How to Make a Tree Stump Coffee Table – hey, it’s free!

I was out for my morning run, and I saw the world's most beautiful tree stump. Well, maybe West Palm Beach's most beautiful tree stump! A neighbor had just cut down a large dead tree, and the pieces of wood were piled high on the curb. One piece was extraordinary…it must have come from the base of the tree with all sorts of interesting curves. Too pretty to meet the demise of the “claw truck” that was coming down the street. (FYI – The “claw truck” comes through our neighborhood once a week picking up ginormous piles of yard debris.) A Budget Diet moment hit…this beautiful stump would make an amazing coffee table for my son's first apartment. I ran home as fast as I could, told my son to get in the car and we rescued the stump before the claw truck arrived. WHEW!

Now, what to do with this stump to make it a real coffee table. I searched the internet and found all sorts of suggestions for turning a tree stump into a coffee table, and I finally decided to seek the advice of a Home Depot man. I explained to the nice man in the orange vest that we wanted to protect the wood in the easiest way possible, and I left Home Depot with a sandpaper sponge, a water-based polyurethane, a brush and a total bill of $11.

Let the project begin!

How to Make a Tree Stump Coffee Table

Step 1: Find a Stump! Seek and ye shall find. Sadly, trees are frequently cut down, so keep your ears open for chainsaws! Keep in mind that if it's small, you can add a glass top or do a grouping of a few stumps.
Step 2: Let it Dry! Even if the tree was dead, the wood will still have moisture in it. Bring it inside your garage or basement, and let it sit for about a month. This part was easy.
Step 3: Chip Off the Bark! We loved the look of the bark, but every article I read said that as the wood dries out, the bark will fall off. After a couple of weeks we started chipping off the bark, and most of it came off easily. The remaining bark was left to dry for a couple more weeks, and eventually, it all came off. Tip – if your stump has lots of little nooks and crannies, a screwdriver works well to pry up those small pieces.

how to make a tree stump coffee table
Step 4: Make it Flat! Remember, this is going to be a table, so a flat base and top are important. Lucky for us, the tree cutter did a beautiful job, so we were able to skip this step. That's a good thing since we don't own any fancy tools.

Step 5: Sand! This is the worst part, but it's important to have a nice, smooth finish.
how to make a tree stump coffee table

Step 6: Apply the Polyurethane! Using a paintbrush, evenly apply the polyurethane to the stump EXCEPT the base. The Home Depot man said this will allow the stump to continue to breath and release any remaining moisture. We applied two coats of polyurethane.

how to make a tree stump coffee table
TA-DA! Now my son has a one-of-a-kind homemade coffee table, a work of art and an interesting story to tell. Off to Dallas we go!

Need more inspiration for inexpensive coffee tables? This article from Houzz is amazing, the only hard part is deciding which coffee table you like best.

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