The Epoxy Files


How to preserve your family photos in epoxy resin 0

This is a fun and simple project that you can do to protect precious family photos or enjoy your favorite Instagram photos on your table. These also make great Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts. To get started you will need a few supplies:

  1. Mirror Coat two-part epoxy resin from System Three.
  2. Tiles from your local home improvement store, we purchased ours for $0.16 a piece.
  3. A Measuring Cup for your Epoxy
  4. A Stirring Stick.
  5. Glue stick
  6. Your Photographs or other memorabilia you would like to preserve.
  7. Deft Clear Wood Finish Gloss

Start the process by making sure you are in a well-ventilated room and that your Epoxy is at room temperature. Gather your supplies together and let's get started.

Take your photos outside and spray three coats of Deft Clear Wood Finish Gloss 30 minutes apart to your photos, I suggest spraying a test picture you don't mind re-printing first to make sure you feel comfortable spraying your pictures with the protective lacquer.

spraying title

The second step is cutting down your picture to fit onto your tile we used a paper cutter but scissors also work well. This is up to your preference of how much white space you want on your tile and how large your tile and photo are.

Glue the back of your photo making sure to cover the edges otherwise they can peel away from the tile. This step also makes sure that it doesn't move around when you pour the epoxy on it.

glue back of photo

Mix up the epoxy. Using a 2:1 ratio of part A to part B. Mix thoroughly until the mixture turns clear but slowly to ensure no air bubbles form in your mixture.

mixing epoxy

Pour MirrorCoat out slowly over picture using your mixing stick to spread it to the edges of the tile. Ensure it is fully covered and to the edges. Wipe clean any over drip.

pouring epoxy on tile

Fire up that blow torch or just use your breathe. The CO2 from either of these will pop any remaining bubbles in your resin. Repeat this step every 20 minutes or so until bubbles are no longer rising to the surface.

pop bubbles with co2

Wait at least 24 hours to touch your tiles if your room is at @77°F (25°C) otherwise it is safest to wait 48 hours to give the epoxy more time to cure.

  • Eric Johnson

Temperature: The Ultimate Variable 0

If you've used epoxy before, you probably know that mixed resin and hardener can get hot in a hurry. Case in point: Figure 1 - that cup has seen its last day.

This mixed epoxy, along with its 221 °F reading, is the aftermath of what is known as an exothermic reaction. To put it in plain terms: an exothermic reaction is a freight train of heat that sends your mixed epoxy into oblivion. But how does this happen and how can it be prevented?

Figure 1: Exothermically reacted epoxy with temperature for reference.

The driving variable that affects the curing time of epoxy products is temperature. All of the information relating to cure and set times on our product labels is based on a standard temperature of 77 °F (25 °C). Assuming your local environment will be hotter or cooler than 77 °F, a great rule of thumb to keep in mind is that for every additional 18 °F (10 °C) above 77 °F, your cure time will be cut in half. Conversely, for every 18 °F cooler, be prepared for your cure time to double.

The byproduct of an epoxy curing reaction is heat. The fewer opportunities this heat has to escape, the faster this reaction will occur. Looking back at Figure 1 - and thinking about our rule of 18 °F - if the temperature of your mixed epoxy has risen 18 °F after 5 minutes in a cup, its cure time will be halved. Two and a half minutes later, and another 18 °F, now your cure time is halved again. This doesn't have to go on for very long before your cup is smoking, possibly melting, and you're left wondering what the heck happened!

Rotfix, one of the products in our EndRot line, is a great example of how heat effects epoxy. While we do offer a helpful mixing bottle with our 24 Oz. kit, folks often get themselves in trouble by mixing too much product in the bottle and leaving it for several minutes before getting down to work. By the time they are ready to begin, the product has reacted and become very hot! We strongly suggest starting with small, graduated medical cups for RotFix applications since a little product goes a long way, and gets hot fairly fast. This also helps users become more familiar with how our products function.

Preventing exothermic reaction comes down to three things:

  1. Organization
  2. Surface Preparation
  3. Execution

1. Organization

Figure 2: Measuring, mixing and application tools you may need.

Preparing for your project before jumping in will really make a big difference! If you're laminating fiberglass or carbon fiber, this means getting your fabrics cut to size and staged, and then calculating a rough estimate of how much resin you will need (this will come with experience and time using the products). You'll also need measuring, mixing and application tools, like those seen in Figure 2. Getting organized before starting your project will mean spending less time finding your tools and more time getting the epoxy mixed and applied.

