epoxy inlay help

I tried epoxy inlay and the results were not bad (I used the syringe 5min stuff) . However, when I went to scrape off the epoxy after letting it sit for about 10min and others at 40min, it came off and left some voids in the inlay. (I found this was less of a prob if I let it sit 10min vs. 40). Is there a way to create the inlay so a smooth inlay results? and any tips for the overall process? thanks.
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Use better epoxy. Start with a quality product, that has few additives in it. Don't use a thick epoxy (i.e. tube) and try to thin it, start with a runny liquid one and only thicken it when needed. I use West System, but there are others.
Use fresh epoxy. The stuff has a shelf life.
Don't over colour it. Only takes a tiny amount of colour, and if your mix is 30% acrylic paint, that's how it'll handle afterwards,
Don't use 5 minute epoxy. It's always a compromise to get these accelerated cures, and you don't usually need them. If you do need a faster cure, mix it hot.
Cured epoxy alone is brittle, too brittle to scrape smooth. You'll probably want to add a filler in there, just to make it easier to work. Any of the lightweight fillers will do (West System sell a huge range), but avoid silica as that's awfully hard to work. I like microballoons, either phenolic (brown) for colours or silica for pale.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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If you are doing a large amount of this (a whole stairs woudl fit in this category), then the 5 min stuff in tubes gets very expensive and is not the best product for the task.
Get larger quantities of epoxy used for boatbuilding and other projects from West, System 3 or Glen-L (othre work too, but I have not used them).
Preheat your work to about 5 degrees above ambient temp. Halogen work lights work will. The reason is that the epoxy warms up as it cures and the wood will out-gas as the air in the wood strucutre heats up. This will cause bubbles, especially with porous wood like red oak.
Mix up small batches of the the epoxy with fillers (e.g. Colloidal Silica, and Either High Density Silica or microfibers) to make a thick paste of about peanut butter consistency. Add your colorant (West has a very nice white). Transtint dyes and UTCs (Universal Tinting Colors) work well in my experience. I still want to try Mixols. If you are using the epoxy pumps (recommended) 1-2 pump batches are the right size. The fillers are available from the same stores that sell the epoxy. (FYI - Rockler has West System, Woodcraft has System 3)
Mask off the around the grooves / pattern with Either Blue masking tape or better yet the Scotch 233+ Greeen that you gcan get at an autobody supply shop. Force the glop into the wood grooves leaving it over-filled. Some of the epoxy will wick in to the wood fibers causing it to sink slightly.
When it is nearly hard (after 8-12 houts scrape roughly flush. Mix up a new batch and apply to the holes, and divots. Wait again and scrape flush. Now scrape and sand the whole thing.
For a large area view of this being done on the deck of my boat, see: http://www.bronkalla.com/decking_fiberglass.htm
Mark Bronkalla www.bronkalla.com - 50 mph furniture www.wiscwoodworkersguild.org - President
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