DIY Décor: Tree Stump Side Table

Posted by: on May 4th, 2012 | 18 Comments
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tree stump side table DIY project completed

 

Scrolling through design blogs and flipping through my go-to furniture glossies, I noticed a trend: natural pieces of wood being used as furniture, especially tree stump side tables. I love bringing the outside indoors–so ,of course, my wheels were spinning. My mind went to one place: I can do that for a fraction of the price with just a few items from The Home Depot. The result was this perky little side table that actually did get people talking at a recent dinner party.

 

Items needed to make a DIY tree stump table
Here’s what you’ll need for this tree stump side table project:

 

 

 

The most important element in this DIY tree stump side table project is finding the right stump. I found mine on Craigslist from a sweet young couple who decided to give away wood from an over 100-year-old tree in their yard that had to come down.

Avoid softer woods, such as pine, to avoid the possibility of the stump eventually rotting. And choose a piece that is as straight as possible on the top and bottom. But if you have a wickedly crooked stump that you just love, you can cut it straight.

The longer your stump has had to dry, the better, especially if you do choose to use a soft wood. But even a hardwood piece needs to be thoroughly cured before you start. If the piece of wood has been kept outside, allow it to dry indoors for several weeks. Don’t be surprised if some random animals crawl out. (If they don’t crawl out, you will seal them in, don’t worry.)

Pry bark off the tree stump.

 

Step 1: Pry the bark off of the stump with the prybar, taking care not to cut too far into the wood. If the bark is particularly stubborn, you might need to break out a wood chisel, which you’ll need to employ with an especially light touch so as not to gouge the wood. 

 

Various grits of sandpaper

 

Step 2: Sand the stump with a few grits of sandpaper, starting with the roughest and moving to the finest.

 

Sanding a tree stump

 

Step 3: You’ll want to sand until you have minimal “hairs” sticking out of the wood. This part took me over an hour. It’s definitely the most labor-intensive portion of the project. Those little extraneous fibers will make staining and sealing the wood more difficult and the final product won’t be so aesthetically pleasing. 

However, you could sand and sand all day, and you won’t be able eliminate all these fibers! You will need to stop sanding at some point. 

 

 

Wipe the tree stump with a cloth

 

Step 4: When you’re done sanding, wipe the stump clean with a damp cloth.

 

Attaching legs to a tree stump side table

 

Step 5: Figure out which end you want to be the top and flip your stump over to attach the legs. Measure out the location of your legs to get them equidistant from each other and as far apart as possible. Mark the holes with a permanent marker.

 

Screw furniture legs into the stump

 

Step 6: Screw the legs in according to the package directions. You may need to drill holes for the screws first.

 

Stabilize the tree stump

 

Step 7: Flip your gorgeous stump over to be sure it is stable. Screw the legs up or down to ensure that the top is flat and the table is strong.

 

Stain the tree stump

 

Step 8: Stain the stump, allow it to dry, then seal with polyurethane.  I did two coats of each, which meant waiting overnight for the project to be complete. (Yes, it was hard to be patient—but you can do it.)

 

The final tree stump side table

 

Experiment with various locations for your tree stump side table. Maybe it will be functional as a perch for drinks next to the sofa? I think it looks particularly adorable next to a bed that has a standing lamp. Sit back and revel in the fact that you created a funky, trendy piece for a fraction of the price you’d pay in a furniture boutique–and you also brought a little piece of the outdoors inside.

Check out more DIY projects here on The Home Depot Blog.

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  1. Nelly says:

    I have a tree stump but it’s pretty uneven. I don’t think a wood planer will do the trick. Can I bring it in to a Home Depot to get it cut?

    • Craig Allen says:

      If the stump is “pretty uneven”, I’m thinking a wood planer would do the trick. Planers mostly need a smoother surface than a stump would present.

      So, cutting a slice off the stump would be a more likely solution.

      A Home Depot store might be able to cut the stump for you, but I’m not in a position to say for sure– depending on the size of the stump, etc. But ask an associate at your local Home Depot store. If they can do it, they will. I’ll bet the associates would have fun doing it, too!

      –Craig, from The Home Depot

  2. Orit says:

    Hi everyone, My stump is 15in in diameter and 15 in height. I don’t know what type of wood it is. Will the metal table legs be sturdy enough…the stump is extremely heavy?

    • Craig Allen says:

      Screw in table legs are pretty sturdy, depending on which ones you use, of course. I don’t know how much your stump weighs, but I’m sure most such table legs can handle the load. If you’re really worried about it, choose a shorter leg.

      –Craig, from The Home Depot

  3. Russ smith says:

    I just want that small bracket without the whole table leg? I am putting a similar design under some 21 x 3 foot 4″ thick OG Douglas Fir Restraunt Communal tables and need that bracket to add washers as needed to level the boards up and down slightly because the table is not planed or milled just sanded with original patina.

    • Craig Allen says:

      Russ, I think you’re looking for a top plate– a bracket you attach to the bottom of a table top or chair take screw-in legs. There are a few different kinds of these hardware pieces, and I’m sure there something of this nature that will do the job your describing. Ask an associate at your nearest Home Depot store to show you what’s available.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  4. Ragan says:

    Great article and I love the look! So is cedar out of the question as a softwood? I had one come down in my yard… and I’m curious why you’re recommending against the softwood?

    Thanks!

    • Craig Allen says:

      Hi, Ragan.

      Laura says her recommendation not to use soft wood was mostly to avoid having your beautiful stump side table eventually rot away. She reckons cedar would probably work just fine for this type of project, but you should give it extra time indoors in a dry place to dry out before you seal it. That might be a month or even longer. Pine, or other soft woods should get the same extra careful curing, she says.

      (Laura is no longer writing for the Apron blog, I am sad to say. But we’re still in touch, and I think she’d be happy to answer any more questions that might come up on the projects and articles she did for the Apron blog.)

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  5. Elizabeth Kuper says:

    This looks great! I already in the process of the second part of the process. I do want to know what the legs in the picture are called; I followed the link to the Home Depot site and none if the legs that come up are similar to the ones in the example. Please advise!
    Thank you!

  6. LToss says:

    Great idea, thanks!!

  7. Elida says:

    My first visit! Inspiring.
    Thank you.

  8. We already have some wonderful tree stumps in the garden for chairs. and would love to show this on our nature and Outdoor education and Gardening site, GardenGreenAngels.com. What fun families and students could have making this project. It is recycling at its best.

    • I’d love it if you shared this story on your site, Garden Green Angels! (We just ask that you give proper credit, of course.) Thanks for sharing the recycling message.