Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Thompsons Station, TN
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Sure, it was quite trying. First, it goes without saying that your table needs to be level first. And don't try to pour after the carpet is laid, because some will leak out, by my experience.
The instructions discuss two types of pours. The first is a VERY thin coat that sort of fills in the cracks and allows the worst of the air bubbles that will form from imperfections in the wood to easily be torched out. I followed the instructions in the plans on this one with some success. Basically, I didn't put up any dam at all, just poured the epoxy down the middle of the table and used a foam brush to carefully brush it to the edges. It said you could use a squeegee to do it, and I bought one to try with. Don't waste your money. Just get the disposable foam brushes instead.
I used a torch I found at Lowes to pop the bubbles. That is the most fun part of the project. It was really neat to watch the bubbles just pop right out. Take your time to make sure you get them all out, but don't hold the torch on any one spot. Keep sweeping it back and forth. Imagine the pendulum on a Grandfather clock. That was about the sweeping speed I found worked best for me.
The second pour is where it went wrong for me. The instructions called for building a dam out of duct tape bent back at a 45 degree angle. I did this and calculated the area of the table carefully. Then, I mixed up what was supposed to be the correct amount of epoxy for that area. I used a graduated bucket (also from Lowes) and was very careful to get exactly the same amount of hardener and resin
The mixing was quite tiring but is very important. I stirred that bucket for 10 minutes to be sure it was mixed well, and in the process introduced a LOT of bubbles. I was doing more "whisking" than stirring apparently. No big deal. I was able to pop them with the torch pretty effectively.
When I poured the bucket onto the table I knew I was in trouble immediately. The duct tape dam basically just caved right over and the epoxy started running off the table and onto the bed. Fortunately, I had a canvas drop cloth under the table and made the bed so that it didn't completely attach to the sides of the table. I could push the spill over to the edges and have it drip down onto the cloth. Once I got over the initial panic, I had enough sense to remove the tape dam once it caved over, or else it would have hardened under the epoxy and I NEVER would have gotten it out.
Oh, WEAR GLOVES! And I don't mean latex gloves either. Get a good pair of rubber gloves that you don't mind tossing. You will get it on you if something goes wrong.
After I removed the tape, I used the torch to pop the bubbles and decided to just let it sit over night and see how it turned out. When all is said and done the table looked pretty good. It played well enough down the middle, but the sides where the epoxy spilled over were sort of rounded so that the pucks going down the edge would fall off instead of staying on.
So, I decided to do a third coat. For this one, I did a much better job on the dam. I took a 2x4 and ripped it down the middle at an angle close to 45 degrees. This time, I made the duct tape dam and supported it with the split 2x4. I braced the 2x4 against the side of the table with cast off pieces so that it would be very firmly pressed against the duct tape dam and so the dam would lean out onto the angle of the 2x4.
I used a random orbital sander on the existing epoxy with 220 grit sand paper. Made it look awfully scratched up, but that turned out not to be an issue. Just make sure you clean the table very carefully afterwards to get all the sanding dust up, or that WILL show.
This time, I only stirred for about 7 minutes on the epoxy and used about 10% less. It flowed perfectly onto the dam at about a 45 degree angle out from the playing surface. The wood held the dam in place and I was able to pop the bubbles with no panic this time. After a day or so, I knocked out the support pieces and pried away the wood and duct tape.
In two places the duct tape had not been firmly pressed against the table, allowing the epoxy to slip between the surface and the tape. There wasn't much I could do about that, so be careful to make sure that the duct tape is sealed against the side of your surface.
I took my router and a flush trim bit to the epoxy that was over the edge of the surface. Talk about a mess! The epoxy comes off in little "fish scales" that got everywhere. I would recommend having a vac hooked up to our router, or a helper to hold the vac against the router as you go.
Do your best to keep the dust from under the router or it might scratch the table. I have two places that had tiny little scratches (No one can see them but me, and they are always covered in table wax, so no big deal).
The only issue I have now is that in the place where the epoxy leaked under the tape I couldn't get the edge routed off perfectly. There is about a 1 inch spot that if the puck is going to slide off the edge it will "catch" and sort of bounce back into the field. I can hit it pretty effectively when I want to and everyone calls it the home field advantage :-)
Sorry to be long winded. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Ask whatever questions you want!