Epoxy resin has long been actively used in the creation of interior items and furniture. Thanks to her, exceptionally beautiful and unusual objects are obtained. We will now tell you in detail about what can be done with this polymer.
In woodworking, there is such a thing as a slab – a longitudinal sawing of a tree trunk along its entire width. Simply, it is an untreated board with all its defects: shells, voids, and even places with rot, if, of course, it looks aesthetically pleasing. Such boards are used without any rejection, as is customary in the production of wood for construction. The slab obtained by cutting the trunk on the sawmill does not remove the bark, which also becomes an element of decorative design.
The board is driven through a jointer or a planer, then ground, polished, and together with the bark. If we consider that many varieties of slabs are made of valuable wood species (mahogany, black, boxwood, yew, oak, beech), every square centimeter of their surface is used.
Such fragments of boards are sold in specialized construction stores with a large assortment of goods. In the very ones where building materials, plumbing and furniture for kitchens and bathrooms are bought. Additionally, various auctions are held on Internet sites and furniture factories.
Slabs are sold in their pure form, and when sold they look quite strange.
Designers who have been engaged in the manufacture of furniture for many years, where epoxy resin is one of the main components, are unlikely to show you a step-by-step master class on the production of such items. Not everyone likes to give out the secrets of mastery. In addition, if you consider the money they charge for finished products, you can understand them.
What is the cost of
Do not be fooled by the high price for such products, which customers often have to pay for what comes out of the workshop.
If the master, for example, made an apron made of epoxy, wood or stone for the kitchen, and requested a large amount, then only his material costs amounted to more than half of the amount, and he took the rest for the work.
Which consisted of trips and purchases, careful selection of material and laying out of it an aesthetically acceptable composition. Which he will definitely coordinate with the customer. From the installation of auxiliary structures in the form of molds for pouring epoxy, from the selection of insulating, in order to avoid leaks, material for these molds. Plus, the need to arrange a temporary canopy so that dust, dirt, and insects do not get on the solidifying surface.
Almost always, the slab itself requires additional processing, For example, when adjusting the thickness to the size of the countertop required by the customer. Often, for example, slabs are sold thick “with a margin”. If the thickness of the countertop is certain, then you cannot do without your own reismus or sending a slab for additional processing to reduce the thickness. This is also work, time and money.
Next comes the grinding, polishing, drilling and boring of the connecting elements, if they are provided by the design, which happens often. No one will make an overcomplicated topological matrix for three-dimensional castings.
For example, for a chair with its four legs. Such types of products are assembled from many castings that require the most precise coupling of all shapes and surfaces, and the joints processed with a drill, a milling cutter and other tools will then be filled in or simply smeared with a small amount of additionally diluted epoxy, and will become completely invisible to the eye. That’s why there is a feeling of a monolithic product.
Now imagine two slabs stacked in a rectangular, although not necessarily rectangular, shape with sides slightly higher than their thickness, with an irregularly shaped gap between them. An irregular gap is also formed between the edges of the slabs and the sides of such a formwork, and now all this is filled with transparent epoxy resin.
As a result, we get irregular, non-linear pieces of wood enclosed in a glass-like mass. Only, unlike glass, which is not far from steel in weight, epoxy is twice as light.
Anyone who has worked with wood knows about the richness of texture on the cuts. If you also make these cuts oblique or transverse, or process them in many 3D directions at once, as is the case with wood sculptures, even of the most primitive forms, then the widest possibilities for creativity open up.
Pouring wood with epoxy resins is essentially an ideal preservation of wood. It will not lead after drying, will not twist, will not deform, cracks will not appear in it. In addition, such a coating works on wood as a varnish, enhancing the brightness of the color of the tree and making the texture play with light three times stronger.
This peculiarity is especially pronounced in places on the border with defects: knots, growths-caps, twists. If previously, before pouring transparent resin, pour separately large cracks with painted resin, the play of light becomes generally fantastic.
Not a single tree
With the help of epoxy resins, an artificial stone of excellent quality is obtained. Which, in terms of its operational characteristics, often surpasses natural in many ways.
First of all, due to the lack of pores in the array of such a stone. To understand why this happens, you need to look at the technology of its manufacture, and everything is simple there: small granite, marble or any other stone crushed stone is mixed with epoxy. Why, crushed stone, even ordinary coarse-grained sea sand, mixed like dough with epoxy resin, will give after solidification an excellent imitation of basalt, gabbro or sandstone only with pores filled with resin.
For all its viscosity, it has a huge fluidity, which means that its particles will penetrate into any, the most microscopic cracks and pores.
By the way, this quality of it, called adhesion, gives a lot of trouble to the master manufacturers of such furniture: after all, it prevents the defect-free separation of casting molds from the products themselves. The solution is to use wax mastic, only it does not interact with epoxy resin. Fat, soap, vaseline insulators themselves become part of the epoxy composite, only in one direction or another (and not always in a useful way) changing its properties.
