How to Make a Tree Stump Table

** Welcome to everyone who’s visiting from Design*Sponge today!

~ Karen **

Before I sold everything I owned and painted my whole house white I couldn’t buy a decorating magazine.   Why you ask?  I couldn’t put any of those nice things in my house.  It’d look stupid.  I’d look stupid.  My house would look stupid.  No matter how you looked at it, everything led to stupid.

I found most of the stuff in my house at garage sales or at the side of the road so the latest doo-dad from Fancy Store just wasn’t going to fit in.   A lace doily and a bowl of Scotch Mints?  They would fit in.  See here for proof.

So anything featured in a decorating magazine dated anything later than September of 1840 wasn’t exactly going to blend.

When I finally painted and redecorated my house, I bought some magazines.  And I started filling my house up again on a minimal (non-existent) budget.  When I saw a tree stump table teetering on stainless steel legs in Canada’s House and Home magazine, I thought “I’m gonna make me one of those”.  For free.  Yay for free furniture!

Crap.  That’s what got me into trouble with my house in the first place.  Decorating it with things I had found at the side of the road.   However, this free thing didn’t require that I scrape dried up earthworms off it, so it was bound to work out better.

I got me a stump and I made me a table.  And you can too.


*  Tree stump

*  Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)

*  Polyurethane (high gloss, semi-gloss, satin … whichever you want)  I used satin which has just a nice sheen

*  Paint brush

*  1 package of 4 Capita legs from Ikea (I used 6”)  $19.99

Drill and appropriate bits

Since I already have a tree stump table, (the one I made when I redid my house) for this post I had to make another.  So when I went to order my fireplace wood I told the old guy who runs the business I needed a stump to make a table out of.  He dragged me to the back of the woodpile and pointed to a huge walnut log.  He said that’s your table.

He got out his chainsaw and eyeballed a perfectly level cut.  The stump table had begun.

He threw it in my trunk and I took it home.

I don’t care how you get your stump … just get one.

That is step number 1.  Get a stump.

Your legs will be 6 inches high, so figure out how tall your stump needs to be for where you want to put it.

My stump is 15″ across by 18″ high to bring it to the just below the arm of my couch.

Allow your stump to dry out for at least a month.  It’ll lose several pounds and the bark will loosen, making step 2 easier!

Coincidentally if you allow yourself to dry out for a month you’ll lose several pounds too.

You can dry the stump outside for a couple of months, then bring it inside for a couple of weeks.

If your stump was already cut and dried from wherever you got it, you can just bring it inside for a couple of weeks.

Now the work begins.  You have to remove the bark.  Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it isn’t.

The first stump table I made was from Oak. The bark just pulled off with my hands.

The second stump table I made was from Walnut.  The bark was a nightmare to remove.  I needed an array of tools, a swear jar and my boyfriend.

To remove the stump’s bark, you’ll need these tools to do it:

A Hammer

A Prybar

After your stump has dried inside for a couple of weeks insert the prybar between the bark and the stump.

Hammer it enough to loosen the wood.

Then either keep hammering or pull the bark loose with your fingers.

Keep doing this all the way around the stump until all the bark is off.

And yes, you do need to remove the bark.  If you don’t, over time it’ll loosen and fall off on it’s own leaving you with a cruddy looking piece of crud as a table.

If the bark is particularly stubborn, like this stupid thing was … do the same thing but with wood chisels.

They’re sharper and will cut through the fibres between the bark and the stump better than a prybar.

Be careful  not to hack into the wood with the chisel though.

Now your stump is cleaned of its bark.

When it’s dried out the stump might split a bit like this.

That’s O.K.  It adds character.

The stump now needs to be sanded to get all the little hairs and slivers off it.

You need a smooth stump.

Use a variety of sandpaper grits.

Get rid of all the hairs.

Sand until you can run your hand over the stump and it feels smooth.

Once your stump is smooth wipe over it with a damp, lint free cloth or a tack cloth.

A lot of wood dust will come off.

Now flip your stump over and get ready for the fun part.

Get your pre-purchased legs.

Mine are the Capital legs from Ikea.

Each leg comes with a bracket that you screw into the base of your table.

Place your legs on the underside of your stump.

You can use all 4 legs or just 3.  I’m partial to 3, but 4 is definitely more stable.

Use a measuring tape to make sure they’re an equal distance apart.

Once you have the legs positioned, mark the holes in the plates with either a pencil or a marker.

Remove the legs and fit your drill with the appropriate sized drill bit.

Drill holes at the spots you marked for the screws.

Once all your holes are predrilled, place your legs and brackets back on and screw them into place.

To make my life easier, I put all my screws into a little dish.  Don’t question it.  Just do it.

Now all your legs are on!

Now it’s time to finish the table.

If there are any sections where you accidentally took too much of the wood off you can skim over it with some stain.

I have a whack of different cans of stain so I picked the one I thought would match the best.

Appropriately, it was “Walnut” stain.

Just wipe it onto the light portion of your wood with some paper towel.

It just darkens it up enough to make it blend in a little better.

There will still be a colour variation, just not quite as distinct.

The staining is a matter of choice.

On my first stump table I didn’t do it … on this one I did.

Let your stain soak in and dry.

Then get some of this  …

… and one of these.

If you’re using an oil based finish use a natural bristle brush.

Seal the whole stump.

Sides … (that’s a fast moving cat in the background by the way)

… and top

The top of the stump will get really dark, but it’ll lighten up once the finish sinks in and dries.

After your first coat dries gently sand off any burrs and bumps.

Remember … just sand lightly.

The sanding will leave the finish with a white haze.  Don’t worry about it.

It’ll go away once you apply another coat of finish.

Speaking of which … your stump will need another 2 or 3 coats around the sides.

Plus it’ll need a total of around 6 coats on the top.  Because of the open grain, the finish soaks into the top a lot more and requires more coats.

Always let your finish dry the recommended amount of time in between coats.

Once you’ve completed all coats of finish you can admire a thing of beauty.

The only drawback to this table?  Not a single dried earthworm on it.  Plus, everyone who sees it is going to ask you to make them one.  Now, thanks to me, you can just direct them to this website and tell them to make their own.

