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. Sherell says:

    OMG…we just got our stumps and I knew there had to be someone out there who had done this (the right way). THANKS SO MUCH for this! Can’t wait to get started!!!

    • Jackie says:

      Oh great my fiance carried a log up a very large hill for me when we first met it has sat in the garden for ages this is such a fab idea, I also have a sleeper which I may give a go for a long table.

      Thank you I

    • Irene Plonka says:

      Your blog has given me the ideas I need. My husband was helping friends clear an area for a building and he found a tree which had been “strangled” by grapevines leaving a spiral indentation around the stump.He brought it home for me and I have kept it on my covered/screened porch for a few years. It is now in
      the garage. It is shorter (so would probably benefit having legs) and it needs to be level cut.
      Thank you for such good instructions.

  2. Kelli says:

    Thank you so much for this blog! We are putting in a pool this summer, and it looks like I will be forced to remove my favorite tree in the backyard. I hope using part of it’s trunk to make a stump table will give me some peace about losing the tree by letting me hold onto a piece of it.

    • Karen says:

      Kelli – You’ll forget all about that tree the first time you lay in your bathing suit, poolside, smelling everything grilling on the BBQ with a beverage of choice in your hand. Plus you’ll have the stump table. :) ~ karen

  3. Chris says:

    Note that for the table legs, you’re actually better off with 3 legs not 4… the table will automatically level/stabilize with 3 legs. You need only 3 points to define a plane :) If you put on 4 legs you’ll forever be having to level the table/item out (else it teeter-totters), with 3 that is never a problem.

    Also, awesome writeup, thanks! I’m in the process of making a table from half a slice of a tree (horizontal cross-section slice), the wood’s been drying in my garage for ~8 months now, I’m excited for the table :)

  4. shevi says:

    i live in Israel so:
    1. there aren’t many trees with thick trunks
    2. they don’t really sell firewood there
    3. you don’t see people cutting down trees often because there aren’t so many.
    i really want to do this but i don’t know how to find a stump!
    if you have any advice please respond. :)

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I think you may have answered all of your own questions Shevi. :) Just keep your eyes out. Try asking at garden centres or any sort of government office where they do roadside cleanup. Places where someone might be able to locate a stump for you. ~ karen!

  5. Hi! It’s me again, your glowing orb loving newest fan! I have been meaning to make a log table too for a long time now. I have started one, but some parts of my log are just too soft and become sawdust when I take a hammer to it! My try died of “natural causes” several years ago and is very dry. This “sawdusting” phenomenon couldn’t possibly be because of termites, could it? I have a picture of what I am talking about at the end of my post here: (The picture is at the end). PS: I have also linked to this tutorial here in my post. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated!

  6. Naomi says:

    Hi Karen,

    LOVE your blog. I’ve been waiting forever to find a stump, and finally found a great one today in Trinity Bellwoods Park (I’m a Tranna girl too!). The city workers who were chopping the tree down even did two nice cuts on it for me. I told them it was good karma for them. :) I think they thought I was nuts for putting it into our wagon and carting it off with my two little kids.

    It’s Red Maple, and the bark is coming off easily, just by hand. How long do you think it needs to dry?

    Thanks so much


    • Karen says:

      Hi Naomi – Excellent! Nice of them to chop it straight for you. That’s the biggest pain, when you find a stump but it’s lopsidey. So, how long you let it dry depends on how healthy the tree was. If it was dead (which it probably was because they were chopping it down) it doesn’t take as long to dry out enough to put your finish on it because it’s already pretty dry from being … well … dead. If the bark is coming right off, chances are you only have to leave it for a couple of weeks to make sure it’s good and dry. A good rule of thumb is to weigh it right now. Then … weigh it again in a week, and a week after that. Once it stops dropping dramatically in weight you’re ready to apply the finish. If it doesn’t lose any weight at all the first week, chances are it’s all dried out. ~ karen!

  7. Wilson says:

    Hi Karen, will the polyurethane stops the sap leaking from the stump? I’ve been waiting for couple months now but it’s sap is still leaking once in awhile.

  8. Pingback: Nie palcie mebli! | Mieszkaniowe inspiracje

  9. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it on Pinterest.

