How to finish a tree stump


DIY Tree Stump Table

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A step-by-step tutorial on how to create a DIY tree stump table, a budget-friendly end table!

When was the last time you went on a hike through the woods? 

As you follow the trail up the mountains, you feel energized, free and truly connected to your magnificent natural surroundings.

Without realizing it, you stepped away from your worries, daily stresses and doubts. 

I love adding that quiet, peaceful vibe to our home with natural design elements. That’s why I adore old homes with unique wood details – they bring in the organic beauty of the outdoors.

Lately, I have been seeing homes with tree stump coffee tables and my husband and I could not stop thinking about them – we had to make one! 

Or how about three? 

We could not choose – they were all unique pieces with gorgeous wood patterns. 

If you are wondering how to make a coffee table from a tree stump, this is our tutorial to DIY a tree stump table for any room in your home.

This is one of those projects that takes a while to finish, almost 4 months. The project involved lots of waiting/sanding/finishing and if you know me, you know I don’t like to wait. 

But it was worth every minute… just look at our masterpieces, amazing!

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links or referral links for your convenience. It is a way for this site to earn advertising commissions by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services, click here to read my full disclosure policy.

DIY TREE STUMP TABLE


MATERIALS:

  • tree stump
  • sandpaper (60, 120, & 220 grit)
  • 100% tung oil

TOOLS:

  • orbital sander
  • air compressor w/air blowing attachment
  • safety glasses
  • face mask (for dust)
  • ear protection

You can print the material list and instructions below.

STEP 1: FIND THE PERFECT TREE STUMP

This adventure sent us in search of a sawmill and, lucky for us, there was one near my parents’ house. 

And we found this lovely pile of wood stumps…

And after about an hour of careful selection, we came home with these three beauties – that’s right, we were going to attempt three separate projects!

STEP 2: LET IT SIT FOR A WHILE LONGER

Next, we let them dry out for over a month in our garage to let any moisture evaporate. 

STEP 3: CARVE TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT

After that long wait, we started to remove the bark and shape the stump to our liking.

This particular stump is so big that we had to use our longboard to move it.

STEP 4: SAND AWAY ROUGH EDGES

After chiseling away unwanted features, we sanded and sanded and sanded some more. We first used a 60 grit sandpaper, then 120, and finished it off with 220. And we went through a lot of sandpaper.

TIP: A belt sander would be beneficial when sanding the top and bottom of the stump because it will remove more wood quicker to give you a flat smooth surface.

But those stumps were baby smooth. Just look at the difference from the top photo to the photo below. Can you believe it’s the same stump?

STEP 5: REMOVE ANY REMAINING DEBRIS

After sanding the stumps, we then took an air compressor, with an air blowing attachment, and cleaned the stump by blowing air to remove the dirt.

But just to make sure we removed all the dirt we wiped the stumped down with a damp cloth.

STEP 5: ADD A PROTECTIVE FINISH

Now we were ready for the final touch, the finish. After a lot of research, we decided to use 100% Tung Oil. I plan on writing a post about the difference between poly and tung oil. The biggest difference is that tung oil penetrates into the wood making the grain color deeper. Here is a tutorial on how to apply tung oil to the wood.

After applying the tung oil, we again let the stump sit for about 3 weeks to make sure the oil penetrated into the wood. 

And here are two of our stumps, all finished – the last one is downstairs. See how the Tung Oil brings the color out in the wood and gives it a natural finish.

And here is our living room currently.

Try it for yourself – go and find your own tree stump and create a work of art that brings the outdoors to you.

UPDATE: We decided to add industrial style feet to our stump tables, check how to do that here.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Active Time 4 hours

Additional Time 1 month

Total Time 1 month 4 hours 10 minutes

Difficulty Easy

Estimated Cost $

Materials

  • tree stump
  • sandpaper (60, 120, & 220 grit)
  • 100% tung oil

Tools

  • orbital sander
  • air compressor with air attachment

Instructions

  1. Find the perfect tree stump.
  2. Let the stump dry out for a while.
  3. Remove bark and shape the stump to your liking.
  4. Sand the wood to remove rough edges and make it smooth.
  5. Clean the stump with an air attachment.
  6. Add a protective finish to the wood.

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How to Make a Tree Stump Table

SKIP TO HOW-TO

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! Fall sees a lot of firewood deliveries and trees coming down in storms which gives you, the intrepid reclaimer, easy access to tree trunks. Let's get started.

