Epoxy! How does it work?

We get a lot of questions about how we get the unique look of our multi coloured carvings. I thought I’d show a few photos of our process.

This past week we’ve been working on a special project for Rogue Arts Festival. It’s a great local festival that is holding an upcoming online auction fundraiser and we get to be part of it! We’ve made a Rogue Beach Beer Box that holds 4 bombers and includes a bottle opener and a removable divider for extra versatility.

Once a project is designed and a 3D model is created, it is then cut by ‘Big Ben’ our CNC machine (computer numerical control). I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since Derek built Big Ben and it’s still going strong! Good Ole Big Ben!

Here’s the box fresh off the CNC!

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Next we mix up a batch of 2 part epoxy using Tamiya paints to tint the colours and pour it over the carving (see earlier blog post with our handy epoxy pouring tips!)

Looks like a mess at this point doesn’t it?

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blog3I love the next bit! Once it dries, we then sand off the excess epoxy to reveal the design beneath!

This can sometimes reveal a few surprises. In this case it was pretty much exactly what I was going for.

Here it is below, ready to apply finish:

 

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Once the finish is applied, it is assembled and a cast bottle opener is attached to the back side.

The next step is to fill it with beer and head to the beach 🙂

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and of course….build a fire with your friends!

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Failures & F*ck-ups…

…are what we specialize in! I think that’s going to be our new motto.
Learning to do something well requires about 95% failure for 5% success. Good thing I’m so dang good at effing-up!  There’s no better way to find out what works best than to find all the ways that don’t work. Let’s all just be glad I do pub furnishings and not brain surgery.
Along with building up our workshop and equipment, the past year has been spent on making and testing prototype after prototype. Our goal has been to create the best quality pieces while keeping them as affordable as possible. Accomplishing this while making the business viable (as in, we actually make a living at it) has been a lot tougher than you would imagine.

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I’ve made dozens of the test pieces you see in the photo.  Testing everything from materials – the chemistry of combining various epoxies, dyes and finishes, wood types, tap inserts;  the process – curing the epoxy, repairing epoxy bubbles and wood flaws; designs – tap size and shape,  redesigning graphics;  to optimizing all the tools and equipment – jigs, cnc tools and cutting paths,  vacuum chambers and epoxy heaters etc.

 

*big breath*
The list seems endless but I think we’re finally….maybe….about 95% the way there. The next 5% should be awesome! Here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

WORKING WITH EPOXY – TIPS FOR BEST RESULTS

If you’re interesting in experimenting with epoxy pours yourself, here are a few tips we’ve figured out along the way. Hopefully these will save you a bit of time:

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– Warm the room to around 23˚ c

– Be sure your epoxy is stored in a warm place. You may even want to warm it in a warm water bath (not hot!) before using.

– Use either graduated cups or a kitchen scale when pouring both parts to be sure the amounts are correct.

– Stir gently to prevent beating in any air.

– Use two cups for the mix – stir the first time in one, then transfer to the second cup and use a fresh stick for the second stir. This will ensure the mix is fully blended.

– There are several dyes available to tint epoxy. Transparent dyes give the best effect. We’ve had a lot of luck with Tamiya acrylic clear paints.

– If you are pouring onto wood, you may wish to slightly heat the wood first. I find the warming setting in the oven works well. This helps to reduce bubbles. When you pour onto cool wood, the warming epoxy will cause the air in the wood to off-gas, creating more bubbles. Warming the wood first reduces this effect.

– Try not to pour thicker than 1/8 inch layers

– If pouring a large surface, mix and pour as quickly as possible. Larger quantities will kick off the curing reaction faster as the heat rises faster. If you pour too slowly, you will notice a wavy or bumpy “orange-peel” effect on the surface.

– If you have micro-bubbles or cloudiness to the finish, either your room or your epoxy is too cold.

– Of all the methods to remove bubbles, using a propane torch gently and quickly passing over the surface seems to work best. However use caution as overheating the epoxy, or the wood that it is poured into, can ruin the piece. Don’t aim the flame directly on the epoxy.

– Check the surface again after 20 minutes or so and torch again if needed.

TO SAND OR NOT TO SAND?

blog180606_repairIn my opinion, you’ll get the best results by making a perfect pour then leaving it unsanded. That’s how your get that beautiful, liquid-pour, glassy surface. However, this can be incredibly tricky and time consuming, especially on detailed carvings with multi colours and can require careful syringe work. A great time saver is sanding after the epoxy cures. It means that you can just pour the epoxy without as much time and care, not worrying about spill-over as you will be sanding the piece down after. It is a slight compromise on the finished look, but it’s worth it if you are concerned about saving time. If you sand the surface well, down to a fine grit, then apply finish, the end result is still beautiful!

A drawback to sanding means that bubbles are exposed on the surface as holes in the epoxy. If you follow the above hints, you should end up with a hole free surface. However, holes may still appear.

The best way to deal with them is to scrub them out with water and a fine nail brush to remove sanding debris, (no soap) let it dry, then mix a tiny bit of clear epoxy into the holes. Wait for it to cure then sand again.
Also, be sure you have allowed enough cure time before sanding.
Feel free to email us with questions or suggestions!

