Make a stump table

How to put tree stumps to good—and stylish—use

By Catherine DohertyCatherine Doherty


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Wood kept in its natural form makes an inviting, textural addition to your cottage. A large hemlock on our property that was growing dangerously close to the hydro wires needed to be felled. As we cut the tree into firewood, we saved several 75-cm sections and transformed them into tables. Adding casters lets you roll the tables in or out as needed, providing extra surfaces when you’re feeding a large group or just having a snack by the fire. We actually built four: Two stayed at the cottage and we liked them so much that we made two more to bring home.


  • Log section, about 75 cm high and 45 cm in diameter
  • 4 locking casters
  • Screwdriver and 2″ deck screws
  • Water-based polyurethane finish
  • Chainsaw
  • Belt sander and 80-grit sandpaper
  • Level
  • Bristle brush
  • Plastic spray bottle

Step 1: Salvage

Find the fallen tree trunks. Local mills are also a source for uncut timber. Hemlock, maple, and many other woods work well.

Step 2: Cut

Using a chainsaw, cut a 75-cm section from the trunk. Try to make both cuts parallel and as smooth as possible. Let green logs dry, at least until they stop bleeding sap.

Step 3: Prepare the logs

Sand the top and bottom of each log, ideally with a belt sander, using 80-grit sandpaper. (Don’t worry about getting it too smooth—a bit of tex-ture looks better at the cottage.)

Step 4: Finishing

Once you have sanded your log so it’s level and smooth, apply two thin coats of water-based polyurethane to the top and bottom surface with a bristle brush. Using a spray bottle filled with water-based polyurethane, spray the sides of the log to seal and protect it. You will need at least three coats to get a good finish. Let the polyurethane dry completely between coats.

Step 5

Attaching the casters. Measuring 7 to 10 cm in from the outside bottom edge, mark four equally spaced locations for the locking casters. We used 2″ deck screws to secure them.


  • These logs can weigh in excess of 50 kg each, so when transporting them, grab a friend to share the work. You can also roll the logs onto an old tarpaulin to pull them from the bush.
  • If casters aren’t your thing and you’re sure you have found a permanent home for your table, sit it right on the floor (adding a few felt protectors to avoid scratches). Or screw pre-made wooden feet on the bot-tom of the log. These can be found, unfinished, at the local building centre and stained to match your cottage decor.
  • Customize your table by using a Dremel tool to engrave a monogram or a simple design on top before using polyurethane to seal it.
  • For a completely different look, skin the bark from the logs and stain them.

This article was originally published on July 12, 2005

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Apr. 8, 2013

5:23 pm

love these !! i have some inside and out on my deck

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