Retro Epoxy Counter Top

For the 1954 Airlight

1954 Airlight Bar Trailer
1954 Airlight Bar Trailer

Isn't she cute!  At this point in the restoration I have buffed the exterior twice.  It still needs one more polishing to remove the "swirl" marks. Seriously though, the reflection on the garage it amazing!

This is a project that I've been looking forward to. After I designed the cabinets for the 1954 Airlight bar trailer I had to decide on the countertop material.  I decided to go with butcher block for the main countertops but wanted something different for the little customer-serving niche.

When designing the cabinets my goal was to make the bartender as comfortable as possible.  Have you ever noticed that when you visit a food truck, the servers have to hunch over to hand you your food? I wanted the interior countertops to be standard height. The only problem with this is that the countertop would fall within the serving window.

Photo Jul 02, 11 52 08 PM
Photo May 01, 2 02 56 PM

So, to alleviate this problem, I decided to create this niche so that the customer would have a surface to set their drink or wallet on. It could also be used for decor, a drink menu, or business cards, etc.

Above is a pic of the niche without the countertop installed.

 

Here are the steps

 

The cabinets are made of 3/4 in birch plywood. The niche is three-sided: having a back, bottom, and two sides.

I wanted a retro 1950s look so I created it with epoxy and glitter.  This would give me the look of the vinyl countertops popular during the mid-century.

I started by painting them white like the cabinets and trailer walls.  I used Benjamin Moors' Decorators White in the pearl finish. in semi-gloss.

You need to work on a level surface and the temperature needs to be what the manufacture recommends. My epoxy calls for a temp between 70-80 degrees. Both of these factors are pretty important.

ALSO....this needs to be done in a well-ventilated space.  I used the garage. Both the epoxy and torch have a strong smell.

Each side has to be poured and cured individually. Four sides = four days of pouring.

I started with the back of the niche, then the bottom, then each side.

List of Materials

  • Base paint
  • Epoxy tape
  • Epoxy
  • Glitter
  • Disposable cups
  • Stir stick
  • Gloves
  • Propane torch

 

Prep your piece

After your paint is dry and cured, it's time to tape off the edges. (I let it dry for a whole day.)

I used Tyvek tape for this. It's typically used to put house wrap on.  I just happened to have it left over from a trailer build. There are specific tapes you can use for epoxy.

I taped off the edges of the box so that the epoxy wouldn't run off the piece.

Again, it's important that everything is level.  Shim your table if necessary.

I also use 2x4 blocks to raise the piece off of the table surface. This will help your piece not stick to the table if you get a bit of epoxy on the outside of your project.

Photo Jun 18, 8 48 47 PM

Mix the epoxy

You can use an epoxy calculator to determine how much to use.  I tend to wing it on small projects and just guess.

Epoxy calculator

Wear gloves and protect your surface from drips because this stuff is sticky!!

Mix the epoxy according to the manufacture's directions. Mine calls for a 50/50 mix. I use the plastic cups to measure out the exact same amount of part A and part B. I use Popsicle sticks to stir it. You can purchase reusable silicone cups and stir sticks as well. The directions state to stir the mixture for three minutes and try not to incorporate bubbles.  (good luck with that) I'll show you how to get the bubbles out in a bit.

Next add the glitter.  I used  silver and gold. I didn't measure this out either. Just shake some in like salt and pepper until you're satisfied with the concentration. Stir this in until it's evenly distributed in the epoxy.

mix
mix2

Now is the fun part! Pour the mixture on the surface and spread it out with the stir stick.  It is self-leveling so with the correct temperature it will flow out evenly. I wanted about 1/8 inch of epoxy for the surface. After I poured and scraped all the epoxy out of the mixing cup, and after it was all spread out, I began using the torch.

Torch time

This is my second favorite part of the project...FIRE!

