Making an epoxy resin river table can be a challenging process, but when finished properly, the table will speak for itself.  We get a lot of requests for custom river tables and epoxy is among the most popular of all the finishes we use.  If you want to build a trendy table for your dining room, keep reading this guide!

What Is A River Table?

A river table is a table made from two pieces of live edge slab, often from the same slab, with epoxy resin poured in the middle.  The epoxy hardens and creates a “river” of epoxy through the center of the two slab pieces.  Below is a picture of a finished river table.

walnut table with epoxy river

How To Make a River Table – Step By Step

Time needed: 3 days

Below is the step by step process for making an epoxy river table!

  1. Choose Your Wood Slab

    The first step to making a live edge river table is choosing a slab for your top. Make sure it’s both air and kiln dried, especially for larger tables so that it doesn’t warp. The most popular slabs our customers ask for when we’re building river tables are black walnut and maple, but many species of slabs are available. For larger tables, two slabs may be needed.

  2. Cut the slab

    Cut the slab in half down the middle using a track saw. Then, square the edges so that you can put your table inside of a mold.

  3. Flatten the Slab

    Flattening the slab is a process of using a slab flatter or router with a track system to remove the high spots on a slab. This ensures your slab will be flat when it’s made into a table. A flattener will remove any warping that occurred during the drying process.

  4. Remove the Bark and Sand the Live Edge

    This is an important step as it will help the epoxy bond to the slab. We typically start sanding the slab using an 80 grit sandpaper. After each pass, we work our way up to a finer grit, until we finish sand it with 220. Be sure to remove all bark or lose wood from the edges of the slab.

  5. Create a Mold

    This step is essential to the finished result. Place 2″ thick wood around the pieces of slab once they’re positioned where you’d like them. We use a flat piece of 3/8″ plastic under the wood so that the epoxy will dry on a flat surface.
    Please note, the wider you put the slabs apart, the more difficult the pour of epoxy will be and the more expensive you’re project will be. Epoxy is about $80 per gallon, so it adds up quickly on large river table builds.
    To build the mold, use wood covered in sheathing tape. We use 2x4s for the ends and 1x4s for the sides.

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

    You’ll want to use caulk to create a dam so the epoxy doesn’t flow over the entire table when you pour it. Caulk will help keep this from occurring. Caulk should also go on the bottom of the wood slab and on the ends of the mold.

  7. Clamp the Wood Slabs In Place

    Next you’ll want to use parallel clamps to hold the wood in place. We put these vertically to hold the slab flat on the piece of plastic. We use small blocks and long 2×6 lumber to apply pressure to each size and hold the tabletop flat.
    The picture below is from the first layer of epoxy, but shows how to set your clamps.

  8. Mix Your Test Coat of Epoxy Resin

    Mix your epoxy resin according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Each manufacture can require different instructions for mixing the resin.
    If you plan on coloring the epoxy, this is usually the time to do so. If you bought a pigment, simply follow the instructions on the packaging to add it to your epoxy. You can choose from many colors for your epoxy, including blue, turquoise, red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black and more.
    We pour a thin first coat and let it dry to ensure we have the correct mixture and the color the customer likes. This also shows us if we have any leaks that need to be fixed in our mold

  9. Mix Your Deep Pour Epoxy and Pour Into The River Until Filled

    We use a deep pour epoxy so we can pour our entire piece in one pour. Typically this will take 5-15 gallons depending on the size of the table and width/depth of the epoxy river. The table above used 10 gallons of epoxy. Be sure to mix it for at least 5 minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly mixed. If the epoxy isn’t mixed properly, the epoxy may not get hot enough to harden or may overheat and break. Pictured below is epoxy made by Woodwright finishes after it’s mixed.

  10. Let the Epoxy dry overnight

    The epoxy should dry overnight. Typically the river will harden, but the overflow of deep pour epoxy will be sticky. This may harden with time, or can be sanded off.

  11. Remove the Mold

    This step is as simple as it sounds. Simply remove the clamps and any screws from the mold after your epoxy has hardened. We typically let the tables harden overnight in a room that’s sealed off to ensure we won’t have any bugs or flies in the epoxy when we arrive the next day.
    You’ll likely need to use a wooden wedge to get the top off of the plastic.

  12. Flatten the Slab

    This step is typically recommended if you have any low spots on the slab or epoxy river. Flattening the slab is faster than sanding, so it’ll save you time if you have any low spots that need to be addressed.
    flattening the river table

  13. Sand Your Tabletop

    This step is essential to getting a beautiful river table. We typically sand the finished tops on our wide belt sander up to 220 grit. Then, we will sand it using an orbital sander until smooth. This usually requires going up to at least 400 grit.river table on the wide belt sander

  14. Cut to Exact Size

    We cut our tables to exact size after epoxy is poured. We typically make them 3-6″ longer and wider than needed to have a little margin for error during the epoxy pouring process!