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Sunshine Coast Mini Maker Faire

We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend for the Sunshine Coast Mini Maker Faire. It was inspiring to see all the creativity and innovation on the coast and we were glad to be a part of it.
The most amazing thing I found was how many people we met with a sense of humor as warped as ours. It was heartening to see and gives me hope for humanity. (although, despite my bent towards the catastrophic, my hope for humanity has always been quite high) And also, the number of you that love beer and believe that every new home should come equipped with a home pub. Obviously.
In fact we met so many great people it felt more like being at a big party with a few hundred friends.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by our exhibit.
We’ve recently launched a facebook page and Instagram feed which are currently dismally unpopular with follower numbers only in the double digits so far. In fact so unpopular I had to create accounts for both of my dogs and my beer mug collection to help our follower numbers grow. If you’d like to help us out with that, or even follow this dismally unpopular blog (see links to the right or under contact in the menu), you would make us deliriously happy and we will write a song in your honour. Or not. But we would be very happy indeed.

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Fires & Foosball

May long weekend signals the start of the summer season, beach fires, backyard parties & beers on the patio. It’s my favorite time of year. It’s one of the best times of year to have a home pub or tiki bar with cold beer on tap!

This long weekend did not disappoint. I got to play bartender at the Rogue Festival Human Foosball Tournament fundraiser.

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If you missed it, be sure not to miss out on the Rogue Festival this August. The giant human sized foosball court will be there.
We finished the weekend with a beach fire and a pint or two of Hoyne Pilsner, with our Foosball teammates the West Creek Hooligans!

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Derek and I are gearing up this week for the Sunshine Coast Maker Faire this weekend! We’re looking forward to exhibiting again this year with many of our latest Home Pub Furnishing projects!

Here are a few highlights from the slideshow below:

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I figured we should show some customer reviews and awards and stuff. It makes us look like we know what we’re doing. Even if they are awarded by our Moms.

Staggering & Stumbling

After our exuberant flurry of activity many months ago with all sorts of promises about neato things we’re about to launch like shopping carts, and home pub furnishings, you may have noticed the recent lack of activity, perhaps a few chirping crickets.
Well rest assured we’re still here, hard at work! It turns out I just grossly underestimated the amount of work required to get this new venture up and running.
Well, after all this time, after much anticipation I am pleased to announce to the world……..it’s still not up and running.
More sort of staggering and stumbling around, generally crashing into things like an uncoordinated drunk or an overactive toddler. You pick.
But, we are making progress!
On what exactly? Things like hammering, cutting things, generally making loud noises. Things like workbenches, jigs, air filtration systems. All terribly exciting and I’m sure I’ve now got you all perched on the edge of your seats with rapt attention. However, I shan’t go into more detail. Sorry to disappoint.

Speaking of being perched on the edge of your seats, in case you can’t get enough of us and demand to have updates on every social media platform, I’m pleased to announce that we can now be found on Facebook , Instagram @armyofevilrobots and twitter @armyofevilrobot .
I’m failing badly at making regular blog posts so I thought I would fail badly on more platforms.

I’ve posted a few photos of this weeks projects below, also I’ve been working on loads of new tap designs as well as several customizable taps! (coming soon!)

Derek has been welding up a vacuum chamber, which each piece we make will go into after the epoxy is poured. As epoxy cures it creates bubbles. The vacuum chamber process should extract most of these bubbles before it hardens.

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Here’s one of our latest taps. We’ll shortly be doing a full run of taps to test in the vacuum chamber. I’ll hopefully be posting these in the coming weeks.

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many rubbish!

When I go to a gallery exhibition, I love to see the artist’s earlier works or practice sketches. It reminds me of the amount of work and practice that goes in before you make something you’re happy with.
It also reminds me that,unless you’re some kind of super human freak, most artists generally don’t start out creating great works, they create a lot of crap before it starts to get any good.

The key thing is, they don’t give up.

I find this even more inspiring than seeing the finished pieces.
Over the past few months we’ve been cutting prototype after prototype, trying out different finishing techniques and materials, creating a lot of crap and some good things. I’ve also been tweaking and improving all the tap designs and I thought I’d show an example of a first attempt alongside the latest version of same.
Keep in mind this “First” edition is still the one that made it to production. My actual first sketch of Krampus looked like something a talentless, drunk chimpanzee might draw.
Incase there’s ever a burgeoning market for talentless, drunk chimpanzee art, I’ll hang on to it.
For now, here are the first and last edition Krampus Winter Ale taps:

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On Schedule

We’re only about 2 weeks behind schedule so far, which is actually about 2 weeks less behind schedule than I thought we’d be at this point. So we’re actually ahead of schedule.
Work on the taps is going swimmingly. I’ve got 16 tap designs that we’ll be launching at the end of the month. We’ve been testing finishes and getting the process down, faster and faster.
Derek will be doing some big upgrades to the CNC in the next couple of months. We’ll post a video once it’s done. A shopping cart will follow in fall with more products coming in spring (bar stools, pub signs etc).
Here are a couple of new taps freshly engraved on the CNC ready to be cut out and filled with epoxy.

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Our latest taps including this one, as well as our bar stools are currently at the GPAG till the end of the month.

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