It’s Friday, and you know what that means here on The Smack: time for another DIY project to add to your arsenal.
This week we’ve rounded up a dang-cool shelving project from software engineer-turned jewelry hacker Mat Brown who explains how to seal cracks and crevices of a piece of wood with glowing resin (AKA inlaying).
Normally Mat does this with his jewelry designs that are sold over on his Etsy shop but has scaled up with some wood salvaged from a timber yard for some added kitchen storage.
If you’ve got a pile of wood laying around with some imperfections and you haven’t figured out what to do with it, give this easy DIY a shot!
Take it away Mat!
We were running a bit short on shelving in the kitchen and wanted somewhere we could store all the preserves we’re going to make from the garden this year, so we went to the timber yard to see what they had. They had this, 155cm long piece of chestnut.
It was pretty heavily cracked and pitted, with knotholes and so on. But, I had a plan. Resin inlay. A technique traditionally used with a colour-matched epoxy to the wood, to give an “invisible” repair. I’m taking a slightly different approach.
First job, seal off the holes from the bottom, using aluminium plumber’s tape. It’s super sticky so it seals well, and it won’t be damaged by the resin either. You might need these seals to hold for a few days, depending on the weather.
Make sure the wood is level, otherwise you’ll end up with wonky resin bits.
Now it’s time to mix the resin. Give it a good mixing and then add your pigment. If you warm it up a bit, on a heater or with a hairdryer or something, the bubbles will pop out of it much more easily. Bubbles can ruin resin casts, so carefully mix and warm the resin, then let it sit for a while, before pouring. It’s going to take hours, even days, to cure, so half an hour to de-bubble isn’t a problem.
You know when I said this isn’t going to be a traditional inlay? Here’s the pigmented resin in darkness. Awww yeah. This is going to be great.
So, pour it in, and wait. Come back in an hour or so to make sure none of your seals are leaking. If they are, slap some more tape on and refill with resin.
However long you think it’s going to take, leave it longer. This was poured in spring so took three days before it felt hard to the touch, then I left it another three days just to be sure. Now, peel off your tape and it’s time to sand/plane/etc.
The overpour around the edges where the resin has soaked into the wood is going to be a pain to remove. But I can already tell this is going to look amazing.
More sanding. I’m really skipping over a LOT of work here. I spent hours, and hours, carding, planing and sanding this. Chestnut is hard! But eventually, it was done. I cut the big piece into the three shelves it was going to be, and on to my favourite part. Boiled linseed oil cut with white spirit. I love that first wipe of oil when the grain of the wood just leaps out at you. Makes all those hours of preparation worth it. Gave it about eight or nine thin coats, looks incredible.
View from the end. Visible inlay and spalting. Still a bit of woodworm damage visible.
Now it’s time to get these up. The brackets are grey to match the colour the wall is going to be once it’s been repainted. I had some bits of walnut around to make the other brackets.
And, they’re up. In daylight they look like this:
Now, in darker conditions, you can really start to see the glow resin in action.
I think this one is my favourite. It’s on the bottom of the top shelf, so it’s visible in normal use.
Wall robot approves.
If you like this style, be sure to check out Mat’s funky inlaid jewelry designs over at his Etsy shop.