  15. Router the Edges

    Unless told not to by the customer, we always router the edges on the tables so they have a 1/8″ rounded edge. If you don’t do this, the edges are sharp. The rounded edges are then sanded using 320 grit sandpaper making them smooth to the touch.

  16. Finish the Table Top

    Now that your table is about complete, it’s time to finish the top. There are many options for this, including a clear epoxy resin finish, using oil, or even using polyurethane.
    Typically for these, we will use a thin coat of clear epoxy, then polish it with a buffer and polishing compound.
    Other finishes you can choose from include oil and polyurethane. Oil will give your table a beautiful finished look, that appears more natural.
    Polyurethane will give it a shine similar to clear epoxy.

  17. Sand the Bottom

    If you used polyurethane or epoxy, it’s likely that there are small drips on the bottom of your table. Simply sand these off and touch up the bottom with the finish if needed.

  18. Mount the Legs or Base

    Typically we use metal legs that we have fabricated at a local machine shop. There are many suppliers of legs for these tables.
    For the bases we use, we router the bottom of the river table, then we attach it using bolts.
    Be sure to mount it across the entire table to help hold it flat for years to come.
    We also recommend using furniture felt on the bottom of metal and wood bases to keep the table from scratching hardwood floors.
    The particular river table pictured doesn’t have a metal base because we put it on top of a custom built kitchen island!

Now, your table is complete and ready to enjoy for years to come! Below is how the top looked once it was finished!

Common FAQs About Building River Tables

How much does a river table cost?

A river table’s cost will vary based on the wood type you use and amount of epoxy you need. For a dining room table, you’ll typically spend $400-$1200 on the live edge slab, and up to $1200 on the epoxy, as it costs about $80 per gallon.
The average river table we build costs around $2000 before labor.

What’s the best type of epoxy resin to use?

This answer will vary based on who you ask. There are many brands and suppliers of epoxy that will work for your project, just be sure to follow the instructions provided for that specific brand, as they do vary.
At Lancaster Live Edge, we typically use Woodright epoxy for our river table projects.

Can I do the epoxy resin on the outside of the live edge slab?

Yes, the process for this is very similar. When the slab is in the middle and the epoxy is on the outside, it’s known as a “reverse river table”.reverse river table with walnut slab

Can I cut my own slab?

You can if you have the right equipment. Cutting live edge slabs is a labor and time-intensive process. If you’re interested in cutting your own slabs, click here to read our guide.

I don’t have a wide belt sander or flattener, what should I do?

Often live edge slab dealers will offer this as a service for a fee. We offer this as an option for every slab we sell.

How long does it take to make a river table?

Making a river table will likely take you at least 6 hours. This doesn’t include the time for the epoxy to dry.
When we build river tables, it typically takes a few days since we pour the epoxy in multiple layers and also have hours in the flattening, sanding, and finishing processes.maple slab being flattened

Need To Hire A River Table Builder? Trust The Experts At Lancaster Live Edge.

At Lancaster Live Edge, we specialize in custom live edge slab tables. This includes epoxy river tables, reverse river tables, and more. If you’re interested in seeing our work, click here to view our inventory of dining room tables or request a quote online!

Have questions about building river tables? Drop us a comment below and we’ll respond as quickly as we can if we have any insights to share.


  1. Mike Glidewell on March 25, 2024 at 1:04 pm

    I’m a firm believer in, “There are hundreds of stupid questions.” My goal is to not ask more than my share. Can you make an epoxy table 4 feet x 2 feet utilizing 4 slabs approximately 12 inches wide x 24 inches long?

    Does the epoxy afford enough strength to hold it together?

    • LLE Support on April 23, 2024 at 8:41 pm

      Epoxy can hold just about anything together. When cured properly, it’s often as strong as the wood itself. If you’re looking for a quote on a piece, please reach out via our quote form. Thanks Mike!

  2. Shawn Talbot on March 5, 2024 at 11:30 pm

    I have a 36” by 72” slab of ash that’s been cnc’d down to 1-1/2” but I have a low spot about 6” round and about a 16th plus deep
    My question is can this be filled with a clear coat or should I have another 1/8” taken off
    My concern is that it’s for an island and I think it’s already too thin

    • LLE Support on April 23, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      Typically we’ll go until flat. A finish should lay evenly on a piece vs using it as a filler. In most cases, the 1/8 of thickness is worth trading. That’s not enough in my opinion to make a huge difference in the structural integrity of the piece.

  3. Dane Wise on February 19, 2024 at 11:37 pm

    I have a carved table top that has an elk carved into it. it is also painted. can you epoxy over the painted carving to make a table top?

  4. John on May 23, 2023 at 9:58 am

    Hey guys,

    Looking to start my first River Dining Room table pour over the next couple of weeks. Once the pour is complete can I bring the top to your shop to get it flatten? If so, what would the cost be for about a 6’x3′ top? An estimate is fine! The pieces I am looking at are 2 1/4″ thick and will most likely want it down to about 2″ or just under 2″

    I have been looking into making my own router sled but might want to get it professionally flattened since this is my first deep pour table for my house.


