Fig. E: The dowel screw that will connect the top to the
base. Fig. F: The dowel screw in place in the underside
of the tabletop. Fig. G: Marking the base for trimming.
Choose the perfect height for your aesthetics.
NOTE: Depending on the type of tree and time of
year, the bark may or may not peel easily. For this
project, I peeled the bark off the base and left it
on the top. Any way works, so it’s up to you.
Before you move on with the project, inspect your
base and top for any signs of insect damage or rot.
Numerous neat holes in the surface of the wood are
indicative of insect infestation. So are fine dust or
granules. If either of these conditions exist, go back
to Step 1. You don’t want to inadvertently introduce
wood-eating beasties into your home.
Finally, it’s highly likely that the cross-section for
your top will form, or already has, radiating cracks.
The outer rings of the cross-section are less dense
than the center rings. As the wood dries, the amount
of shrinkage is greater in the less dense areas. This
is normal and, in my opinion, adds character.
As an alternative to rough wood, some Asian
restaurant supply stores offer cutting boards that
are simply sections of tree trunks. One of these will
make a fine top for the side table.
You can find some at
wokshop.com, in with the
cleavers and knives.
Fig. H: The base, stripped of bark, and the top, ready for
attachment. Fig. I: A hole drilled in the top of the base
for the dowel screw.
3. Tame the top.
Take a look at your trunk cross-section. One side is
going to be easier to work, having fewer deep saw
marks, for example, than the other. You’ll save yourself some work by making that the top surface.
A belt sander will make evening out the top surface
a breeze. Start with a rough grit, like 50. Now, just
grind that sucker flat.
You’ll notice in Figure C that I screwed 2 pieces of
scrap wood into my worktable to secure the cross-section while sanding. Unless you like stopping
fast-moving chunks of wood with a tender area of
your body, this technique is highly recommended.
Remember to rotate the top occasionally to even
out the grit marks. If you don’t have access to a belt
sander, use an orbital sander with 60-grit paper. It
will take longer and you’ll use more sandpaper.
Turn the top over and clean up the bottom. You
don’t need to be perfect here, just even it out a bit.
Change the belt to a medium grit, 100 or 120.
Work the top surface until smooth. Finally, using an
orbital sander and 120- or 150-grit paper, sand the
top surface even smoother (Figure D).