Stumped. How to Make a Tree Stump Table

If you’ve ever thought about making a tree stump table, fall is a good time to actually do it. That’s right. It’s tree stump season.

DIY tree stump table sits beside classic Eames chair in white room.

10 years ago I made a tree stump table. It got shared, copied and posted about so much it’s one of 3 posts that I consider to have kickstarted my blogging career (thanks in part to Design*Sponge loving it too.) That table still sits in my living room looking as good as the day I made it.

Over 20 years ago when I bought my home I found most of my furnishings at garage sales or at the side of the road. As one does when they’re poor and stores rudely refuse to price anything at $0.

When I could finally afford to paint and redecorate my house 10 years later I didn’t do it gradually. I snapped in spectacular fashion, raining swear words and exasperation over everything. Within 2 weeks I had sold, given away or thrown out just about everything I owned. See here for proof.

I bought some magazines and I started filling my house up again on a minimal budget.When I saw a tree trunk 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 cigarette butts off of it, so it was bound to work out better.

I got me a stump and I made me a table.

Tree stump table on stainless steel legs sits beside a comfy chair with a Siamese cat sitting on it.

I’d like to make a small correction. My table looks *almost* as good as it did when I first made it. Nothing in my home is as nice without little Cleo laying beside it.

Make a Wood Stump Side Table

MATERIALS

  • 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, 6″ Capita legs from Ikea (these legs aren’t available at Ikea anymore but they ARE available on Amazon.)
  • Drill and appropriate bits

First things first. You have to get yourself a tree stump.

Where to find a tree stump?

Keep your eye out for city workers or private tree companies taking down trees. Pull over, ask them if you an have a section of a branch if they’re big or the stump. Simple as that.

Call up places near you that sell firewood. They advertise a lot during this time of year so they’ll be easy to find. That’s what makes fall tree stump season!


I got my stump delivered with my yearly wood order.


HOW BIG SHOULD YOUR STUMP BE?

It depends if you want your table to be on legs or sit directly on the floor. I like the look of legs.
Your legs will be 6 inches high, so figure out how tall your stump needs to be for where you want to put it.

If your sofa has arms at 25″ and you want it to be around level with the arms, then you need a stump that’s 18″ tall.
My stump is 15″ across by 18″ high, with the 6″ legs it’s a total of 24″ high. This brings it to just below the arm of my sofa.

DRY IT
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.

Walnut tree stump with bark.

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.

Walnut tree stump with bark.


REMOVE THE BARK

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 and a 14′ length of prayer beads.

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 its own leaving you with a cruddy looking piece of crud as a table.

Removing bark from a tree stump by inserting a chisel between the bark and the wood and hammering.

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.

An array of chisels and a hammer sit on top of a debarked tree stump.

Now your stump is cleaned of its bark.

a debarked tree stump sits on a white tile floor.

When it’s dried out the stump might split a bit like this. That’s O.K. It adds character.


SAND IT
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 to sand it smooth.

3 sand paper blocks sit on top of a tree stump.

Get rid of all the hairs.

The side of a tree stump that shows little splinters.

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

Sanding the side of a tree stump using a sanding block.

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

Tree stump being wiped with a tack cloth to remove any sawdust.

A lot of wood dust will come off.

Cloth showing the amount of dark sawdust left on stump after sanding.

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

Karen Bertelsen lifts a heavy tree stump.

ATTACH THE LEGS

Get your pre-purchased legs. Like I said, mine are the Capita legs from Ikea which you can’t buy at Ikea anymore but they’ll have similar legs there. Or you can find the same sort of legs on Amazon.

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

Ikea capital legs for adding onto tree stump to make a 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.

Stainless steel legs positioned on underside of tree trunk to make a side table.
Use a measuring tape to make sure they’re an equal distance apart.

Using a yellow measuring tape to make sure table legs are spaced evenly.

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

Marking drill holes with a pencil onto wood stump.

Remove the legs and fit your drill with the appropriate sized drill bit.
Pre-drill holes at the spots you marked for the screws.

A stump is predrilled with holes for attaching legs.

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

Screwing legs into base of tree stump table.

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!

Ikea Capita legs affixed to bottom of tree stump table.


STAIN IT (OPTIONAL)

If there are any sections where you accidentally took too much of the wood off (it’s lighter underneath) 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 for this walnut stump.

A woman's hand holds up a small can of Minwax wood finish with a yellow label.

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. Again, the look and colour and grain will be different depending on what type of wood stump you’re working with.

Wiping a thin layer of stain over the side of a tree stump.

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.

SEAL IT
Now you have to seal all that hard work in.

How do you seal a tree stump?

To stop your stump from drying out even more and to keep it from getting marked on top when you put things down on it you should seal your tree stump.

You can use any wood sealer. If you want a completely natural look I’d recommend sealing it with Thompsons Water Seal which will give the look of having no finish on it at all. Just remember that Thompsons Water Seal is water based which means it can only go on natural wood or wood that has been stained with a water based stain.

