Working with epoxy resin doesn’t have to be daunting – trust me, I was daunted but was surprised at how easy it was to work with.  This pallet board desk is made up of rough, wormy wood, but the epoxy finish makes it a gorgeous working surface with character you won’t find anywhere else.

I can’t take credit for this project…

as much as I LOVE and am so thrilled with how it turned out, the idea wasn’t mine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show off brilliance right?

TotalBoat has been a sponsor at Workbench.Con (a conference for social media “makers”) for the past couple of years.  I’m sure you’ve seen river table videos on Facebook or Instagram?  Lately I’ve noticed a lot of resin pours that look like beach scenes – gorgeous, but not really my thing.

My friend wanted to build a pallet board desk with rough, wormy wood as the working surface… but you can’t write on a surface that is that coarse and full of holes so I finally had an opportunity to approach TotalBoat and try out one of their epoxy kits.

*This is a sponsored post.  I approached TotalBoat (JamesTown Distributors) to collaborate on this project and was provided with materials for its completion.  As always, all opinions are sincere and my own.  Only the product specs and 2 product images were content provided by TotalBoat.

The moment I’d been waiting for!

I have tried epoxy pours in the past, but TotalBoat offers ultra-clear, high performance resin in volumes and kits that won’t break the bank… three things that I haven’t found in other brands to-date.

I’ll start with the barn board desk itself – although this really isn’t a building post.

We picked up some particle board at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $2 and cut it down to 3″ smaller than the final desktop would be.  We didn’t want the board to show, but we needed a solid surface beneath the pallet boards to provide a barrier to the epoxy running straight through.  I sealed the particle board with 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of black paint so that it wouldn’t soak up the epoxy like a sponge.  (the black was just to make it less noticeable).

We glued and used pin nails to attach the pallet boards to the particle board surface with a 1 ½” overhang on all sides.

Using pallet boards to create a desk surface

You see what I mean about a non-user-friendly-working surface?  But the wood has so much movement and character to it, I totally understand wanting to preserve that interest.

Once the glue had set up, we used some industrial tape (like clear packing tape, but slightly thicker – provided in my kit) to block the gaps between the boards and between the particle board and underside of the pallet wood / barn boards.  The goal was to contain the mixture of 2:1 TotalBoat high performance epoxy resin and slow hardener so that it would fill the gaps and holes in the wood.

TotalBoat epoxy resin and slow hardener

TotalBoat Clear High-Performance Epoxy Kit (with slow hardener)

  • Kit options include pint, quart, gallon, or 2-gallon quantities of High Performance Epoxy Resin, with your choice of High Performance Fast, Medium, and Slow Hardeners so you can adjust working and cure times. NOTE: Pint Kit is only available with slow hardener.
  • Premium, high-performance epoxy resin has a naturally clear, glossy, level finish when cured
  • Cures with greater clarity and more flexibility than traditional 5:1 epoxy systems
  • Low viscosity is ideal for coating, laminating, hand layups, & vacuum bagging applications
  • Combine with fillers for a high-strength bonding, gluing, filleting, or fairing compound
  • Bonds readily with fiberglass and other composite fabrics, wood, aluminum, steel, and lead
  • Easy to measure in a 2:1 mix ratio with non-blushing TotalBoat High Performance Fast, Medium, or Slow Hardeners
  • Measure precise 2:1 ratio with the calibrated 2:1 Epoxy Pumps (included), or manually by weight or volume
  • Compatibility: TotalBoat High Performance Epoxy Resin is not compatible with other 2:1 marine epoxy systems
  • Kit Sizes: Groups Size M – Pint Kit (great for small projects), Group Size A – Quart Kit, Group Size B – Gallon Kit, Group Size C – 2 Gallon Kit (a great value for bigger projects)
  • Kit Speeds: Slow, Medium, Fast
  • Kit Contents for Quart, Gallon, & 2 Gallon Kits: TotalBoat High Performance Epoxy Resin, TotalBoat High Performance Hardener (Slow, Medium, or Fast), calibrated 2:1 measuring pumps & instructions, 2 quart size plastic mixing pots, and 2 10-inch wooden stir sticks
  • Kit Contents for Pint Kit: TotalBoat High Performance Epoxy Resin, TotalBoat High Performance Slow Hardener, 2 pint size plastic mixing pots, and 2 10-inch wooden stir sticks

TotalBoat High Performance Epoxy Resin Kit

If you have questions about which epoxy to use for different projects and then which hardener will give you the best results, the crew at TotalBoat were wonderful at making recommendations.  Because this wood is aged and likely has chemicals throughout, it was important to start with this combination so that we could seal the wood to avoid bubbles in later pours and so that we had maximum time to work the  epoxy into every little nook and cranny.

First coat of TotalBoat epoxy resin on wormy wood

I used a Wagner heat gun (provided in the Tabletop kit package) to pop any little bubbles that presented in the epoxy.  You can use a lighter, blowtorch or even your breath to pop them, but the heat gun really made quick work of it.  You’ll want to check your pours for bubbles at every coat and eliminate as many as you can.