This one by the way … went to my niece for Christmas.  Yes, the niece who famously chucks things.  She’s the chucker.  This finished stump table weighs close to 70 pounds.  So good luck chuckin’ that little niece.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some decorating magazines to peruse.

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  1. Ana says:

    Awesome!! I might have to make one now that I know how. Happy New Year!

    • Tami says:

      I just came across your blog. I have been dreaming of the stump table at West Elm. But like you, I am too cheap to let loose with the cash. I have thought about making one, but thought it would take much longer for the stump to dry out. This is a definate project. Will give my husband the specs when he cuts wood this summer. Thanks for the great instructions.

    • ryan says:

      hi great work….just wondering…how do you know if the stump has termites?

      • Karen says:

        Hi Ryan – Termites aren’t a huge problem around here, but to check for them I’d just see if the stump is much lighter than it should be. Also, chances are you’ll be able to see the termite damage. They have to enter at some point of the stump and if there are termites, you should be able to notice the entry point. If you’re worried about termites or bugs put the stump in a plastic garbage bag, spray it with bug spray that contains pyrethrins. ~ karen!

        • ryan says:

          thank you

        • Daniel says:

          Hey I have the same problem, great suggestion. however I found that the stump has some random spots that are really moist almost like a sponge. Would this be a sign that is is decomposing or termites?

          • Karen says:

            Well Daniel – It could be aliens. But probably not. Most likely it’s just rotted wood. You can dig around (dig the rotted wood out) to see how far it goes. It this is going to ruin the look of your stump, then you’d best look for another stump I’m afraid. One that hasn’t been infested with aliens. ~ karen!

            • WiccanWoman says:

              I’ve seen some lovely stumps and branches where spaces of dug-out wood are filled with bits of agate, or glass marbles, or other such interesting items… and the hole is then filled with resin. Place the wood it on its side (gravity is your friend) and let it dry (solidify) for a long while, and once done, it will look like smooth glass filled with sparklies.

            • Ann says:

              Daniel, Karen!

              Another little thought to add to the stump idea is, if there is a significant spot of rot… but you REALLY like your stump… dig out the rot till you cant take any more out…. then, if its on the side, clean out the “bottom” of the hole and smooth it down till its flat… and finish it the same way you did the outside of your stump. NOW … you have a stump table or seat… with a CUBBY in it…. sometimes, that can be useful for magazines or little things like a book you read while in your chair or some little items you want handy but not constantly cluttering your table top.

              If the rot is on the TOP of your table… scoop out all the soft stuff, then fill it with clear resin. You can get the resin you need from most hardware or paint stores. OR you can scoop it free of mushyness and get a piece of glass for your table top…. a creative way to use the space would be to get a piece of glass and have it cut with a hole right where the hole in your stump is… place it on the stump table with the hole lined up with your stumps hole…. and find a flower pot or small vase that will fit inside the hole… fill it with water or soil… and… insta- pretty !!! add your flowers and now, if you have pets… like I do… that like to knock over anything with water in it… they CAN’T make a mess of your flower vase any longer!!!

              Happy Crafting!!!


            • Karen says:

              Thanks Ann! ~ karen

        • carolyn nolen says:

          Why do people think that only something that will kill you is needed to get rid of tiny bugs? If termites are in your tree stump, get some alcohol (70% or 91%) and spray away. Any bug that burrows or is in the ground will die, immediately, and not return. Always try green first!

    • Enedelia Obregon says:

      I have some large logs from tree that I would like to use for decorative purposes. Do I need to remove the bark before I seal it? I’d like to keep the bark since I’m keeping them outdoors.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Enedelia – Depending on what type of tree you’re talking about, chances are over time the bark will fall of by itself. That’s why it’s recommended that you remove it first. You can try to seal it with the bark on, but it’s probable that your bark will start to fall off on its own eventually and you’ll have to reseal it without the bark. ~ karen!

    • Chris says:

      Karen.May 18,2013
      We had a tree down from the Sandy storm. there was a piece of truck that was so different i wanted to keep it but not for the house. for the garden. I am assuming i can follow the same steps u did to paint and stain. i have alot of experince in that area. But the drying out part it is big. can i cover it out side it is always raining and bigand heavy to drag in the house. any suggestions? and when i rolled it over there was little bugs on it I don’t know what they were I threw water on them and they went away. I really don’t want to throw the tree out. do u have any suggestions? thank you so much

      • Karen says:

        Chris – You can dry it inside and seal it and everything, but if you’re leaving the tree outside, personally, I wold probably just remove the bark and leave it natural. It will rot eventually but it will be a long, longgggg time before that happens. ~ karen!

  2. Laura says:

    Handily my backyard happens to be full of stumps. Gotta go drag one in now. Thanks Karen!

  3. christina says:

    & may I add to my fb post? The $199. stump in the mail order catalog does not have legs! It is just a STUMP!! (creativity is SUCH a blessing!)

  4. Nancy says:

    I have lots of big tree stumps but none of them are cut straight. I guess I just need to learn how to use my chain saw. It kinda scares me. Any good suggestions?

    • Karen says:

      Oh dear God, Nancy. LOL. Don’t use a chainsaw! They’re for experienced lumberjacks only. *I* don’t even like to use a chainsaw. If it hits a knot it can kick back and take your face out! If you *are* experienced with a chainsaw, just mark a straight line on the log with roller paint and cut away (and cut under the paint so it doesn’t end up on the stump). ~ karen

      • Chrodis says:

        Where can I buy a vertical section of a tree to make a long 6 person dinner table? Do you know what I mean?

        • Karen says:

          Hi Chrodis. I think you probably just mean a board, LOL. If that’s the case you can get “barnboard” at a lot of lumber stores. Rona here in Canada has barn board. It’s wood that’s around 12 – 16 inches wide and it can be however long you want. You’d need a few to make a table though. It’s almost impossible to get board that’s much wider than that anymore. You’d have to look for vintage barnboard that’s around 100 years old to come across something like that. Good luck! ~ karen

          • Hy: March 16,2012 Columbus,Ohio USA

            Regarding the wide board for a table top…Almost
            35 years ago while skiing in Vermont,Killington,…I stopped at at mill WEIRD WOOD something….and I picked a board,that they shipped to my house….lots ow work later..I had a
            beautiful Harvest Table…the top was 34″ wide,92″long,2 1/2″ Thick….White pine I believe..still being used daily….a great piece of furniture..teach me how to send you a picture
            I have some beauties GUIDO…Gepelbaum @AOL.COM

        • Chrodis… I believe what you are asking for is a piece of “live edge” or a “slab” generally a 2-4″ thick slice of a tree cut length wise. the edges are not cut and squared, they are left intact leaving you with a flat hardy table which has the natural contours of the tree as the edges. You can check my website for pics of a live edge floating shelf i made for a customer. They are commonly used as tables shelves bar-tops and mantles. I make sure mine are dried for 2 years before starting work on it, since wood moves as it dries. the fibers shrink and twist which will ruin your finish, and leave you with a twisted un usable table top.

