Intro: Slice of a Tree Table
We needed a table for our new nursery, and I'd been meaning to make something with our wedding cake platter. Creating a table out of the wood slice was the perfect project. My only problem is that my time and money are limited. With a baby on the way and being still in school, I decided to DIY this project as easily and cheaply as I could.
The finished product will have many of the natural cracks and bumps left from the cutting the slice, though the table will look like a an actual piece of furniture if you follow these steps.
Here what you'll needed to make a similar table:
- Wood slice - ideally smooth and level on at least one side
- Three table legs with angle top plates - These can be purchases at your local hardware store or from the internet. Check out Waddell brand, that's what I used.
- Sanding pads and lots of them - ...
- Scrap wood - used to support the slice to keep it splitting
- Wood stain - I used natural color on the wood slice and Jacobean. I already owned both of these, so I went the cheap way and used them.
- Lacquer - no required, but this is also something I already had laying around.
- Wood glue
Equipment needed to make the make a similar table:
- Power sander - I have a random orbital sander. Others should work, but the random orbital will allow you to get a fine finish.
- Miter saw (hand saw possible)
- Power drill
- Dusk mask or well vent space
I have left out a major step to this project - cutting the wood slice from the tree trunk. This can be done with chainsaw or if you're feeling energetic go at it with a crosscut hand saw. My slice is about 2 inches thick. This is my first wood slice table, so I don't have specific guidelines on the thickness. I was actually a little worried that mine would split, so I added some backing when installing the legs. Wood slices can also be purchased. Just do a quick search in your favorite search engine to find many suppliers.
Step 1: Cleaning and Sanding
The top of the slice was in pretty good shape already. I started by whipping off as much cake icing as I could. The bark was coming off so I went ahead and removed it. The bark would look nice if you can keep it in tack. Next, I began sanding. Here is a list of the sanding pads for the power sander I went through.
- 1 x 80 grit disc
- 3 x 120 grit disc
- 1 x 150 grit disc
- 2 x 220 grit disc
At this point the top of the slice was starting to look and feel nice, but the edge was a little ragged. I hand sanded it to expose some the natural wood grains with 150 and then 320 grit sand paper. Don't put too much work in on the edge sanding, the rougher and more natural look complements the top well at the end of the project.
Now sand the top with 320 and 600 grit paper to get a smooth finish. I hand sanded this step because that is the type of paper I had laying around.
Don't fret about getting every surface perfect. The rustic unfinished look really does well on this piece. And like I mentioned earlier, I'm strapped for time and money, so I was all about the "dressed up natural look."
Step 2: Stain the Slice of Wood
Stain the slice with natural color since the wood has such great color. The stain should help keep the slice from splitting anymore than it already is. I added the stain on all surface, top, side, and bottom. I applied 3 coats of stain, sanding the top with 200 grit after the first two applications.
Step 3: Seal and Shine the Top
Apply 3 to 4 coats of lacquer (or similar) to seal the top surface. This is an optional step, but will really make the top surface come to life. Additionally, the lacquer seal protects the wood from water stains and other similar issues that are common on tables. I used no sand lacquer for ease. Be sure to complete this step in well ventilated space. I highly recommend cleaning the surrounding space very well before starting this step. You'll have to go back to step 1 (sanding) If you happen to get some sanding dust or other debris on the wet surface.
Step 4: Install the Legs
The prefabricated legs with angled brackets make this step pretty straight forward. Though, the first thing I did was add a few pieces of scrap wood to mount the legs. Wood glue the scrap wood to the bottom of the wood slice. Allow for ample drying time before installing the legs. I added the extra wood pieces because the wood slice had substantial splits and I wanted a softer piece of wood to screw the legs too. One of the legs was going to be placed directly in the middle of the heartwood (dark center area), and I was concerned that it might split. I used the scrap wood to cover that spot and provide an easy place to install the leg.
The legs come unfinished on the ends so you will need to cut them at an angle. The legs I used required a 10 degree angle to produce a level finish with the floor. Next, determine the finished desired table height. Cut the table legs to length. Be very meticulous with the orientation of the leg and angle of the cut. Every time you mess up, means that the table will be shorter when you fix the improper cut. Then position the legs such that the cut end of the legs are approximately flush with edge of the table. This should provide enough stability but should be checked before proceeding. If the table seems unstable, adjust the leg positions as needed.
The light color did look very good with such a nice table top. I lightly sanded the legs with 200 grit sand paper by hand. Next, I added two heavy coats of Jacobean colored stain. It produced a beautiful rich color. This was also something I already had. It actually had a sale sticker from 1998, so I figured it was the perfect time to use it all up. Let the table sit in your work area for several days before moving it indoors. All that stain puts off a strong odor.
Step 5: Place and Enjoy
If you made it here - way to go you finished! I placed my table next to the hand made Woody rocking chair my parents gave us. They pair great together. Don't forget to enjoy the moment, I did so with a refreshing drink.