Richard Bilyard’s Epoxy River Table
Each item that comes into Eco Relics has a story. Every piece of lumber was once a tree. Once materials leave the store, they embark on another journey, a new chapter to its story. The Eco Relics DIY Customer Creations Facebook page is full of wonderful creations and this month we spoke with Richard Bilyard II about his beautiful cherry wood epoxy river table.
Mr. Bilyard has been wood working for many years but in the last five years has branched out to larger projects. His past projects include coffee tables and storage doors. He also makes cutting boards for gifts and charity fundraisers. He finds enjoyment in woodworking and loves to see the natural beauty of the wood, and likes to find the best way to bring out the natural beauty out of the wood. He usually builds things as he needs them, and as need arose for a table for their game room, his wife chose the epoxy river design because she liked the epoxy style.
Mr. Bilyard started with this beautiful piece of 70-inch-long and 2-inch- thick cherry live edge from Eco Relics. The tools he needed for this job include a rockler circle router jig, miter saw, and table saw. First, he cut the sides out of the main slab, cutting it a little larger as to allow for the extra room for final dimensioning. He then stabilized the pieces by filling in the cracks. Each piece was put in a router with a leveling jig to make them even.
This was Mr. Bilyard’s first time working with epoxy and he tells us, “There was a slight learning curve as to how much (epoxy) was needed for each pour”. The only problem he encountered during the project was adjusting the time between epoxy pours. After the epoxy is mixed together, it begins to harden, therefore ideally it should be mixed in batches to allow the poured epoxy to harden and prevent the unused epoxy from hardening. He advises to know the products you are using or familiarize yourself with the products by reading the label and carefully following the directions. Epoxy needs to be poured in layers because when it is mixed together it creates an exothermic reaction, which is a chemical reaction that produces heat. Heat causes the epoxy to dry faster, but if too much epoxy is mixed at once, it causes a great exothermic reaction raising the temperature too high, which will cause the epoxy to crack. When epoxy is poured, it often traps air bubbles inside. These can be removed by applying heat, but too much heat can cause yellowing and other blemishes to the epoxy.
To set up for the epoxy pour, each piece was secured to a melamine board for easy release. He used release tape and a flexible board to stop confine the epoxy and form the sides of the river. Mr. Bilyard used two-part epoxy from Pro Marine Supplies and Black Diamond pigment to get the beautiful blue coloring. It took a total of five separate pours. Once the epoxy was dry, he used a sander to remove the excess epoxy and cut the table to its final dimensions. He finished the top by applying a seal coat and a flood coat on the top and bottom to give it a smooth finish.
The bottom was built from two pieces of cherry cut the same length and width, then notched to fit together. The center post was also purchased at Eco Relics and cherry wood. He coated the base and center post with epoxy and joined together with lag screws.
Mr. Bilyard chooses Eco Relics for its price and selection of live edge slabs and various other materials. His favorite thing about the store is walking through the wood section admiring the different woods and envisioning their potential.