Among'st my many other hobbies and interests is Lego, especially the Lego Technic range of models. I have a nice collection of models as well as plenty of spare parts for when I create my own designs (or MOC's in Lego "speak"). So I thought I would try something creative with Lego that isn't the usual models on a shelf but something different.
So seeing at work EasyComposite's GlassCast Table Top and Floor Clear Epoxy Resin
I decided I would try and make a Lego Technic coffee or lounge table.
Luckily I already had plenty of Lego Technic pieces to use, so selected a wide variety of shapes and sizes as well as different types such as axles, pins, cogs, holed bricks, wheels and some specialist pieces. If you haven't got any pieces yourself, then ebay and other online sites as well as car boot sales can be great for the pieces, however you realistically want to get the "bulk buy" random bags of Lego so get the best value. Buying individual bricks, even in bulk packs, can be expensive as there is a big collectors market for sorted specific Lego bricks.
To make the base of the table itself, I continued with the technical theme that is associated with Lego Technic. Initially I thought of using pages of instruction manuals glued to a bit of wood but it was quite a complicated way to make it look good and with the colours of the bricks AND the paper, I thought it looked too much and too cluttered.
So Instead I chose carbon fibre for the base and edge. It is a dark colour so the bricks show up and also being a technical material fits in with the technical theme of the project. Plus this is Talk Composites so I had to get carbon fibre in the project somewhere!
The main base of the table was made from Carbon Fibre in a Foam cored Sandwich panel
construction in a sheet around 110cm by 40cm for a long but thin table. I then edged the table in 2mm thick Carbon Fibre Angle with a 25mm by 25mm profile
. This was for 3 reasons, firstly to hide the foam core edge, secondly to add stiffness and stop the foam core panel bowing, and thirdly to act as a barrier to stop the resin pouring off the table. I bonded the angle to the edge of the cored panel and then ran a thin bead of adhesive on the inside join line and up the corners to ensure the table top was "watertight" so the epoxy can't leak out.
Once It had all cured, I set the table top up in my lounge and spent a fair bit of time to ensure it was properly level. I also had laid it onto some plastic sheeting just in-case any resin leaked out. I even went as far as using a random assortment of food tin cans to lift and hold the film edge so if i had a real disaster, the resin couldn't flow off the sheeting and onto the carpet!
I was then ready for my first pour of GlassCast, The idea of the first pour was to give a base to put the Lego Technic pieces onto which, once cured, would hold the pieces firmly in place so they don't move or float up in the following pours. For this pour I only used a kilo of resin so that the GlassCast layer was only a couple of mm thick. As the temperature has started to drop these days, I ensured my heating was set to 20ºC and more importantly that the resin was at that temperature. I find that below 20ºC the resin is a bit thicker and you can end up mixing more bubbles into it. I copied the 2 bucket method in the GlassCast Penny Floor Video
to avoid any tacky patches. I then poured the resin and spread it out using a plastic spreader. I then left it 10 minutes before gently wafting a blow torch over the surface to remove any bubbles. It is quite surprising that most the bubbles tend to come out themselves, you can literally watch them rise after a few minutes and pop on the surface.
As you can see from the picture, I was then ready to put the Lego Technic pieces into the resin to hold them in place. I literally sprinkled Lego bits all over the table top until I had the right kind of density. Naturally as they fell, it wasn't perfect with gaps and areas with too many of one type of piece so I then spent about 20 minutes moving a few pieces around. I also turned some of the taller bricks onto their sides so they didn't stick up too much. A few pieces I moved for artistic reasons as well to make it look better. I then allowed another few hours for the resin to firm up to the "B stage" of cure where it was firm but still tacky. You can see the results so far:
I then did the second pour. This pour needed a lot more resin as i needed just over 10mm of coverage, so I mixed 10kg of resin in batches and poured it onto the table. I then had to spread it out before working the resin over with the blow torch again.To my horror, many of the Lego Technic bricks and "flats" had bubbles trapped in the stud holes that didn't shift with the blow torch. I then spent a fair bit of time with a cocktail stick popping and getting rid of as many bubbles as i could. Some were easier to get than others. I couldn't get rid of them all but it still looked good so i wasn't too worried. I then left the resin to "B stage" again ready for the final pour. You can see how the progress is now:
Then it was the final pour which used around 4kg of GlassCast. This was poured in one 3kg batch to get it almost full, then the rest was slowly added little bit at a time, carefully spreading the resin out. This was so I could build it up to the edge but without putting in so much resin it leaks over the edge. Once I was happy, I left it another 10 minutes to find I didn't even need to run a blow torch over as the resin had fully self degassed. As you can see below, the resin looks stunning even before it has cured:
Once the resin was fully cured (i left it 48 hours to be safe!), it was time to clean up, sort out some table legs and then take some photos under day light of the finished results. I was very pleased with the final results. If i did it again, I might break the second pour into a few more stages to see if that helps with avoiding trapped air around the Lego pieces, but other than that I have perfectly happy with the finished table. I shall leave you with some pictures of the finished Lego Technic table!