  10. Laura says:

    You are a hoot!!(A beautiful hoot, & so is your cat!) reading these posts that go waaay back make me see I’ve missed a lot of really good stuff until now!! I’ve had the tree stump project on my wish list for an oh so very long time(that’s a really really long time) I’ve been waiting for my man to figure it out & do it-how COOL that I would be able to create it myself. “New bedroom, here I come!”

  11. madeline says:

    Love this :) I just found a bunch of logs falling out of a dumpster in a parking lot and made my dad come with me to pick one up. I came across your site because I was planning on making a side table … and now I know how to! Thanks 😀

  12. Natasha says:

    Just what I needed. My favorite more than 50 feet tall tree was cut and I could not let them take away all the wood and was wondering how to preserve it. Now I can do a lot with them.

  13. coachroscoe says:

    I am in the middle of making a set of 6 of these for my wife for Christmas and ran across your site! Beauty job! I am using maple which has pretty stubborn bark too, but I just used a draw knife. Slightly different results, but I managed to de-bark all 6 stumps in about 3 hours. I also had the issue of leveling off the top and bottom, and found that a rough hand planing, followed by a 50-grit belt sanding did the job pretty well and fairly quickly. In addition, you can get screw-leveling feet or gliders at most local hardware stores to really fine-tune a level top.

    If a knew how to post a pic or two, I would be happy to show my process and pieces!

  14. Bill says:

    Hi again Karen :)
    It’s Bill from the message of 26 September the year before. I finally ended the table! Better late than never! Heh… I let it the whole year outside to dry out and I weighted it every month or so until it stopped losing weight. I ‘ve been weighing and waiting with patience 😀 until it ended up with half its initial weight. Then I took the bark off, I sanded it to make the surface smooth, filled some quite big cracks afterwards with wood putty and sanded again. Finally I applied the wood preservative varnish and 3 coats of “dark walnut” paint. I added some tiny legs and also a glass top and… tadaa!!

    I hope you like it! Thanks again for your very helpful advices :)

    • Karen says:

      Congratulations on finishing the table Bill. You must have quite the amount of patience within you! Good job. It has a beautiful shape to it and I like the glass. Thanks for sending along the pictures! ~ karen

  15. Janice says:

    Excellent tutorial but I might have a big problem and have been searching the net for hours. I just hauled home a beutiful cloud shaped stump from the very bottom of the biggest chestnut tree u have ever seen. They cut it down on our block. I also took a stool size cut which is fine but the stump is infested with beetles!!!!! Can u please help me? Do I need to get rid of it? It is on a Dolley on my deck flat with air to breathe through the bottom but I have poured soap and water, mr clean, bleach and aerosol and these little suckers have bore in for sure. Will they go eventually? I live in Vancouver so moist all the time. Should I get timbor? I’ve always wanted to do this but I don’t want to infest everything. Much appreciated if u have some advice.
    Love your decor! Table, fluffy throw and fluffy cat…..very NYC!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janice – It’s hard to say what to do because I don’t know how bad the bugs are. The one thing you can try is to spray it with plain old bug spray. What I normally suggest is to put the stump in plastic garbage bag, spray it with bug spray and then close the bag for several days, but if this stump is as big as you say then you might not be able to fit it in a garbage bag! Often, banging a stump on the ground will also get rid of the bugs. You startle them out basically, but again … big stump. If you can manage it give either or both of those ideas a try. Banging really helps a lot! Bang em out if you can and then spray the stump to get any that might remain. And repeat. :) ~ karen!

  16. Janice says:

    Karen: thank u so much for answering me so quickly or at all in fact!!!!! I’m so appreciative. Now I just have to be patient for a long time b4 I can start my dream project! I will continue to follow u and again thanks!!!!

  17. Moni says:


    You are so funny and talented. I came across your blog via the chicken coop page and have enjoyed reading all of your projects and antics. I absolutely love the tree stump table idea and your Siamese looks gorgeous sitting beside it. I have one of those and now I think I need the table to match the cat. Thanks!

  18. jens says:


    how do you prevent the trump from cracking and falling apart over the next couple of years?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jens – As long as you dry your stump slowly it shouldn’t crack and fall apart. Also treating it with the Varathane helps. ~ k!

  19. jennie mixon says:

    I had been wanting to do this type of project but never committed to it until last week. I have 6 stumps that I worked on and 1 is completed the other 5 will be done this week. I can send you some photos if you like since you inspired the process to get started. Thank you for the web site!!!

