Friday, May 6, 2011

Tree Stump Table

What's better than a good deal or a cheap DIY project? A free project! I absolutely love making things for FREE with stuff I already have around the house. Especially if it's something that looks expensive and that you want to display proudly.

Today's it's a pottery barn knock-off. I've wanted these tree stump tables since I first saw them in the catalog a few years ago. But $200?? No thank you!

Since then, I've seen other versions of this table popping up all over the interwebs. West Elm has their version:

Others bloggers have being making their own too. The Nester decided to keep the bark(a neat look as long as your bark doesn't start falling off) of the tree limb of the tree that fell in her yard. Read more about how she made hers here.

And she added casters to it, because I'm pretty sure hers it a lot heavier than mine(it's larger and greener since mine has been drying out for 2 years).

Or add a glossy stain and modern legs like this girl:

If I remember correctly, the Pottery Barn catalog said it was imported Brazilian wood. Well, I happen to think it's way cooler to have local wood from your very own yard!

Enter the black walnut.

The bark look like this:

But after sitting for two years, it had completely separated from the wood, making my job of removing it much easier. In fact, I pulled it off by hand before even carrying it to the house(because of the bugs living between the bark and wood. better to get those out now). I picked a kinda skinny one so I could carry it by myself. It's about 30 lbs.

After the bark was off, it looked like this:

The dark center is what makes black walnut black walnut.

I don't have any "in progress" photos, but it's a pretty simple explanation: just sand the heck out of it.

I have this palm sander that I bought for about $40 at Lowes.

I use it ALL THE TIME, but have never used any of the attachments(which was why I bought this model). I find that when refinishing furniture, you have to apply more pressure than you can with an attachment sticking out the end. I always revert to a finger and sandpaper, and good old fashion elbow grease for tight grooves. I would buy a better brand with less attachments if I could do it over. This one heats up over a lot of use and you have to give it(and your hand) a break.

So anyway, I used the course grit sandpaper pad(60 grit I think) and sanded for about 2 hours. The hardest part was getting the chain saw grooves off the top. The wood it a lot harder in the cross section than on the sides.

And either the wood has natural variations or I didn't sand enough on one side, but half came out blonde, and half came out brown. I tried really hard to even it out, so I'm pretty sure it just the color the wood is going to be. We don't get to have ALL the control in situations like this. Just embrace it.

To get the wood smooth, always use a finishing sandpaper that's 250 to 350 grit.

I didn't want shiny wood, so I used about 4 coats of Tung Oil. It finishes and protects the wood but doesn't sit on the surface and look shiny or fake.

The finished blonde side:

The finished brown side:

The top:

Here it is parked next to my thrift store chair:

I can't wait to get in on "hard wood" floors in our future lofty apartment! I just love it. The top isn't flat because I couldn't recut it by myself. But a glass can still sit on top just fine. That may be something I fix later if it bothers me.


  1. haha. i had one of these 'in progress' and you inspired me to go ahead and finish. love it.

    -cousin laura

  2. I love this idea and I think it is so great to recycle and use what you have, good ole native wood!! this is absolutely beautiful!!

  3. I wish you knew the difference between a stump and a log.

  4. I do, actually. But "Log Table" or "Partial Tree Trunk Table" don't exactly have a nice ring to it. "Tree Stump Table" is how it is referred to in retail land and also the more commonly searched term on google.



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