Tips & Tricks, Do's & Don'ts for using System Three products for woodworking projects
Will UV light affect System Three epoxies?
Products based on room-temperature curing epoxy resins have poor resistance to UV or sunlight. Depending on the severity of exposure, the surface will become dull, then cloudy, finally chalking breaking down sometimes in less than a year's time.
Please see the attached white paper on Clear Finishing Outdoor Wood for more information on recommended products as well as instructions on application.
- What is your best product for gap-filling?
Coating Raw Wood with Epoxy
System Three Coating Epoxies offer tremendous benefits in protecting and stabilizing wood components. Not only do they offer exceptional protection from moisture, they also bring out a high degree of depth and beauty to wood. Coating epoxies can be used as the sole finish, or they can be implemented as a high-build protective sealer. Most waterborne or solvent-based top coats can be applied over System Three Epoxies. Exterior applications require a UV protective topcoat such as System Three Marine Spar Varnish or System Three WR-LPU. Always test if not using a System Three topcoat.
Stain can be used with System Three Coating Epoxies. However extended dry time of the stain is necessary before coating can begin. Traditional oil base stains work best, but need 5-7 days at room temperature to fully dry. Waterborne and gel stains are not recommended. As always, test your stain color with the epoxy before proceeding to your project.
Wood must be clean and verifiably dry before coating can begin. High moisture content can be problematic and should be avoided until moisture levels drop to 12% or less.
Sharp edges and outside corners are difficult to coat and more times than not, inadequate film build occurs, resulting in poor protection from moisture. To prevent potential failure of the epoxy, edges and outside corners should be slightly rounded over. You can round over or break the edge with sandpaper or using a router and a small radius round over bit. Sand with 180-220 grit sandpaper. Remove sanding dust from the wood substrate with clean shop air, or a vacuum.
Measuring and Mixing:
Most System Three Epoxies are mixed at an easy 2 Parts Resin to 1 Part Hardener. Once epoxies are mixed, they have a limited pot life. Because of this, it’s best to start with small 3 - 6 ounce batches to prevent loss of material. In a disposable graduated cup pour in 2 Parts Resin and then follow by adding 1 Part Hardener. Mix with a flat stir stick, by scraping the sides, stirring from the bottom up. Pour contents into paint tray or disposable pie tin. Spreading out the epoxy prevents heat buildup and therefore increases your pot life.
For interior applications, apply at least 2 coats of epoxy. Exterior applications require 3 or more coats for good outdoor durability.
System Three Coating Epoxies are best applied with a 1/8” nap foam roller and disposable natural bristle brush. Use the natural bristle brush to reach areas the roller cannot. Optimal results are attained when the wood substrate is sealed with a very thin layer of System Three Epoxy at ½ fluid ounce per sq. ft. Some porous woods may need an additional thin seal coat, applied at ½ fluid ounce per sq. ft. Once the wood is sealed, additional coats can be applied. Aim for 1-2 fluid ounces per sq. ft. Vertical surfaces require thin coats to prevent runs or sags.
Note: Sanding between coats is generally not advised. The sanding dust produced is very persistence and difficult to remove from porous grain. If not completely removed, fine white specks will show on the next coat. If sanding is necessary use 150-grit sandpaper. Fine sanding dust can be removed with careful use of clean shop air or a good quality vacuum. Wipe the surface with denatured alcohol.
Unlike other finishes, you can apply System Three Epoxy over itself, even when the prior coat is still tacky. System Three Epoxies have a 72-hour window during which sanding is not necessary between coats.
When the epoxy has cured to a sandable state (24-36 hours) most topcoats can be applied. Some spar varnishes are not compatible with epoxy. Be sure to test ahead of time to determine compatibility.
Sand the System Three Epoxy with the finest grit that efficiently levels the surface. Best results are achieved by using a hard backed sanding block or electric sander with a dense rubber pad. Care should be taken when using electric sanders, as too much of the epoxy surface can be removed.
When sanding, be sure to maintain the proper grit sequence. Failure to maintain grit sequence can end in scratches showing through the top coat. Finishing with 320-grit sand paper is recommended for gloss finishes. Satin finishes can be sanded up to 220-grit.
Exterior application need at least three coats of a UV protective top coat for prolonged durability. UV protective topcoats will periodically need recoating. When the UV protective coating begins losing it luster, you should plan on recoating soon.
Best product for river rock tables.
River tables are very popular in 2018. System Three has developed a two-part epoxy casting resin called MirrorCast which is perfectly suited for pouring river rock tables.