    • Daina Pearson says:

      Just reading this… I would use a power-sander. May take you a while, but definitely a safer idea!

      • Karen says:

        Nancy, A power sander is good idea for levelling out small imperfections but it probably wouldn’t be very good if the stump is off by an inch or so. (which I think is what Nancy is referring to). An electric planer, perhaps would work though! karen!

  5. Rosalie says:

    I knew this could be made! Now I just need a stump.

  6. mimi says:

    Fabulous work!
    And I love how you have nail varnish on in the photos, makes you a glamorous workwoman in my book!

  7. Jennifer says:

    This is brilliant! Your niece is a lucky gal. Am guessing there aren’t too many felled walnut trees in the Phoenix area, but ‘Stump Quest 2011’ is on. (LOVE your cuff and ring in the tack cloth demo photo — the sign of a true professional. If I wore jewelry while doing something like this, it would fall off into the varnish no doubt.)

    • Karen says:

      Jennifer! You can use any wood. Some are prettier than others, that’s all. My original stump table is red Oak and it looks really nice. ~ karen!

    • Sandie says:

      Jennifer, try Don at the Gold King Mine in Jerome. Not to far from Phoenix and a nice drive. They do vertical cuts there.

  8. Craig Lawrence says:

    I click and read all your ads every day because I know that’s how you bloggers get paid. One of your ads isn’t working properly. Just thought you should know. Love your blog and support it by supporting your advertisers!

    • Karen says:

      LOL, Thanks Craig! The ads rotate so I’m not sure which one you mean. But thanks! I’ll look into it. And thanks for your support! ~ karen

  9. Love this! Thank you so much. Would love to try to make my own, just have to figure out where to get a stump.

    Also, wondering if you have to put on legs or if it’s more of a decorative/height thing?

    Wishing you all good things in 2011!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Connie! Heck no, you don’t have to put legs on it. I just like the look of it, plus it brought the stump up to the height of my couch arm. If I had just used a stump it would have had to have been 24 or 25 inches high, which wouldn’t have looked right. If you have a chair with a lower arm, or even just a corner, the stump with no legs will look great. They can also be painted! Or whitewashed! The possibilities are endless. :) ~ karen

  10. Kristin says:

    I am in love with the rustic-modern look of this table. I think I am going to go right out to the nearest plot of trees and find a fallen one just to make a table like yours!

  11. deborahinPS says:

    I look forward to reading your daily posts Karen…seriously entertaining and informative to boot. What more could I ask for?
    Love the table!
    And I have a “chucker” in the family…my daughter. Christ, I left an EXpensive down robe to be worn during the wet cold months in the Pacific NW, where the only heat in the house was by one measly fireplace. The little ingrate chucked it!
    Heck, I should have known…I’ve seen her closet with so few pieces of clothing in it one wonders how she finds a full outfit to don :)

  12. LOVE IT…so timely, my husband wants one…but I’m not DIY gal…you think I could do first time round? Okay…gotta get me a stump first.

    • Karen says:

      Sundeep! ABSOLUTELY you can do t his as a first time DIYer! This is an especially great project for a first timer because it’s so easy but has such HUGE impact. As long as you follow all the steps I’ve laid out exactly (let the stump dry out! Be patient with taking your bark off etc. ) You’ll do great. When you get your stump, if you buy it from someone make sure to ask them if the stump has been cut and dried for a few months. Also ask them if they can recommend a wood that the bark will come off easily. Walnut is NOT one of those woods. LOL. Oak, probably is. It’s also nice to try to get a stump with a knot, or some bumps where branches were coming out of it. Makes it interesting! Good luck and lemme know if you go though with it. ~ karen

  13. Alexandra Dare says:

    This is VERY cool, Karen. Superbly cool.

  14. Lesley H says:

    Happy new year Karen. Thanks so much for this! Can’t wait to find me a stump and a boyfriend and get to work!

  15. Angela N says:

    I have been wanting to do this for awhile! Thanks for the tutorial. Now I need to find a stump.

  16. Tina from Cali says:

    Thank you! I have been eyeing these since they made there way into the design mags. I wanted to make one myself so thank you for the tutorial. Forget Wonder Woman, you are my hero.

  17. Pam'a says:

    Karen, your table is just gorgeous. And my hat is off to your wood wrestling skill and tenacity with those chisels– You’re practically supernatural!

    But I have one suggestion: DON’T use a freshly cut stump. The longer you let it dry out, the lighter and easier it’ll be to wrestle. Best of all, the bark’ll come off a lot easier. [Gees, Karen. That had to be tough on your nails!]

    My husband (the wood torturer) has stumps and chunks of wood aging all over the place. He’d tell you to get the oldest stump you can. ‘Hope that helps!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Pam’a! Thanks! But I’m confused. Why do you think I was using a freshly cut stump, LOL? ~ karen

      • Pam'a says:

        Hmm. I guess I just inferred it from the combo of 1) the bark being hard to chip off, and 2) wanting to get it done in time for Christmas. I could have *sworn* there was a better reason than those…

        • Karen says:

          :) Nope. I let the stump dry for months. It was difficult to remove because it was Walnut. And it was probably just being mean. ~ karen

  18. Nancy says:

    Hey Karen,
    Thanks for the advice on the chainsaw. It is safely tucked away in the basement far from my itchy hands. When I told my daughter your advice she said, “I could have told you that!” So now I just need a lumberjack. But the stumps are drying so it’s work in progress.