Light the torch and move it across the surface of the epoxy. You will see tiny bubbles come to the surface and pop. Don't leave the torch in one spot too long. It will scorch the surface. You can wait a few minutes then do this process again.  I probably did it between 3 and 4 times before I was satisfied that all the bubbles had be removed.

 

torch2

I waited 24 hours between pours for each side of the niche and repeated the above process.

The end result is stunning!  I'm so happy with how it turned out.

Photo Aug 17, 3 08 45 PM
Photo Aug 17, 3 08 37 PM

Thanks for visiting.

kiss and signature

Wood Shop Communication Center

Photo Nov 19, 2 46 09 PM

This was one of the things I was most excited about with my new shop build.  I know it sounds crazy, but I just couldn’t wait to put it all together.  I actually sketched it out months before the shop was completed.  (It’s the little things in life…lol)

In hindsight, I should have had our contractor add more studs to this wall to make hanging these modules easier.  So, if you are building new, do that!! Luckily, most of these aren’t very heavy and I could use mollies and screws to mount them.

Here’s a pic of the completed wall.

I’m thinking that it might need a piece of artwork or logo at the top.  We’ll see if I can come up with something.

1. Paper towel, pencil cups and sharpener

This was a piece I made for my garage/shop a couple of years ago and brought it over to the new shop. It holds so many shop necessities. (Pencils, pens, sharpies, small ruler, compass, etc.)  I used hose clamps to hold the mason jars. I gifted myself some new no.2 pencils as a “ shop warming” gift. I love office supplies almost as much as I love my new shop…almost!

Dimensions:

Materials

  • ½ or ¾ inch scrap plywood
  • Paper towel holder
  • 3 hose clamps
  • 3 mason jars
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Screws
  • Finish Washers
  • Wood stain (I used  ?)
  • Poly varnish (I used ?)

I placed the plywood on the table and arranged the items, spacing them out as necessary.  Mount each item with screws then secure it to your wall. I used mollies, screws, and finish washers to secure to the wall. This one has to be secured pretty well so that you can crank on the sharpener.  I love an old-fashioned pencil sharpener. The electric ones are TERRIBLE!  Plus, it reminds me of my elementary school days when you could waste class time by dawdling at the sharpener and pass your bestie on the way and poke her! lol

Photo Nov 19, 2 46 26 PM
Ahhhhh....Fresh no.2 pencils make me happy.
Ahhhhh....Fresh no.2 pencils make me happy.

2. Cork & Magnet Board

This space is great for hanging templates, business cards, etc.  I made them to fit the extra space I had above and below the light. I just used scrap wood I had leftover from previous projects.

 

Photo Nov 19, 2 46 35 PM

Dimensions:  6 in x16 in and 9 in x16 in

Materials:

I cut the plywood to the dimensions of my empty spaces. I sanded and painted them black. Next, I cut the sheet metal with a small band saw. You could also use tin snips for this. Sand the edges of the metal to smooth out any burrs.  I’m lucky that my husband has a metal shop so I used his de-burring wheel for this.

Glue the metal in place with some wood glue and clamp. We’ll screw it down in the next step. You can glue and clamp the cork side as well. I overlapped the cork onto the metal by a half an inch.  Let this dry for a couple of hours.

Pre-drill the metal before mounting it to the wall. I used screws and finish washers for a clean look.

 

3. Vintage Light

This is my favorite part of my communication center wall. This was the reason I designed it in the first place. This light belonged to my grandmother. It originally was part of her O’Keefe & Merritt electric stove/oven. When the appliance finally needed replacing my grandfather couldn’t bear throwing out a perfectly operational light. He removed it from the stove and hung it above the wall phone. Yes, a phone, with a cord, that hung on the wall! I just realized that my grandmother had a communication center as well.  I hadn’t put that together until now.  Her cubby space was just inside the entry door. It had a cup with pencils, scrap paper for messages, a bill box, phone book, address book, and a calendar on the wall. Such a great memory for me.

light cropped

I've written a more in-depth post about it. Click below.

