How To Finish A Root Ball Or Tree Stump For A Table Or Lamp Base

How To Finish A Root Ball Or Tree Stump For A Table Or Lamp Base

Often I am asked, after I find a stump or root ball, what are the procedures to finishing it out: Here they are:

Finishing a Root Ball or Tree Stump

After you have found your root ball or tree stump that you know would make a beautiful table or lamp, you will need to finish it. Here is the process I use:

Leveling the Piece: Cut the bottom in a plane perpendicular (at a right angle) to the length of the piece.

Set the piece on a level surface and using a level, draw a line around the piece at the height you want. Cut on this line.

I use a chainsaw for this, but a sharp hand saw will work also.

Sand both top and bottom surfaces to desired smoothness.

Stumps and root balls take time to dry-often years. If the bark is tight, the piece probably is not dry. Remove bark with a draw knife or chisel.

Physically remove rot and bugs. Smoke and heat will make the bugs jump ship. A bonfire works great. Place the piece close to the fire and heat it up. It will take time to heat up in the middle because wood is a good insulator. Wood doesn’t burn until it reaches 500 degrees F. If you get the stump plus 200 degrees, it will kill any eggs, larvae, etc.

Use a good quality polyurethane to finish the piece. Be sure to coat ALL surfaces: top, bottom, etc.

At least 3 coats are required to seal the piece. The polyurethane will harden the surface and stabilize minor rot. Rotted areas really drink the polyurethane-use it liberally in soft areas. Sand lightly with very fine sand paper between coats. Let dry completely, and it is completed.
Enjoy your work of art!!!

Gene Nellis

Unique Custom Furniture from the Big Sky Country of Montana

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