You can control the height of your table with the legs you choose for it.

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.

Stump tables, made out of tree trunks, are one part architectural piece, one part table, one part bugs. Don't worry. We'll get rid of the bugs.

The point is they aren't just a place to put your coffee, a stump table brings the outside in giving your room a cozy organic feel.

They can feel modern or completely hygge and organic. It depends on how you finish them.

DIY stump table made with tree trunk.

FYI! You can also use these as bases for a stump table with a glass top.

These two tree stump ideas are for using them indoors and no chain saws are involved.

I'll show you how to make an unfinished table that's similar to the famous Crate and Barrel tree stump table and a finished one that sits on tall legs.

First the finished stump table that's on legs.

Table of Contents

Materials
  1. Tree stump
  2. Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)
  3. Polyurethane (high gloss, semi-gloss, satin … whichever you want) I used satin which has just a nice sheen
  4. Paint brush
  5. 1 package of 4, 6" Capita legs from Ikea (these legs aren't available at Ikea anymore but they ARE available on Amazon. )
  6. 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 it 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.

Generally you're going to want a tall tree stump for this.

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.

Steps

Step 1 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.

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.


Step 2 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.

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.

Do not hack into yourself either. Wood chisels are sharp on all sides, not just the tips, so be careful.

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.


Step 3 - 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.

Start with the coarsest grit, gradually working your way to sanding the stump with the smoothest grit.

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. Keep wiping until your cloth comes away clean.

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

Step 4 - ATTACH THE LEGS

Get your pre-purchased legs. Like I said, mine are the Capita legs from Ikea which are soon to be discontinued. You can buy the exact Ikea Capita legs on Amazon though.


To make the end table more like the $900 Crate and Barrel one, ditch the long legs and use little bun feet like these instead. You'll also need a wider, more squat stump.


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

Whatever kind of legs you get make sure the height is adjustable like these are. Adjustable legs on the table means you can make sure it's level without having to squish up a folded up piece of paper. Or if you're a certain age and type - a book of matches.

Don't forget. Adjustable legs are the way to make sure your stump table is level.

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.


Pre-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!


Step 5 - STAIN & SEAL 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.

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.

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.

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 bit spilly and bangy.

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

Seal the whole stump.

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

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.

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're done.

Want to paint it?

If you're rather have a painted stump table, after sanding and wiping it apply a coat of primer. Once the primer has dried you can paint it with either water based or oil based paint.

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.

  • IKEA - CAPITA Leg

Unfinished stump table

This is pretty obvious, but if you'd rather make a more natural looking log side table, just skip adding stain and any finish to it.

For an even more organic look, leave the legs off of it.

To make one just find a log, let it dry out, then sand it smooth.

What types of wood can you use to make a stump table?

Wood from deciduous trees: Ash, black walnut, birch, cypress, cherry, elm, maple and oak are all good choices.

You should AVOID conifers. Those trees that have resin that are a sticky mess. Trees like cedar, fir, juniper, pine, redwood, spruce, yew, larch should not be used. (think of how sticky the bottom of a Christmas tree is after cutting it)

The only drawback to these tables? Everyone is going to want you to make them one. So you can either start a blog, get a following, contemplate quitting, keep at it, and then one day write a post about how to build a stump table that you can tell them about.

Or you can just skip all that and direct them to this post instead.

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

we create a coffee table from a stump with our own hands - INMYROOM

Interior decor

Eco-style furniture is incredibly popular, but very expensive. In our master class, we will tell you in detail how to make a trendy table from a stump with your own hands for a minimum of funds

Nowadays, eco-style furniture and decor are becoming increasingly popular. Natural materials are used in the interiors of ultra-modern houses and apartments, but such decorative elements are very expensive.

For example, the cost of famous Ullat tables and cabinets from Bleu Nature in Moscow reaches up to $2,000. funds.

The first step is to find a suitable stump. It's not that hard to get it.

  • Ask the owners of country houses you know - they may have left whole parts of the tree for firewood.
  • There are many firewood companies, you can ask them
  • Finally, you can go to the nearest forest with a saw, select a well-preserved fallen tree and cut it.

If the stump is very fresh, you will have to wait until it dries. This may take a couple of months. Place the stump in a dry room, lifting it up with stands. If you are sure that your stump has been a green tree for a long time, you can skip this step. If the bark easily moves away from the trunk, the stump is ready for processing.

Carefully remove the bark from the stump using a chisel, pry bar or chisel.

Now we need to align our future table.