  19. Cheryl says:

    Hi Karen! I love how you don’t just SAY, ‘Hmm, I could do that,’ but you go out and actually DO IT. You’re so inspirational! Your tree stump side table was one of my favourite things in the Style At Home article that featured your house. I started following your blog because of that article! Sadly, my home doesn’t look anything like yours (but I continue to read home decor magazines in vain).

  20. Emma says:

    Karen – I MUST have one of these. Like, Now.

    But I’m stumped (ha!) about where to find the wood. I live in the Hamilton area too, so I’m wondering if you can share where you bought yours and the approximate price.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Emma. I got my stump from Kastrau nursery. I got it for free but that’s because I buy $700 worth of wood for burning in my fireplace every year! I imagine it’d be around $20 to buy it all on it’s own. You can check and see. Otherwise just Google firewood places in Hamilton and see what comes up. ~ karen!

      • Patti says:

        I’m so glad I came and read through this whole thread to this point, because I’ve been looking and looking and just could not find a place in the area. I’m in Kitchener, and Hamilton isn’t too far away. Road trip! :)

  21. Well that’s just about the neatest thing.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jamie! I’m mortified you’re seeing my awful photos by the way. The good news is I start a photography course tonight. Ya know, so it doesn’t take me 172 clicks to get one barely useable picture. :) ~ karen

  22. Madame Meg says:

    Oh yay! I’m so glad you finally posted about this- I’ve been waiting… let’s go with patiently… since you mentioned you were going to tell us all about it way back when you first shared your house! I’ve actually been looking for an appropriate stump for about a year now, but it never even occurred to me to ask at a firewood place, I believe there’s even one of those right around the corner from my house! (I’ve been trawling the woods where I walk the dog, hoping there’d be a perfectly cut stump there!) Guess I’ll be heading around the corner soon! Thanks!
    : ) Meg

  23. Jen says:

    This kills me. We just a perfectly great stump pulled from our yard as it was a serious eyesore. Now I see this fantastic gem. Balls!!!

  24. Beverly says:

    For anyone who hasn’t used poly, the oil based is more durable – but stinks like crazy while being applied! So do it outside! I mostly use water based – hardly any odor, and does a wonderful job.

    And thanks for the tutorial, I am absolutely going to do this…

    • Karen says:

      Beverly – You bring up an excellent point! It does stink, but not as bad as I remember for some reason. Maybe they’ve changed the formulation a bit. However …. having said that, I did do my stump inside because it’s the middle of winter here in Southern Ontario. The smell was totally bearable. Until I hid the stump in our bedroom so my visiting niece wouldn’t see it before Christmas. WOW. Definitely stink. Had to move it out into the hallway. Blech. ~ karen!

  25. Jodi says:

    I have always wanted to know how you made your own log table. They are so organic and fabulous – but so expensive!

    I cannot wait to do this. I am going to get a log this weekend!

    • Karen says:

      Jodi – Yay! Lemme know how it goes. If I were to do one today, I’d do it with a greyish blue whitewash. Something to think about … not to confuse you, LOL. ~ karen

  26. Katie says:

    This is unbelievable good timing. Some neighbors just cut down a tree and I think I can steal a stump on my way home from work. I know you said it should dry out for months but I’m wondering how many months – two, three?

    Thanks for the great tutorial!


    • Karen says:

      Hi Katie! If it’s a brand new tree that’s *just* been chopped down, it’ll take at least 2 months to dry out. If you bring the stump inside it’ll dry faster, but the fast it dries the more likely it is to get cracks. I happen to like the cracks, so no problem for me! Just stick it somewhere and then forget about it. And just for fun … weigh the stump before you start drying it and then after. Oh! And finally, make sure the stump is cut very straight. Otherwise you’ll have a table with a sloped top! Good luck. ~ karen

  27. What a great step-by-step guide, thanks! Looking forward to starting the project soon!

  28. mariah says:

    Beautiful work! I was wondering what you think about doing this with a birch stump. I want to keep the beautiful bark in tact, do you think it would work? Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mariah! Thanks. I have no idea if this would work with birch! The one problem I see immediately is that birch trees don’t get large enough to make into side tables. They tend to die before they get to this size. Also, when the birch tree *does* get quite large, the bark tends to be icky. You *could* peel away the outer bark and hope for nice bark underneath. I’m also not sure how the birch bark would react to the clear coat. (it may darken/change the colour of the birch) If I were you, I’d try the poly. on a small, dry, birch branch. If that goes well … then give the birch stump a shot! If you’re successful send me a pic. I’d love to see it! Good luck. ~ karen

  29. come over today from d*s. This is an amazing tutorial. Thanks so much!! Love the table

  30. I love your stump. My husband and I made a birch stump a while back, but it’s not level :-\ and we left the bark on. I love your kitty and your abominable snow chair too!

  31. anna see says:

    What a great tutorial! I LOVE this idea.

  32. Sabrina in Australia says:

    Thanks for taking the time, effort and good humour to write such an entertaining DIY blog- certainly has inspired me to use a piece of birch that the previous owners left under our deck- except I shall leave the bark on- it’s beautiful.

  33. Lori says:

    I love this! we’re finishing up the last coat of poly on ours tonight. Also, where did you get that shaggy chair? I am in LOVE.

  34. Jessi says:

    Love this!! Definitely going to try it!!

  35. Bromeliad says:

    Excellent tutorial. And the commentary is priceless.

  36. The next stump I see sitting along the road from the guys cutting trees who are always parked in the middle of the gravel road, I’m snagging it. Can’t wait to try this one out!

    My brother and I spent hours as children rubbing the barks off sticks to make swords. Thanks!

  37. colleen says:

    OH!..I have two stumps and just need this push to getter’ done!
    Your blog is great (love your ring & bracelet!)
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  38. {darlene} says:

    Amazing project!
    stopping by from Nester. I love your writing style… and your taste! great post.

    • Karen says:

      Darlene! Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know where you came from! I’m always curious about how people found their way here. Hope to see you again in these parts. :) ~ karen

  39. Crystal says:

    “A swear jar,” heeheehee.

    I loved the tutorial for the table; now can you do a tutorial on how to make that swear jar? Because I definitely need one. My swears fall all over the place–especially in my kids’ rooms.

  40. living in the mean streets of east london i dont come across abandoned tree-stumps like your one very often, but i really love this little guy and keep a special place in my heart for it.
    what i’m going to do is re-blog it immediately to spread the word and remind myself of its beauty at
    keep up the awesome work

  41. sisi says:

    I love your table, but I love your chair even more!!
    How on earth do you make that chair? I so hope that you DIY it and not bought it!!