    • LLE Support on June 20, 2023 at 4:53 pm

      Hey John,

      If you’re still in need here, please call us! I’m not sure if this is a service we still offer. We had a lot of issues in the past with this as people would bring us very warped wood, then be upset when it wasn’t a thick as they would have liked it to be, which comes down to a root issue during the drying process that we couldn’t account for.

  5. Anthony on May 14, 2023 at 12:46 pm

    How do u stop epoxy from leaking under the wood

    • LLE Support on June 20, 2023 at 4:51 pm

      We use caulk all around the wood itself, the river, and the mold to stop this!

  6. Sagar lakhwani on March 22, 2023 at 3:44 am

    what should be the minimum thickness of epoxy table for 8 foot long ?

    • LLE Support on April 11, 2023 at 7:35 pm

      If dried properly, the thickness shouldn’t matter as much. Obviously the thicker a table is, the more structurally sound it will be in turn. We typically shoot for a 2″ thick table, though if it ends up thinner due to flattening as long as it’s dried properly there typically aren’t issues.

  7. Lewis on December 26, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    Making A River table. Just finished the pour. Started with deep pour. Let it cured for 2 weeks then finished with two more layers of table top. My question is how long should I leave I’m in the mold before moving on to the next steps/

    • LLE Support on April 11, 2023 at 7:57 pm

      Most deep pour epoxies we’ve used will cure in a week or so. It varies slightly from brand to brand, as well as temperature and pouring environment.

  8. GordonJones on August 20, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Very informative work in your article Nolan. I have watched my fare share of videos and wish I would have came across your information first. It will be my first attempt on a River table. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise.

    • Lancaster Live Edge on September 6, 2022 at 5:47 pm

      We’re glad it was helpful Gordon! We’ve been slowly but steadily trying to build out a lot of resources for live edge topics!

  9. Ales on August 5, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Very helpful post. I’m just about to make one my own (home project).
    How strong is such river table? I mean, the epoxy basicaly only bonds the two pieces of wood on their edges – I’m a bit concerned about the strenght of the bond and what would happen to the table if you put pressure in the middle of it…

    Another question – would you vax the wood parts before pouring the final top cover of epoxy? Wood looks so much nicer if waxed or oiled…


    • Lancaster Live Edge on September 6, 2022 at 6:04 pm

      If the wood is dried properly and the epoxy is cured properly, it’s extremely strong. The wood will break before the epoxy pulls from it in most cases, so that shouldn’t be of concern unless larger issues are at play with the tables stability.

      Epoxy is going to give a glossy look if it’s used as a finish. Even if pouring a river table with epoxy, you can still sand and finish it with oil. We use an oil finish on most of the epoxy river tables featured here. Only the river is epoxy, and even that has the oil finish on it.

  10. Garry on May 15, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    Hi, great info, thanks for it. Just wondering how profitable epoxy resin table business is?

    • Lancaster Live Edge on June 21, 2022 at 8:07 pm

      It varies! Our first year was a lot of learning. At $80 a gallon for epoxy, mistakes can get very expensive. I will say that a lot of the price that goes into these tables go toward the lumber, 10+ gallons of epoxy and the equipment to build them, so it’s not as profitable as some may think when they see the prices on these tables!

  11. Steven on April 20, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    Very helpful post

  12. Ray Spencer on December 14, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Hi, my girlfriend asked me to build her a small table or bench for her bathroom. I was thinking I would like to make an epoxy river top on it. It’s only going to be 32″x14 and 18″ tall. Was looking for suggestions. I would want a slab or even two narrow boards so I could put the river down the middle. I don’t want to spend to much and I have limited tools. I have a sander, saw, and some clamps that’s about it. I could buy a router. I would like to purchase the wood from you and maybe have it flattened. Thanks, Ray

    • Lancaster Live Edge on December 28, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      Hey Ray,

      Apologies for the delay – we’ve been closed for the past few months to get our kiln installed and get fully operational for 2022. If you still have a need for your project, give us a ring or fill out our contact form and we’re happy to help. We plan on opening our doors back up the first week of 2022!

      • Terry Stafford on November 5, 2022 at 2:59 pm

        I’m building a vanity top with Cherry. I have one live edge, and two more pieces that I’ll join to get the depth of the vanity. My question is, after I get the joints glued, can I take a router and cut a design along the joints to fill with epoxy, and if so, how deep should I route?

        • 91dom on December 12, 2022 at 6:30 pm

          We do not typically recommend doing a river table top by routering the wood partially. The epoxy and wood expand and contract differently and that can cause cracks. It also doesn’t look as good in our opinion. The only real win on this would be saving money. Sorry we can’t give a definitive answer, this isn’t a way we build our tables.

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