How to Use Epoxy Resin to Seal Objects onto Any Hardwood Tabletop

When it comes to kitchens and dining rooms, one thing is for certain: an attractive table very often acts as a focal point within the room. It invites you to gather with friends, can act as a conversation starter, and draws the rest of your decor together.

If you're the kind of person who tends to toss out the conventional in favor of the new, you'll love this ingeniously DIY resin table tutorial. In this guide, you'll learn how to successfully use resin epoxy to seal sentimental or treasured items directly onto the surface of any used hardwood table. The end result will be a unique furniture piece that's truly "yours."

1. Choose Your Table & Objects

Choose a good, sturdy hardwood table for best results; softwood tends to absorb the epoxy and may produce bubbles that are difficult or impossible to sand down. Hardwood slab tables work especially well for this type of project, especially if they retain a live edge; the bark along the edges acts as a beautiful frame.

The table top itself should ideally be smooth and free from divots, knots, or holes, as these will cause the resin-coated surface to become uneven. If you are refinishing a used table, you must use a sander to remove any traces of paint, varnish, or old resin before you begin. For more help, contact companies like Bucks County Estate Traders​.

While you can seal nearly any object to your table, some items work better than others. For example, bottle caps, pennies, and hard plastic signs tend to work well because they are stiff and lack absorbency; they won't become saturated or discolored by the epoxy coating itself. In contrast, paper, leaves, dried flowers and other delicate objects may work, but they are difficult to work with and may end up crushed into tiny bits once you pour the sealant.

If you aren't sure whether your desired objects will work correctly, test them first by sealing or two objects to a piece of scrap wood with epoxy. If they retain their color and consistency once the epoxy dries, you can safely move forward with the project. 

2. Choose Your Epoxy

You'll need to use a good two-step epoxy for this project. Whichever brand you choose, check the label to be sure that it comes with both a resin seal coat and a hardener, too. You'll need to mix both the resin and the hardener, taking care to follow the directions on the label for your specific brand. Mix only just enough for each step of the project just before you need to use it. Never prepare it in advance, as it will harden as it sits in the bucket and become unusable over time. 

Epoxy dries best in warm, low-humidity rooms. To take advantage of this, keep the temperature in your work room at between 75 F and 80 F during the pouring or curing/drying process for optimal results.

3. Use a Brush to Apply a Thin Layer of Epoxy Resin 

Regardless of which objects you plan to seal onto your table, you'll start with the same basic first step: using a paintbrush to lightly coat the surface with a thin layer of resin. Don't worry too much about making mistakes during this round; you'll sort out those issues when you fill the table in, anyway. Just take care to brush the entire surface, edge-to-edge, with the resin mixture.

4. Run Duct Tape Around All Table Edges

Next, you'll need to create a dam around all edges of the table--this will catch the excess epoxy once it's poured, giving your table that nice, thick layer of clear resin as you build up the layers. The easiest way to do this is with duct tape; simply tape it down to the edges of the table, ensuring that it rises above the surface by approximately 1" to 2". Use multiple layers--about four layers of tape is best--to ensure a strong frame that can withstand the pressure of the expanding resin. The duct tape frame should stay in place until your new table is completely dry.

5. Place Your Objects

Once the dam is in place, it's time to add your objects before the initial layer of resin is dry. For paper or other thin, porous objects, press them against the table top and then use the paintbrush to gently coat and seal them down onto the wood. Your goal is to ensure that they're as flush with the tabletop as possible. If you fail to do so, you may introduce air bubbles that can compromise the epoxy's stability later on. If you struggle with this step, a foam roller can be extremely helpful; coat it with a thin amount of resin, and gently roll it back and forth over the object as it sits on the table.

For hard objects like coins, hard plastic signs, or metal, there's no need to seal them down with epoxy first. Just press them against the still-wet epoxy layer until you're satisfied with their positioning. It's important to work quickly; you want all of your objects laid out before the first resin layer dries.

6. Build Up Your Epoxy in Layers

Mix up enough resin to create at least a 1/8" layer across the entire tabletop. The exact measurements will vary based on brand, but in general, it's best to make too much rather than too little. Once you've mixed the resin well, taking care to mix it slowly until it becomes clear, pick the container up. Begin to pour it over the tabletop slowly, a little bit at a time. Work either from the center outwards or from one end of the table to the other.

Once there's an even layer of resin covering the entire table, stop and allow it to dry for at least four hours.

Repeat this step 2-4 times until your resin layer is as thick as you'd like it to be, making sure to allow each coating to dry for at least four to eight hours between applications.

7. Sand Down the Edges

Once your epoxy is poured and fully dried, remove the duct tape and use a rotary sander to smooth out the edges.