Handmade Tree Stump Side Table

3 years ago

I’ve had this stump for a while now, and it actually started as a rustic side table with modern legs. It was beautiful, but I was ready for a change. And I have to admit, I was pretty curious what the wood looked like under all that bark. If you salvage yourself a tree stump and you own all your own tools, you can actually complete this project and create a stunning piece of furniture for under $30. It’s a pretty incredible transformation, considering the fact that side tables like this sell in stores for over $200!

You’ll want to find a tree stump that has had a long time to dry out, the longer the better. The longer you let the wood dry, the more beautiful deep cracks will grow on the surface of the stump, and the easier it will be to remove the bark.


The exact side table I made requires the following supplies:

  • a dry tree stump
  • crowbar and hammer
  • hand planer
  • orbital hand sander
  • 2 block sanders (fine and extra fine)
  • 2 cans wood stain (natural and gray)
  • 1 can high-gloss polyurethane
  • 2 paintbrushes
  • 1 package nail-on or adjustable leveler glides

  1. Carefully remove all the bark and dead material from the stump. Use the crowbar, as necessary, being careful not to score or scratch the soft wood underneath.
  2. With the stump flat on the ground, level the surface with a hand planer (if you don’t have a planer and want to sip this step, simply make any leveling adjustments by purchasing adjustable leveler glides for the bottom of the stump).
  3. Using the orbital sander and a coarse sanding pad, smooth out the surface of the stump and exaggerate any deep grooves on the sides.
  4. Switch to a medium-grit sanding pad and continue to smooth out the surface and sides of the stump. Take the time to pass over the stump several times, ensuring that all rough spots and remaining bark are cleared away.
  5. Switch to a fine-grit pad and sand the entire surface of the stump again.
  6. Using the fine and extra-fine block hand sanders, smooth over the entire surface of the wood. Take the time to sand each gap and split in the stump.
  7. Using a shop vacuum or air compressor, clear all the sawdust from the surface and any that has packed into the deep grooves. Wipe the stump down with a damp cloth to prepare for staining.
  8. Mix one part natural wood stain with one part gray wood stain and apply a thin coat to the entire stump; be sure to allow the stain to seep into all the cracks and crevices on the surface of the wood. Repeat this step once more, only on the top surface of the stump, then wipe away any excess with a cloth and allow to dry overnight.
  9. Once the stump is completely dry, use the orbital sander and a fine-grit sanding pad over the entire surface of the stump. Take extra time to sand the top surface, until you start to see the natural wood color appear through the dark gray rings and cracks.
  10. Again, clear all the sawdust from the surface of the stump and apply three coats of high gloss polyurethane, allowing each coat to seep into the groves and completely dry before applying the next. Lightly buff the surface of the wood with the extra-fine-grain sanding block just prior to applying each new coat.
  11. After 24 hours, flip the stump and secure the foot gliders in place. Flip upright, and enjoy your new side table!

You can opt to not stain the wood at all and only use the clear gloss sealant; however, the gray stain layering and sanding process is what will give the stump its dark ring, petrified wood look.

See this beauty in action on my patio, acting as a table for drinks, a stool for extra seating and an ottoman as the occasions arise.

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