Epoxy Resin Ocean Table That GLOWS in the Dark

4 Materials
$250
4 Days
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In this tutorial, I show you how to make an epoxy resin ocean table that glows in the dark and why this table has special meaning to my family and me. Be sure to watch the video for more detailed instruction.

IMPORTANT: Although this project may seem difficult to make, it is not. It is made with 2x4s and very simple techniques. I realize many Hometalkers don't have the tools I used to build this project, so I'll do my best to include alternate tools/techniques to accomplish the same task throughout the project. I cover the construction of the table during the first few steps of this post; however, this ocean table can be built on any type of table top that is shaped like a beach (flat beach with slope for ocean). In other words, ignore the first few steps if you already have a sloped table or have other ideas on how to create a sloped table.

My family and I love spending time at the beach. We love the sand, the ocean, the warm sun, and everything a day at the beach has to offer. On second thought, we love everything minus the occasional chain-smoker upwind and the sporadic sibling argument over plastic shovels.

My wife and I purchased a home in Destin, Florida in 2012 and we live there 3 months out of the year. Destin, Florida is only a 3 hour and 30 minute drive from our home in Louisiana and I’ve visited this southern paradise (aka ‘Redneck Riviera’) since I can remember.

Stacey (my wife) has a cricut and she is quite crafty when time permits (Time permits = our kids aren’t calling her name every 3 seconds).

Furthermore, the cricut has yet to find a permanent home despite the fact I bought her the cricut over 1 year ago. As a result, I decided to build a table with storage as a Mother’s Day gift for Stacey.

My goal was to incorporate as many things (places, items, etc.) into this table that I possibly could. In other words, I want this table to make her smile each time she has an opportunity to sit in front of it.

I placed sea shells, sand dollars, and Mickey Mouse ears on the table. Stacey loves to find seashells, find sand dollars, and she loves anything related to Disney.

The epoxy resin ocean table bottom is comprised of two storage cabinets with 4 drawers each. In an effort to keep the video at a reasonable length for today’s ever-shrinking attention spans, I decided to make that a separate project. Be on the lookout for that soon.
Ocean Table Video Tutorial
Step 1: Gather Materials & Mill Lumber

Gather Materials

I used simple pine 2x4s to make this epoxy resin ocean table top along with the tools and materials listed in the previous section.

In total, I used 16 2x4s @ 8ft long.

I highly recommend to be selective when purchasing 2x4s from your local home center (i.e. big box stores).  If I had to guess, at least 25% of the 2x4s at a big box store are severely warped and/or damaged.

Consequently, I save a lot of time during the milling process.

Mill Lumber

Since the 2x4s were relatively straight and flat, I cleaned up each side on my table saw by removing just enough material for a nice, straight edge.

Also, most 2x4s have a slight rounded edge and it’s important to remove this before proceeding to the glue up.

Glue and Secure Table
Step 2: Glue and Secure Table

After I milled the 2x4s, I separated them in 2 groups of 8 and glued them together.  This is also referred to as laminating 2x4s.

I spread the glue across the entire surface to make certain the bond is strong.

Next, I clamped them together using my bar clamps.  I didn’t have enough clamps, so I had to use my worx multifunction table.

It’s important to keep the 2x4s as level as possible during the glue up as this saves a ton of time in later steps.  I do this by placing clamps on the bottom and top of the wood and slowly tightening each clamp.
 
Once all the clamps were tight, I removed as much of the excess glue as possible with a damp rag.

After the glue dried, I removed the clamps and used my glue scraper to remove the excess glue.


Plane and Glue

I ran each 12″ section through my planer to get a flat surface.

Note: You don't need to get this surface perfectly flat, so this is an optional step. The epoxy resin can level the table off in later steps. I chose to flatten the surface because I have the tools to make quick work of this table.

This step is much easier when the laminated 2x4s are as flat as possible during the previous step.

Next, I spread glue and clamped the 2 12″ sections together.

Install Steel Rods

These two pieces of the ocean table was simply too heavy to rely on glue to keep them together.  I decided to reinforce the ocean table with 3/4″ square steel rods.

NOTE: This is an optional step depending on table size. If you don't have a router, I suggest using a circular saw to cut a 3/4" channel with multiple passes along the entire width of the table.