  20. Linda Lorrain says:

    OMG…you have ruined my life! I now have to quit my job so that I can put all my energy into enjoying your website! How can I possibly find time to work for a living when you have presented me with all these fabulous things to make! The tree stump table is going to be my first project so I am going home tonight and telling my boyfriend to cut down a tree for me. We have 4 acres so the pickin’s are plenty:)
    Thank you, Karen, for your humour and renewing my love for making something out of something else.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! Well … that’s why I pretty much quit my job(s) as a television host. So I could sit at home and make crap out of other crap. I used to be rich. Now I’m happy. Glad you found my site! ~ karen!

  21. Becky McIntire says:

    My father just cut down most of his 2 oak trees and 1 pine tree in the past month. He cut it all down and left the bundling up off all the shrubbery to me. I am moving into my new apartment in a month and I told him I want to make end tables and a coffee table out of the branches and stumps but now I dont have much left to work with bc I have been bundling it all up. I thought about how I still wanted to do this tonight though and I want to thank you because wednesday I am going to his house to clean up the rest and I will be saving me a few stumps. Thank you so much:)

  22. Jacqueline says:

    I was passing by a house today and saw some men chopping down two huge pine trees! I’ve been wanting to do this project for a really long time, guess I got lucky today! I immediately called my husband and he met me and cut a deal. We paid $40 for seven stumps measuring about 3-4 feet in height, each! They were even nice enough to help load the stumps into our truck with their lift gate!!! I’m soooo excited about this project, but I’m worried that the stumps won’t dry out properly. They are super sticky :( Did I choose the right tree for this project? I sure hope so, it wasn’t easy unloading about a ton of wood. If its going to work do you know about how long it will take for trunks to dry out?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jacqueline – Some pine stumps do seem to drip pitch (sap) forever. Others though are fine. You’ll probably be fine. But I would suggest you get them cut into shorter lengths. The shorter they are the faster they’ll dry out. It’s still going to take months for them to dry unless the tree was dead to begin with. You can dry them inside the house near a fire or woodstove. Even by a hot air vent. But you need to keep turning it so it dries evenly and fairly slowly. If it dries too fast you risk getting a great big crack in it. The stump will almost always crack a bit across the top and bottom, but fine cracks. A big crack from quick drying isn’t what you want. Goodluck! ~ karen

  23. Toby McCrae says:

    Hi Karen!

    Thanks for this inspiring tutorial. A tree outside my townhouse got hit by a truck yesterday and a huge limb cracked off the side of the tree. The city came and cut it up, leaving six stumps in the snowpile out front. I posted on Facebook that people should come and get them to make tables. 5 out of 6 of the stumps are gone now and I shared your tutorial with my friends. Three of us are making tables. My friends were brave and took two each! We can’t wait to try this.

    Thanks again!

  24. Toby McCrae says:


    I forgot to ask, what would you recommend for me to do in order to level it off nicely on the top and bottom? Should I hire a carpenter? I don’t have the tools or the know-how.


    • Karen says:

      How off is it Toby? You don’t need a carpenter, you need someone who’s good with a chainsaw. Do NOT do it yourself if you don’t regularly operate a chainsaw. You may be able to bring it to a lumber yard or a place that sells firewood and have them straighten the ends for you. ~ karen!

  25. Jacqueline says:

    I wrote you a few days ago. I brought the pine stumps inside my house as you directed. Good thing I did, because it rained recently. We haven’t removed the bark, but there are some parts that are exposed that after four days of being indoors are starting to mold! BTW, we brought the stumps inside before it rained. Is my project ruined?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jacqueline – I suspect you’re fine. Let them dry out for a bit and then try to remove the bark. It’s hard to say how long before the bark will come off because I don’t know if the trees were dead or what kind of wood it is. Was it pine? Anyway … just give it some time and everything should work itself out. ~ karen!

  26. Nola Cooper says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! It is awesome!

  27. Kim says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for these instructions, I can’t wait to start my table. With the Nimo snow storm we lost a tree and we are going to put some of it to great use. We have a wonderful fire pit and would love a couple table to put around it.
    Thank you!!!

