The wood for stump tables is affordable (usually free!). In this post I’ll show you some low-cost, easy-to-make DIY furniture leg options for your stump table. Of course, the legs can be used in other furniture projects, too!
I don’t have that much carpentry experience, and I’ll tell you a secret–I’m not sure I want too much. What I mean is, if a furniture piece involves a compound miter saw and a table saw, lots of angled cuts, a long cut list (or any cut list), a pneumatic nailer, or generally something complex, it probably isn’t the project for me. I admire fellow bloggers who can whip out a big farmhouse table or something similar. But for many types of furniture builds, I like looking but not doing. Are any of you in this situation?
So I stick to what I like to look at and what I like to make. A simple type of side table is made of a table top and stand alone furniture legs. One of my favorite styles is called “live edge” where the natural edge of a tree is incorporated into the furniture or decor piece as a design element. Enter the stump table. Simple tree slice stump tables are easy to make and the rewards are huge!
In a previous project, Live Edge Tree Slide Side Table with Legs made of Lamp Pipe, I went into detail about choosing wood, drying, removing bark, leveling tree slices with a router, and more. If you want additional info, check out that link. I won’t go into as much detail here.
I picked up my piece of wood for this project from an ad on Craigslist. It is from a sweet gum tree. Before I got this wood, I had not heard of the sweet gum tree. When I was driving home with it, I started smelling something. I thought maybe I walked through something flowery while getting the wood. Later, sleuthing on the net to identify the wood, I realized the sweet smell was the wood! Perfect! Sweet gum wood is a pleasant reddish brown color, and it has a subtle grain pattern. Very pretty!
- dust mask
- belt sander
- hand sander
- Minwax Polyurethane, clear satin (or other finish to your liking)
- paint brush
To process the wood, I took the bark off with a chisel and hammer, then sanded the top flat with a belt sander. I didn’t level the bottom. It was fairly level, though, and I decided to fiddle with the legs to level the side table, if needed.
I did finish sanding with a palm sander and by hand. I usually start with 80 grit coarse sandpaper and then a medium grit sandpaper (100 or 120), then fine sandpaper, usually 220 grit. You can sand as little or as much as you want to.
I coated the wood with Minwax Polyurethane, Clear Satin.
The three legs featured here are designed to work with standard 5⁄16-18 inch mounting plates, often called top plates. Waddell brand top plates are widely available (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, Amazon, etc.) and are designed for attaching legs to furniture. They come in a “straight” version for legs that are positioned perpendicular to the floor and an “angled” version if you want the legs at an angle.
Carriage Bolt and Hex Nut Legs
These legs are a snap to make and, although literally are made of nuts and bolts, can be elegant–glimmering and shimmering in changing sunlight.
- 5⁄16-18 carriage bolt (choose length)
- 5⁄16-18 hex nuts
To make these, screw the nuts onto the carriage bolts, leaving about a quarter inch of the thread at the end to screw into the mounting plate. I used 20 hex nuts for each of my 6-inch carriage bolts. You can buy the hex nuts in bulk packages (usually 96 or 100 count) for under $3. I bought mine at Menards. My 6-inch carriage bolts were about 50 cents each, also from Menard’s. There is a wide range of prices for hex nuts and carriage bolts depending on the package quantity and type of metal they are made of, but I went the cheapest route. Also, 5⁄16” carriage bolts are commonly available at big box home improvement stores in lengths up to 6 inches. I have seen lengths up to 10 inches as special order items (e.g., Bolt Depot).
Threaded Rod and Hex Coupling Nut Legs
These threaded rod legs are simple to make and can be personalized with your choice of washi tape color used to cover the threads.
- 5⁄16 inch threaded rods (choose length)
- washi tape
- hex coupling nuts
Threaded rods are metal rods of a specified length that are threaded the entire length. I used 12″ threaded rods for these legs (5⁄16-18 threads) which I bought at Home Depot for a little over $1 each. Threaded rods come in several standard lengths that can be used as-is, or you can cut a longer rod to a certain length to fit your needs. I would recommend this type of leg be used only in light duty applications because the threaded rods are not completely rigid and at 5⁄16 inch diameter are thin for furniture legs. I definitely wouldn’t use these legs for anything that anyone will be sitting on. (FYI, my side table weighs about 15 lbs and the table is stable. But I’m not going to let my kids sit on it. They’re teenagers.)
I covered the threaded rod with black washi tape. Washi tape is available at stores such as Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Target. Mine is MT brand, bought on Amazon. I used less than one roll of the tape for my three legs.
After covering with washi tape, I screwed 5⁄16-18 hex coupling nuts on the ends of the threaded rods as sort of quirky feet. The coupling nuts can also function as levelers by adjusting how far on to the threaded rod they are screwed. I bought a package of three coupling nuts at Home Depot for about $1.50.
Modified Waddell Mid-Century Modern Tapered Legs
Check out my previous post, A Chic Makeover for Waddell Brand Mid-Century Modern Tapered Furniture Legs, for details on how I modified Waddell brand wooden tapered legs. Of course, you can use the Waddell tapered leg as-is with the foot–or cut them off like I did, leaving the ferrule. The Waddell legs are sold unfinished, waiting for you to do your creative magic with paint or stain!
ATTACHING THE LEGS
Each of these three DIY legs has a 5⁄16-18 inch thread that can be screwed to furniture using a top plate. Waddell brand top plates are widely available. In addition to Waddell top plates, I have used a heavier top plate for attaching sofa legs: Industrial Strength Leg Attachment Plates (set of 4) sold by Industrial by Design on Amazon. They are impressive if you are looking for something heavy-duty.
Because the wood of stump tables is commonly irregularly shaped, it can take a few tries installing the top plates to be happy with the placement of the legs. I marked the location of the top plate screw pilot holes, installed the screws, and screwed the legs in the center 5⁄16-18 threaded hole of each top plate. I repositioned the top plates a few more times until I thought the leg placement looked good.
THE CEMENT DECOR
In case you are wondering, you can make the cement decor shown in the photos, too!
See Hand-Formed Cement (Over Glass) Vases for this vase.
See Using Latex Paint to Tint DIY Cement Decor for the colored bowl.
As you can see, you can change the look of your live edge table with your choice of legs and now you have three new low-cost easy-to-make leg options! Here are some more photos!
Carriage Bolt and Hex Nut Legs
Threaded Rod and Washi Tape Legs
Modified Waddell Brand Mid-Century Modern Legs
And the cement decor…
You see, making furniture really can be easy! Stop by again for more DIY adventures.