The use of expensive fluoroplastic substrates, silicone molds, as well as PVC films and adhesive tapes also helps.
Epoxy with stone is rarely used in the manufacture of furniture as such, the exception is tables with flat set pebbles.
In such tables, the texture of the flooring and the pattern of the upholstery fabric are beaten, and pebbles like the one above can be found on the shallows of any fast river.
Basically, castings made of epoxy resin and stone are used in the manufacture of sinks. Surrounded by sanitary tiles, such products look more organic. Fortunately, the color scheme, with the existing variety of cladding materials for walls and floors, you can choose the perfect one.
Although there are products that seem to be transitional between furniture and plumbing. These are kitchen aprons, sections of wall cladding above the stove and sink, sometimes covering half a kitchen with their length. Small fish, frozen in the resin thickness over small pebbles or coarse sand, look organically here. Where are the fish from, you ask, they can be bought in a fishing shop of any size, color and for every taste. In addition, the countertops of kitchen cabinets can be decorated with pebbles, coarse sand or layered rubble.
It is difficult to get pebbles, especially of the right shape, colors and flat enough so that your apron does not become one and a half centimeters thick, and what and who prevents you from making plaster castings of flat pebbles, paint them with any pigment, at least with watercolor or gouache diluted with whitewash in the right colors.
By the way, it is not a fact that the master to whom you ordered a “pebble shoal” with fish scurrying back and forth actually made it out of real pebbles. Although this is unlikely to affect the price of the product in the direction of reduction, because such an artificial pebble with a given size of components and a given color also needs to be made.
Its significant advantage will be a smaller mass, because gypsum is still lighter than granite, quartz, sandstone or basalt, of which natural pebbles on river rifts consist.
If what is in this picture is a stone, then it is jasper, but then the cost of such an apron with epoxy resin filling will be prohibitive at all. If such a “jasper” is made by diluting painted gouache or similar paint with water in epoxy, then the master is honored and praised, and the price will remain affordable for the average buyer. It is only necessary not to take one for the other.
Living nature frozen in stone
In addition to a tree, you can also enclose objects of living nature in eternity: insects or twigs of living plants. Since high-quality grades of epoxy resin are not subject to heating during solidification, and if they are, then this effect does not manifest itself on large areas with a thin layer of filling, you can place freshly plucked, not yet withered leaves, blooming flowers and twigs in the thickness of the created layer.
There is an instant preservation of objects placed in resin, which, if you like, will retain texture, size and color for centuries. This is used by jewelers, creating key chains and pendants with objects of wildlife enclosed in them.
It is also possible to combine different fillers:
- wood and stone;
- stone and vegetation;
- stone and wood with the addition of water, which can give, for example, an imitation of a deep-sea sinkhole on the surface.
Precautions during operation
The process of polymerization of epoxy resin, after adding a hardener to it, is accompanied by the release of a large amount of very harmful, even toxic substances: phenols and aldehydes. When the resin completely hardens, that is, after about 36-48 hours or more, this process stops completely.
Therefore, master designers who make designer furniture from epoxy, first of all provide reliable exhaust ventilation in the workshop room.
Such harmful substances are released by polyester resin and some other compositions for pouring, for example, epoxy-phenolic, not used in the manufacture of furniture. The epoxy resin itself does not emit substances into the air even in liquid form, a respirator and gloves when working with it are needed so that it does not get into the form of microscopic droplets inside when breathing and on the skin.
In addition, during the processing of already formed products (grinding, polishing, boring grooves), a lot of fine epoxy dust is formed, which is also very harmful to health. Therefore, all these operations are performed by masters in protective clothing and with effective respirators on the respiratory organs. Protective glasses that prevent dust from getting into the eyes will also be useful.
Inhaling the dust of fully cured epoxy resin is no more dangerous than inhaling sand, although it undoubtedly requires protection with a respirator.
Although the release of harmful gases and volatile substances stops after solidification of epoxy products, after heating them, it can theoretically resume. Such temperature changes are not uncommon in the kitchen, with the proximity of such surfaces to the stove, hot water in the sink, electric kettle and refrigerator heat exchanger.
Therefore, kitchen countertops and aprons also have a protective coating with a wear-resistant varnish. Moreover, all surfaces are covered with varnish: the front, back and ends, in order to prevent the release of harmful substances out of nowhere. Probably there is no need to say that varnishes should be selected waterproof, because they use countertops of sinks and aprons in kitchens, where the probability of splashing water is one hundred percent.
You haven’t changed your mind about making epoxy furniture with your own hands, then go ahead. In addition to the moral satisfaction of the work done with your own hands, you will also save about 20-25% of the funds that would otherwise have gone to the master. Provided, of course, that you succeed the first time.
Although, I think, the costs of self-study and overcoming mistakes can significantly exceed what a master would earn on such a product.