How to Make Wood Furniture Out of a Tree

You may have a tree that came down in a storm, or an old tree from where you grew up that you would like to turn into furniture. Turning a tree into usable lumber is an enjoyable task that most wood workers would love to tackle. However, you will need to hire a miller to do a portion of the work under your supervision, since most people do not own their own saw mill.

Trees ready to be milled
  1. Cut the tree into eight-foot sections to have the mill cut into usable lumber. Some millers have portable saws that can come to you, or you will need to deliver the section of the trees to the saw mill. A chain saw works best for this step.

  2. Direct the miller to cut the sections into 4/4-quarter thick slabs of wood to use for most of the furniture. You may also want to have some 8/4-quarter material for leg material. 4/4 material is equal to one inch thick and 8/4 material is two inches thick.

  3. See if the saw mill also provides a kiln drying service. If not, you will need to air dry the lumber before you can use it. Furniture grade wood needs to be dried to 8% moisture content.

  4. Run the boards through the planer. Remove no more than 1/8-inch of wood per pass from the planer. Repeat this step until you have a flat, smooth surface on one side of the board.

  5. Flip the board over and repeat the last step until the board thickness is 3/4-inch. This is the standard thickness of furniture-grade lumber.

  6. Hold the planed edge against the fence of the jointer. Push the wood through the jointer, keeping it held against the fence and jointer table. Remove no more than 1/8-inch of wood per pass. Repeat this step until you have a finished edge that is smooth and flat. The jointer creates a perpendicular edge to a planed wood edge.

  7. Run the board through the table saw. Adjust the table saw fence to the width of boards needed to make the furniture you want. Place the edge that went through the jointer against the table saw fence. Feed the wood through the table saw, keeping it held tight against the fence. This will provide you with a S4S (Surfaced 4 Sides) board that can be used to build your furniture.


  • Wear safety glasses and hearing protection when using power tools.
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