Brush off dust and debris from the floor and use a spirit level to find a level area. Then install the stump on this area and use the same level to check how even it is.

If the surface is curved, smooth it out with a plane - just grind off the protruding edge.

After this, the surface should be smoothed by removing the traces of the planer with a grinder or coarse-grained sandpaper.

After the cut is sufficiently even and smooth, put the barrel on its side and start sanding.

The easiest and fastest way is to use a disc sander, in extreme cases you can get by with a normal sandpaper, but it will take much more time and effort.

After processing the side surfaces, it is necessary to clean the cracks from dirt and dust.

It's great if your stump has an imperfect, interesting texture created by knots and cracks. Use a chisel or chisel to gently scrape away any remaining dirt from the stump without damaging the wood structure.

Fold up a piece of sandpaper and carefully sand the inside of the cracks. Then clean the cracks from dust and dust with a vacuum cleaner.

It's time to put the stump back on its feet!

In our example, these special furniture stands are used. You can use any other or, for example, furniture wheels.

There are two reasons to use such "legs":

1) it will protect your floor from scratches;

2) by lifting the stump off the ground, you create air circulation, which will not allow your table to rot.

Now our future table is ready for varnishing.

This example uses Minwax's Polycrylic. In Russia, such protective coatings are also called scuba diving. You can use any water-based varnish suitable for woodworking, and the color will depend on your preference: you can whiten your table or, conversely, paint it in a coffee shade. Our master heroes have chosen a natural transparent tone.

However, after applying the first coat, the surface still darkened a little.

After applying the first layer, let our stump dry for at least half an hour (the time depends on your varnish, pay attention to the label). After that, you need to go over the entire surface with fine-grained sandpaper (our heroes use grit 320).

Sanding is a very important part for the final result. Before this, it is necessary to carefully remove all dust so that subsequent layers lie more evenly.

For a good result, you must apply at least 4 coats of lacquer. It sounds laborious, but it is the first layer that takes the most time, after which things will go much faster. After the last layer, leave the stump to dry without sanding it.

Almost done! But pay attention to this brilliance.

It does not look very modern and is more suitable for the interior of a summer house. The final polishing will help to get rid of the shine and give our table a finished look. Our heroes use a soft abrasive fiber (NShM - non-woven grinding material). You can find a similar one at a hardware store, or you can use any other polishing material.

Our table is finally ready to be used for its intended purpose.

These are the tables you can get using white aqua varnish in several layers.

And of course, no one forbids painting the stump in the desired color after applying a primer or primer to get, for example, such an ultra-modern table.

Stump in an apartment as an interior element, ideas of application

Contents

  • 1 Folk beliefs in the spirit of the forest
  • 2 The meaning of the word "stump"
  • 3 What are interesting and convenient stumps in the interior
  • 4 Stump tables
  • 5 Sit on a stump
  • 6 Stumps in the interior, assembled into a set
  • 7 Stump in the apartment for decorating a bedroom
  • 8 How to process a stump for the interior yourself, step by step instructions
  • 0 10 If there is no forest nearby

For the last 10 years, designers have been insistently suggesting adherence to eco-styles. This includes decoration with natural materials, and original solutions in filling the interior. No one is surprised by a stump in an apartment - more and more stumps and stumps are found as independent furnishings. Scandinavian style, adirondack and other similar styles easily accept the use of stumps in interior design.

Folk beliefs in the spirit of the forest

Archaic ethno-cultural traditions have preserved beliefs that spirits live in trees. If a tree is cut down, then the spirit moves to the stump and appears with him in the dwellings as a householder.

In some fairy tales it is said about the transformation of a tree stump into a man - into a boy who later became a hero, or into an assistant protector.

The stump is credited with the ability to unite with the other world, explaining the location under the stump of the lower world. The fairy tales also mention burrows, going down which they get into "residences, like ours." Many people believe that the stump predicts the fate of a person, and perform special rituals that appease the forest spirit.

Meaning of the word “stump”

A stump is a tree stump with roots or the lower part of a tree, and a block or block is a log stump. In the North Russian dialect, a deck is a tree with roots, and a deck is a lying thick tree.

Sometimes there is a designation of a dugout hive or a well with a deck. In the Russian dialect, the designations of a stump and a deck are combined in the designation of a windfall, a well.

