Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

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Dave Van
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Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

Someone in this group must be doing epoxy inlays successfully. I have done searches but can't seem to find that person.

I'm making some cutting boards with carved names and am filling the carving with colored epoxy then sanding off so the surface is smooth but the text shows up well. My question is what to use for a sealer. Everything I've read says to use lacquer to seal the wood before applying epoxy. I tried this and the colored epoxy still bleeds into the wood. General Finishes Milk Paint works really well for a sealer, but I'm concerned the epoxy might not adhere to the paint as well as it should. I also tried clear epoxy as a sealer and that didn't work well at all. Anyone have any experience with epoxy inlays they might want to share? Thanks! Incidentally, I am not concerned about questions of food safety for the purposes of this discussion... just the technical aspects of doing an epoxy inlay successfully.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by ger21 »

I also tried clear epoxy as a sealer and that didn't work well at all.
What kind of epoxy, and why didn't it work?
I've never done an epoxy fill like that, but I use epoxy as a sealer all the time.
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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by stanv77 »

[I HAVE DONE ONE EPOXY INLAY BUT I DON'T LIKE IT . THE EPOXY IS EXPENIVE AND IT TAKES UP MACHINE
FOR A FEW DAYS IF YOU DOING MORE THAN ONE COLOR IT DOES LOOK GOOD BUT A PAIN.
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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Xxray »

I have done alot of epoxy fills, my method is to use a craft hypodermic needle and precisely apply only as much as is needed, that way bleeding isn't a factor. Does require a perfectly level surface, and it can be easy to over fill. I use epoxy from home depot, fairly cheap and it can be tinted any color.
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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

ger21 wrote:
I also tried clear epoxy as a sealer and that didn't work well at all.
What kind of epoxy, and why didn't it work?
I've never done an epoxy fill like that, but I use epoxy as a sealer all the time.
The problem has been bleeding of the colored epoxy into wood surrounding the infill. I need a sealer that will prevent bleeding of the color and yet sand off to allow application of butcher block oil as a finish. When I applied clear epoxy as a sealer, it still allowed a little of the color to bleed through and it formed a halo around the grooves that would not absorb butcher block oil.
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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

Xxray wrote:I have done alot of epoxy fills, my method is to use a craft hypodermic needle and precisely apply only as much as is needed, that way bleeding isn't a factor. Does require a perfectly level surface, and it can be easy to over fill. I use epoxy from home depot, fairly cheap and it can be tinted any color.
To fill the epoxy I have used both a syringe and a kitchen flavor injector. Both work fairly well. I tried epoxy from the big box store but had an amber cast, had a relatively fast kick and wasn't quite as smooth as I would like. I switched to West System epoxy which is water clear, very smooth, and has a longer working time. My problem has been the color bleeding into the wood. I'm using maple, cherry and walnut which normally don't give much trouble with color bleeding.

I was able to achieve a good result but I used General Finishes Milk Paint as a sealer. I'm somewhat worried the epoxy infill might not be bonding well to the paint so the letters might drop out of the board in a year or two. Perhaps it's not really a problem - I don't know. I found information about putting latex paint over epoxy (not a good idea) but I didn't find information about putting epoxy over latex paint.
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Although the epoxy color doesn't look readable in the photo, it is a cranberry color that actually contrasts quite well and is readable. Color is wife approved.
Although the epoxy color doesn't look readable in the photo, it is a cranberry color that actually contrasts quite well and is readable. Color is wife approved.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by ElevationCreations »

Have you tried using clear epoxy as a sealer before applying the tinted epoxy?

Inlace is another inlay material you can try, have had good results and just use masking tape prior to v-carving as a mask.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by GaryR6 »

HOW much color are you adding to the epoxy? Ive done hundreds of inlays and NEVER had the color run. And I never seal the wood first. Are you using pigment and not dye? And just the smallest amount. Are you using short dry time epoxy or long dry time? 5 minute or paste epoxy, a touch of pigment and done.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

GaryR6 wrote:HOW much color are you adding to the epoxy? Ive done hundreds of inlays and NEVER had the color run. And I never seal the wood first. Are you using pigment and not dye? And just the smallest amount. Are you using short dry time epoxy or long dry time? 5 minute or paste epoxy, a touch of pigment and done.
I'm using universal pigment. Just a couple of drops of pigment is enough to color enough epoxy to do the job. I am using epoxy with a 30 minute set time. When I started doing this several people told me to use the epoxy with the longest open time. I have some 5 minute epoxy. I'll try that and see if it works differently. The color bleeding into the pores of the wood has been a real pain !!! Thanks for the tip!

