Epoxy inlay on desk top

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I'm going to be making myself a new desk pretty soon. For the top, I'd like to use ribbon stripe (quartered) African mahogany. I'd like to break up the expanse of wood with an inlay around all four edges about 1 - 1 1/2 inches from the edges.
I planned to just saw shallow kerfs full width and length. The kerfs would be about 1/8" deep and no wider than 1/4", probably less. I'd then fill the kerfs with black epoxy. The thing I'm worrying about is how cross grain expansion/contraction of the wood would work with the epoxy inlay.
I could avoid any problems by using plywood for the top. I'd rather not.
I could also avoid any problems by putting bread board ends on the top and making a rabbet in them for the "cross grain" epoxy. Again, I'd rather not.
So, what do you think? Will the epoxy inlays work OK in a solid top?
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dadiOH
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dadiOH wrote:

The top would be about 36" x 72", BTW
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dadiOH
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I have not filled anything in a surface that large. I have been filling my woodturning projects for years with epoxy colored and textured with a lot of different materials.
I turned vases, and cut a ring into the side or edges, and filled it with epoxy colored with copier toner. I also took the colored epoxy and mixed it with key filings to give a bit or sparkle here and there after sanding. I have also filled a decorative band around the top of a box. All with no problems.
A few years ago, I went to a furniture exposition in an artist's area of Texas and they had a lot of furniture that had huge fills in it that were epoxy and colorant. The color of the day was turquoise, with little pieces of iron pyrite and marble in it. These fills were in mesquite which is known for "wind shake" which breaks apart the parallel grain of the fibers leaving small to large (1" !!) cracks. These guys have been doing it for years and their display benches showed the wear of thousands of butts over the years that had sat on their benches. None of their benches showed any kind of problems.
Here's what I can share from my own experiences.
- You need to make your epoxy pour monolithic. Buy an epoxy with a long open time so you can mix and pour all at once. Mix more than you need. A little too much is just right
- I have found that the area needs to be fairly deep compared to its width. If I were going to fill something that is 1/4 inch wide, I would cut the dado 1/2" deep. Epoxy used as filler can be very brittle, and more mass is better. I have seen poured strips that are narrow and shallow come apart after setting up
- Make sure you overfill. The epoxy will shrink, it is just a matter of how much... If you are afraid of staining, use narrow blue painters tape to define your edges, then sand the whole mess off, tape and all. Don't try to remove the tape separately
- When filling a larger decorative strip on a bowl or vase, I always, always, turn a dovetail into the bottom of the dado. This could easily be done with your router. Even though some of my turnings have distorted after drying, the epoxy stays in place due to the dovetail
- Use a colored filler; black, brown, red, white, whatever. You will have bubbles in your fill, no matter what. If you have a dark material filler, you don't have to be worried about someone looking into your fill and being able to see bubbles. When you sand off the epoxy and the bubbles are apparent in the epoxy fill strip, sanding sealer will fill them and make them impossible to see
- To mitigate the bubbles and to make sure you get your material into the dado/groove, pour out your material, work it in with a small applicator, then put your vibrating sander on your project. Just about three minutes of your "vibrating tool" will work out many bubbles and make sure that your fills are all uniform. Since you have bit more epoxy left in your mixing tub (you did mix a little more than needed, right?) you can identify a low spot and fill immediately
As you can tell... I might have done a bit more of that than I will admit to...
Good luck! Hope that helps.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It did. Much. Thanks!
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dadiOH
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wrote:

Why you sneaky sunnuvagun.... Now I'll be carrying a baggie, just for that...
*tip-0-thehat*
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
: wrote: :> ?I also took the colored epoxy :> and mixed it with key filings : Why you sneaky sunnuvagun.... Now I'll be carrying a baggie, just for : that...
: *tip-0-thehat*
You might want to use a magnet to get steel fillings out, and use the brass ones.
    -- Andy Barss
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Mesquite Festival in Fredericksburg?
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"Our beer goes through thousands of quality Czechs every day."
(From a Shiner Bock billboard I saw in Austin some years ago)
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As a matter of fact, I believe it was. Different from the Texas Mesquite Furniture Maker's Guild, this was more of a relaxed affair and it was indeed Fredricksburg. They had a more "free form" approach to their wares and I saw everything from outdoor benches, entry/front doors, fine furniture to toilet paper holders turned from mesquite.
I was up there a couple of years ago on the way to something else, and that bench is now up there in that same guy's little shop. It is in the back of a bigger shop on main street.
Robert
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dadiOH wrote: > I planned to just saw shallow kerfs full width and length. The > kerfs would be about 1/8" deep and no wider than 1/4", probably > less. I'd then fill the kerfs with black epoxy. The thing > I'm worrying about is how cross grain expansion/contraction > of the wood would work with the epoxy inlay.
I don't think I'd worry about that; 1/4" isn't a very wide inlay.
Robert covered a wide array of issues quite well; I can't really improve on what he said, but I can add one suggestion:
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yes, you need to overfill. I'm not sure how much epoxy shrinks, but it will also soak into the wood while it's curing, and unless you can stand there and babysit it the whole time by adding more epoxy to the recess (which could be hours with the slow-cure stuff) you will have to overcompensate. One trick I've used quite successfully is to build a "dam" all the way around the fill area with a bead of latex caulk. This allows you to overfill to excess (perhaps an 1/8" proud of the reference surface if you so desire) and will save you from coming back in the morning to find that your epoxy has receded below the level of the surrounding wood.
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Steve Turner wrote:

