Building a live edge wood desk with epoxy

Jan 1, 2023 | Boys Room, DIY

Today, I’m excited to share a tutorial on how to construct a live edge desk using epoxy. If you’re not familiar with live edge furniture, it’s a style that incorporates the natural edge of the wood into the design. It gives the piece a unique, organic look that really pops in any room. And by using epoxy to finish the desk, you can achieve a smooth, glossy finish that is both durable and beautiful.

To construct a live edge desk, you’ll need:

  • A live edge slab: You can find live edge slabs at woodworking stores or online retailers. I found mine at an architectural salvage store. Be sure to measure the space where you will be placing the desk to ensure you get a slab that is the correct size.
  • Epoxy resin and hardener are essential for giving the desk a smooth, durable finish. It’s much easier to use than it looks but we’ll get into that.
  • Stir sticks: You will need stir sticks to mix the epoxy resin and hardener together. The epoxy kit link above has stir sticks included.
  • Gloves: Epoxy resin can be harmful if it comes into contact with your skin, so be sure to wear gloves to protect yourself. It’s also such a pain in the rear to remove from your skin, so wear those gloves. The epoxy kit link above also has gloves included.
  • A spreader: A spreader is a tool used to evenly distribute the epoxy over the surface of the slab. I used a paint stick for this if you don’t want to buy a specialized tool.
  • (optional): These tools can be used to carefully remove any excess epoxy that may have dripped or pooled on the surface. I didn’t use one since the surface that I was epoxying was fairly small, but for larger projects, this comes in handy to pop bubbles.

Once you have gathered your materials, you can begin the construction process:

  1. Sand the slab to your desired finish and wipe it down with a dry cloth to remove any dust or debris.
  2. Tape all the spaces that you will be epoxying so that it does’t drip onto the floor. I initially used painters tape and that was a huge mistake! I then taped the sides and underside of the cracks with duct tape and that worked so much better.
  3. Mix the epoxy resin and hardener according to the instructions on your resin and hardener. Mix thoroughly to ensure the resin and hardener are fully combined. The instructions are pretty clear and mine said to mix for a full three minutes before using. When you do mix, stir slowly so that you don’t get air bubbles in the epoxy.
  4. Pour the epoxy onto the slab and use a spreader to evenly distribute it. Be sure to cover the entire surface, including the edges. If you want a thicker finish, you can apply multiple layers of epoxy, allowing each layer to cure before adding the next.
  5. If you’re just epoxying the cracks, like what I did, then you just need to apply the epoxy in the cracks.
  6. No matter if you’re epoxying the entire desk v. only the cracks, be judicious with the epoxy. If you’re too liberal, it takes forever to cure and sanding the overage is such a pain in the rear! It really is better to apply a few thin coats especially because if it’s poured on too thick, it could crack then you’ll have to dig out the epoxy.
  7. Use a heat gun or propane torch to carefully remove any excess epoxy that may have dripped or pooled on the surface and to pop any air bubbles. Be sure to move the heat gun in a back and forth motion to avoid overheating any one area.
  8. Allow the epoxy to cure according to the instructions on your resin and hardener. This may take several hours or even a few days, depending on the product you are using.
  9. Once the epoxy is fully cured, you can sand the surface to your desired finish and apply any desired top coat or finish. I used rough grit sandpaper and then gradually used a finer grit with each new pass. I also used a which didn’t change the color of the wood at all. I wanted a really natural look so this was perfect.
  10. When the desk was cured and varnished, I attached and also used a desktop plastic protector to further protect the desk surface.

And that’s it! With a little bit of patience and some basic mixing and pouring skills, you can construct a beautiful live edge desk using epoxy. My son absolutely loves his new desk as it complements his new room makeover and the fact that I made it makes it extra special.

I hope this tutorial was helpful! If you have any questions or need any additional guidance, let me know in the comments.

Happy building!