Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Zelli Bar Progress - Epoxy

The live edge pieces have been chosen, the scale drawings have been made, and we are officially on the move to make the Zelli Bar a reality!

The majority of today thus far has been spent concocting epoxy resins that would later be used to fill in any natural gaps or cracks in the wood. We must, after all, ensure that the bar has a nice flat surface for the drinks to be slung.

We, of course, want the substance we fill the cracks with to match perfectly to the rest of the bar's surface. Because the surface of the bar will be made of two live edge walnut slabs, to ensure that the final product is as natural as it can be in all respects, we used the bark from the walnut pieces to mix with the epoxy to fill the cracks.
Starting with a chisel, we shredded chunks of bark into sizes that could be ground into a finer dust. The finer dust was sifted to separate the bigger pieces from the sand-like particles. We then hooked up the shop vac to the belt sander and sanded more walnut bark into an even finer dust of the same color. Eventually, we had three different grain-sized collections of bark to mix with the epoxy. Because of the varying grain sizes, when they're mixed together in the right proportions, they form a substance that looks exactly the same as (and for the most part is) natural bark.

As the walnut bark dust was being prepared, I was working to fit longer strips of the same bark into the larger cracks. I took the stronger bark with some grain still in tact and sanded it down to fit tightly into the cracks. Although this is only possible for the larger cracks in the slab, with these longer, whole bark pieces we were able to fill most of the negative space with parts of the same tree.
And, finally, it all came together. We mixed up the epoxy with four small scoops of each grain-sized bark and began to fill in cracks. In the picture to the left, you can see Rob using the epoxy (that is now the color of natural walnut bark) to glue the fitted pieces into a larger crack in the slab.

We were very careful to be sure that the epoxy filled the entire crack, all the way through the slab. It was pressed carefully into each crevasse and around each fitted piece of
bark. As you can see in the photos, the epoxy was not used sparingly. The epoxy shrinks as it starts to dry and harden so, we want to make sure there is enough there to fill the cracks to the point that they are even with (or above) the surface of the rest of the slab. It is actually our goal for the epoxy to dry proud of the surface of the slab so that it can be sanded down to match that surface perfectly.

This is not my first interaction with epoxy since working here but, it was my first time getting to mix it to be the exact right color. I can safely say that all the projects completed at Lohr Woodworking maintain every natural quality they possibly can throughout the repairing, building, and finishing processes. I am forever impressed by these tactics I am learning to make the most of what nature hands us. Keep your eye out for more updates on the Zelli Bar!


  1. wow really excited to see the start of this amazing creation! Watching the progress is so exciting and informative!!! thank you Larissa Lou and Jeanne Zelli

    1. Thank you for reading! I'm glad I can share the process with you as it unfolds over here!