  42. Diana says:

    Hi Karen,
    I´m from germany. I found your great website and I` m so happy about it. Today I`ve startet with removing the bark of my oak stump;o)
    But I have got a great tool. A bark remover. It took only about 40 minutes to get ready with it. Now I`m looking forwart to do the next steps.
    Thank you for this great idea.
    Love from germany

    • Karen says:

      HI Diana! Thanks for the comment. It’s so much fun to hear from people around the world. :) The bark remover is a GREAT tool. Oak should be pretty easy for you to remove the bark. It’s only certain types of woods that have a very stubborn bark. Walnut is one of them! Send me a picture when you’re done! ~ karen

  43. Diana says:

    Hi Karen, of course I will send you a picture.
    I thought that I should let the Stump without legs.
    Sorry for my bad english.

    • Diana says:

      Hi Karen

      my oak stump is READY!!! yeah, it looks very good and really fits into my livingroom. I wanted to send you a photo, but i´m not good in using the computer – upload, download… and i can`t find another email where i could send one easily.

      i will make a 2nd stump and let it in his own colour. just with clear polish- and lower with longer legs. two of my friends asked me to make one for them.
      Thank you for this idea!

      Love from germany

  44. melissa Waine says:

    OMG Karen this is just UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!

    You are my HERO! I have a million ideas but not the knowledge or skill with tools to do anything. My husband can’t change a lightbulb and is no help either. He laughs at me for constantly pulling things off the side of the road, repainting the kids slippery slide etc. We live across the road from a golf course in Sydney, Australia and there are constant big thing chunks of wood like this on the side of our street as they cut down the huge trees lining the course… and I’ve always wanted to make one into a coffee table! Does it need legs or could you just seal both ends?

    Thanks and I will be following this blog like crazy!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa – Thanks for visiting. Feel free to tell the rest of Australia about my site. 😉 Funny … Australia is the 3rd largest reader of The Art of Doing Stuff. I have NO idea why! So you have access to stumps! That’s great. NO, you absolutely do not have to put legs on it. If you have access to all kinds of stumps, they’d also be great outdoor seating! If you end up making one send me a picture! I’d love to see it. I’m thinking of doing one in gold leaf next. Good luck! ~ karen

  45. Abbe says:

    What should I do if I do not want to take the bark off and I will be using it as an outside poolside table?

    • Karen says:

      Abbe – Hi! If you’re keeping the stump outside, treat it the exact same way I’ve shown you in the post. The problem with not removing the bark is it will eventually come off by itself as the wood dries and shrinks. So you’ll spend all that time finishing the stump (I’d use spray if you’re leaving the bark on because it will be MUCH easier to apply on bark) and there’s a good chance the bark will separate from the stump and fall apart. You can take a shot and try it if you want. If you’re worried about the work try and find an Oak stump. The bark comes off really easily. If you insist on leaving the bark on to use the stump outside, find a Walnut stump because (in my experience) the bark has more of a tendency to want to stay on the tree. Good luck! ~ karen

  46. Marti says:

    DEFINITELY worth the begging! I love the look of the table and the thought that I can (and will!) do it myself.

    I may attempt this as soon as I’m done butchering the repurposed fur coats in the living room. (Don’t ever do that yourself. It’s a huge, HUGE mess and is doomed to drive one to despair.)

    Um, re: asking you who did your site. JudithShakes Designs, I’m guessing?

    • Karen says:

      Yup. Courtney at JudithShakes did my site. I designed it in terms of exactly how I wanted it to look but she executed it. And the only reason I designed it is because I’m a control freak. I’m sure she’d do a great job if left to her own devices with just a little guidance from you. Give her a shout. ~ karen

  47. LOVE this tutorial. Found it by way of Design Sponge. I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a long time but I didn’t want it to be too heavy or impossible to move. The legs are a perfect way to keep the height but not the lbs. Also, on a side note it’s worth mentioning that three legs on anything makes it more stable on uneven surfaces. also it’ll compensate for any level differences on your stump. (Other than it just looking cool)

  48. Found you by Row House Nest link to Design*Sponge. I always admired stump tables in magazines and wanted to make one but was unsure how to treat the wood.Thanks so much for the great tutorial.

    • Karen says:

      You’re very welcome Joselyn! I’m glad you found my site. Good luck with the stump table. If you have any questions about it just shoot me an email. ~ karen!

  49. Melissa says:

    Hey Karen,
    Thanks for the stump table instructions. I have three pine stumps that were cut fresh last September just for this purpose. They’ve been drying in a garage and then a basement (with a brief stint in the covered bed of a pickup truck) for 8 months. Thought for sure that’d be long enough…but I just took the bark off one of them (easy work with a chisel), and it’s totally wet inside! Does that seem right?? And either way, will it still dry out nicely (maybe faster?) now that I’ve de-barked it while it was still wet? What do you think?

  50. Jac says:

    Karen –
    I love your table – but I LUUUUUV what you have going on with your furry chair. Any chance you could share what you did there?

  51. Michael says:

    Hi Karen-

    This is a great post! I’ve been looking for clear directions on how to do this for some time. I have a stump that’s been drying outside for over a month, and all the bark has come off naturally. My only concern now is whether any small insects have gotten inside. Do you know a good method for sealing the stump, or does the stain cover that issue as well?


  52. Trudi Johnson says:

    I added your project to pinterest (a project searchable site). Hope that’s all right! :)

    • Karen says:

      Trudi – Of course that’s fine. I love Pinterest. It’s a great resource, and I get all kinds of hits from it. Thx. ~ karen

  53. My Duong says:

    I just got a pine log thats full of the gooey stuff, it has been outside for 2 months, but doesnt seem to dry at all, please help, Im dying to make this table … Thank you for your time!

