DIY Furniture Studio

The Easy Way to Make a Stump Coffee Table!

Making this live edge stump table was a challenging endeavor for me, but not how you might expect.  I decided to do minimal processing of the stump.  That meant no taking off the bark, no leveling with a router, and for the love of all things good–no sanding!  Yes, I almost blew it with the sanding.  I broke down and got the sander out.  But I needed a longer extension cord, and looking for it slowed me down just long enough to come to my senses.  So you understand, I would normally sand a stump like this for hours to get it flat and smooth.  But this time, I wanted to go in a different direction.

DIY Live Edge Stump Coffee Table with Bark and Painted Top.

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My piece of wood was from an ash tree.  Ash has spectacular prominent bark, but to my preference the wood grain is not as lovely.  This is one reason I decided to paint it, rather than sand and seal it with a clear coat as I usually do.  There are many types of wood I just wouldn’t be able to bring myself to paint.  But ash was okay.  The stump was about 24 inches diameter, a good size for a small coffee table or even a side table.  I decided also not to level the stump.  It varied in thickness from 4 12 inches thick on one side up to about 6 inches thick.  I just wanted to make this one easy.

I’ve had my tree slice for almost three years, drying in the garage on a shelf.  I picked it up from an ad on Craigslist.  It is now has a moisture content of about 15 percent (measured with a hand-held moisture meter.  This is fairly dry, but it will probably end up about 8-10 percent moisture in a year or two, and in that time I expect the wood to crack.  It may not, but it usually does.  Cracks in live edge furniture are expected and even celebrated.  And I also think the bark will fall off.  It may not, but it usually does.  That’s okay with me.  I covered these issues in detail in a previous project: Live Edge Tree Slice Side Table with Legs Made of Lamp Pipe. So for more info on wood, bark, leveling, drying, etc. go there.

I painted the top of the stump with primer first, then a light blue latex wall paint.  I then coated the entire stump with Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane (Spray), Clear Satin.  This polyurethane coat may help keep the bark on.  Bark tends to stay on certain kinds of tree wood as it dries, but not most types of wood.

I used 11 12 inch long Waddell Round Taper Table Legs.  These legs come in several different lengths, so you can choose a different length depending on how thick you tree slice is and the overall heights of your table.

Because my tree slice was not evenly thick, I decided to pair it with legs that I could easily cut to different lengths so that I could level the top of the coffee table.  To level the legs, I first installed the Waddell brand top plates on the underside of the tree slice.  Note that I used longer screws than what came with the top plates, but I don’t think this is necessary, just a preference.

I then screwed the Waddell brand tapered legs into the place as shown in the photo below.  Starting on the leg that needed to be the longest (the one at the thinnest part of the tree slice), I drew a line.  I leveled the level (haha) between this line on the first leg and one of the other legs, then drew a line on the second leg.  From there, I leveled the level from the line on the second leg and a third leg, then drew a line on the third leg.  I did the same between the line on the third leg and the last leg.

I cut the legs at the marked locations using a Stanely Deluxe Miter Box and Saw.

An alternate way to level the legs is to measure and mark all legs at the same inch mark (for instance 15 inch) on a measuring stick when the table is flat on the floor as shown in the photo below.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stain the legs blackish or reddish, so I tried two different stains on the wood part that I cut off the legs.

I decided to go with the reddish stain. Did I make the right decision? The stain is Varathane Gel Stain, Cabernet. After two coats of gel stain, I applied two coats of Minwax Wipe-On Poly, Clear Satin.

The last thing to do was screw the legs in the top plates.  The longest leg went in the top plate at the thinnest part of the tree slice, and the shortest leg went in the top plate at the highest part of the tree slice.  Then I put the remaining legs, which were almost the same length, in the remaining top plates. Done!


Thanks so much for joining me. Have a terrific day! Until next time,
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