I used an oil based Polyurethane to make my stump top as durable as possible. I tend to be a big spilly and bangy.

A small can of Minwax Plyurethane in clear satin, sits on a tree stump.

 

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

Natural bristle brush being held up by woman's hand.

Seal the whole stump.

Seal the top, sides and bottom of the stump 2-3 times.

Brushing finish onto a nearly completed tree trunk table on legs.

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

Finishing the top of a tree stump table, which will take several coats to seal because of the open grain.

 

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

A close up shot of the side of a tree stump table shows little hairs that were raised after sealing it.

Remember … just sand lightly.

Lightly sanding side of tree stump with a sanding block.

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. Seal the sides and underside again 1-2 more times according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Your stump may need up to 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.

A siamese cat sits on a Mongolian lamb covered chair next to a tree stump table with stainless steel legs.

Plus the table beside her.

Tree Trunk Table

Tree Trunk Table

Yield: 1 table
Prep Time: 1 month
Active Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 1 month 4 hours
Estimated Cost: $25

How to make a tree stump table.

Materials

  • Tree stump (your choice for size)
  • 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, 6" Capita legs from Ikea (or similar)

Tools

  • Drill

Instructions

Get your stump and allow it to dry out for at least a month. It will lose weight over this period and the bark will shrink away from the wood.

If you let your stump dry outside, as opposed to inside you'll still need to let it dry out inside for another couple of weeks to acclimatize it.

Once the stump has dried out remove the bark from it using a prybar and a hammer to chisel it away. Be careful not to gouge the wood stump.

If the bark is difficult to get off let it dry longer or carefully use a chisel with a hammer to remove it.

Sand your stump to get it smooth and then run over it with a tack cloth or damp cloth to remove any sawdust.

Flip the stump over so you're working on the underside of it and screw in the legs. Pre-drill your screw holes and make sure to measure so your legs are equal distances apart.

Stain and seal the table if desired.

Notes

If you want a very natural look to your stump, use a water based stain followed by Thompson's Water seal.

For optimal protection and a bit of a sheen on your stump use an oil based stain and a Polyurethane finish in satin.

Recommended Products

I'm an Amazon affiliate some I get a few cents when you buy something I've linked to.

The only drawback to this table? 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.

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

Stumped.  How to Make a Tree Stump Table

362 Comments

  1. 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?
    Thanks!
    jac

  2. 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?
    Thanks!
    Melissa

    • Andrea says:

      Wood take a reeeeeally reeeaally long time to dry out naturally. Years my farmer step-father tells me. Just an inch or two a year! I’m still waiting for mine to dry out too:(. My weekend project just extended by a few years:/

  3. [email protected] DIY Spot says:

    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!

  4. Samantha Adams says:

    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)

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.
    ;o)
    Diana

    • 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
      Diana

  9. 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
    Diana

    • 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

  10. 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!!

  11. 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 lookingfornicethings.wordpress.com
    keep up the awesome work

  12. 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.

  13. {darlene} says:

    Amazing project!
    stopping by from Nester. I love your writing style… and your taste! great post.
    -{darlene}
    fieldstonehilldesign.com

    • 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

  14. 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!

  15. Cherished Hearts Vintage says:

    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!

  16. Bromeliad says:

    Excellent tutorial. And the commentary is priceless.

  17. Jessi says:

    Love this!! Definitely going to try it!!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. anna see says:

    What a great tutorial! I LOVE this idea.

  21. 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!

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

  23. 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

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

  25. 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!

    Katie

    • 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

  26. 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

  27. 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!

  28. 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!!!

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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.

    Thanks!

    • 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! :)

  32. 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).

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Cheryl! My house didn’t look like *my* house until about 2 years ago either, so don’t sweat it. :) ~ karen

  33. 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.

  34. 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

  35. 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.

  36. Angela N says:

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

  37. 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!

  38. Alexandra Dare says:

    This is VERY cool, Karen. Superbly cool.

  39. sundeep @ designwali says:

    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

  40. 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 :)

  41. 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!

  42. 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

  43. Craig Lawrence says:

    Karen,
    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

  44. 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.

  45. mimi says:

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

  46. Rosalie says:

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

  47. 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:

        Karen:
        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

        • Guido C.Epelbaum says:

          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

        • Karen says:

          Hey Guido. Do you know how to attach a picture to an email? If you do … send the pics. to [email protected] If you don’t know how, let me know and I’ll walk you through it. ~ karen

        • michael cousin says:

          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:

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

      • 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!

  48. 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!)

  49. Laura says:

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

  50. 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!!!

          Ann

        • 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!

      • Robert Alsobrook says:

        You will see termites.

    • 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!

        • Andrew says:

          Also, the bark holds moisture that will lead to rot slowly and attracts bugs – or at least gives them a foothold to hide away from predators while they attack your stump from relative safety.

    • 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!

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