    • Karen says:

      My Duong – Your pine stump may take a year to dry out. Sap/resin/gooey stuff from things like pine or spruce is super sticky and tends to stay that way. It’d probably be quicker to go find yourself an Oak stump. :( Sorry. ~ karen

  54. Mel says:

    I looked for ages for dried wood on farms to make these tables or they can be seats…it is very hard to to find a farmer who has trees down then take your saw out and chop it up or pay him to chop it up. Takes a while to dry out properly. They do look awesome and thanks for sharing your tutorial. Im one step further along my path to making them now.:-)

  55. Manav says:


    Love what you did with the stump. My wife and I have wanted to make one for so long but never came across any stumps. We almost gave up until the other day when we’re walking on our block and a tree removal service was at a house, so we picked up a stump and brought it home.

    I’m curious though, how closely do we have to stick to the drying timeline. It’s mostly because we’re impatient and want to get our end table finally ready, but also we don’t want to make any mistakes. We’ve had the stump in our apt. for a week or so now, and we’re wondering how much longer we have to wait.

    Hope you can help.


    • Karen says:

      Manav – Glad you like the stump! I know what the impatience of waiting for it to dry out feels like, but if you plan on sealing it with the bark off, you really need to let it dry out. If the bark doesn’t come off fairly easily, it isn’t dry enough yet. You can carefully try to remove the bark with a little chisel and hammer. If it pulls away fairly easily you’re good to go. Even AFTER removing the bark you should leave the stump for another week to let the bit under the bark dry out. I know it’s hard, but try to leave it as long as possible for the best result. You don’t want to be putting any kind of Polyurethane or other treatment onto wet wood because it won’t cure properly. Good luck! ~ karen

  56. lak says:

    Hi Karen

    I loved your instructions on how to make the end table with a stump.My husband just got a huge stump that he found on the side of the road (hurt his back a little!!)..i am going to follow your instructions..
    Also in your video there is a round white orb next to the lamp..where did you find that? is it a lamp shade too??
    thanks a lot

  57. Emily says:

    Let me first of all say thank you for being the one who lead me to obsess over DIY projects. I’ve been wanting to go out and buy myself one of these stump side tables for quite some time. However, I WILL NOT spend $400 on a piece of furniture that I can make myself, for $15. Two weeks ago I stopped by an orchard/far on my way home from a weekend away and low and behold, they had a pile of de-barked, already dried out stumps! So, by the time I got it home, All I had to do was plane one side so it was level. I didn’t want to stain it either because the sun discolored it in a way that made it look awesome so I just applied several coats of clear finish and I’m done! Thanks Karen!

  58. Chelsea says:

    I have been wanting these stump tables since I saw them last year at LL Beans (a popular store here in Maine) but they were $200 a piece and it just wasn’t going to fit the budget. Thank you so much for the step by step so I can finally make them for myself!

  59. Bill says:

    Hello Karen and thx for this nice tutorial :) I just returned from a weekend vacation in the countryside having a big stump in the back of my car that my wife thought it would become a nice table. It is about 40cm tall and 50 cm diameter ( back is still in pain) and comes from a fresh cut fir tree. How much time should I leave it to dry? Should I first remove the bark and leave it to dry after? Fir wood seems juicy has a strong smell and it is first time I try to do such a project. More details about “fir stump table” will be great help and much appreciated x-)
    Greetings from Greece,

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bill from Greece :) – I think if you re-read the tutorial you’ll find most of the answers you’re looking for. The bark won’t easily come off the stump unless it has already dried out for a month or so. Each type of tree has a different type of bark. Some remove easily (oak) and some are difficult to remove (walnut). I’ve never done a fir tree so I’m not sure how the bark will react. If you try and chisel it off now and it isn’t ready to come off, you risk marking the sides of the stump underneath. Just tuck the stump away for a month or so and revisit it then. : ) ~ karen

  60. Arran says:

    Hi, Karen. I found this article shortly after finding a stump. Your instructions were very helpful, but I do have one question. How did you get all the bugs out? The stump I found had tons of rolly pollies, centipedes, and possibly termites in it. I live in Seattle, so putting it outside to dry/debug it wouldn’t be effective, as it would just get more damp. Should I just look for another stump, preferably one that is pre-dried, or is there any way to salvage the big stump I found?

    Thanks so much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Arran – Termites I’m not familiar with. We don’t seem to have a problem with them here in Southern Ontario. If the stump is old and rotting a bit, and that’s why there are bugs in it, I’d get rid of it. If it’s just got the odd bug on it just drop the stump straight down a few times to knock the bugs off. If you’re still worried about it (and you may be opposed to this) you can put the stump in a garbage bag, spray bug killer in it and then tie it up. Leave it for a day. Untie the bag and leave the stump outside to air out for a day or two. Good luck. ~ karen!

  61. Laura says:

    Hi Karen

    Loved the tutorial so much I made my wedding cake table with a huge stump from my wood pile. Its about 3ft tall and in the shape of a funky star.It must weigh an easy 300 pounds I love it. Wish I could post pictures!

  62. Inga says:

    Hi karen – great site! I noticed you mentioned being from Southern Ontario. Where did you get your wood from? That would be my first place to start :)

    • Karen says:

      Inga – All you have to do is go to any place around you that sells firewood and buy a stump off them. 2 of my stumps I actually found at the side of the road after neighbours had a tree cut down. Just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find one! ~ karen

      • decemberbaby says:

        Inga – in Toronto there are a lot of Norway Maple trees being taken down because they’re near the end of their useful life. If you live in (or drive through) neighbourhoods that were built in the 40’s, eventually you’ll see the tree service guys cutting down the old, sick trees. Sad for the city, good for the DIY’ers!

  63. John says:

    This site was so very helpful Karen! I’ve just made one using some redwood, has come out a beautiful colour, however when the council was cutting some trees in my area ( melbourne, Australia) one side was not a straight cut, the hours and effort I put in to cut that straight myself was almost not worth the effort!
    Fantastic website

    • Karen says:

      Thanks John! I just finished watching the finale of Masterchef Australia. Not that you watch it simply because you’re from Australia, but I felt compelled to tell you anyway. :) (one of my readers was a contestant) ~ karen!

  64. John says:

    I have seen this series, who was the contestant?

    • Karen says:

      Her name is Shannon. She had a website called Bake n’ Bloom, but she’s let it go by the wayside now as she gets her new site up and running. She lied to me and said she’d been away from my site for months because she had mono. Turns out she didn’t have mono … she was stuck in the Masterchef house and couldn’t tell anyone, LOL! ~ karen

  65. Gabriella says:

    Love this

  66. Great idea!

    I’m surprised that a handy Canadian like yourself didn’t put the damn Philips screws into the metal recycling and pull out some Robertsons.

