using colored epoxy for inlay - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 Old 11-01-2012, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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using colored epoxy for inlay

I am building a walnut coffee table and am considering using an epoxy for an inlay instead of wood. The design is very intricate and thought this would be much easier. I was wondering if anybody has experience doing this. What kind of epoxy to use? Can the epoxy be colored and if so with what? Can cured epoxy be machined to give even further detail? Will movement of wood affect the epoxy? Would appreciate any feedback.
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post #2 of 12 Old 11-01-2012, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leigh71
I am building a walnut coffee table and am considering using an epoxy for an inlay instead of wood. The design is very intricate and thought this would be much easier. I was wondering if anybody has experience doing this. What kind of epoxy to use? Can the epoxy be colored and if so with what? Can cured epoxy be machined to give even further detail? Will movement of wood affect the epoxy? Would appreciate any feedback.
What a great idea if u do this and it does work let me know send pics
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-01-2012, 09:21 PM
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Leigh,
I have seen some demos at our turning club featuring epoxy inlays. They used the two part 24 hour epoxy. It readily flows out. It machined easily with normal steel lathe tools. I don't think wood movement would affect it. They did add coloring to it. I am not that well versed on it, so maybe somebody else will chime in. Here's a few pics of what one of the demoer's made.
Mike Hawkins
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-02-2012, 10:17 AM
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I have heard a few folks on here talk about In Lace. I don't have any experience with it myself, but I have looked at it online and they have a variety of colors you can add.

Dave Paine has used it on some of his cutting boards and other projects. Hopefully, he will be able to chime in and provide you with some first hand insight.

Last edited by Better Place; 11-02-2012 at 10:30 AM. Reason: spelling corrections
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-02-2012, 02:08 PM
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I've done this on a few occasions, all in small 1/8 x 1/8 grooves.
I used a regular 2 part epoxy with powdered dye from a local we store. My only suggestion would be to add more of the hardener and make sure to let it cure completely before applying finish. I only know this because I had one that bled black whenever moisture came into contact with it.

Hope this helps
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-02-2012, 05:58 PM
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I've used fiberglass colorant to color epoxy. You can get a kit with a bunch of colors. I included a link below. I've discovered that epoxy continues to cure even after it seems like it's dry. So, if you level it before it's fully, fully cured, it will shrink away a little bit and become slightly concave. That will show up under a good finish. It will usually cure fully in a week, two if you want to be really safe. Make sure you follow the mixing proportions accurately. Even slight variations can produce unpredictable results. Slower curing epoxy is more tolerant of wood movement; fast curing epoxies become brittle and can crack away from the wood. Epoxy that flows well will also flow into surrounding wood if it's porous. Also, as the epoxy is being absorbed, it travels into the pores of the wood and displaces the air in the pores and that produces bubbles in the epoxy. Usually the bubbles will find their way to the surface, waving a lamp over it will make the bubbles expand and burst. Usually, there's enough surface tension to allow for some overfilling so you don't have to fill twice. The fully cured epoxy machines well, but you need to treat it like plastic and be careful to not let friction create too much heat, or the epoxy will misbehave just like plastic when you get it too hot.


http://www.amazon.com/Fibre-Glass-Evercoat-Gel-Coat-Repair/dp/B0000AXTGZ
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-02-2012, 06:18 PM
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Another couple of keywords to search for are "Epoxy Doming" and "Resin Doming" which is the process of appying epoxy over things like decals to make them more durable and to give them thickness. One main difference with these is that the resin is UV-cured.

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post #8 of 12 Old 11-02-2012, 08:10 PM
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Be sure to have a propane torch to lightly hit the airbubbles that want to surface to the top.
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Have almost finished the table. Working with the epoxy was pretty easy, certainly alot faster than doing this with wood inlay.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-20-2012, 05:39 PM
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I made epoxy castings for several years, in a past life.
Araldite, cured at 60C (= 150F) for 24 hrs.
Superb dimensional stability to the electron microscope level (say, 30,000X)
To just leave it to set up is asking for trouble. Keep it quite warm for 48+hrs.
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post #11 of 12 Old 02-08-2013, 07:56 AM
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Tear out

I have had problems with tear out of the groove when going across the grain. Not visible until you put a black epoxy in a maple veneer. Any idea how do I stop this?
Thanks,
THERK
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post #12 of 12 Old 02-08-2013, 09:05 AM
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I use epoxy quite a bit and it's a learning process. If you want to display items in epoxy you cannot top coat with anything but a hi-gloss clear, since anything else has solids in it and will fog and you can't see the items clearly. The only top coat that I know that is compatible is water based polyurethane. NEVER use oil based anything on it. It can crack up the surface.

I've never bothered coloring it, and air bubbles are an issue. Since when you mix epoxy, one trick I've read (but not tried) is to drain your mixing container on the project from the bottom, since the air bubbles rise towards the top. Still you will need to propane torch what's left.

I've so far implanted blue jay feathers, leafs, and coins into table surfaces and they went fairly well. I also use epoxy as a total surface first and second coat, troweled on with a toothed trowel. It snaps the grain and coloring out better than any hand rubbed oil or anything else I've practiced with. Many don't like the hi-gloss, and it is hard to get perfect. You can easily sand it after a solid 2 days of sitting (or it will ball up in the sandpaper). This of course is temperature sensitive and on the brand I buy, they give drying times based on temp. ALWAYS stay with the recommended mixing. You cant speed drying time by adding more hardener.

I haven't tried yet, but you can likely run down to finer grits even down to #0000 steel wool and pumice to bring back the sheen desired (but again, anything imbedded, the detail and sharpness will be lost unless you get a hi-gloss finish back on it. I generally sand the surface down and topcoat (after 4 days +) with water based poly to any sheen I like, and items deep in the wood get a hi-gloss brushed on in that area. I tape off the area with imbedded items so not to get solids in the mix.

It's fun stuff. I use Enviro-tek available at Menards. About $50 a gallon. Good product. There may be better, but I've gotten used to that brand. Hard as nails after about 5-6 weeks. The stuff cures to usable touch in about 48 hours but it slow cures for a solid month. It will dent early on with a fingernail pressure, but springs back. Later in life you cant dent it busting a beer bottle on it.

One question you asked was about it holding up against wood trying to move. Epoxy is glue so yes it'll hold unless (like any glue) you have some incredible stresses going on.

Enjoy!

Last edited by Da Aardvark; 02-08-2013 at 09:12 AM.
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