Introduction: Kintsugi Style Stump Coffee Table
This project started when I found the stump on Facebook Marketplace while looking for wood. Personally I tend to prefer more versatile furniture (a side effect of living in apartments) but this stump was just too gorgeous to pass up. It needed to be made into a coffee table. So I enlisted the help of a friend with a truck, bribed him with lunch, and we hauled it to my local makerspace.
- Knife grade polyestResin
- Epoxy Resin
- Mica Pigment (I used Pearl Ex's Sparkle gold and Aztec gold, you can buy jars on amazon or Hobby lobby)
- Glass table top
- Furniture Feet
- Clear vinyl disks
- Polyurethane clear satin (Minwax)
- Boiled Linseed oil
- Pressure washer (alternative could use self serve car wash)
- Random orbital Sander
- Sanding pads Chisels (nothing fancy, Harbor Freight's chisels work fine)
- Small drill grinding head for smoothing tight sections (used for cleaning welds usually I believe)
- Chainsaw or possibly saws-all (optional but can be useful)
- Precise scale
- Tongue Depressors
- Paper cups (not plastic as Turpentine will melt plastic, I just know this. It's not like I learned this from experience or anything *cough*)
- Fine steel wool
- Cereal box (or some other cardboard with a very smooth surface that is colorless which you can rip up and mix resin on top of)Paint brush or clean rag
Step 1: Clean the Stump
If your stump is anything like mine you will want to clean it. I recommend a pressure washer as a garden hose will not be powerful enough. You have 3 options: buy, rent, or use self serve car wash.
I bought because a refurbished was the same price almost as renting, and the pressure washer was easier to transport that than the stump.
Step 2: Flatten Both Sides of the Stump
Here's where the chainsaw is handy as you can get the stump generally flat with it. If you don't have access to one it will just take longer as you work your way down with the router.
You'll want to make a jig, fairly simple, see the picture. Just need to make sure router can only move in the x and y direction and not vertical direction. Also see the video. Essentially a table with no center and sled (think box) with a slot in the center. The router flattening will take a long time and is very dusty so you will want glasses that won't let dust around the side, a dust mask, and hearing protection.
Afterwards, I recommend sanding and shaping any corners before resin so you can smooth the resin to flush.
Step 3: Remove Rot
You will want to remove any rot with a chisel. You don't want it spreading and you can also reduce weight this way. If you want a more natural looking hole you can smooth the sides with a little grinder head for a drill.
Step 4: Fill Cracks With Resin
Run some sample tests to find the exact pigmentation you want.
I used Superior knife grade polyester resin to fill the cracks. It has a 20 min cure time which is nice because it sets up fast and you don’t have to worry about disturbing previous resin deposits. I do recommend working in small batches and spreading it out after mixing as it is an exothermic reaction, meaning the more clumped together it is the warmer it is and the faster it cures giving less time to apply. Because of the fast cure time, some of the resin in the larger cracks may pull away from the walls due to shrinkage. This is easily fixed by using a less viscous, slower curing epoxy with the same pigmentation to fill any shrinkage gaps as well as some smaller cracks and voids.
You'll want to use an accurate scale to find the proper mix of pigmentation you want. The scale is also useful for measuring polyester resin. Read and follow packaging instructions.
Step 5: Sand Everything Again
You can use a random orbital sander to sand following contours. It has a soft pad so you don't end up with flat spots. A chisel can also be useful to smooth tight sections you may not be able to reach normally. Any areas that are flat you can use a belt sander on.
Step 6: Add Finish
I recommend saving off cuts from trimming the roots. You can use them to test your finish before fully committing. Also make sure the resin pigmentation matches well with the final finished wood color.
I used boiled linseed oil (BLO) mixed 50/50 with turpentine initially. BLO can take a very long time to cure but if it is thinner than it will cure slightly faster. The BLO will harden the wood some and help the grain pop, while the turpentine will also help kill off any fungi (rot) or insects/insect eggs and thus helping to preserve the wood.
I gave the table 3 coats of satin polyurethane (poly) also cut 50/50 with turpentine, with light sanding in between. The sanding was to promote adhesion between layers, though I'm suspicious the turpentine may have also helped the layers to stick together. I used a can of spray polyurethane for inside the root structure as I was unable to reach everywhere, and essentially filled the center with the polyurethane fumes and hoped they would reach everywhere. I do recommend doing the spray poly before the last coat of brushed poly as the fumes can leave a rougher surface which you can smooth on the reachable areas with the brush poly.
Another thing I did was used extra full strength poly on the jagged edges (which I had left for stylistic reasons) to build up a slightly thicker coat and prevent splinters breaking off.
Step 7: Order Glass
Use tempered glass, especially if you have any overhang. It is much safer if it does break and is stronger over all. Never cut tempered glass. Due to the molecular structure it will shatter the entire piece. It requires a special heat treatment process, which is why you will have to order it. If you need a simple shape like a circle or a rectangle look at store that sell table tops like Pier1 Imports.
I wanted an ellipse to match the shape of the table so I had to order my glass special. I looked at local glass shops but they couldn't do exactly what I wanted and charge almost twice as much as I could buy it online. Even after shipping online ordering saved almost $200. Shop around, do your own research, but I found that One Day Glass was my best option.
Size: You want the glass to cover the entire stump with a few inches of overhang all around. Measure the thickest sections of your stump and add 2-3in of overhang on each measurement. I recommend making a mock-up of the table top from cardboard to make sure the size and shape feel right. If you don't have a single piece of cardboard big enough, use duct tape to tape 2 pieces together. I had recently bought a bike off amazon which gave me a very large box to work with.
Thickness: I ordered 1/2 inch. If you are making a small side table you might be able to get away with 1/4inch. For a coffee table 1/2 inch seams to be about standard and I think it feels like the right thickness for my table. Look at a measuring stick, and try to visualize how that thickness will look on your table. Do keep in mind the thicker the glass the more it will weigh and more it will cost. Conversely thinner glass may look flimsy compared to the rest of the table, or in actuality be too flimsy. My tabletop weighs about 83lbs.
Clear vs Low Iron: low iron removes some of the greenish color that thicker glass can have (especially around the edges) but is not as strong as regular clear glass. Personally I wanted the stronger properties of clear plus I thought slightly more visible glass would look better as it is truly a part of the table and not just a means through which to view the rest of the table.
Edge finish: There are quite a few types of edge finish from bevel to pencil polish. I personally thought pencil polished looked and matched my table the best.
Step 8: Add Feet
I used height adjustable feet I bought from Home Depot. Fairly simple process. Just drill, epoxy the inserts, and screw in the feet. Since there are no corner on the table I do recommend looking at where to plan to place them and moving them around as needed to find an even distribution before drilling. Masking tape can be useful to mark drill location as well as protect the table while drilling.
Step 9: Mount Glass and Admire
I used vinyl disk to mount the glass. Place them around the table evenly and set the glass on top. The disks will keep the glass from sliding and at 80lbs the glass is not likely to move much when bumped. I do not recommend permanently attaching the glass. This way you can remove the glass before moving, reducing weight and giving better purchase when grabbing and lifting the stump (which probably weighs about 150lbs).
Now sit back and admire.
My table takes two people to lift, is about 20in tall, 5ft long, and 3ft wide. I estimate I spent a little over 200hrs making it, and materials cost was around $1000 (the majority of that is the cost of glass, much cheaper if you don't have to order custom cut).
Participated in the