Removing Imperfectly Hardened Epoxy

A brief account of how ugly things can get when an epoxy coating for a tabletop fails to harden and must be removed. November 8, 2007

I applied some System Three clear coat epoxy finish to an oak coffee table that I made. The epoxy never completely hardened. System Three said to just scrape it off. How should I remove the stuff? Sanding doesn't work. Tried lacquer thinner and stripper, which helped, but not enough.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
Try a heat gun and a putty knife.

From contributor J:
I have had similar problems with epoxy before. When they say scrape it off, that is exactly what they mean. Sometimes instead of the epoxy being gooey, it is just rubbery (better, but not good enough), so I have had to cut it out with carving tools and chisels. Depending on how gooey it is, you may need a paint scraper or a disposable blade scraper like they sell at the big box stores.

From contributor T:
I have had the same problem with generic brands of epoxy. I now use East System epoxy from Noah's Marine and have never had this problem again. Use the best epoxies only and you will be amazed at the quality. West System is so-so.

From contributor Z:
Heat gun with a pro-prep scraper. Heat up the epoxy until it blisters and then scrape it off.

From the original questioner:
Thanks, everybody. I tried the heat gun but it was not enough. Finally, as a last resort, I used a blow torch. This took it off, but slightly burned the table. I was able to sand to clean wood, though. Now it looks as good as new.