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.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A tree stump
Various grits of sandpaper
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.)
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.
Step 2: Sand the stump with a few grits of sandpaper, starting with the roughest and moving to the finest.
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.
Step 4: When you’re done sanding, wipe the stump clean with a damp cloth.
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.
Step 6: Screw the legs in according to the package directions. You may need to drill holes for the screws first.
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.
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.)
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.