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?
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
Good luck! Hope that helps.
:> ?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
You might want to use a magnet to get steel fillings out, and
use the brass ones.
-- Andy Barss
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.
> 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:
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
Any given amount of traffic flow, no matter how
sparse, will expand to fill all available lanes.
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:
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:
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
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.
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.
For hard to fix bubbles a q-tip with acetone will usually persuade it to finish
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.
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.
Free bad advice available here.
To reply, eat the taco.
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