A few months ago, we all moved from our community table to upstairs (we posted about it here and here), which created a need for more office furniture. Elsie asked me to build her a desk. I said I would, but I didn't tell her what kind. I wanted it to be a surprise. I knew I wanted it to be bright and colorful, and I wanted to use colored resin. This post isn't really how I built the desk, but how I created the resin part. You can do this to an existing desk you want to remodel/update. For about 80 bucks, you can dramatically change the look of a table or desk! And it's so fun to do!
I had so much fun doing this project (another favorite.) I think Elsie likes it too.
-epoxy coating (I used this.)
-interior gloss paint (I used Valspar)
-wood shims (or something to adjust the levelness of the surface)
-thin wood strips (you don't need anymore than 1/4" x 1/8") I used ripped 1/8" ply, but even balsa wood would work, which can be cut with a utility knife!
–mixing containers (you'll need at least 3)
-something to spread epoxy (I just used folded paper)
Step One: I built the desk to fit the space Elsie had in her office. From this point on, you can do what I did to your piece that you want to modify. I painted a primer coat, then the gloss yellow. I applied 3 coats of yellow, sanding between each coat. I wanted this thing to be ultra glossy. I put spare blocks of wood under the legs so I could get a good pull of the brush all the way to the bottom of the leg. I hate when a little pool of paint forms against an edge or something. I want it to look perfecto!
Step Two. From here on, there are so many options and directions you could take. I wanted the desk top to have a separation of color with simple geometric shapes. That's where the strips of wood came into play. I glued the strips down with wood glue. You can make any pattern you want and use any color. Just those two elements give this project so much potential! I want to make another one! OK, so I glued the strips down, and when I did, there was some overhang, which I cut off after the glue dried.
Step Three: After I had the strips positioned and trimmed down and sanded, I carefully attached painter's tape around the perimeter of the desk top. This step creates a reservoir for the epoxy. The height doesn't really matter as long at it is above the wood strip. For the love of all that is good, make sure the tape is secure. You don't want epoxy to run through! Using tape with paintblock technology would be the best bet. I creased the corners of the tape so the epoxy would have a sharp corner when I took off the tape.
Step Four: At this point, you want to make sure your table is level. The ground must have been way off, because I had all kinds of shims stuck here and there to get the desk level. After this step, you will need to refrain from cutting anything in the vicinity of the desk. You want the area to be dust free so no particles fall onto the epoxy while it dries. Follow the directions that come with the epoxy. You may want to skimp on the stirring time. Don't do it! You'll be glad you spent the time to stir and mix correctly. Read the directions. I stirred about a quart of epoxy at a time, so I had to do a couple for each color. To add color, all I did was stir in about a tablespoon of glossy interior Valspar (after I mixed and stirred the epoxy according to directions.) It was a total experimental move, but it worked. So there you go.
The epoxy is self-leveling, meaning, if you just poured it over the flat surface and left it alone, it would spread before it dries. I helped it along by pushing the epoxy around with a folded piece of paper. That also helped it get into the corners. I also found that if I had to pour a couple of different mixtures of the same color, they mixed just fine, even if I didn't measure the exact same amount of color for each. I mixed and poured each color till the epoxy was level with the dividing wood strips. I used up all of the epoxy I had on hand, so I stopped there (Elsie wouldn't get off my back about the desk, so I was in a hurry to finish it. :)) If I had more epoxy on hand and a couple more days, I would have mixed one final batch without color and poured it over the entire top, just to make an extra smooth surface. But I love how it turned out. I think it has a lot of character and fits Elsie's taste pretty dang good.
Once the epoxy dried, I waited till the next day, I removed the tape. I had the tiniest lip that formed where the epoxy slightly crept up the tape wall. I sanded it down (which also softened the sharp edge) with 320 grit sandpaper. Since this project, I've experimented with adding different India inks to epoxy, which has a totally different affect. Stay tuned for a project that features that. Better yet, try it out yourself! -Josh
Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Joshua and Sarah Rhodes and Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with petal from the Fresh Collection