After the glue dried, I removed the clamps and decided which side of the table would be the top.
 
Ultimately, it didn’t matter because I flattened each side of this epoxy resin ocean table with my planer.  I oriented the epoxy resin ocean table so the bottom would be facing up.

Then, I cut the steel rods to 18″ long on my miter saw.

Next, I measured 24″ from each end and used the square steel rod to draw a straight line.  I measured 2.5″ from each side along the line and made a mark.  These 2 marks from each end of the table marked the starting and stopping point of the channel.


Drill and Route Channel

I used my Jig It Drill Guide (Link in Tools List) with a 1″ forstner bit to drill the starting and ending point of each channel.  The hole needed to be 1″ wide x 1″ deep and the drill guide helped me drill a perfect vertical hole and control the depth.

Once the 2 holes were drilled to the proper depth, I used my trim router with a 3/4″ straight bit to route the rest of the channel.  Next, I clamped down the steel rod to serve as a guide for my trim router.  I removed 1/4″ of material per pass until I reached the desired depth.  Additionally, I had to widen the hole by 1/4″ to 1″ because the straight bit was only 3/4″ wide.

After I removed the wood chips and dust, I scraped each steel rod with a wire brush to make the surface more bond-friendly.


Apply Bondo

Next, I laid the steel rods in the channel and mixed Bondo in small batches to secure the rod.

Finally, I let this dry overnight although it doesn’t need that much time to dry.
Create Beach Slope and Cut Table to Size
Step 3: Create Beach Slope

To create the beach slope, I used the crease between the 2 pieces as a marker to start the downward slope.  Additionally, I used my grinder along with a Kutzall extreme disc to carve a sloping ocean floor.

I carried the table outside and placed it on 2 saw horses because I knew the next step would be very messy.
 
The kutzall extreme disc makes quick work of carving the wood.  To start the carving, I ran the kutzall disc across the middle seam of the table and worked my way down, carving deeper into the wood as I went.  The Kutzall disc also made it easy to make a wavy pattern, which mimics sand on the ocean floor.

After about 20 minutes of carving, the table started to resemble an ocean floor.

It started raining, so I brought the table back inside and used my electric handheld planer to remove some of the high spots.  I could have also used a belt sander to flatten the high spots and it would have worked just as well.

The kutzall extreme disc is a fantastic tool to carve wood with a grinder; however, it leaves uneven spots when used for an application such as this epoxy resin ocean table.

Trim Table to Final Size


I prepared the surface for the resin pour by trimming the back of the ocean table with my festool track saw.

In addition, I trimmed each side of the ocean table as well.  After I trimmed the sides, I flipped the table over and used my circular saw to trim the first front 12″ by 1.5″.

Next, I used my hand saw to cut this piece off.  I carved more of the beach to ensure the resin could fully enclose the sloping ocean table floor.

Build Resin Mold
Step 4: Build Resin Mold

I’ve used just about every resin mold option I can think of.  I’ve used an enclosed melamine box, a melamine board with a damn at each end, and MDF with masking tape.

In my opinion, the most efficient method is using MDF or old wood covered with masking tape and furniture wax.  So, that is what I did for this epoxy resin ocean table project.

I had an old piece of MDF I used as the bottom of the resin mold.  Next, I laid the ocean table on top of the MDF, centered it (side to side, front to back), and made sure I had 3 inches of excess on the 2 sides and 2 ends.

Then, I covered the table with masking tape 6 inches from all 4 ends and covered it with furniture wax.  Furniture wax is a great release agent for epoxy resin.

I centered the ocean table in the same place as it was when I centered it previously.  Next, I put silicone caulk around the perimeter of the ocean table and the MDF bottom.

In order to form a tub for the epoxy resin, I used strips of MDF covered with packaging tape on the front, back, and 2 sides.

Create Sandy Beach
Step 5: Paint Sandy Beach

Please note, this step is not necessary and I’m not sure why I decided to do it.  Instead of skipping the step altogether, I’m writing about it to be transparent as possible about the process of building this ocean table.

To create a rough texture and mimic sand on a beach, I mixed Zinnser texture additive to antique white chalk paint and painted the surface of the table with a chalk paint brush.  I didn’t measure the mixture ratio – I simply mixed until I achieved the texture I wanted.

