DIY: Tree Stump Table

January 18, 2012

I’ve been hiding a secret diy project for the past few months. You see, these heavy pieces of oak here were a Christmas gift for my sweet Grams. My Grams (short for Grandma, of course) is very hip and cool. She noticed a few sleek stump tables in magazines and stores and wanted one for herself. I’d seen this tutorial and was eager to try the diy version myself. Grams also reads my blog, so I couldn’t show you anything during the process for fear of ruining the surprise! 

So, around the corner from our house happened to be a man with a giant oak tree and eventually, giant oak tree pieces. The tree got hit by lightening, I think. It was a magnificent tree. I walked over one day (with the dog, for cuteness factor) and purchased two stumps for 5 bucks a pop. The man tried not to let me see him laugh when I told him what I wanted to do. I went back later that day with the car and the stumps about weighed the whole trunk down. Here’s what I did to transform them.

First, hurry up and wait. I know, it’s hard. You need to wait for the stumps to dry out before you do anything. A cool, dark, dry place for a little over a month worked for me.

Second, take a screwdriver and a hammer and get to work. Fix the screwdriver into the crevice between the wood and the bark and gently work the bark away from the wood. Go slow at first, sometimes the bark is really easy and just flakes off. Other times, it holds on for dear life. Also, this will make a giant mess. I recommend doing it on an old sheet for easy cleanup.

There’s a layer of something that binds the bark to the wood – I’ll call it the connective tissue, (leftover knowledge from my high school anatomy class) that will slowly peel off in strings. See that stringy stuff beneath the screwdriver? It bothered me at first, but you can just leave it, you’ll get it in the next step.

Third, this is the fun part for you results-oriented folk. Allen helped with this step, using a circular sandpaper attachment on the drill to grind off the top layer of connective tissue and get down to the smooth wood. You can literally see it as it happens. In the photo above, you can see a distinct line above the sandpaper where he hadn’t gone over it yet. It was really neat to watch this part. Repeat the sanding process with a fine grit, and be sure to get all the nooks and crannies. The color of the wood will lighten dramatically.

And last, lacquer that baby up. We chose this thick, glossy lacquer and did two coats. You can also use regular polyurethane, just do a few more coats. It soaks in pretty quickly that first coat. Be careful of drippies around the top, they dry super fast. Also, I don’t recommend trying to hurry and finish a coat as it’s getting dark outside or else you won’t be able to see those drippies and you’ll have to live with them. Lesson learned.

And the finished product looks pretty neat, I think. The stump has all kinds of knots and bumps, which only gives it more character. So now Grams has a stump table and the Curtis Casa has a stump table. Now if I could just find the perfect place to put it…

Copyright Whitney Curtis 2010-2013

11 thoughts on “DIY: Tree Stump Table

  1. Anonymous

    Being the recipient of this beautiful “stump table”, I MUST say how happy and excited I am to have this surprise!!
    Cool to see it on the blog. Grams X

  2. Sean

    I’ve done the same project but instead of using a hammer and screwdriver to pull off the bark, I purchased an antique draw knife on ebay. I made that step much easier and gave me a way to shape the stump too. Love it!

  3. Pingback: My Studio | the curtis casa

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