 40 grit sandpaper.

Pro Tip: I always use the speed setting 3 of 6 on my sander when sanding resin.
If I go to a higher speed setting, I risk melting the resin on itself which isn't good!

Step 13: Polish

I use festool MPA5010 orange polish with the orange waffle sponge to polish wood and resin.

Again, you don't need this setup to polish resin. Simply treat the resin as if it is a car. Use a car buffer and polish.

First, I spread the material on the surface and rub it in with the sponge to prevent splattering.

Next, I use the lowest speed setting and gently go over the surface as if I were sanding.

Then, I use the sheepskin bonnet to buff the polish out.

I flip the piece over and place it on a soft towel to prevent scratching.

Since this resin ocean wave art is translucent, I repeat the polishing process on the resin only.

I don't sand the resin because the irregularities in the surface helps distort the view through the resin.
This adds to the resin water effect as you will see in the picture on the next step.

Step 14: Final Thoughts

In my opinion, this resin ocean wave art looks great and exceeded my expectations.

Additionally, I learned how to apply alcohol ink in various ways by working with additional resin layers in this project.

In conclusion, I hope this resin ocean wave art tutorial helps you with your next project. Let me know in the comments what you think about this resin ocean wave art tutorial. Lastly, this wood and resin ocean art is for sale. If it sold by the time you click the link and you want one, don't hesitate to contact me.

Visit my online store to download a set of DIY Plans or purchase unique items I create.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!

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    14 Discussions

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    Starkey0417

    9 days ago

    Love it! I've been wanting to do a resin table, but I'm nervous to attempt it.

    1 reply
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    jeremyhoffpauirStarkey0417

    Reply 8 days ago

    Thank you! No need to be nervous - if I can do it I am willing to bet you can.

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    BPACH

    8 days ago

    This has got to be one of the best pieces of Resin Art I have seen. That is truly a motivating piece for me. Thank you for the great instructable. You answered a lot of the questioned that were preventing me from starting. Sanding and polishing were my biggest concerns and you did a great job answering them.

    1 reply
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    jeremyhoffpauirBPACH

    Reply 8 days ago

    Thank you very much! Please let me know if you have any questions - I'm happy to help.

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    F. BrianH

    9 days ago

    My only comment is just the question of the Festool RO125 and your qualification of not using power tools at the outset. That is likely the tool you spent the most time using (hand or power), so why use the qualification at the outset? If only because you used a hand saw? No issue with you using power tools, and I totally understand why you might use one and not another, my shop space is limited too. I guess my suggestion is not to qualify your whole project, but just when you do or don't use power tools and why the choice was made. Otherwise you are leaving folks wondering.

    2 replies
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    F. BrianHF. BrianH

    Reply 9 days ago

    And just to let you know, I actually love the project!

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    jeremyhoffpauirF. BrianH

    Reply 9 days ago

    Hi Brian, you are right and I can see how this can be a bit misleading. My sincere apologies as it is never my intention to mislead those who read my instructables or blog posts. The power tools I used were very limited compared to my stationary power tools in my main workshop, but they are not all hand tools. I meant to say mobile tools or hand power tools. Again, thank you for the constructive feedback - I really appreciate it.

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    jeremyhoffpauirroyhandy

    Reply 9 days ago

    Are you implying I use those words too much? Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to comment.