Still not a working surface for our pallet desk, but a solid base to build the next pours on.  Note: don’t pour epoxy resin in layers thicker than ¼” or it won’t set properly.  In this case some of the worm holes and (of course) the spaces between the boards were ½” thick, so 2 pours of the High Performance Epoxy Resin was needed to fill them completely.

I was surprised at how well the industrial tape held the epoxy in, and at how easy it was to remove afterwards.  Those guys might know something eh? lol

I did not sand between the first pour and the second pour on the pallet wood desk because I didn’t want to lose any of the surface character and the resin was very, very thin on top.  If you don’t want to sand between coats, add your second coat before 24 hours passes.

Second pour of TotalBoat epoxy resin

Epoxy resin pour over barn boards / pallet boards

I pulled off the industrial tape between coats so I could get a gauge on how thick the pour was and to fix up any areas that needed a better seal.

By the time I was ready to pour the third coat, which was TotalBoat’s Clear TableTop Epoxy – slightly different than the high-performance epoxy resin for it

 “…cures blush-free to a clear, glassy, 100% waterproof finish with excellent scratch, stain and yellowing resistance”

Exactly the surface you want for a desk.

TotalBoat Tabletop Epoxy Resin

  • Easy to obtain beautiful, glossy results whether you’re a professional or it’s your first time using epoxy
  • Unique 2-part, high-viscosity epoxy resin coating cures at room temperature
  • Cures without bubbling or blushing
  • Cures to a 100% waterproof, clear, deep glass-like finish on bar, table, and counter tops
  • Resists scratches, stains, and yellowing
  • Simple 1 to 1 mix ratio makes it very easy to use
  • BPA-Free, VOC-Free formula makes TotalBoat TableTop a smart alternative to other products with harsh industrial chemicals

TotalBoat Tabletop Epoxy Resin Kit

Because I was changing epoxy formulations, I did let the second coat completely cure for a day and did sand the entire surface of the pallet wood desk with 320 grit sandpaper to:

  1.  provide a gripping surface for the next coat of epoxy to adhere to
  2. to find any low spots in the previous coat and
  3. work out any little fibres of wood that were still showing above the resin line.

sanding epoxy coating with 320 grit sandpaper between coats

You can see in the photo below how this light sanding really highlighted where there were lows in the barn board desk surface.

sanding epoxy surface

We filled any obvious spots first and then proceeded to pour the third coat of resin (but first coat of TableTop epoxy).

filling holes in epoxy coating

smoothing epoxy resin over wood surface

You can see a few bubbles in the epoxy resin in the photos above, but we eliminated them with the heat gun after the surface had been levelled.  Thank goodness the kit came with everything you need – a home improvement store run at this point would have been tragic.

In the case of this pallet board desk / barn board desk, a fourth pour was needed – primarily to ooze over the edges to give a nice finish to all the sides.

We removed the tape dam that had been holding in the previous coats, sanded down the sides to remove any residue and create a smooth surface and then did a final pour of the TotalBoat TableTop Epoxy over the entire surface, wiping small amounts over the edge.

pouring epoxy over the edge of the desk

I smoothed the sides with my (gloved) finger to make sure every nook was filled, and let it set overnight.  Don’t worry about the drips you see here – they sand off easily once everything is cured.

What do you think?!

Pretty spectacular right?!

epoxy coated desk

The pallet board desk bases were made from ¾” ply and had been sitting in my garage for months after a failed attempt to extend a dresser.  The colour didn’t quite go with the barn board desk, so I trimmed out the sides and fronts with extra pallet wood to keep things consistent.

sides of barn board desk

I’m not sure if the photos do it justice – this desk is GORGEOUS!  The TotalBoat finish kept the integrity and interest of the wood while providing an ultra-clear, glossy, level and scratch resistant surface.

epoxy-filled worm holes in wood

Pallet wood desk, barn board desk

Just look at that shine!!

Again, the idea wasn’t mine – but this is a project I’m really pretty proud of.

barn board desk, pallet board desk

Pallet board desk, barn board desk, TotalBoat Epoxy Resin

I’m thinking we need to make a printer side table to match?

Pallet board desk, barn board desk, TotalBoat Epoxy Resin

Above you can catch a glimpse of the particle board base (black) that we started with.  Unobtrusive, but necessary to dam up the TotalBoat epoxy resin so it could build between layers.

Pallet board desk, barn board desk, TotalBoat Epoxy Resin

Pallet board desk, barn board desk, TotalBoat Epoxy Resin

I could work at this desk.

Who am I kidding?  I could stare at this pallet board desk surface, even hang it on a wall it’s so beautiful!

You can see the reflection from the pencil it’s so crisp and clear!!

I was nervous about this project – I’m nervous about most projects because I rarely DON’T screw up – but particularly because I couldn’t envision the finished product and my friend could.  Who wants to disappoint someone they love?

But I can say, with complete honesty and sincerity that TotalBoat knocked my socks off!  I cannot see myself ever using any other brand of epoxy resin (having tried other resins in the past).

Thank you TotalBoat!