These concepts are compared with the images and behavior of people: if a person does work with negligence, then this means that through a stump-deck; and if this person is slow and inept at work, then he knocks through a stump-deck;

Both the stump and the log are traditionally attributed human traits, therefore a stupid or insensible person, as well as a blockhead, a dullard, a fool are called a log, a block or a stump. And in children's games there is a driver - a stump. A deck is called a lying, clumsy person.

What the signs say:

A sick person is seated on a fresh aspen stump, which will take away the disease.

Fever will go away if cut nails and hair are hidden in aspen stump.

Why stumps are interesting and convenient in the interior

A real stump in an apartment is a fashionable and affordable novelty from designers. These can be tables on wheels, stools with soft seats or painted with colored paints, cabinets and bedside tables.

However, introducing hemp into the interior is not so easy - first you need to find a suitable option without rot, then process and dry it to drive out insects, which will take time. The result is inexpensive, environmentally friendly and durable furniture, with warmth and appearance reminiscent of nature.

Stump tables

Manufacturers-carpenters have mastered the production of popular fashion options, and stumps in the interior appeared in the form of small tables that do not take up much space. Such a table is placed near the sofa or armchair. It will fit a magazine, a book, a remote control, a cup of coffee and other necessary items.

Another option for a coffee table is a large stump or make 3-5 smaller stumps. Such a table turns out to be interesting, prominent and original. The living room with "hemp" furniture will become cozy and warm. To turn the stump into a mobile object, strong and reliable wheels are attached from below.

An elegant table for a fashionable living room is obtained from a squat tree stump by attaching a round glass top to the top.

A cedar stump with organic resin is used to make a coffee table - a decoration of the room. There are interesting models painted in bright or muted colors, or with applied patterns.

Let's sit down on a tree stump

Stump stools in the room are reminiscent of forest picnics with a fire and shish kebabs. Now these are fashionable pieces of furniture in rustic, loft and other similar styles.

Stools are decorated with soft decorative pillows and painted. If you make a back, you get a designer chair, and adding armrests will turn the chair into a chair. Original benches or sofas are made from the deck, which will fit into the city hallway.

Stumps in the interior, collected in a set

To make a set, stumps are selected that differ in height and diameter. It is permissible to put together stumps of different tree species or painted in harmonizing colors.

Such headsets will fit into a classic interior, country style, grunge style, minimalism or industrial style. Stumps painted with glossy and metallic shades are relevant for high-tech style.

An interesting stand for wine bottles is easy to make by yourself, you will get an author's piece of decor. Carefully clean the deck and prepare the cells, then varnish. If you cut square openings in a curved log, you get an original rack - whatnot.

Stump in the apartment to decorate the bedroom

It is unusual in the bedroom without a bedside table. Here, too, a stump will become an original and fashionable solution. They put such a bedside table on wheels, paint it, cut a hole in the center - there are a lot of ideas. It is useful that items that are superfluous next to the place to sleep will not fit in such a bedside table.

A piece of log makes flower stands, which looks beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. If you make a recess inside the cut and apply glossy paint, you get candlesticks that will decorate the room.

How to process a stump for the interior yourself, step-by-step instructions

It is easy to make a fashionable thing out of a stump, which neither your friends nor your neighbors have.

To make a table or stool, you should first look for a suitable dry block or stump with roots, and ask about the processing rules. Untreated material cannot be placed in the room.

Cut off the excess and treat the workpiece with an insect repellent.

Masters advise to remove the bark, otherwise after drying it will crumble, leaving debris, or it will hurt your hand. Remove with a chisel or chisel, tapping with a hammer.

If the bark does not come off, such a blank is dried for 1-2 months, leaving it in a dry and warm room.

If the stump in the apartment is intended for a table or stand, the surface is leveled with a planer, checking the level.

The saw cuts and sides are sanded with sandpaper or with a grinder until smooth, then the dust is removed.

The stump must then be primed, but if necessary impregnated with a water-repellent impregnation.

Can be painted or patterned as desired.

2-3 coats of wood varnish are applied over the top. Lacquer is chosen with a water base.

Polish with a soft abrasive cloth.

Author's ideas

If you make an effort, you can make stylish interior elements from a seemingly unnecessary stump or trimming a log.

A piece of wood with bark makes an interesting vase. LED bulbs are inserted inside the empty stump-table, and the table also becomes a lamp. The wall looks original if you paste over it with round saw cuts of a tree trunk.

If there is no forest nearby

Where there is nowhere to get a stump, a skillful forgery is made. For example, Kalon Studios has released a novelty - even stumps in the interior, similar to teeth glued from pieces.


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