Behold the tree stump table. I really enjoy making this table - so much, in fact, that this is the third one I've made! I originally made one for myself, then for my awesomely talented sister-in-law and brother, and finally one for my parents. This is a fairly easy DIY project (if a little time consuming), but one where you feel pretty accomplished when you're done. In other words, it's a huge payoff for not a ton of work.
Anyway, as soon as I saw this post on The Art of Doing Stuff blog, I immediately wanted to make one of my own. I loved the rustic meets modern quality of it, and I was even more sold when I realized how inexpensive it was to make.
The materials you need are:
1) a tree stump (hopefully free)
2) hammer, screwdriver, prybar and/or wood chisels
4) table legs (a set of 4 Capita legs from Ikea is $10-$14 depending on the size you choose - they have 4", 6" and 8" tall legs)
5) wood stain & polyurethane
So, this project can potentially be as cheap as $10-$14 if you have most of the supplies already, like I did. Not too shabby, considering the West Elm tree trunk side table is $199, and many other versions are significantly more.
Anyway, this is what you start with:
And here are the steps:
1) Secure a tree stump. You may live somewhere where there are tree stumps readily available - if not, you may want to try calling a local tree trimming company or go to a firewood lot to see if you can get stumps through them. I was lucky enough to find a stump on the side of the road near my house where a large tree had recently been cut down. I also recently went to Lake Tahoe, and there were tree stumps all over the place.
Anyway, find a tree stump in any size you want. I was looking for stumps that were roughly 16-18 inches tall and around 15 inches in diameter. The most important part of choosing a stump is getting one that is perfectly flat on both sides - you don't want to have a leaning or uneven table surface.
Once you have your stump, let it dry out for at least a month. This will make it much lighter, and loosen the bark a bit.
2) Remove the bark. I used a combination of on old screwdriver, a prybar, and a hammer. This is by far the most time consuming step, since the bark can be pretty stubborn. The goal is to only remove the layer of bark - avoid cutting into the wood or gouging the surface as much as possible.
3) Sand the stump. Once you've removed all of the bark, you need to sand the entire surface with various sandpaper grits to remove the hairs & to create a smooth surface. When you're finished sanding, wipe down the stump with a slightly damp towel to remove the dust.
4) Attach the table legs. I used the 8" Capita legs from Ikea, but there are lots of options out there. And, depending on how tall your stump is, you may want to attach the 4" or 6" legs instead of the 8".
At this point, make sure to mark where you're going to drill and attach the legs. I attached 3 legs, but depending on how big your stump is, or your preference, you can attach 4 legs as well. Just make sure to measure & evenly space them on the stump surface so that the table has nice balance.
5) Add stain and polyurethane to your stump. The stain is totally optional - if you like the natural tone of your stump, you can go right ahead and start adding the coats of polyurethane (or a water-based polycrylic). If you do want to add stain, evenly apply it with a paper towel like so.
Here is the stump after 2 coats of stain (after waiting the suggested drying time between coats):
Note: as you can see above, this particular stump had some interesting patterns left by worms on it. I thought the patterns looked kind of cool, so I kept them, but they can easily be sanded off if you find something similar and don't like them. Just to be clear, though, the other stumps I made tables out of did not have these patterns on them.
Anyway, once the stain dries, you can start applying coats of the polyurethane. I used Minwax Fast-Drying Satin Finish polyurethane.
6) Follow with additional coats of poly. After your first coat dries, lightly sand over the stump with fine grit sand paper to get rid of any small bumps or rough patches before proceeding with additional coats. You will probably need 3-4 coats on the sides of the stump, and 6 or so on the top, since it soaks into the open grain more. Make sure to follow the directions on the can and wait the recommended time between coats.
Once you've completed all of your coats, you're done! You can sit back and admire your very own tree stump side table!
All in all, I really love these tree stump tables. I think they totally add a bit of quirk and rusticity to any space.