The product is brand new and has passed field tests with flying colors. Complete product description and usage instructions are in the document below.
Clear Coat vs. S-1 Sealer
We carry two epoxy sealers, both of which will perform equally as a sealer. The differences are found in application and physical properties.
1) Clear Coat is a low-viscosity, 100% solids, solvent-free epoxy sealer that cures to a clear gloss finish. It has a 2:1 (resin:hardener) mix ratio by volume and is best applied by the roll and tip method.
2) S-1 Sealer is a great alternative for a penetrating epoxy sealer. It is a 50% solids, solvent-based epoxy system that can be applied by brush, roller, or spray. This sealer has a 1:1 (resin:hardener) mix ratio by volume and offers a long pot life of 24 hours at 70°F.
The mode of application, porosity, and material of the substrate may be a good deciding factor in choosing the best sealer for your project. If the substrate is very porous, you might consider using the Clear Coat for its higher solids and faster film build. The S-1 Sealer may not be ideal for materials that are not compatible with strong solvents (e.g. EPS foam, thermoplastics). However, if you prefer to spray, S-1 Sealer is the product to use.
Best adhesive for bonding rubber.
Our best adhesive for bonding to rubber is the SilverTip MetlWeld.
Best recommended coatings for deck and floors.
System Three does not make deck and floor coatings. Exterior wood decks are best finished with a penetrating oil or stain, and plan to recoat at least once a year. There are any number of floor coating brands available at retail paint and "big box" stores.
- Best recommended product(s) for exterior wood applications.
What is the best product for sealing wooden bowls?
Here are two excellent options (please follow the links for detailed information and pricing):
1) Clear Coat is low viscosity, solvent free epoxy sealer that cures to a clear gloss finish.
2) The S-1 Sealer is a great alternative for a penetrating epoxy sealer. It is a solvent-based epoxy system that offers a long pot life and can be applied with a sprayer.
Both products are used in wood turning applications as well.
Gaps in hardwood floors
Using epoxy compounds to fill gaps and cracks in your hardwood floor is generally not a good idea. Epoxies have exceptional bonding characteristics, which is actually undesirable for hardwood floors, as edge gluing of the boards can occur. When multiple boards are glued together, this prevents free movement of the individual board. The edge glued boards now move as a large panel. Instead of having very fine cracks between each board, now the larger panel will exhibit a very large single gap. This single gap is the sum total of all the edge glued boards.
Filling gaps and cracks is best left to the flooring professional when your floors are getting refinished. The flooring professional will use the proper know-how combined with wood fillers which are designed for the wood flooring industry.
Can I stain over cured epoxy resin?
No. Any wood that's been coated with epoxy will be sealed, and when it's cured it won't accept stain. Stain wood first, then apply epoxy resin.
UV resistant epoxy.
As a general rule, epoxies do not perform well in exterior environments where UV exposure occurs. Exposure to direct sunlight causes the epoxy to break down, which leads to the possibility of moisture intrusion to the substrate. Epoxies which have UV absorbers added, such as SB-112 gain some UV resistance, but not sufficient to last for prolonged UV exposure.
Best results will always be achieved by adding paint or a quality UV protective clear coat to your favorite epoxy. See links below for System Three UV protective coatings.
System Three has a detailed procedure for protecting outdoor wood projects from moisture and damaging UV exposure. See detailed instructions below.
- How to fill voids, cracks and holes in wood with epoxy.
Epoxy Projects Outside.
If your Mirrorcoat®, or any epoxy project is going outside, and will be exposed to a significant amount of sun, it needs to have UV protection. The epoxy coating cannot be modified to provide this protection for itself. So, for exterior applications, to keep your project looking its best for the long term, apply one of our UV-resistant coatings over the epoxy. We manufacture two:
What is the best product for laminating longbows or recurve bows?
Here are two excellent options(please follow the links for detailed information and pricing):
1) Use System Three® T-88, our original structural epoxy adhesive. The viscosity is high enough so you don't need to be concerned about starving the joints.
2) Use Silvertip Gel Magic™, our non-sagging, gelled epoxy adhesive, with toughening technology to withstand increased vibration and impact resistance.
Both will form permanent structural bonds when the parts are laminated in a jig. The cured bows will still flex without cracking.
How can I repair wood rot?
System Three® offers the End Rot® Kit, a group of products which kill rot, repair the wood, and keep the rot fungus from coming back.