Plank to Bathtray

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6

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About: Founder of fizzPOP, playing with woodwork

I am in the process of finishing mk2 of my coffee table, while I was doing this I was updating a friend with mid build photos.

She decided what she needed in her life was a bath tray in the same colour scheme.

This was put together out of scraps and seeing what worked by messing around with what I had, what could be called "physically induced design" if you don't want to tell someone you got there by playing around. I had never made one before and while I am happy with it there are things I would change for mk2 but for me, that is part of the fun.

Please note this instructable will be explained how I did it, not the way you would do it if you had designed it first. I am explaining it this way so people hopefully understand that some times you should just play with an idea.

To make this particular build you will need:

Materials:

  • Some piece(s) of wood of some kind, I used some scrap pine as that was what I had at that moment
  • Wooden rod or you could use 2 pieces of broom handle (again had that in the scrap wood bin)
  • 2 part epoxy - I use the clear "art" grade stuff but if you are not too fussed on the colour, normal is fine
  • Pigment/Ink
  • Glow in the dark powder (Because why not?)
  • Danish Oil

Consumables:

  • Rag
  • Plastic pint glasses
  • Wood glue
  • PVC tape (Wider the better)
  • Screws
  • Various grit belts
  • Various grit discs

Tools used(will suggest alternatives):

  • Table Saw
  • Crosscut saw
  • Thicknesser
  • Hole saw
  • Router with a half round bit
  • Battery drill + drill bit
  • Belt Sander
  • Random orbit sander
  • Every small clamp you have
  • Hot air gun
  • Optional - your local makerspace, I used fizzPOP in Birmingham, UK

Step 1: Cut the Plank Down

So depending on if you are starting from small planks or a large single piece like I did depends on how much work this is going to be.

I used the table saw to cut my piece of pine into strips, then the crosscut to get them to uniform length as it was a damaged piece of timber. This could be done with a hand saw or a bandsaw with a large bed.

Please note the measurements below are to the closest 10mm, it isn't important for the build just make sure you have extra pieces if smaller.

You want to end up with :

11 pieces of 750mm by 40mm by 10mm

5 pieces of 1000mm by 40mm by 10mm

Step 2: "Design"

So at this point, I had some measurements of the bath, wanted it to have space for a candle and a hole for a stemless wine glass to sit but no idea how I wanted it to look.

Using a split piece of scrap pine, a paper cup and the lid to a coffee jar, I mocked up where I wanted to put the wine glass hole and the candle.

Having done some epoxy projects before I decided as I was going for a solid colour, was low on epoxy and was trying to get this done quickly that I would make a plain plank base then do something interesting on top of that. This would cut down the time as I wouldn't have to build a full jig for the pour and half the amount of epoxy used.

After a bit of playing with different shapes and interweaves (sorry didn't get any photos), I quickly decided I liked the above idea.

Step 3: Base and Wood Detail

The base was a quick and simple glue and clamp. I used some scrap wood to hold the pieces roughly flat while clamping them together from the sides.

Using the crosscut to put the correct angles on the wood (decided by what I liked the look of and not detailed so you can decide on which ones suit you) turned out to be a bit of a waste of time as later I trimmed the excess off the other sides with the crosscut. You could do this with a router and follower bit.

To space the pieces of wood detail I used an offcut from angling the pieces, one is seen bottom left of the final photo.

Step 4: ALL THE CLAMPS

So now comes the glue and clamps for the detailing.

Take time with this step as it will be noticeable if a piece is at the wrong angle or spacing.

Make sure to use at least 2 spacers, one at the top and one at the bottom but feel free to use as many as you can.

I find it best to pre-spread the glue around the two pieces before you clamp and try and clean up the excess glue as epoxy doesn't stick to wood glue as well as wood.

While I trimmed the excess pieces of detail off, the bath tray is still slightly oversized as you can always cut away but harder to stick things back on.

Step 5: Epoxy Pour

Would suggest watching a few epoxy videos on youtube before this step, if you have done some epoxy pours before nothing below should be new.

Using some wood out of the scrap bin to build a fence, covering the fence in PVC so the epoxy doesn't stick to it, then building around the bath tray so I don't end up with epoxy EVERYWHERE.

Would also recommend covering the bottom of the piece in PVC tape as well so you catch any that leaks through.

Use the heat gun to bring any bubbles in the epoxy to the surface so they pop. Depending on the working time of you epoxy I would suggest pouring, wait 3rd of working time, heat gun, wait for another 3rd, heat gun, wait again and then one last pass over the epoxy.

Step 6: Rough Sanding and Thicknessing

So I did a rough sand with a belt sander before putting the piece through our thicknesser, you could skip this step but I like to see the piece at each stage before moving forward.

If you don't have a thicknesser than a belt sander is fine.

This is one of the steps I made a mistake and took too much material from the epoxy side but I learnt something so it is more knowledge for mk2.

Step 7: Final Shaping

This is where I finally decided the final size and shape of the piece. It was also the moment I realised the epoxy I had was only good for contact temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius so I abandoned the candle holder for this version.

I used our table saw for the long cuts and the bandsaw for roughing the corners, then some work on the disc sander. I used a basic hole saw for the wine glass hole.

Step 8: Routing and Final Sanding

As you can see from the first photo I didn't get the router depth perfect before running it around the outside and inside the hole which caused a little extra sanding.

At this point, I used the random orbit sander and worked up the grits from 80 to 300, this is another step to take a lot of time over as it will really make a difference to the final look.

Use your fingertips and run them over the piece, you will feel the rough areas and the raised areas. Mark them with a pencil and then work them over with the sander when at the 80 grit stage.

After sanding the piece completely I added the wooden rod I was using as feet so it couldn't slip over the side of the bath, didn't get a photo but they magically appear in the next step.

Step 9: Danish Oil

So this is a long stage as I like to leave the oil to dry for 24 hrs between coats.

I did 3 coats on both sides which makes the piece water resistant. Do the bottom first and then the top, that way if there is any runoff then it is easier to clean up and worst comes to the very worst the bottom is less critical.

The technique that works for me is pouring on an amount, work that into the grain with a lint-free rag while spreading it around. Once the side is covered, leave to dry is somewhere that is not going to get dusty for 24hr hours, repeat.

Note about Danish Oil, the curing process is exothermic (makes heat) normally this isn't an issue but if you end up with a lot of wet rags, let them dry spread out before putting it in a bin.

Step 10: Tadaaaa

One bath tray in situ, REALLY happy with the grain effect from the oil.

Changes from this mk1 I would make:

  • Use an epoxy with a bigger temperature rating - though my friend has used a candle holder in wine hole fine
  • Use a better wood than pine
  • A more interesting colour but that is personal preference
  • A lip around the edge so things don't slide off - but again she has used an iPad on it fine
  • Better feet but that is what I had around plus didn't want to make it too perfect for that particular bath
  • More fun shape and detail design overall

Some might find this process a bit wasteful (with more planning it wouldn't be), please be aware that as I was doing this at a makerspace, all my scrap went into a large bin that other members can just grab what they need. For example, the fence pieces have been used by at least 3 of us so far. Every few weeks members who have log fireplaces grab the non-toxic wood for use a kindling so as much as possible get used and the rest goes to our waste processor who sends nothing to landfill.

Anyone makes this please reply with a link to a photo, would be great to see yours.

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    2 Discussions

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    seamster

    15 days ago

    Very cool, great detail with the epoxy stripes. Nicely done!

    1 reply
    0
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    GarethFYIseamster

    Reply 15 days ago

    Thanks, generally happy with it. Just need to get around to making mk2.