Next, I fogged beige spray paint on the surface to create an irregular pattern and darken the white paint.

Paint Ocean Table Bottom
Step 6: Paint Ocean Bottom

Originally, I planned to make the ocean the same color as the beach (light beige) since the real ocean has the same sand as the beach on the ocean floor.
I changed my mind because I thought it would be difficult to create a blue ocean if the bottom were beige.  After all, it probably would have been easier to tint the resin with transparent dye and create a blue ocean but I just didn't have much confidence.
So, I decided to paint the ocean floor the color I wanted the resin.
I've seen many projects when tint was used in resin to achieve a desired effect; however, the bottom color of the resin was stronger than the color used to tint the resin.  Transparent dye works very well when there is no bottom in my opinion.
The beach in Destin, Florida has different shades of blue with a hint of green, which is why people refer to it as the 'Emerald Coast'.  I didn't have any green paint, so I painted the entire ocean table floor with light blue.

Next, I used dark blue and put it on top of the light blue.  I made it darker as the ocean table floor got deeper.

I used a tiny bit of white chalk paint mixed with pearl white pigment powder to make the crest of waves near the beach.  Afterwards, I used a popsicle stick to mix the material and spread it out on the table.  Later, I realized it was better to apply this with my finger while wearing a pair of gloves.
Epoxy Resin Seashells
Step 7:  Make Resin Seashells & Mickey Ears

Since this table was for my wife, I wanted to incorporate as many of the things she loves into the table.  Stacey (my wife) loves collecting seashells and anything Disney, so I purchased a silicone mold of seashells and a few sea critters to put on the bottom of the ocean table.
I mixed 16 total ounces of resin.  Next, I separated the resin in 4 different cups and mixed 1 ounce of orange, white, green, and blue glow powder.
Then, I poured the resin into the seashell silicone mold.  Also, I had a silicone mold of Mickey Mouse Ears from a previous project so I used that as well to make a few Mickey Ears.
I allowed it to cure overnight before removing them from the silicone mold.
Step 8:  Glowing Ocean Table Floor

To create a slight glow on the wave crests and beach, I mixed 12 ounces of resin with 1/2 ounce of white glow powder and pearl white pigment powder.  I didn't put a lot of glow powder because I wanted the glow to be subtle.
Next, I used a chip brush and applied it on the wave crests and beach.  I wanted the waves and parts of the beach to have a slight white glow.
After I covered the beach, I sprinkled more pearl white pigment powder on the beach and brushed it in.
Then, I used the same technique to cover the light blue and dark blue parts of the table.  This will help the sea creatures, seashells, and sand dollars stick to the bottom.
 
Step 9: Place Resin Castings on Ocean Floor

Next, I placed the seashells, sea creatures, and sand dollars in various spots on the ocean table bottom while the resin from the previous step was still wet.
I let the resin harden for about 3 hours before proceeding to the first resin pour.
Resin Seal Coats

Now to the fun part.
I mixed 12 ounces of resin for the first seal coat.  Next, I poured the epoxy resin in front of the beach entry and let it run down.
Then, I used my torch to remove the bubbles and let this cure for 12 hours.

Second Resin Seal Coat

The second resin pour was the same process as the first seal coat.  I mixed 12 ounces of resin, poured the epoxy resin close to the beach entry, removed air pockets with my torch, and allowed the resin to cure overnight.
 
Step 11: Test Glow Powder

While the second seal coat was curing, I decided to test the glow powder using a black light.  I did this before I proceeded to the seal coats as it's not too late at this stage in the process to make a few changes.
Glow powder can be quickly charged with a black light.  This technique is much quicker than waiting for natural light to charge the glow powder, which is much slower.
I turned off the lights in my shop and covered my one window to block as much light as possible.
Step 12: Resin Fill Coats

For the first fill coat, I mixed 2 24 ounces of epoxy resin (48 ounces total).
Quick Tip:  I find it easier to mix the resin in smaller batches.  Smaller batches help reduce bubbles and promote proper mixing techniques.
Next, I poured the resin in the front trough.  Unlike the seal coats, I want the resin to fill the table from the front up towards the beach.

I removed the bubbles and immediately proceeded to the next step.
 
