Aquarium Gravel Topped Nesting Tables

2 Materials
4 Hours

I wanted to design a set of nesting tables with a different color top on each table. I welded a set of three tables and decorated the top of each one of them with an unexpected home decor product to create unique statement pieces for my home. Much to the surprise of everyone who sees them, I created the three colorful tables by using clear resin to cast colored aquarium gravel into the recessed table tops, making three distinct designs. Take a look at how to get creative and design your own custom nesting tables.

You Will Need:

  • 25mm box and angle steel
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Clear polyester casting resin (3-4 liters)
  • Heat gun
  • Construction adhesive
  • Plywood
  • Chair leg rubber caps
  • Paint
Aquarium Gravel Topped Nesting Tables
Cut Steel for Table Bases
Step 1: Cut Steel for Table Bases

I measured and cut 1x1 hollow square steel tubing using an angle grinder. These pieces of tubing will be the legs of three small rectangular tables that differ in height by approximately three inches so that they can nest inside one another. You will need a total of 12 legs cut.

Steel for Table Tops
Step 2: Cut Steel for Table Tops

I measured and cut 1x1 L-shaped angle steel using an angle grinder. These pieces will form the rectangular tops of the three tables. You will need to cut a total of 12 lengths; six will be the same length for the short end of the rectangular tops and the others will be cut to three different lengths so that they can nest inside one another.

Cut Steel for Table Tops

ut Notch in Tops
Step 3: Cut Notch in Tops

After I cut the L-shaped angle steel to length, I cut a notch in the six pieces to be used for the short end of the rectangular tops so that they fit together and could be welded together.

Assemble and Weld Tops
Step 4: Assemble and Weld Tops

I used a wood form to ensure the table tops were square, then assembled the rectangular tops and welded them together.

Weld Legs to the Table Tops
Step 5: Weld Legs to the Table Tops

I used a two-piece wooden form to ensure that the legs were squarely welded to the table tops

Smooth Welds
Step 6: Smooth Welds

I used an angle grinder to smooth all of the welds and remove any protrusions or imperfections. 

Clean and Paint the Tables
Step 7: Clean and Paint the Tables

After smoothing the welds, I cleaned and painted the tables and then used a hammer to install plastic feet into the 1x1 hollow square steel tubing legs of each table.

Add Plywood Top
Step 8: Add Plywood Top

I measured and cut plywood tops to inset into each table and secured them into place using a silicone-based adhesive.

Mix and Pour Resin onto Table Tops
Step 9: Mix and Pour Resin onto Table Tops

I measured and mixed the casting resin and poured it over the first recessed table top. I spread the resin across the surface with a wooden stirrer. Do not apply the resin to the other two tables until after graveling the first.

Aquarium Gravel
Step 10: Add Aquarium Gravel to Table Tops

I poured three different colors of aquarium gravel into bowls and sprinkled one onto the first table top, covering the casting resin. I used a gloved hand to gently smooth and press the gravel over the surface. Use a level to push across the graveled surface to ensure an even layering. Repeat the application of resin followed by gravel on the next two tables.

Add Aquarium Gravel to Table Tops
Pour and Spread Resin Over Gravel
Step 11: Pour and Spread Resin Over Gravel

I poured another layer of casting resin over the top of the three gravel-covered table tops and gently spread across the entire surface. After pouring and spreading your resin, you may notice bubbles rising to the top of your surface. To create a flawless glasslike finish, use a heat gun to remove unpopped bubbles before the resin starts to thicken and cure. 

The finished tables have an almost mosaic glass look and finish and the bags of aquarium gravel were totally transformed by the shine of the clear resin. It was such a nice surprise to discover how even the boldest gravel color becomes subdued and stylish when inset and cast in resin. You can get creative and use any material or mixture of materials for your table top.

Aquarium Gravel Topped Nesting Tables

Have you used an unexpected item like aquarium gravel in your home decor or furniture design project? Share the wildest item you ever repurposed and find inspiration for more creative ideas on Hometalk!

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Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • Ann Ann on Mar 21, 2020

    Do you put hardner in the resin?

  • Hlpinghand Hlpinghand on Mar 21, 2020

    OMG! I have been looking in vain for over 3 years for square hollow leg feet. You're wonderful--because of you I found some. My question is where did you get yours? Just in case the source I found no longer carries them, I'd sure like another option. Again, thank you! This project is way, WAY above my capability as far as building goes but the gravel/resin technique is very good to know and IS something I could do!

  • Renee Renee on Oct 24, 2021

    Did you first rinse and dry the gravel first? Sometimes colored gravel will turn the water the color of the gravel and would be afraid it would color the resin as well instead of leaving it clear.


Join the conversation

4 of 28 comments
  • Homie Homie on Mar 23, 2021

    When I see the welder’s goggles come out, I know this won’t happen at my house. But it’s still a cool idea!

    • See 1 previous
    • Cer11277278 Cer11277278 on Apr 16, 2021

      I created the same idea a couple of years ago with wood trim and a second-hand table. I created a lip using the wood trim and was able to pour the resin over my creation. It worked really well.

  • Johanne Palange Johanne Palange on Oct 24, 2021

    Who would have thought, aquarium gravel, but that is a genius idea especially as it comes in so many colors. Super idea, and great project you did. I could never do anything remotely involved with welding, but I could adapt the idea to a wooden table.