How to Make an Epoxy Resin River Table — A Step-by-Step Guide

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Epoxy resin river tables have become popular among woodworkers and interior design enthusiasts. These captivating pieces of functional art combine the natural beauty of wood with the mesmerizing allure of liquid epoxy, creating a flowing river-like effect through the center of the table. 

Crafting a river table is no small feat; I can attest to that. But the sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete one is hard to match. I’m here to walk you through the process, step by step, on how to create your very own epoxy resin river table. With a bit of patience and your woodworking prowess, you’ll be able to fashion a conversation piece—a trendy dining table that will be adored for generations.

What Is a River Table?

A river table is a unique type made by sandwiching two live edge slabs, often from the same piece of wood, with epoxy resin poured in between. The epoxy hardens and creates a flowing “river” through the center of the table, giving it a visually striking and artistic appearance. 

epoxy table

Combining natural wood grains and epoxy’s glossy, glass-like surface creates a stunning contrast, instantly becoming a focal point in any space. To better understand this concept, take a moment to admire a finished walnut river table with its captivating epoxy river centerpiece.

The Step-by-Step Process for Making an Epoxy Resin River Table

As someone who’s been through the process more times than I can count, making a river table is all about precision and patience. Each step has its own significance, shaping the final look and durability of the table. I’m here to break down each stage for you, sharing my expertise to help you craft an epoxy resin river table that’s as unique as it is beautiful. Let’s dive into these steps together, and I’ll guide you on this creative journey.

Choose Your Wood Slab

The foundation of any river table is the wood slab itself. Selecting air and kiln-dried slabs is essential to ensure the table’s stability and minimize warping. These drying methods reduce the wood’s moisture content, mitigating potential issues down the road. 

Additionally, consider popular wood species such as black walnut, maple, cherry, or ash. Each species exhibits distinct characteristics; its unique grain patterns add personality to the final piece.

Cut the Slab

After I’ve picked out the ideal wood slab, the next thing I do is cut it down the middle. I’ve found that a track saw is the best tool for this job because it gives me the control I need for really straight, accurate cuts. Once I’ve got the slab split, I make sure to square off the edges. It’s an important step to get just right, because it means the pieces will fit together flawlessly when it’s time to put the whole table together.

measuring wood slabs

Flatten the Slab

A flat surface is crucial for a successful epoxy pour. To achieve this, use a slab flatter or router to remove any high spots or irregularities on the wood surface. A flat slab provides a stable base for the epoxy to flow evenly, resulting in a smooth and level tabletop.

Remove the Bark and Sand the Live Edge

Remove the bark from the wood’s live edge to create a clean and polished look. This step enhances the table’s aesthetics and ensures a smooth transition between the wood and epoxy river. 

Gradually sand the live edge with finer grits, starting from coarse sandpaper and progressing to finer ones for a seamless finish.

Create a Mold

When I set out to shape the river in my table, the first thing I tackle is the mold. It’s crucial—it keeps the epoxy in place and gives it that distinctive shape. I build the mold with wood and always line it with plastic sheathing tape; that’s my little trick to keep the epoxy from bonding to the wood of the mold. 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure the mold is solid and sealed tight. Any gaps, and the epoxy will find its way out during the pour. That’s a mess and a waste I always make sure to avoid.

caulking mold

Caulk the Ends, the Bottom, and the Top of the Slab

Before pouring the epoxy, apply caulk to the slab’s ends, bottom, and top. The caulk acts as a dam, preventing the epoxy from overflowing during the pour. Apply the caulk carefully to achieve clean and defined river edges.

Clamp the Wood Slabs In Place

To ensure a flat tabletop and proper adhesion between the slabs and epoxy, use parallel clamps to hold the slabs firmly together during the epoxy pour. The clamps should distribute pressure evenly across the surface, minimizing any unevenness between the slabs.

Mix Your Test Coat of Epoxy Resin

Before proceeding with the deep pour, testing the epoxy mixture and adding any desired pigments or colorants is essential. 

preparing epoxy resin

Mixing the epoxy ensures consistent color and a bubble-free pour. Perform a test coat on a small area to identify and address any issues before the final pour.

Mix Your Deep Pour Epoxy and Pour Into the River Until Filled

After the test coat sets and I’m confident everything is sealed and ready, I move on to the deep pour. Now, this is where the right materials make all the difference. I use an epoxy that’s made for deep pours. Regular epoxy just won’t cut it for thicker layers—it might not cure right, and that can ruin the whole project.

