Epoxy: what’s next?

Author: Rob Brown
Published: July 1, 2021
Deal the Cards
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Epoxy has been on an incredible tear over the past five years or so. Once relegated to quick or waterproof joints, or glossy topcoats, it now plays a structural role in many pieces of furniture. Today, you’ll see many “river tabletops” in bold colours, almost always in conjunction with the one-of-a-kind lines made possible by live edge material.

The crew at CW&HI had a discussion the other day about what’s next for epoxy. Will it continue to play a starring role in river tabletops or will this approach to making furniture wane? Or maybe other trends will come along and use this fascinating material in a brand-new way, sweeping woodworkers of all stripes off their feet. There are also a new generation of bio-based epoxies, pioneered by companies like Ecopoxy,  that use a new class of bio-sourced resins specifically formulated to minimize environmental impact.

What do I think? Glad you asked. I think river tables will be around for some time, though their popularity may fall a bit. I’m hoping epoxy as a material for woodworkers starts to go down other, more refined, paths. Personally, I find river tables can be a bit clunky and cumbersome, but epoxy used in a more delicate manner could bring us a whole new look. I’m not knocking the river table and its straightforward approach to using epoxy, as it has brought a lot of satisfaction to many makers’ faces. I just prefer a slightly different style.

Deal the Cards!
Chad Martin, CW&HI’s Advertising Director, made this black cherry and epoxy cribbage board from a board that was destined for the firewood pile. The royal blue epoxy provides a serious hit of colour and contrast with the rich wood grain. It’s a small, eye-catching game board.

Deal the Cards

Cutting Boards
One of the most popular items for woodworkers to make with epoxy is cutting boards. These boards, made by Lynn & Liana, are great examples. You can see more cutting boards and other epoxy serveware at LynnLiana.com. Photo by Lynn & Laila / Ecopoxy

Epoxy Inlay
Another piece by Chad Martin, this live edge black walnut serving tray has blue epoxy inlaid into its face. Epoxy is a great material to inlay because it flows out to fill whatever cavity you create for it.

epoxy inlay

Baguette Boards
These baguette boards, also from Lynn & Liana, make a strong focal point on the table, and are well within the reach of woodworkers. Photo by Lynn & Laila / Ecopoxy

Baguette Boards

“Veiled Lady”
This turned vessel, made by Marilyn Campbell, is made from epoxy. To learn how she created this stunning piece read my column next week.

One artist who’s been using epoxy in her work for decades is right here in Canada. Marilyn Campbell, from Kincardine, Ontario, uses epoxy as decorative and structural elements in her turning. Her boatbuilding background gave her a solid understanding of epoxy. She was eventually introduced to woodturning and then brought those two worlds together.

Campbell’s work is incredibly intricate. When pierced, carved and highly textured epoxy surfaces cross with the rich, warm tones of wood, beauty will certainly follow. On top of that, Campbell’s approach to mixing the two materials together is fascinating. Although I don’t know most of the details regarding how she works, Campbell uses turned forms to shape most of the epoxy shells, then cuts and shapes them to fit on the turned parts of the piece she’s working on.

You can see more of her work on her website: MarilynCampbell.ca.

Where do you think the world of epoxy and woodworking is going? What projects have you made with epoxy that are a step away from the river tables, coasters and cribbage boards we see so much of? Either send me an email or post your thoughts in the comments section. I’m sure there are many great ideas out there. I’d love to share these ideas with our readers.

The process

While writing this column I exchanged emails with Marilyn Campbell. She was kind enough to send me some images of the process she goes through to complete one of her vessels. Honestly, I’ve been working wood professionally for over 25 years, yet it was still tricky for me to follow along with the steps Marilyn came up with to produce the pieces she does. She’s a true artist, and someone Canadians can be proud of.

It’s a bit too much to include everything this week, but next week I will have figured out some of Marilyn’s wizardry, and will share a few epoxy secrets from one of the very best in the business.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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