Immediately after the first fill coat, I realized I needed the blue water over the seashells, sea creatures, and sand dollars to make the table look as real as possible.  I mixed 32 ounces of epoxy resin, separated the mixture into 2 containers (16 ounces per container), and then put one drop of blue transparent dye in each container.
During the mixing process, I was very careful to not use a lot of transparent blue dye in the epoxy resin for 2 reasons:
  1. Since this ocean table would need numerous fill coats, I knew the epoxy resin would get darker with each new layer.
  2. The ocean table bottom is already blue.
Finally, I let this cure overnight.

The resin was finally beginning to climb up the ocean floor.  For this fill coat, I mixed the same amount of resin the exact same way as the previous step.  I used 32 ounces of resin split into 2 containers with 1 drop of transparent dye.

Instead of using my torch, I decided to use my heat gun to remove the bubbles and move the resin around better.  The blow torch does a great job at removing bubbles, but the heat gun removes bubbles and moves the resin.
So, why do I not use the heat gun all the time?  As hard as I try to keep my shop clean, it is always dusty.  The heat gun blows air and increases the likelihood unwanted contaminants will litter my epoxy resin.

The epoxy resin ocean table was finally beginning to look like an ocean.
For this fill coat, I used 96 ounces of resin.  The 96 ounces of resin was split into 2 containers with 48 ounces and 1 drop of transparent blue dye in each.

I increased the amount because I got more comfortable with the amount transparent blue dye I needed.
Additionally, I needed to lighten the amount of transparent dye I'm using to prevent the ocean from getting too dark.
Since I am only using 1 drop of transparent dye, the only way for me to lighten the amount of blue was to increase the amount of epoxy resin.
Next, I poured the resin on the table making sure it blended together since I was using 2 containers.

Then, I used my torch to remove the bubbles and then my heat gun to move the resin around a bit.
Finally, I let this dry overnight.

For the second to last fill coat, I used 48 ounces of epoxy resin.
After I completely mixed the resin, I poured 4 ounces into a separate plastic container and mixed 1/2 ounce of pearl white pigment powder and 1/2 ounce of white glow powder.

I didn't add any transparent dye to this batch because the table had the exact shade of blue I hoped for.  By adding another fill coat with transparent dye, the table would have darkened a bit, which I did not want.
I poured the 44 ounces on the ocean table and watched as it leveled off even with the beach.

The final fill coat is to cover the rough/sandy beach portion of the table only.
In total, I used 12 ounces of resin during this step.
First, I spread it around with a rubber spreader.  Then, I let it blend in with the final fill coat from the last step.
Step 13: Sand Table

After I removed the table from the epoxy resin mold, it was time to sand and prepare for the final 2 flood coats.

First, I used my random orbital sander attached to my vacuum with 220 grit sandpaper to sand
Sanding what appears to be a finished table scared me during my first epoxy resin table project.  I thought I ruined the table because it turns very cloudy.  Seriously, I almost passed out.
Next, I wiped it down with acetone to remove the cloudiness from sanding the table.  This not only removes the dullness, but it also removes loose residue from the table.
Step 14: Final 2 Flood Coats

Since I just finished building a epoxy resin table for my sister's birthday a few weeks ago, I had leftover Stonecoat Countertop Epoxy and decided to use it as the final flood coat on my ocean table.
Please note, Pro Marine Epoxy would work just fine.  I simply wanted to use the rest of this material rather than watch it sit on my shelf for the next few months.
Stonecoat Countertop Epoxy is different than most epoxy products as it is very durable.  Also, it requires a different mixing and application process.
It can be mixed with a drill and mixing paddle.
Next, the material has to be spread on the table with a rubber squeegee.
Then, I used a 1/8" trowel to spread the material across the table and allowed a little bit to drip over the sides.  I came back over the table with my hand to ensure the material was spread evenly on the sides of the table.
Finally, I put 2 coats of this product on top of the table - repeating the aforementioned process.  I let it completely cure for 48 hours before moving it in the house.

Step 15: Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this Epoxy Resin Ocean Table project and it brought you some form of value.
Please consider   subscribing to my YouTube channel and visiting my website for more projects and other cool stuff.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions.  I'm happy to help!
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