    One of my first tasks with Ikea projects is go to the shop and find Robbie screws that match in width and length and ditch the included fasteners.

  67. Anna says:

    Hello – Love the stump – just wondering if it would be appropriate to hollow out a bit of the inner stump to make it lighter to carry (from the bottom of course). Would this cause any adverse effects?

    • Karen says:

      Anna – I can’t see any reason why that wouldn’t be possible, but it’d be pretty hard to hollow out part of the inside of the stump and I’m afraid it wouldn’t make much of a difference in the weight. Once the stump dries out it weighs less. I’m 5′ 3″ and 105 pounds and I could manage it just fine. It’s not like you’re going to be lugging it around the ouse every day. :) If all else fails, just make your stump shorter, as opposed to hollowing it out. ~ karen!

  68. Beth says:

    I am totally doing this! I have 6 stumps in the backyard that have been drying all summer! I am pulling a few in before it starts raining.

    I love castors, I might put this thing on castors then roll it all over my house! wheee!

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

    • Karen says:

      Beth! Ooooo! I love castors too! I have a bunch of antique ones in my basement with wooden wheels. If I can find 3 or 4 that match I’m totally doing that! Good thinkin’. ~ karen!

  69. sameera says:

    I loveee how youve done this and i just had a huge tree cut down in the summer, and stumps all over my backyard. Finally i know what im doing with them! I just have one question, How can we make them shiny and smooth like these?

    • Karen says:

      Sameera – My stump is smooth like that. You just need to give a bit of a rub with sandpaper if there are any rough bits, but there shouldn’t be. To get the shinier, glossy look all you have to do is use a high gloss Polyurethane (or sealant of your choice). ~ karen!

  70. Cathy says:

    I just made 2 of these tables and they turned out amazingly well! I needed help from my husband as they were quite heavy to move, and he helped with the power sanding. Used the Ikea legs…they added that modern touch. These 2 tables are gifts, but am going to make one for myself next. Can you explain the whitewash technique?

  71. karen says:

    hey Karen,

    I am a photographer. You should sell these. They would sell. Trust me!

    Oh, and a question….forgive me as I know nothing about tree stumps….but are bugs ever an issue?

    Blessings to you and thank you for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Karen – Bugs haven’t been an issue for me but if you’re worried about it you can spray the stump with bug spray and put it in a plastic bag for a few days. I just bash the stump on the sidewalk until bugs stop flying out of it, LOL. ~ karen!

  72. Beth says:

    Just made my first first one! It was EASY the way you described it – thanks you so much! I had 5 camphor tree stumps in my back yard all summer, so when I saw this post I was soooooo happy! Many thanks!

  73. Cori says:

    These are awesome, and entertaining, instructions. I want to make a floor to ceiling tree in a bedroom and this is perfect! Thanks for the awesome tutorial and pictures with it.

    • Melissa says:

      Cori, if you do that, will you please please post it somewhere as a tutorial (like Karen does)? We have lots of wood and are trying to find cool ways to bring them into our decor. I’m a big believer in learning tips from others before embark-ing (get it, haha) on my own ventures. 😀

  74. Jenni says:

    I want to thank you for thoroughly entertaining me with your article! I laughed many times and also thanks to you have a new project to try out.
    Thanks again,

  75. Ickis McGee says:

    I’ve snagged myself two stumps that have been drying in the garage a couple of weeks. They are about 28inch circumference by 16inch high. I have no idea how long they sat out by the side of the road, but the bark all came off with relative ease. How will I know when they’re dry enough?
    Also they have some soft spots; are those detrimental? Seems like I could just sand through them.
    (btw, yes I did have a he’ll of a time getting them in/out of the SUV by myself)

    • Karen says:

      Ickis – I’m not sure what you mean by soft spots. It could mean that the tree is rotting, which wouldn’t make for the best tree stump table. :( If it doesn’t seem throughout and just a bit on the surface you might be O.K. You’ll know when the stump is ready to go when you see a bit of cracking. Bring it inside the house and weigh it if you can. Then leave it in the house where it’ll dry out faster. Weigh it again in a few days and you’ll be surprised at how much lighter it is just from drying out inside. I’d give it a week or so inside and then you can start on it. Good luck! ~ karen

  76. Ickis McGee says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. Yea, I think the soft spots are a little bit of rot but it’s definitely only on the surface. These things are SOLID. The big one still weighs an easy 100lbs. I guess I still have a while to wait.
    I forgot to ask earlier, one has a very uneven side (I guess where they cut an angle to fell the tree. What tool do you recommend to even that off if not a chainsaw. If a chainsaw, do you have any tips? (I know chainsaw is not your favorite tool).

    • Karen says:

      Ickis – The only way to cut it is with a chainsaw. And cutting perfectly straight is really tough. You’re best to get someone skilled w/ a chainsaw to do it for you. ~ karen

  77. Paul C says:

    This is great. I’m going to make one of these bad boys!

    • Karen says:

      I’ve made another since this post! Actually, didn’t really have to do anything. The second one I left unfinished with no legs. Sits in a corner with a fern on it. Good luck! ~ karen

  78. cucicucicoo says:

    this is so incredibly cool! i need to find myself a bit of trunk now! :) lisa

  79. nadine says:

    It’s very nice ! I like it

  80. Carl says:

    I just took down a couple of trees in the yard and have too much wood sitting around, great idea on how to use it up. I think the plant stand is also a tremendous idea. Hot project by a hot woman….lol

  81. heather says:

    sorry i didnt read all the comment so idk if it was asked but – OMG i LOVE that freakin chair – the stump is awesome too – but i want that chair!! how please??

  82. Steve Perfetto says:

    Karen,you should let people know there is a outdoor mimwax as well as indoor.Also old wire reels,like the ones used by construction people,make good tables also.Also a saw mill,or someone with a portable saw mill would be a good source for larger pieces to make coffee tables and such,they usually don’t keep the slab wood for anything anyway.

  83. Sacha says:

    Hi Karen– I was able to get some stumps, however they aren’t all even. Do you know where i can bring my stumps to get them evened out? Thanks for the advice!

