Tree Root Table With Custom Glass Top and Underlight




About: Dad of two and habitual shed dweller

Whilst walking through a local wood I spotted a great looking stump and thought it deserved to be looked at more.

So with the help of my brother in law, who will never speak to me again and also really needs to get a refund on his gym membership, we carried/dragged it back to my car and took it home for some TLC.


Hardwood tree root stump

custom cut laminated glass

Iroko timber for frame

chrome tubing

Garden path buried lamp

Walking stick ferrules


Daughter, Niece, Brother and Brother in law

pressure washer


spring clamps


straight, brad point and flat (spade) drill bits

mitre saw

hand saw

router and bits


sliding bevel

wood plug cutters



contact adhesive

foaming wood glue

Step 1: Cleaning Up

Once I had got the stump back home and managed to get the boot of my car to a new level of filthy (google translate tells me that our transatlantic friends call a car boot a trunk), I gave it a good wash down with the pressure washer. I considered a bubble bath but carrying it up the staircase put me off the idea.

I had to enlist some child labour to get this done properly (see photos). I thought it would be a good idea to give it a good coat of preservative too, as the amount of creepy crawlies that came out during the pressure washing made it look like a insect Noah's ark!

Step 2: Frame Template

I had seen a few tables like these with a round piece of glass on the top, which look great but I don't like the idea of the glass just balancing on there waiting for that one kid who you just know is going get you on the local hospital watch list. I thought about having holes drilled in the table top for screws but having screws or caps on the surface of the glass seemed like it would ruin the look of the table.

So after a lot of thought I opted for a frame with a rebate for the glass top. I tried a rough square frame first using some old lengths of wood, but it left the frame with a large area unsupported, so I decided to go all Picasso on it and made the frame suit the root structure which gave me what I think is a nice unusual and abstract shape.

I did consider putting a groove into the frame rather than a rebate, but I was concerned about any twist I might get from the root damaging the glass if it was enclosed in the frame. I think this would have been more aesthetically pleasing but not as practical.

Step 3: Fitting the Legs and Feet

I used a piece of chrome tube to make three legs for the stump (tripods are the way to go - ask Austin Powers Mini Me), not only to make it stable but to let the light shine out from the LED Lamp.

I used a flat bit which was 1 mm larger than the outer diameter of the tube to cut a hole 50 mm deep into the stump at the points which seemed equal and had sufficient wood behind them to support the hole and leg.

Then I used a jigsaw to cut a few grooves around the edge of each hole so that when I glued the legs in it gave something for it to grab to. I also used a bit of emery cloth to rough up the end of the leg to be glued.

I used a contact adhesive to glue the legs in, I generously brushed it into the holes and grooves, pushed in the legs and then for good measure I topped up any gaps on the outside of the leg with a child's medicine dosing syringe (our kids are germ hotels so we have a drawer full of them!) and then I filled the inside of the leg about 25-30 mm deep again using the syringe.

For the rubber feet I used walking stick ferrules. I made a few vertical cuts so the I could wedge them into the legs nice and tight..

Step 4: Fitting the LED Underlight

I had an idea that it might be nice to have a gentle light coming out from underneath the root, so I bought an outdoor path lamp from Ebay and set to it.

I bored a suitable hole in the centre of the stump using a 16mm flat bit and a chisel. Next to the hole I made is a natural gap which was ideal for the electric cable. I fitted a 2 pin connector to the lamp so that I can fit it to a 3m foot switch I salvaged from and old lamp we were throwing away for indoor use or a longer extension lead for outdoor use.

To secure the lamp I gutted it and drilled three holes in the rim of the outer sheath so that I could screw it to the base of the trunk.

It finished up as a nice ambient light as I had hoped for.

Step 5: Cutting the Frame

To make the frame I enlisted the wisdom of my joiner Brother (that's carpenter for those outside the UK). There were two reasons for this,

1 - he knows what he's doing, this is his world and I'm an unwelcome amateur!

2 - Its winter here and its raining now until about the 29th of May when it will stop for three days of sunshine also known as spring/summer/heatwave. As I have a shed fit for elves and he has a lovely big double garage I booked a return ticket from amateur town and jumped on the train to knowwhatwearedoingfield.

We also had the guidance of my niece who is now known as Junior Joiner, her key motivating commands are "NOW, FASTER and FINGERS IN EARS TIME!"

I spoke to my uncle who is also a joiner about which timber to use for the frame and he suggested Iroko because of its suitability as an exterior timber and its nice appearance.

I had already put a 20mm wide and 8mm high rebate on the inner edges of the timber for the glass to sit in at home using a router with an edge guide and a straight bit (sorry no photos of this).