Cute trick :)
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dadiOH
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Chapter 21, almost done ...
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Last update: 10/22/08
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Robert...... I warm epoxy after it is installed with a heat gun (gently) and this seems to prevent bubbles. WW
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Good idea. I don't see why that wouldn't work, especially if you lived someplace that it gets cold every once in a while. (Not so much here in South Texas!)
I know that a heat gun and flat spatula is the preferred method of spreading a couple of those thick bar top surface materials, and they are nothing more than some kind of resin themselves.
I found that the reason I got too many bubbles in my pour was because I tried to tuck or push the resin into the groove or area I was filling. I would lift the applicator then get more material from an adjoining area, then try to push it in.
I have a friend that makes radio controlled model yachts from fiberglass. He casts a lot of resin for his model yachts, but also casts and makes resin pieces and fittings. He suggested that I not lift the stick push the resin when applying.
My best plan so far for controlling bubbles is to carefully pour with one hand, and stir or swirl the resin into the void, moving the applicator like a mixer, working it in rather than to trowel it in. It seems to work >much< better.
The next time I get to the last of my epoxy I think I will also try thinning it a bit with acetone. That is the preferred cleanup solvent, but I don't know for sure if you could thin with it. Since one wouldn't be worried about adhering materials, only having your filler stay put, I would certainly give up some of the adhesion aspect to make the material easier to apply.
I called these guys:
http://www.bsi-inc.com /
Nice folks, and they are very knowledgeable. The above link is to some of their products, but I think they also have an industrial products division as well. I called them because I like their colored CA as well as the gel CA they make.
Wanna fill a small hole in a piece of wood that had a lot of defects? I worked with some really nasty stuff that had a lot of dark holes and defects that I got tired of filling. This did the trick:
http://www.bsi-inc.com/Pages/rec/ronyx/index.html
I squirted it in, then the next day sanded it off. It doesn't seep color into the adjoining areas, and no bubbles.
Anyway, the Smith guys hemmed and hawed, and wouldn't tell me yes or no on thinning their epoxy product. They actually make an epoxy filler, but they want you to follow their instructions.... spoil sports.
As a sidebar, I like the Smith products a lot, and I use their mid cure, 15 minute epoxy all the time for repairs in my business. It is an excellent adhesive, and works great as a filler as well. Around here, it is <literally> half or less the price of West Systems products when buying off the shelf.
Robert
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WW wrote:

And if there are bubbles already they will expand and pop. I do the same thing but with a torch. Carefully :)
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A TORCH!?!?!?
A bold rascal indeed!
I'l bet careful doesn't really describe it!
Robert
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A TORCH!?!?!?
A bold rascal indeed!
I'l bet careful doesn't really describe it! ========================================== I have seen some tiny torches out there. I asume he is using something small and controllable. And has a good fire extinguisher handy as well.
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rising to the surface, in conjunction with the heat gun technique. De-gassing the mixed resin in a vacuum chamber is the ultimate bubble eliminator IMHO. regards, Joe.
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Good info BUT a Mesquite provider in Smithville claims that Mesquite is very stable and will not move more than 2%. Other woods may be more of a problem depending on their expansion/contraction rate.
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Leon wrote:

Absolutely true; Mesquite is one of the most dimensionally stable woods you can find. The radial vs. tangential ratio of expansion is almost one-to-one; radial expansion is no more than 2.3 percent and tangential is no more than 2.6.
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Leon wrote:

That is confirmed by Hoadly's book as well as an article or two in FWW. Apparently mesquite is a rare wood with Tangential to radial shrinkage nearly equal.
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