4. Craft Paper Roll

This is a fun and easy project.  I use it to jot down measurements, shopping lists, and phone messages. And it’s easy to tear off a piece of paper.

 

paper roll

Dimensions:  14 in wide x 23 in tall (Same as the paper towel roll)

Materials:

  • ½ or ¾ plywood
  • Curtain rod (or you could use a paper towel holder or dowel)
  • 2 paint sticks (free from your paint store)
  • Screws
  • Finish Washers
  • Roll of painter’s paper
  • Spray paint
  • Wood stain
  • Poly

Cut the plywood to your preferred size.  I made the paper towel holder and the craft paper dispenser the same measurement. Sand, stain and seal the wood.

I used a salvaged curtain rod to hold the paper roll and a paint stick to hold the end down.  This makes it easy to tear off a length.

It was mounted with mollies, screws, and finish washers.

I spray painted the paint sticks to keep everything cohesive.

5. Glove & Tissue Dispenser

I thought this one was a no-brainer, but my husband totally made fun of me when I installed this.

I use both of these items all the time in my shop. Now I catch him using it!

I found it on Amazon.  Here's the link.

gloves

6. Stand-Up Desk

Photo Nov 19, 2 46 33 PM

Dimensions: 16 in wide x 9 inches tall x12 in deep

Materials:

  • ¾ inch birch plywood
  • Wood glue
  • Brad nails
  • Stain
  • Piano hinge
  • Screws

This was an adaptation from this Kreg Tool post. I altered it to fit my space and left off the peg board.

1Tool-Storage-Center-01
Photo Aug 25, 2 27 34 PM
Photo Aug 25, 2 27 45 PM

7. First Aid Box

Photo Nov 19, 2 46 14 PM

I don't have to tell you that this is a shop necessity. It just has a few of the essentials with the thought that if a bandaid doesn't fix it, you might want to head to the hospital.

I keep bandages, styptic stick, gauze, tape, antiseptic, and eye wash.

Just the other day my husband came into my side of the shop with his finger in his eye asking me to fish a particle out.  I went for the eyewash!  A few blinks with that little cup over his eye and ....bingo!  All better!

 

Dimensions: 10 in wide x 16 in tall x 5.5  in deep

Materials:

This is just a basic box with a little shelf in the middle.  It can be made to any size. Since it wasn't going to hold anything very heavy, I constructed it with wood glue and brad nails. I added a cleat inside at the top and bottom to make it easier to mount to the wall.

Door
Door
Shelf in the middle
Shelf in the middle
All painted
All painted

The door is plywood as well. It is attached with two 1 inch hinges. I added a magnetic catch, and knob as well.

When the paint was dry I used my vinyl cutter to put the words "FIRST AID" on the front.

 

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Photo Oct 22, 9 25 58 AM
Photo Oct 22, 9 27 06 AM
Photo Nov 19, 2 46 19 PM
Photo Nov 19, 2 46 14 PM

8. Disposal Cans

All three of these are necessary in a shop.

Trash: Self explanatory

Rags: I use a lot of old towels to wipe off dust on projects before painting and I prefer to wash them instead of using paper towels.  I use paper towels for stain, paint, calk, etc. (substances that don't wash out.) But for dust, and other things I like to be thrifty and not waste resources.

Recycling: Cardboard and aluminum. Basically my husband has a beer fridge on his side of the shop. lol

Photo Oct 09, 11 29 48 AM

I purchased the trash cans at The Home Depot for around $10.

Here's a link for you:

 

Full disclosure: I used my vinyl cutter  to letter these.  The vinyl just didn't want to stick to the plastic trash can.  I will probably wind up cutting new vinyl and using it like a stencil to paint on the letters. Also, my friend Jon thinks I should change the word "Trash" to "Rubbish" to keep the "R" theme.  lol.

I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for visiting.