We started by laying my template on a sheet of plaster board (other types of board are available....) and drew around the outer edge of it. We then took the planed Iroko timber, lined it up with the outer marks and a marked the inner line to give us the shape of the frame. Once this was done we drew a line from the inner to outer point on each corner to give us the angle for the mitre cuts. A we made each cut we checked it against our drawn template to ensure we hadn't drifted off.

We took the sliding bevel, matched the angle for each corner in turn, marked the timber and cut it using the mitre saw. I wouldn't have liked to have made this cuts with a handsaw as the need to be as straight as possible.

To fix the frame we drilled a short 11 mm hole for the wood plugs to sit in (more details on next step) and then drilled a pilot hole through to the adjoining piece of the frame and fixed with suitable screws. It helped having two pairs of hands here to ensure that the edges were level and straight.

Step 6: Fixing the Frame and Plugging the Screw Holes

We used my brothers plug cutters to cut enough plugs to fill all the screw holes, then using foaming wood glue we gently knocked them in and left them to set. Wear gloves when using the glue, just think about a particular scene in American Pie 2 and that should be enough motivation to put them on.

Once the glue had set we cut them close enough to the timber using a chisel so that we could sand them down but didn't mark the timber and making sure to chisel with the grain. After they were all trimmed up we set to them with the sander and got them nice and flush, ensuring that any excess glue was also sanded off.

We used a round over bit in the router to give the upper outer edge a nice finish and then sanded the whole frame down.

Step 7: Glass Top

Frame finished it was time to leave the comforts of my brothers garage and head back to my faithful old shed. I had a piece of 6mm thick laminated safety glass cut to fit inside the rebate on the frame. I tidied up the edges using a sheet of 240 grit emery, which to be honest was quite easy work.

I laid the frame and glass on the root for a preview and I was quite pleased with how it was looking!

Step 8: Leveling the Root Top to Fit the Frame

I laid the frame on the root and was surprised at how level it was. But only three pieces of root were in contact with it so I decided to cut it down to make it more stable.

The top of the lowest limb was 390 mm high so I dropped the rest down to suit with my handsaw. I'm still not quite sure how I managed it but when I laid the frame back on it was level, Christmas miracle?

I put the noggins I had cut off to one side and marked where the frame sat on the limbs. Then I transferred the markings onto the noggins of the limbs where you could see the cuts and cut them down so that I could glue them back on. This hid the ugly looking cuts and also made it look like the limbs were cut around the frame.

I also trimmed off some of the smaller lower limbs that protruded from the edge of the frame and rounded them off with a sanding pad.

Step 9: Screwing the Frame Into Position

I chose points where I could best hide the screw heads underneath the limbs and drilled down from the top. I used the lego drill guide I saw posted by MG3 a while back I've been wanting to try that out for a while handy tip, thank you!

Once I had drilled the holes required I used a counter sink where the heads would sit to help hide them. One limb was quite deep ad i didnt have a long series drill small enough to go through so I had to go in at a wonky donkey angle.

Then I placed the frame in position and one screw at a time I just bit into the frame with the screws so I had a mark left showing the position of each screw.

I placed the frame upside down and drilled a suitable pilot hole for each screw. When I screwed the frame down I made sure to only go in a few threads at a time with each screw at first so that I didn't shift it's position.

Nearly there.....

Step 10: Ta Da!

I finished it off by filling the mitre cuts and with a couple of coats of clear oil. I stuck a few self adhesive clear protector dots to the bottom of the glass.

You appreciate a good camera at a time like this because mine on my phone struggled to catch how nice the wood and stump looks. nothing to do with my photography skills........

If you like the table and have enjoyed the instuctable please vote for it in the tables and desks and make it glow contests.

Thanks for reading!

Tables and Desks Contest 2016

First Prize in the
Tables and Desks Contest 2016



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      Build a Tool Contest
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    16 Discussions


    Question 2 months ago on Step 10

    I would like to know if you ship to Los Angeles, CA? I like one of your tables with the glass top. Thank you.....Jami


    2 years ago

    Congratulations on the win in the Tables and Desks contest!

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! It was an honor to be a finalist with so many great projects out there.


    2 years ago

    What an excellent project. Job well done!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    thank you very much! My next project is incorporating your transferring photos to wood instructable.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, the camera on my phone really doesn't pick up how nice it looks. I would appreciate a vote in the tables and make it glow contests if you enjoyed it.

    Thank you very much! Your acid blackened knife is cool too! A vote from you in the tables contest would be appreciated if you enjoyed the instructable...


    2 years ago

    Beautiful work. You may find the kreg jig helpful. Its an amazing invention.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Ive heard the name a fw times now, I'll look into them. Is it too early to add things to my christmas list?