  28. Laura L says:

    I was on Pinterest and saw a pic of this project and wanted to see what other great Karen things they may have pinned that I missed when, DUM, DUM, DUM (sounds dramatic in my head) I clicked on the link and found this!
    I can’t speak the language but I bet they didn’t give credit where credit is due! :(
    Even included the picture with your furbaby! Some people!

  29. Dawn says:

    OMG! I just went out and cut 4 large stumps to do SOMETHING with…..NOW I KNOW! I have 3 beautiful cedar stumps that will be amazing! LOVE the idea!

  30. Jenn says:

    I FINALLY made my tree stump table today! and i am OBSESSING over them. i’ve dropped all plans so that I can sit in my house and stare at them. more than most things. i’m still deciding whether i want to post a picture on your facebook wall of them. that’s how much i love them…

  31. Reagan says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I want to do just this for give my transitional/contemporary living room a bit of earthy flare. My husband does woodworking for a hobby but he wasn’t sure how long to let the stump dry out. I wonder if you need a shorter time here in Texas. Well again, thank you for your post. Now I just need to find the perfect type of wood.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Reagan – You’re welcome. In terms of drying time, you’ll probably need the same amount because you, like Southern Ontario, where I’m from, get a lot of humidity. You’ll know by how much the stump weighs if it’s cured. ~ karen!

  32. Danielle says:

    Slowly sanding mine…they are sheddy little buggers! But I linked to your post on my blog. Thanks!

  33. Su says:

    What a pleasure! Not only did I learn how to turn the 12 pieces of tree (neighbor’s tree fell across our pool) currently sitting in the back yard into useful fire pit furniture, I had a good laugh. Thanks for both the tree ed. & laugh.

  34. Tim says:

    Do you do the polyeruthane on the bottom as well?

  35. What a fantastic project, Karen. And the appropriateness of the Minwax Walnut Stain is great. Very nicely done. – Bruce

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Thanks Bruce! Judging by the name of your site I would guess you have an appreciation for Minwax. 😉 ~ karen!

  36. Pamela says:

    Great idea. good job on the table, just wish you wouldn’t use the word “stupid” so much when describing things. The word is overused in your vocabulary.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pamela, I’m happy with how it turned out. As far as the word “stupid” goes, it’s repeated in the first paragraph to create a point by using literary rhythm. ~ karen

  37. Ksuha says:

    Job beautifully done!

  38. Annie says:

    “Coincidentally if you allow yourself to dry out for a month you’ll lose several pounds too.” HAHA. You have made a friend for life. :-)

  39. Bipasha says:

    super! thanks for sharing the steps in so much detail. I’ve always wanted to try making one of these, and thanks to you, one day I just might do it.

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome! You might as well find the stump and leave it to dry. Then if the mood strikes you .. you’ll have it sitting there ready to go. 😉 ~ karen!

  40. Fran says:

    Hi there-

    What a great idea! I will have to do this! Also I LOVE the throw on the chair!!! Is is a rug or an actual throw? Where did you get it?


    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran – It’s a Mongoloian lamb blanket. I got it at Homesense (which is the equivelant of Homegoods in the States). ~ karen!

  41. Heather says:


    Gorgeous table! I’m so excited to get started on making my own. If u were to estimate, after the wood drying process, how long do you think it takes for you to make one?


    • Karen says:

      After the wood is dry? It depends on how easily the bark comes off. If it comes off in one fell swoop you can be done in a day, but then you have a couple of days where you’re applying the finish and giving it time to dry before the next coat. :) ~ karen!

  42. Reji says:

    Thanks so much for posting this.
    I live in Chicago and I have no idea where I can get a tree stump.
    Any ideas?
    Greatly appreciated.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Reji – If you can suss out a firewood supplier (for people who have wood burning fireplaces) you’ll be able to find a stump there. They’ll either give it to you or charge you a low price. $20 perhaps. ~ karen!

      • Reji says:

        That’s perfect.
        Thanks for getting back to me.
        I have these ideas firing in my head so thanks again for the quick reply.


