Sutherland Welles, EcoPoxy & West System - Our Recommended Finishes
We want you to leave our store excited and ready to create some sawdust, and have your finished project be beautiful, tough, and ready for a lifetime of love. We have carefully selected Sutherland Welles, EcoPoxy, and West System to use and sell in our own shop to get those same results. After spending many years learning the ins and outs of these products, we can give you in depth application instructions and tips for getting the best possible finished piece.
Sutherland Welles tung oil finishes is what we use on all of the tops we sell, and it’s what we recommend to people finishing pieces themselves. Sutherland Welles is a company based in Vermont, and making sustainable, Earth-friendly finishes has been their goal since day one. Not only are their finishes environmentally friendly, they are easy to apply and tough as can be. The finish will last the life of your piece without needing to be redone, and that is a big reason we use it. We want you to have something that will last for years with minimal upkeep. Afterall, you’re buying a surface to use, not a surface to worry about repairing.
On most of our tops we use six coats of finish: three coats of Hard Sealer and three coats of Uralkyd 500 Floor Finish. The Hard Sealer goes on first, and it is meant to soak into the wood and seal the grain, giving you a spill-proof surface. While you should not let water sit on your top, spills that are wiped up right away won’t ruin your top. On top of the Hard Sealer is the Floor Finish. We use our own special blend of matte and gloss, but Sutherland Welles sells a satin sheen that will be identical to the results we get from mixing. We spray the Floor Finish, but it can also be brushed on with a nice brush.
For pieces that won’t be under so much wear and tear (such as mantels or shelves), we use Murdoch’s Hard Oil. The Hard Oil is something that is poured on and moved around with a rag. The more you can soak in on the first application, the better! That first application determines how deep your protection goes. We recommend a minimum of 3 coats, and the more coats you add, the glossier the end result will be.
Sutherland Welles makes a handful of other finishes that we sell as well, including an exterior sealer and a couple food safe options. The full list of their products we sell is:
- Hard Sealer
- Uralkyd 500 Floor Finish (matte, satin, and gloss)
- Wood Cleaner
- Wood Polish
- Exterior Polymerized Tung Oil Sealer
- Millie’s All-Purpose Penetrating Tung Oil
- Botanical Polymerized Tung Oil (low, medium, and high lustre)
- Hard Oil
- Old World Concentrated Stain
- Bowl & Board Beeswax Finish
Visit their website at http://www.sutherlandwelles.com/ for in depth product information, and instructional videos from the owner, Mary.
EcoPoxy - For Large Fills or River Tables
There are a lot of different epoxies on the market for doing large pours or river tables, but the brand we use is EcoPoxy. EcoPoxy is a Canadian company whose goal is to create a 100% bio-based epoxy. EcoPoxy can be poured really thick (some have done 4”), which makes it great for doing a big fill all at once. The open time is really long on it, which allows the air bubbles to come to the surface and pop on their own.
Unlike some other epoxies, EcoPoxy is very viscous, so be sure your mold is sealed. There are lots of tutorials and tips online about best practices for getting great results. Some things we have learned the hard way are:
- Tape the inside of your mold with Tyvek tape! The epoxy doesn’t bond to the tape, which makes getting the mold off a lot easier.
- Seal your fills with a coat of epoxy painted on first. Doing this keeps air bubbles from seeping in to the main pour (particularly where epoxy will meet live edge).
- EcoPoxy doesn’t have it marked on the containers, but the resin will crystalize. The resin is still usable, it just needs to be given a hot bath. Once it has cooled back down to room temperature, you’re good to mix. More on this can be found on their website.
- To keep most of the epoxy in the void (instead of spilling out onto the face of the slab) outline the pour with silicone caulk. This creates a little dam and keeps control of the overflow.
We carry two varieties of EcoPoxy: FlowCast and UV Poxy. FlowCast is a two to one ratio meant for large, thick pours and comes in sizes ranging from 750mL to 30L. UV Poxy is meant to be a protective coat and can be poured ¼” thick. UV Poxy comes in 500mL to 2L size kits. We also have pigments (liquid, metallic powder, and glitter) as well as glow in the dark GloPoxy kits.
Take a look at https://www.ecopoxy.com/ for FAQs, resources, and project inspiration.
West System - For Filling Small Voids
For small fills, we use West System. It’s a strong, marine grade epoxy that keeps cracks from expanding and gives you a solid surface. West System can be poured clear, or you can add a pigment. West System makes black, white, and gray pigments you can mix in. For our fills we take fine sanding dust from the project and mix it with the epoxy, which gives the fill a nice complementary color to the slab. West System can only be poured 1/8th inch at a time in order to avoid overheating the epoxy and creating a yellow tint. While this takes some patience, the end result is well worth it!
West System has a shorter cure time, so unlike Ecopoxy, you will have to be proactive about getting air bubbles out. There are a couple different ways we recommend getting rid of air bubbles. One method is taking a blow torch and quickly skimming the surface of the pour. Be sure to just do a quick pass - you don’t want to get the epoxy hot (or to end up charring your slab). Another way is to take a travel spritz bottle and fill it with denatured alcohol. Mist the surface of the pour and the alcohol pops the air bubbles, giving you a smooth surface.
West System carries an entire line of epoxy products. Check out https://www.westsystem.com/ for more!
We carry various sizes of all of the finishes, so we’ll have the right amount you need for your project. We also ship finish straight to your door, so please reach out if we can box something up and send it your way!
These instructions are very vague to give you an idea of what we use for finish. For more in depth finishing instructions and project tips, give us a call, send an email, or stop in. We’d love to walk through our process with you!