I always take a moment to calculate exactly how much epoxy I’ll need based on the size of the table. Precision is key. Then, starting from one end, I begin pouring slowly, watching the epoxy glide and settle into the river, making sure it fills every inch evenly. It’s one of those moments where you can really see the table starting to come to life.

Let the Epoxy Dry Overnight

After pouring the epoxy, allow it to cure and harden overnight. This curing time ensures the epoxy fully sets, eliminating any potential tackiness or stickiness. During this time, address any overflow or imperfections that may have occurred during the pouring process.

dried epoxy

Remove the Mold

Once the epoxy has fully cured, remove the clamps and screws from the mold. Gently release the mold from the epoxy surface, not damaging the river or the table’s edges. This step ensures a clean and bug-free epoxy surface.

Flatten the Slab (Optional)

If necessary, consider flattening the slab to address any low spots or unevenness in the epoxy river. Sanding the epoxy can be time-consuming, so a slab flatter or router is an alternative option for a more efficient process.

Sand Your Tabletop

Sanding the finished tabletop is crucial for achieving a smooth, glass-like surface. Use an orbital sander and gradually work through finer grits until the desired smoothness is achieved. A well-sanded surface enhances the epoxy’s clarity and showcases the wood’s natural beauty.

sanding tabletop

Cut to the Exact Size

Once the epoxy has fully cured, I take the table to the next crucial phase: trimming it to the exact dimensions I want. I always leave myself a bit of grace space around the edges when I pour the epoxy. This way, I’ve got some room to make any necessary adjustments when I’m doing the final trim. It’s all about getting those specifications just right, and that little margin for error can be a real lifesaver.

Router the Edges

Use a router to add a rounded edge to the table for a polished and visually appealing finish. The rounded edge enhances the table’s appearance and ensures no sharp edges, making it safe for daily use.

Finish the Table Top

The choice of finish significantly impacts the final appearance of the table. Consider various finishing options, such as clear epoxy, oil, or polyurethane, each offering unique benefits. 

finishing tabletop

Applying a thin coat of clear epoxy adds a layer of protection and enhances the epoxy river’s depth and luster.

Sand the Bottom

After applying the finish, examine the bottom of the table for any drips or imperfections. Remove any blemishes and apply a finish if needed to create a cohesive and professional look.

Mount the Legs or Base

Selecting the right legs or base for the table isn’t just about stability—it’s also about the look. Whether I go for metal or wood legs really depends on the design style I’m aiming for with the piece. What’s vital is to attach them securely; a wobbly table is no good to anyone. And I’m always careful during this stage because the last thing I want is to scratch or damage the surface that I’ve worked so hard to perfect. It’s about marrying form and function seamlessly.

mount table with legs

Finalizing the River Table

Finally, step back and admire your completed epoxy resin river table. The table’s unique combination of natural wood and flowing epoxy creates a stunning centerpiece that will undoubtedly be the focal point of any room. 

Your hard work and dedication have culminated in a functional piece of art, ready to be enjoyed for many years.

Common FAQs About Building River Tables

Building epoxy resin river tables often raises questions and uncertainties. Below are some common FAQs to address your concerns.

How much does a river table cost?

The cost varies based on the wood species and the epoxy needed. Typically, a river table can cost between $400 to $1200 for the wood slab and up to $1200 for the epoxy. The total cost may reach around $2000 before factoring in labor.

What's the best epoxy resin to use?

The choice of epoxy resin [1] depends on the project. Several brands and suppliers offer epoxy suitable for river tables. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results. One recommended brand is Woodright Epoxy.

Can I create a "reverse river table" with epoxy on the outside?

Yes, the process for a reverse river table is similar, but the slab is in the middle, and the epoxy is on the outside, creating a unique effect.

Can I cut my slabs?

Cutting live-edge slabs requires specialized equipment and skills. If you don’t have the necessary tools, consider seeking assistance from a sawmill or woodworker.

How long does it take to make a river table?

Crafting a river table takes at least 6 hours, not including epoxy drying time. The entire process may span several days for professional woodworkers due to epoxy layering and finishing processes.


Epoxy resin river tables offer a captivating blend of nature and craftsmanship, turning any dining room into a masterpiece of design. While building a river table may pose challenges, following this step-by-step guide will lead you to a rewarding and visually stunning result. The beauty and uniqueness of epoxy resin river tables make them worthwhile additions to any home.

Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or a DIY enthusiast, creating a river table will allow you to showcase your skills and creativity. Don’t hesitate to embark on this woodworking adventure and craft a timeless centerpiece that will be cherished for generations.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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