Level the top and bottom of the trunk section with your chainsaw or crosscutter, cutting it close to standard table height, which is about 28 inches. Stand the trunk vertically on one of its flat sides and place a level on the other flat side to make sure the trunk's sides are level. Sand the sides to correct minor level imperfections.
Chip off the bark with your small axe. Fill any holes with wood putty and allow the putty to completely dry before you proceed.
Sand the trunk smooth. Seal your work with a wood sealant or give the trunk a modern twist by covering it with a coat of latex paint.
Drill four equidistant 1 1/2-inch deep, 1/2-inch diameter holes around the edge of the top of the trunk, about 2 inches in from the edge. Place a large sheet of butcher paper over the trunk and poke through to the holes beneath it with the pencil; you'll use this paper template to create the holes in the underside of your tabletop.
Cut your plank to your ideal tabletop dimensions, rounding the edges into a rough approximation of a circle or oval shape; perfection isn't necessary. Sand and seal or paint your plank to match the trunk. Turn the plank onto the side you want to use as the tabletop underside and locate its center.
Lay the butcher paper template over the center of the designated underside of the plank and mark the locations of the holes. Drill 1 1/2-inch deep 1/2-inch holes over the marks.
Cut your dowel into four 3-inch pieces. Insert them into the holes in the trunk, hammering them into the holes with the mallet. Place the tabletop over this, hole side down, and match the holes with the dowels. Press down firmly and hammer gently with the rubber mallet over the top of the table to create a strong bond, completing your table.
Things You Will Need
- 3 foot long section of tree trunk, at least 12-inches in diameter
- Chainsaw or crosscutter
- Belt sander
- Small axe
- Wood filler
- Wood sealer (optional)
- Latex paint (optional)
- 1/2-inch bit
- Rough-sawed 3-inch-by-36-inch plank
- Butcher paper
- Wooden dowel, 12-inches and 1/2-inch diameter
- Rubber mallet
- According to the website Mother Earth News, choosing the right trunk for your project involves only a keen eye for mushrooms. Take a portable chain saw or a crosscut on a hike and look for fallen trees that have large sections not touching the ground. If the tree section is sprouting mushrooms, it has probably dried and cured enough to use in a furniture project. Even still, the Mother Earth News article recommends waiting at least two months before beginning your project to check for cracking. Cut a 3 foot section of un-rotted trunk and haul it home to use for your rustic dining table; the extra several inches comes in handy when you are going through the leveling process. Otherwise, check with local saw mills and lumberyards for trunks and stumps, as purchasing pre-dried, pre-cut trunks retail is prohibitively expensive for some.