Thinking of using epoxy, resin in some of my carving. Is anyone doing this and if so what product do you recommend
I’ve done a few so far. I use small bottles of art resin (bit more $$ per gallon, but much easier to handle) and I don’t need much for filling in designs… easier to handle means less waste so I like to think the $$ difference is not too bad… as compared to, say, those river tables that are popular on youtube that take a lot of resin.
If you’re new to this, definitely go for small bottles, something like https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BM9LHRB/ and avoid gallon jugs
Few basic things
- Resin needs a reasonable working temp (room temperature at least) to work, but also is best done in well ventilated rooms since it does off-gas some. Depending on where you are, that gets harder in winter… but really pay attention since if the temperature in the room is too cold, it won’t set fully and the work gets ruined
- Get some disposable graduated (e.g. with measurement lines) cups… easiest way to make sure you get the right (matching) volumes of resin and hardener
- Always poor in the hardener first, resin second
- If you put both bottles (before putting it in the cup) in a bit of hot water (to get it warm) before pouring it in the cup, the resin gets MUCH easier to poor/stir/handle and you also get less bubbles
- Use gloves/safety glasses.
- Stir. Stir. There is no over-stir, only under-stir. Use like a popsicle stick or similar to stir and assume you throw it away afterwards If you want to put some colored powder in, do this towards the end of your stir time (time is in the instructions of the resin). With Halloween coming… one special fun item is glow-in-the-dark powder.
- You will get bubbles. Do not freak out too much about this (you will get fewer if you heated the bottles up). See 8) for solving that
- Have a heatgun (or hair dryer) ready and assume that in the first 20 minutes after you do the poor into your artwork, you use this every 5 minutes to “pop the bubbles”. It will also cause bubbles to rise and pop. This step is essential to get crystal clear poors. Some videos say you can also use a propane torch. You can. But open flames… I like a heatgun better…
- Wood will create some extra bubbles (due to the air in the material). One trick is to poor a little bit first, use a brush to cover all surfaces, and then use the heatgun immediately to get the bubbles out. Once you’ve done that, THEN poor the rest. To be honest, I almost never do this and as long as I do step 8) enough it’s been fine… but for perfection, do this.
- Overpoor. Resin shrinks a bit as it sets, if you were to poor exactly to your vcarve/pocket line… it’ll end up below that once it is set. I usually poor too much, and then later use an orbital sander to get rid of the excess… but at least I get nice flush transitions that way. Don’t go overboard either though… WAAAY too much means you’ll end up sanding forever.
- Level. Resin is like water… make sure your work piece is level before you poor! (also have something underneath it that isn’t to the edges of it, so that you don’t glue to work to whatever it is resting on. similar to what you’d do when painting)
Thank you for all this info. I downloaded your lead to purchase and found it to be out of stock. Wonder if there is another supplier you might recommend. Again, thanks
I agree with everything fenrus said but I would add a few things.
- I went to Walmart and bought a small electronic scale. You can put your cup on the scale and zero.
- You can buy the popsicle sticks at several stores and get both large and small ones.
- Coat your work piece with a sealer like dewaxed shellac first and let dry because epoxy can seep into the grain of the wood surface, remember wood fiber is like a straw and they need to be sealed before pouring exoxy or any colored filler.
- As fenrus said overfill your cutout because the epoxy shrinks when drying. You must sand off the excess so make sure your pocket is deep enough so you do not sand away shallow details. I usually start with 60 grit to get the majority of excess epoxy off. Just be careful with 60 grit that you do not over do the sanding. Then I go to 100, 120 180 and finish with 220. Your epoxy will look dull but when you apply a top coat it will shine back up and match the surface of the wood.
- Epoxy is a great way to fill in but I have been using Easy Liner Shelf Adhesive shelf liner or Oramask 813 to mask my projects and using acrylic paint with a brush or airbrush. On some projects this works well but if you want a smooth surface then the epoxy is best.
- You can dye the epoxy with Transtint liquid. I would stay away from the powder dye because as fenrus said you must stir and stir but the powder can fail to mix completely. If you do not mix up enough epoxy and need more keep track of how many drops of dye you put in to match your previous batch. It is better to mix up too much epoxy rather than try to match with a new batch but sometimes you just dont have enough and need a second batch. This is where the scale comes in handy for mixing a small batch. Read the epoxy label for some acetone will clean up any spillage on your bench before it dries but always put paper down to keep spills to a minimum and clean up easy. You can put your popsicle stick on the paper and it helps judge when your epoxy is dried. Be patient and do not sand the epoxy until it is cured completely.
instead of your step 3 you can also use epoxy itself as long as you didn’t add color yet…
you can imagine doing a coat (with heatgun) and then mix in the pigment
your point about powder sinking to the bottom is spot on… need very fine powder and stir like crazy if you use powder.
I’m sorry I’ve only ever used this one. I’m sure there are others in small bottles that are just as good or better…
(also amazon shows it in stock for me for next day deliver so maybe try again)
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