Should I seal this table with epoxy? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-09-2020, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Should I seal this table with epoxy?

I'm building a reclaimed barn wood trestle table for a friend of mine. I believe the lumber is black locust but I can't say that for sure. The lumber all started off as about 9/4 x 6" by about 14' long. By the time I was able to fix all the issues of the longer 90" cuts I made for the table top, I ended up with a width of around 5" and a thickness of 1.34". The deeper I got into some of the pieces on my jointer and plainer the more insect damage and metal rot I found. By the time I selected the best boards for the table top I still had a couple of boards that I had to include in the top that had some of bug damage. After I glued up the top and started filling the open holes (Starbond CA for the top, epoxy resin for the bottom) I found that a couple of boards that really caused me some problems. I'd fill the small holes with Starbond CA and when I finished sanding down the CA glue I'd open up more holes. I could feel a few sections on these boards moving with a bit of pressure. I have been able to stabilize all sections and now both the top and bottom are solid.

I'm getting ready to finish the table now and I am thinking about completely sealing it in epoxy. I'm not a huge fan of that as it will make this beautiful wood feel like plastic but I am concerned with long term stability. I had hoped to finish this with a few coats of tung oil and several coats of Arm-R-Seal but I'm wondering if that's enough at this point, given the problem with a few of the top boards.

I'm sure these problem boards seem pretty fragile based on what I've shared in this post. To be honest even the boards with the worst bug & metal rot issues are quite a bit heaver and more solid that similar sized white oak boards that I typically use. It is definitely a solid table top, I'm just concerned about long term stability.

Although I've been wood working for a while this is really my first "large" project. I'd appreciate any advice that you are are willing to share.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-10-2020, 02:16 PM
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I'm not sure what you'd accomplish by coating the entire thing with epoxy; I don't think it will add any structural strength and you know you won't like the look. (neither would I)

I do think you could fill some of the worm holes. The ones on the edge of the last photo make that edge look like it might be a little punky. I'd use low viscosity epoxy so it can penetrate well. Heating the table and the epoxy will help it penetrate, but be aware it also accelerates the curing of the epoxy, so use the slowest hardener you can find. I use MAS low vis epoxy and slow hardener.

Last edited by Quickstep; 08-10-2020 at 02:20 PM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-10-2020, 02:54 PM
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Here are some photo posting tips if you’re taking photos with your phone or iPad – the best way for proper orientation is to shoot landscape (widescreen). Rotate your phone or iPad CCW for proper orientation. If you want your photos to be portrait then open the photo in a viewer on your computer, rotate it to the orientation you want, then save it in that orientation. It will be correct when you upload it to the servers here. If you’re shooting video please shoot widescreen like our monitors, not portrait.

The best way to post photos in line with your text is to use Go Advanced below the Quick Reply window. If you’re starting a new thread then you’re automatically in the Advanced editor. Click on the Paper Clip on the ribbon bar and that will bring up a dialogue box where you can browse to your photos. Upload them and then put your cursor where you want a photo, hit the dropdown beside the Paper Clip, and choose the photo you want inserted. If you have several photos and just want them at the end of your text then put your cursor at the end and hit the Insert All on the dropdown list of photos.

Always post a photo rather than a link; most folks won't click on a link. For instance, your thread has over 80 views but the links in your post have only a dozen or so views.

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post #4 of 9 Old 08-10-2020, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by difalkner View Post
...

The best way to post photos in line with your text is to use Go Advanced below the Quick Reply window. If you’re starting a new thread then you’re automatically in the Advanced editor. Click on the Paper Clip on the ribbon bar and that will bring up a dialogue box where you can browse to your photos. Upload them and then put your cursor where you want a photo, hit the dropdown beside the Paper Clip, and choose the photo you want inserted. If you have several photos and just want them at the end of your text then put your cursor at the end and hit the Insert All on the dropdown list of photos.

Always post a photo rather than a link; most folks won't click on a link. For instance, your thread has over 80 views but the links in your post have only a dozen or so views.

David
Thanks for the advice David. I'm obviously new here I appreciate the instruction. I tried using that button when I initially posted but the pictures on my Mac are stored in HEIC format which I can't attach to this site. I'm guessing I'd have to export them in a different format unless someone has a better option.

