If the stay at home orders in Pittsburgh have given me anything (other than a few extra pounds from great home-cooked meals and Netflix binges), it’s extra time to tackle some awesome DIY epoxy projects that have been floating around in my noggin’ for some time.
Among these ingenious (sometimes concerning and bizarre) ideas was this epoxy lava table that I finally had a chance to tackle. Made with a volcano base and designed to look like hot lava spewing all over the place, this thing turned out awesome. Check it out and try it out for yourself!
To get started, you’ll want to make the form for your epoxy. I started with a homemade melamine form, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work for a project like this. Instead, I opted for some double trashcan action, which I cut down using a razor blade (carefully, of course).
I layered these over top on another to make kind of a bowl/skirted shape with the epoxy. Be sure to clean the inside of your cans with alcohol before use so that your epoxy doesn’t pick up any imperfections.
You will also want to make a rectangular mold for your table shaft. I added a pole on the inside of mine so that I could string LED lights through it.
Once you have your mold cut, it’s time to mix up and pour your epoxy. To keep your inner trashcan from floating, you’re going to want to weight it down with some type of heavy roof-like contraption like a metal sheet while the whole thing solidifies. Once you add this, fill your mold to the top and wait 4-6 days (or whatever your epoxy instructs) for it to solidify.
Once solid, remove your epoxy from the molds. Start by flattening the top with a router jig so that it can be used as a table. Next, rough-cut the shape of your lava drip with a jigsaw. I left a good margin on mine so that when I move in with my die grinder I have more control over the shape and depth and had a little margin of error.
Once you shape the top, it’s time to move on to the shaft. Not only do you want to design a shaft that looks like a volcanic eruption, but it needs to be a strong base and a place for mounting the top. I shaped this on a spinner to get the perfect look and used the perfect size Forstner bit to cut out a place on the top to secure the shaft into place.
Once you’ve made the table shaft, you want to built the volcanic mountain base around the bottom of it. I did this with some pine blocks I had lying around. Build this up by gluing up two sides and cutting a recess for the base of the shaft. Once cut, temporarily glue the two sides together with CA glue and activator, angle-grinding it down to a cone shape.
I then used my torch to char the outside of the volcano — and, as recommended by Brad Rodriguez, carved away some of the char for a more natural, gradient look.
Next, it’s time to add your LEDs to the shaft and top. Start by hammering out the metal rod you added to the shaft. String your LEDs through the shaft to the bottom of the top, securing them as you see fit.
Finally, it’s time to put it all together! Break apart your volcano base and secure it around the shaft. Secure the top onto the shaft with some 5-minute epoxy, and finish it all with a spray finish of your choice.
Thanks for checking out this project! If you liked it, be sure to check out some of my other recent projects:
Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.