2. Surface Area

Figure 3: Great (and inexpensive!) tray to use for expanding surface area.

As discussed in our intro, the reason that mixed epoxy gets so hot in a cup is that the heat being generated has nowhere to go. Preventing exothermic reaction, depending on the application, is usually as easy as pouring the mixture out into a pan. This spreads the epoxy out, thereby increasing its surface area, and allows the mixture to release heat. As seen in Figure 3, paint trays and other disposable baking pans (consider going to your local Dollar Store for these) are great for giving your epoxy, and you, a chance to breathe during the application process.

3. Execution

When applying epoxy, don't jump into a project that you aren't comfortable doing. It's all about starting small and then working up to bigger jobs as you gain more familiarity with the product. Mixing small batches, or however much can be used in a reasonable amount of time, is still something that we continue to do even though we have been using this stuff for many years. It will allow for the flexibility of working with multiple products when your project demands it, you'll eliminate wasted material and save money, and you also won't burn your hand!

We hope this post has helped to clarify how heat affects your epoxy projects. For more information, check out our video below on exothermic reaction:

The Navy Chief Bar - the Perfect Centerpiece for Your Man Cave 2

I've been serving in the United States Navy for 17 years, and after moving my family around the world 4 times, I look forward to having a cozy place to enjoy with friends. The need for a well stocked "man cave" is what inspired the creation of my 48" tall, 28" deep and 62" deep centerpiece. 

  • STR Staff

Repair of the Sloop Kaitin from the Outside In 1

With an undulating impact and subsequent rise and fall of the hull into and out of sight in the rear view mirror, two thoughts flashed to mind: the sloop Kaitlin was not to sail at the 38th Annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and that a wooden boat is infinitely repairable. The worst case scenario of boat trailering had just occurred, a rear‐end car collision into a stopped trailered boat. The car's impact and continuing movement forward had, among other events, forced the small transom mounted outboard inward toward and under the hull, explosively rupturing the epoxy laminated plywood transom, leaving both the mount and attached outboard motor separated and hanging on a remaining splinter of wood. Where the motor mount had once been attached was now a jagged edged rectangular hole large enough to pass a soccer ball through.

Why Use Cartridges? 0

T-88 CartridgeWouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to eliminate the chance of measuring and mixing errors, maximize the resin strength by eliminating air, always use freshly mixed material, enjoy top of the line products, save time, eliminate waste and have more fun? There is such a way. It’s called using dual cartridges. To use one you simply drop it into a caulking gun, prime it and screw on the tip to dispense thoroughly mixed and precisely measured material free of air. You put the mixed material right where it is needed with little waste. Using dual cartridges is fun and is the quick, confident way to kick back and watch things cure!

System Three & Seaview Boatyard: Riverboat Restoration Project 0

It is with extreme gratitude and pleasure that I offer my huge thanks to Phil Riise of Seaview Boatyard and the staff of System Three Resins, Inc. for their assistance in helping to repair my 1947 Cataract boat.

2011 Wooden Boat Festival 1

Photo by: woodenboatPT

The 2011 Wooden Boat Festival is September 9-11 in Port Townsend, WA. Stop by our booth!

Hope to see you there. For more information, go to:

Epoxy Paste Pigments 2

Our  Epoxy Paste Pigments are pure, dry, colored, pigments dispersed in in an epoxy resin blend.  They are pourable, easily measured, and contain no solvents, and may be blended with one another to produce additional colors.  Since they are dispersed in an epoxy resin blend, they react into the system and do not change its cured properties.  The proper way to use these pigments is to add them to the resin (Part A) side and then add the hardener(Part B)  at the correct ratio for the epoxy system being used.

Hot Tubbing with SilverTip Epoxy 0

This is the Super "R"  hot tub from Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, Inc. The outer shell of these tubs is constructed from an oil finished Western Red Cedar and accented with brushed stainless steel bands to mirror the appearance of the traditional cedar or redwood tub.  Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, Inc. use System Three Silvertip Epoxy to cold-mould and overlay the cap rail, base rail, and inner shell of the tub.

Samantha Malay Uses MirrorCoat for Metal Tiles 0

I like to make durable surfaces using resin and small pieces of salvaged metal. I learned about MirrorCoat(tm) from Darin Montgomery, furniture designer-builder and owner of Urbancase. Nick Gucker at System Three Resins was very helpful, by phone and email, when I had technical questions about its use.