Here are a few exported pictures of the table I'm working on:

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post #5 of 9 Old 08-10-2020, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quickstep View Post
I'm not sure what you'd accomplish by coating the entire thing with epoxy; I don't think it will add any structural strength and you know you won't like the look. (neither would I)

I do think you could fill some of the worm holes. The ones on the edge of the last photo make that edge look like it might be a little punky. I'd use low viscosity epoxy so it can penetrate well. Heating the table and the epoxy will help it penetrate, but be aware it also accelerates the curing of the epoxy, so use the slowest hardener you can find. I use MAS low vis epoxy and slow hardener.
Thanks for the feedback. I think I did a poor job explaining my main concern last night so I'll try it a different way.

I noticed when filling a hole with CA glue that after I sanded it down and was feeling the wood next to it I felt the top of the board flex when I put pressure on it. I suspect it is because there are more worm holes just under the "good top wood". Realizing there were weak spots just under the surface of the table top I was wondering if Epoxy was a good solution.

I spent some time last night finding all the spots on the top of the table that were weak. I exposed those weak areas and stiffened them up with CA glue. Hopefully no more weak spots will open up as I get it to final dimensions and finish sanding.

I also flipped the table over last night and poured a slow drying epoxy resign into all the open sections. The table soaked up about 600 ML of epoxy. The sections seem solid now and I'll sand the surface epoxy off tomorrow morning before I start the final finishing on that.

I did fill the punky portion of the bread board with epoxy as well. I will end up taking about 3/8" off the end of each bread board when I get the table down to it's final dimensions. I suspect there won't be much punky wood left after that cut and the beveling I plan to do to the bottom.

This is my first table build so I'm probably just being nervous. Thanks again for your feedback!


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post #6 of 9 Old 08-10-2020, 07:29 PM
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It's looking good, Brian! On the photos, I always use jpg for all the forums in which I participate (about 10 - way too many LOL!). It just makes things easier.

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post #7 of 9 Old 08-11-2020, 09:53 AM
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Sometimes, just let the wood be. Take advantage of the natural beauty of wood eaten by insects. The cure may be worse than the disease. Plane it any thinner and you'll have nothing left. Nothing has to be perfect, finish the table then have dinner with friends.

Don't call me, "The Butcher"
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post #8 of 9 Old 08-12-2020, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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I ended up doing some testing on the bottom side of the table. I decided to fill the insect damage and knot holes on the bottom of the table with a coat of epoxy colored black with some pigment.

Here's a picture of the table prior to the epoxy pour:

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Here's a picture of the epoxy pour:

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Things looked pretty ugly at this point and I wasn't sure how the boards were going to take oil after sanding off the excess epoxy.

Here's a picture of what it looked like after sanding off the epoxy with a round of sanding at 80 and 120 grit:

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Here's what it looked like after two coats of tung oil (first coat was cut with 50% mineral spirits, 50% tung oil along with a little dye that I added to help darken the boards a bit):

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I was happy that using epoxy to fill the holes didn't seem to affect how the boards took the oil. The only negative effect is that if you look at the table from a certain angle you can see that the grain is completely sealed in the areas where I used epoxy where some of it is open in other areas. I'm sure I could have corrected that by using some sanding sealer or just skim coating the entire table with epoxy instead of just certain spots.

I also made a mistake with the dye / tung oil mix. I'm sure the transtint dye I used was a mistake as it never fully mixed with the tung oil. I'd have to stir it before wetting my rag. I forgot to do that once and had a bunch of small dye pieces that caught the top of my rag. When I put it down on the dry wood the color set instantly. You can see that mistake 4 boards in from the left, about 6 inches above the dowel. If I use this method for the top I'll probably take the rag I'm dipping in the tung oil / dye mixture and wrap it inside of another rag before applying.

The other thing I found interesting was that using the pigmented epoxy to fill the holes looks much better than the black Starbond CA glue. The pigmented epoxy gets darker as the hole gets deeper. For the thinner parts of the holes on the leading edge the epoxy is slightly transparent, showing the grain of the wood underneath it for a while until it eventually turns completely black. The black CA glue is solid black no matter how shallow or deep the hole is.

I'm happy with the testing done on the bottom of the table. Hopefully the top will turn out a little better.
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-13-2020, 08:17 AM
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It looks great.

A coat or two of a good oil varnish like Waterlox will fix the unevenness in sheen between the raw wood areas and the places where you have epoxy.

Also, when you do the top, be sure to give the epoxy time to fully cure before sanding. If you sand before the epoxy is fully cured, it can shrink a little showing a low spot in certain light.

And yeah, for some reason TransTint doesn’t dissolve in oil. It seems compatible with almost everything else.
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