  84. patti says:

    Wow…love the stump table!!…I’m def making one…I see that you have a blue orb in your living room photo (with all your roadside/sale finds)…Just love your antique mirror over the mantel!
    Take care,

  85. Emily says:

    Hi!! I love the stump table and am thinking about making one myself. One question… what about bugs? Have you had a problem with the stump being infested with any kind of house guests?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily. Nope. No bugs. Well, a few but those got knocked off prior to making the table. Just rap it on the ground a few times and anyone living in there will wander off quickly. ~ karen

  86. debbie says:

    hi karen-

    just stumbled onto your site. thanks for all the awesome project ideas.

    quick question: is it possible to keep the bark on the tree and treat it in a way that preserves the bark look?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie – Well, depending on the tree the bark will fall off anyway. It dries up and falls off. You might be able to achieve this look with Birch. OR you could just bring the stump in, put legs on it and not bother with varnishing it. Either way … :)~ karen!

  87. jeryl says:

    Hi…I have a pine stump that I want to make into a table. It weighs prolly 150 lbs. I have put casters on the bottom so i can roll it around. Why is it necessary to take the beautiful bark off? Will a pinetree stump have to much sap if I took the bark off?

    • Karen says:

      Jeryl – Yes, there could be sap from a pine stump. The reason, however, that you take the bark off is because it’s going to come off eventually anyway. As the wood dries over time the stump shrinks as does the bark, creating a gap in between the bark and the stump. So it just … falls off all on its own. If you want, you can try not finishing the stump and leaving the bark on. It might last for a month with the bark sticking, maybe a year … but it will eventually fall right off. :( ~ karen!

  88. Marcy says:

    I have been thinking about doing one of these tables for years. Today I decided to see if anyone else has been thing about it too. Thank you for doing all the research for me. It will make my job of making one (several) more fun.

  89. Nancy says:

    Your directions were informative and fun!! Love this project!!

  90. Mary says:

    thank you great idea and growing I still want to do more with these.

  91. Lisa says:

    Dear Karen,
    I picked up a stump on the side of the road about a week ago with the idea of making this table (yep, West Elm got me thinking too!) Today, I came across a piece of driftwood at the lake, stump sized, PRE-SANDED a la REAL SAND! All I need now is the stain and sealant. The first stump will now be a mother’s day gift for my mom! Thanks for these postings, you’re a total bad-a$$ and inspiration!

  92. Kelly says:

    I enjoyed your tutorial and learned a lot, so thank you. I have a chucker in my family too…I bet she will want a stump table after she sees mine;-)

  93. Dawna says:

    Sooooo, I’ve been wanting to do this forEVER! I had my boyfreidn get me a gigantor stump… it’s like 3 feet wide… I’m going to make a coffee table… Boyfriend says its not allowed in the house… Won’t he be suprised when he comes back from Vegas and it’s sitting in all its stumpy glory in the living room! Thanks for the step-by-step… Hopefully this doesn’t cause a domestic… 😀

  94. Mike says:

    A 3″ slice of that burl just to the left of your lumberjack would make a way nicer table. I like yours too though.

    • Karen says:

      Mike – I wouldn’t necessarily say it was nicer … just different. And definitely too large for most people to be able to tuck almost anywhere. Thanks though. ~ k!

  95. Matt S says:

    Saw your project a few months back and it suddenly opened my eyes to the giant tree branch that fell down in my yard during a freak intense snowstorm 7 months back. 2 months ago I cut two tables out of the branches (both thick as a stump) and stripped the bark. Now that I’ve sanded them and attached the legs I’m wondering how much longer I should let them dry out.

    They are both still slowly cracking but nothing drastic and I’m growing impatient about finishing the project. What’s the worst case scenario, I just need to apply some more stains to any cracks that may form?

    Also I came across an interesting issue when I cut my logs. As I mentioned they sat out in my yard for a few months and when I cut them up I found that some carpenter ants moved into one of the stumps. Actually didn’t notice until I brought the log inside and noticed an unusual amount of ants suddenly crawling around the closet where I left them to dry. To remedy the situation I first applied a liberal amount of carpenter ant spray into the larger holes at the top of the log, so much that it actually pooled up inside. Quickly the ants evacuated the holes which I disposed of. After which I flipped over the log to let the excess fluid run out.

    Afterward I chipped out as much of the eaten wood as I could with a chisel and used shrink wrap to wrap the log and cut off any air holes. Over the next few days I noticed a few survivors popping up under the shrink wrapped and took care of them as well. After a week I felt the problem was taken care of and I filled in all the holes with hard drying wood filler, sanded it down, and flipped it over so the “inhabited” section would be at the bottom of the table. Now a month later I haven’t noticed any visitors and I have a clean and beautiful log as a table. Just felt that info may help any others that run into a similar problem with this project.

  96. Hi Karen,
    My name is Dallas and my wife sent me a link to your stump table. Very cool! I make furniture and home decor from old vintage materials as a hobby. Check out my website if you want you can pirate some ideas. (still being built but it has quite a few pics on it)I am making two bar stools for some friends out of two big beautiful Cedar stumps. the wood is amazing but is taking forever to dry. any ideas? also I have access to a large oven used for powder coating do you think it would hurt the wood to bake it some? maybe that would speed up the drying process? Would love to hear your thoughts. thanks

  97. Iya says:

    Thanks for this. My mom has been keeping 3 stumps for 20 years and just left them as is with the bark and all. I’ll be applying your turorial on those three babies and will use them in my house.

  98. Domico says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I found a few pine tree stump in my neighbourhood and knew what I wanted but didn’t know how. Thanks!

  99. Wilson says:

    I found my stump! Problem is I found its kinda big and heavy haha I am not sure if I picked one up which is too big.

    • Karen says:

      No such thing. Don’t worry about it. Just let it dry out. ~ karen!

      • Wilson says:

        I hope so because I moved two of them back to my house this evening and each of them weigh about 50 lbs or so. I hope they will become much lighter after they get dry out!

        Feel free to have a look on the stump that I picked up this evening.
        Have a look and see if you consider this is too big or not. Cheers

        • Karen says:

          It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like a good stump to me. Good knots in it that’ll show up well and the bump where a branch was. I’d say it’s a good stump indeed. Generally around 18″ high is good. ~ karen

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