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

ElevationCreations wrote:Have you tried using clear epoxy as a sealer before applying the tinted epoxy?

Inlace is another inlay material you can try, have had good results and just use masking tape prior to v-carving as a mask.
Inlace is a very good material. I appreciate you mentioning it. I like Inlace for projects that require just a little inlay. It is very expensive to use in projects that take as much epoxy as these cutting boards. That's the motivation for working so hard to find a method of applying regular epoxy as the inlay. It can easily be colored and it's much less expensive on a per ounce basis.

I did try clear epoxy as a sealer before applying the tinted epoxy. It didn't sufficiently block the colored epoxy from seeping into the pores of the wood but it did block the cutting board oil from penetrating.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by martin54 »

Which of the west systems hardeners are you using? If it's the longest working time that would be 209 which has a very long working time. 205 or 206 would probably be your best bet if you want to stick with west systems. I would have thought that 205 would be sufficient for what your doing though.
Don't forget that pot life is somewhat temperature dependant so a slightly cooler temperature will give you a longer pot life although you have to weigh this up against the epoxy's viscosity, to cold & it won't run at all :lol: :lol:

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

martin54 wrote:Which of the west systems hardeners are you using? If it's the longest working time that would be 209 which has a very long working time. 205 or 206 would probably be your best bet if you want to stick with west systems. I would have thought that 205 would be sufficient for what your doing though.
Don't forget that pot life is somewhat temperature dependant so a slightly cooler temperature will give you a longer pot life although you have to weigh this up against the epoxy's viscosity, to cold & it won't run at all :lol: :lol:
I'm using West System 207 hardener. I contacted West System and told them what I was doing with the epoxy and that's the one they recommended. But another member of this group suggested using 5 minute epoxy from the big box store as a comparison to West System and see how I like it. I'll try anything once. The 5 minute epoxy is next on my "to do" list. thanks for taking time to respond - I appreciate all the help I can get!

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by martin54 »

When you contacted west systems who did you speak to? Did you speak to their technical department or the person who answered the phone? I haven't used resin for anything to do with the cnc projects I make but have used it a lot for other things I do. Contacted west systems & other epoxy manufacturers on a few occasions for various things & found most of them to be quite helpful if you can get past the sales people & actually speak to the technicians :lol: :lol:

What sort of pot life do you need in general for the inlays you do? Pot life on 205 is up to 12 mins at 72 degrees, I am guessing they said 207 as that is used more as a clear coating than for bonding but I would have thought 205 would give a clear enough finish especially if you are adding a pigment to colour it.

I always make sure I have everything ready & laid out before I start so once I have the resin & hardener mixed I don't suddenly realise I need something & have to hunt for it, run through the process in my head with everything laid out on the bench to make sure I can maximise the time I have available before the resin starts to become unworkable :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by Dave Van »

martin54 wrote:When you contacted west systems who did you speak to? Did you speak to their technical department or the person who answered the phone? I haven't used resin for anything to do with the cnc projects I make but have used it a lot for other things I do. Contacted west systems & other epoxy manufacturers on a few occasions for various things & found most of them to be quite helpful if you can get past the sales people & actually speak to the technicians :lol: :lol:

What sort of pot life do you need in general for the inlays you do? Pot life on 205 is up to 12 mins at 72 degrees, I am guessing they said 207 as that is used more as a clear coating than for bonding but I would have thought 205 would give a clear enough finish especially if you are adding a pigment to colour it.

I always make sure I have everything ready & laid out before I start so once I have the resin & hardener mixed I don't suddenly realise I need something & have to hunt for it, run through the process in my head with everything laid out on the bench to make sure I can maximise the time I have available before the resin starts to become unworkable :lol: :lol: :lol:
Thanks for taking time to share your experience. You make some good points. I only need about 10 minutes to apply epoxy. I've been waiting 15 minutes to let the epoxy start setting up before I apply it.

I've done 5 test pieces so far. My next test piece will be with 5 minute epoxy from the big box store to see how the results compare with my West System tests. I don't mind doing tests. I learn a little more about epoxy each time, and the cutting boards that don't work get planed off so I have another attractive flat cutting board to give next Christmas.

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Re: Anyone doing epoxy inlays successfully?

Post by martin54 »

How are you preping your stock material? Could you start your tests with a thicker block of wood, then if the test doesn't go to plan you could re surface & try again :lol: if it turns out well then just take the excess off the other side. Most of the wood I buy comes from a sawmill & is never the size I want it to be to start with so it works for me when testing :lol: :lol:

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