  43. Glen oneill says:

    Hi Karen, Love the work that you did with the Treestump. I’m doing my own Treestump now, this dump is probably about one year old. It is Maple wood and very dry, but looks very good. It is about 12 inches in diameter and wondering if that was wide enough for a side table. I was just wondering if you had to sand the stump tell it is white or should I leave all the dark marks and stuff that are there? Just wondering how much sanding I should do on that piece. The piece of maple I have is probably 12 inches on top the e regular shape and feathers out to about 14 to 15 inches on the bottom. Just wondering if there is any tips that you could give me thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Glen – 12″ at the top should be fine for a small end table. As far as sanding the stump goes, it’s up to you and personal preference. I like a bit of colour changes personally. Places you will need to sand are any areas that are rough. Just smooth them out. The height of the stump needs to be comfortable for putting drinks etc. on once it’s beside the couch or chair. Good luck! ~ karen

  44. Glen oneill says:

    Hi Karen this is Glenn, space thank you for getting back to me so quickly just one other question. Just wondering if the stump need it legs or can it sit right on my hardwood floor?

  45. Kaitlin says:

    Absolutely love this tutorial — just did two of them with the help of my fiance and they came out great.

    Only thing — we couldn’t seem to get it smoothed out completely with the sandpaper, because more and more wood just kept falling off the more we sanded. Is that normal? At one point we just kind of gave up and started staining it. We are praying the stain will just hold it together for the most part.

  46. Pingback: How To Make A Tree Stump Side Table | Do-It-Youself Fun Ideas

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  48. Tabitha says:

    Is there no treatment to do prior to insure all the worms and or bugs are dead or out?

  49. kim says:

    thanks for your awesome tips and ideas. My question is can I keep the bark on and polyurethane then I wanted to know about whitewashing. Can I whitewash in a different color? If so do you have any examples? Thank you for your time. Kim

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim – You’re welcome. As I said in the post, the bark really needs to come off. There are a few examples of woods that like to hold onto their bark but most drop off on their own eventually due to the shrinking (loss of moisture) in the wood and bark. You could research to see if there are certain types of wood that this is less likely to happen with. And you can white wash, absolutely, but again it would be a big more difficult (but still doable I think) with a rough bark. If you type “whitewash” into my search bar you should be brought to a post on how to white wash. ~ karen!

  50. andy garcia says:

    do you any one in Houston that can make a picnic table out of the tree we just had cut down? I have most of the hard wood stump still in my back yard, they said it was a Spanish oak tree.

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid I don’t, but hopefully someone else in the comment section might. I have friends who found the best way to get something like that done was to put an ad on Kijiji saying what you want. Then people who can do it contact you. :) ~ karen!

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  52. It’s really a great and useful piece of info. I’m glad that you just shared this helpful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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  53. CAPERNIUS says:

    Years ago I made an end table from a Sassafras Log…

    I let my log sit outside all summer long in the sun, then when the temps started dropping, I brought it in & set it on a register.

    Come the following summer, peeling the log was a cakewalk(super easy) & it sanded up really nice! : )

    For legs, I did not buy them, I made them from some old galvanized pipe I had in my workshop….
    I drilled holes in the bottom 1/16” bigger than the pipe, which gave it a very tight fit, & put cane tips on the bottom of the new legs.

    My son has the table now & uses it all the time…he’s 25, which make the table about 35 yrs old & still looking as good today as the day I finished it.

    OH! And the “legs”? still tight as ever.

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  59. Julie says:

    LOVE karen’s blog! i love her writing and ideas and style. I can totally relate to this. So happy i found this.

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  62. Alex B says:

    I just came across your blog and love it. I was looking for ways to use trees that have fallen on my property. I will be doing this project! However, I absolutely love the white chair in the picture. Was that a project as well or was it purchased?

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  64. Pingback: this tutorial is to make a table, but well use it to clean/smooth/seal some tree stumps to make seats out of them for the fire pit. - DIY Craft's Home Decor

  65. Amazing post! Thank you for share this DIY idea <3

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  68. Jume says:

    I started making two of these exactly how you described – but I probably did not dry out the stump for long enough- now after 3 coats in the top face, the stump is letting out some wax – what do you suggest I do?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jume! There’s not much you can do at this point since you’ve already finished them. It would be a huge ordeal to try to remove the Polyurethane. If the sap is only coming from the top cut portion, you could try to sand off the Polyurethane with a belt sander, let the stump dry out properly and recoat it. Sorry! ~ karen

  69. nicole says:

    Do I polyurethane the bottom of the tree stump??


  70. LISA says:

    I absolutely LOVE your table, your blog and your sense of humor!!! Soooo great!!!
    I have a great big ole dried out stump I got from a neighbor. I am planning on making a sitting stool on casters. The only thing in your instructions that stumped:) me was bringing the stump inside for several weeks. Is this a must before I get started?

    • Karen says:

      “The only thing in your instructions that stumped:) ” Heh! The reason you have to dry your stump out is so it is dry before you put the polyurethane on it. It’ll lose a lot of weight! But if the stump is old (and was cut months ago) then you don’t need to do that step because it will be dried out already. You can generally tell how old it is by how easily the bark comes off. Good luck! ~ karen

  71. Dwight says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great article! I’ve been thinking about making one of these for a while, and yesterday I came across 2 stumps in my sister’s backyard. I had a question about the drying process which I know is very important. The stumps were already cut and have been drying out since they moved in (about a year ago). So I assume that I don’t need to do any further drying out? I live in an apartment so I don’t have a garage or anything to leave them in..

    Also I wiped them clean of the dirt and there were a few bugs on the outside, but could there still be more inside? Someone in the comments recommended spraying with alcohol, would you recommend this?


  72. Dwight says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great article! I’ve been thinking about making one of these for a while, and yesterday I came across 2 stumps in my sister’s backyard. I had a question about the drying process which I know is very important. The stumps were already cut and have been drying out since they moved in (about a year ago). So I assume that I don’t need to do any further drying out? I live in an apartment so I don’t have a garage or anything to leave them in..

    Also I wiped them clean of the dirt and there were a few bugs on the outside, but could there still be more inside? Someone in the comments recommended spraying with alcohol, would you recommend this?


    • Karen says:

      Hi Dwight! If the stumps have been drying out for long time (a year for instance, lol) then they should be fine. If they’ve been outside it makes sense that there are a few bugs. I don’t have any experience with spraying the stumps with alcohol so I couldn’t say if it works or not. What I usually do is drop the stump onto a hard surface like cement/pavement until no more bugs scatter from it. If you’re worried about it then I’d put the stump in a plastic bag, spray bug spray into it, close the bag up tight, and leave it for a couple of days. Good luck! ~ karen

  73. Carol says:

    Just read your editorial on tree stump tables and loved it. Best part; your writing is very down to earth and personal = total win. Thank you for sharing your skills with us mere mortals 😀

  74. roma says:

    i found your website for making a stump table, I cann’t tell you how much I appreciated it. We had a oak tree cut down and I asked the man who did it that I wanted some pieces so I could make a table for my son. Im sure it will turn out beautiful. Im thinking about putting coasters on the bottom so you can move it easier. Once again, thank you for the easy steps to make it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Roma! That’s great. If you go to The Nester’s website, I think she has one of hers that she made on rollers. ~ karen!

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  77. Nano says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for showing us an amazing idea of creating your own table\chair. We had a tree cut-off and I wanted to make some stools. I followed every instruction that you showed us, but when I took the bark and continue to sand them, little worms continue to come out from tiny holes. I managed to get most of them off, but is there a product that kills them before I put the stain? I am going crazy and don’t know what to do and would love an advice.

    Thank you so much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nano! Yuck. Wormy wood! If you have that big an infestation I’m kind of worried that the wood will be all rotten inside. If you’d still like to use the wood what I would do is put the stump in a plastic garbage bag and spray it with bug spray that has pyrethrin in it. Taking one of the worms into a garden centre and asking them what spray to use on it is a good idea too. Once you’ve sprayed the stump close the plastic bag up tight for a few days. Then remove the stump, bang it on the ground several times to knock out any dead worms that you can and leave it to air out for another few days. HOPEFULLY it should be ready for stain then. Hope that helps. ~ karen!

  78. Nano says:

    Thank you Karen for a fast reply and for taking the time to help us! I will definitely try that out and will let you know how it comes out! 😊

  79. Amber says:

    Karen, I found this amazing project on pinterest. It led me to the joyboo site place that stole your project and didnt link it. Just saw that in the comments and wanted to let you know. I am pinning this from your site so I can hopefully try it out soon. Thanks for the tutorial. Have a great day!

    • Karen says:

      omg THANK YOU Amber. That’s incredibly nice of you. My site is fairly large, but it would be twice as big if I didn’t have to deal with all the spammy sites stealing my content! Again, thank you, I truly, truly appreciate you taking the time to Pin to my site and let me know. :) ~ karen!

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