How to preserve a tree stump?

How to preserve a tree stump?

When it comes to garden decorations, usually you have your flowers and flowerbeds coupled with perhaps a hedgerow or a rock garden. However, people who have had trees in their garden cut down have been known to use the leftover stumps as a decoration. If you did not know yet, then you should – tree stumps are not the easiest thing to remove. Therefore, if you have a big tree that you have been planning to take down, perhaps you will want to think about your options.

Your options are basically as follows – you can keep it and use it as a rustic chair or even a table if taken care of. You can even use it as a planter if you hollow it out a bit. However, if you decide on one of these, be mindful that you need to take certain precautions as a tree stump is completely organic, and left to its own devices, it will attract pests and later on even fall apart due to moisture and natural decay.

To avoid this, you need to take certain steps to preserve it. The first step is to pick out a good stump, as they have different properties.

If you are chopping down your own tree, pay attention to its species. Some are more resistant and therefore better to use as a decoration or furniture. Some that usually come as recommended are red cedar, redwood, and oak. 

We mentioned that tree stumps attract pests, and this is true for as long as they are not properly treated before using. They are organic and will eventually decay, but this can be slowed or almost halted, depending on how you treat it. 

You probably guessed, but if you’re moving it and not using it as an impromptu seating place, you cannot use the whole stump that you dig out from the ground, as the roots are simply too big and will make it impossible to sit or place anything on. Therefore, you will need to saw off the part you want to use. This can be done both manually or in a local lumber yard. If doing it manually, be sure to take all proper precautions, such as wearing protective gloves and eyewear.

A tree stump must be completely dry before treatment. The best thing would be to dry it naturally for several months by keeping it in a dry and warm place. Since it is improbable that you will avoid natural moisture if left outside, a dry shed or even a garage is a decent place to start. If doing so, put your newly sawed-off stump on a shelf or even Styrofoam, so it does not get wet from humidity or dampness, depending on your climate.

After thoroughly drying it, you will want to remove the bark from the tree, as you will want to sand the tree later completely. The de-barking process can be done with a crowbar or even with a hammer and chisel. If you really want, you do not really have to do the de-barking, but this is entirely up to you and your tastes. 

Sanding the stump should be done with an 80-grit sandpaper, but you can use an electric sander as well if your stump proves to be particularly challenging. Keep sanding until the surface is completely smooth to the touch. You would not want anyone to get a prick in their hand, would you?

After sanding, there will be a bit of sawdust which needs to be cleaned before proceeding to fill in any imperfections and cracks. It is completely natural to expect that the stump will need some work done, as it has been in nature for a long time. The tree will presumably be healthy but be sure to check out any imperfections. You can fill in the holes with clear epoxy and leave it to dry overnight.  

Finally, a wood stabilizer. Wood stabilizer works by injecting wood with resin to create hardened and stable wood by displacing air pockets inside of it. This makes it a lot denser and extremely resistant to moisture changes. 

You should cover the entire surface in a wood stabilizer. Apply it in circles and go slowly, trying to keep the amount of stabilizer the same everywhere. After applying the first layer, cover it in plastic for around five hours, then repeat. It is crucial that you get at least two layers of wood stabilizer on your stump, with enough time given for the drying to take place.

And – that is it. Your stump is ready for use. If you are advanced when it comes to dealing with wood, you may want to put legs onto your stump to make it a proper table. If not, do not fret. We are sure you will find a good use for it anyway.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, turning a tree stump into a decoration or furniture is quite a lengthy task which also requires quite a lot of steps to turn from a newly cut-off tree to a full-on table. It needs to be sawn off into a shape you prefer, dried out, potentially de-barked, sanded, epoxied, and finally, stabilized with wood stabilizer. There are a lot of steps to this job, but if it is what you want, it is quite accomplishable. 

A tree stump, whether used as an exotic part of your furniture or even as a gardening planter, can bring a bit of new shine to your garden or home. It is definitely different than anything you had before, and you can be sure you will be the talk of the neighborhood. Just be sure to pick out a healthy stump – you do not want to be the talk of the neighborhood just because you picked out an infested one and brought termites in your home when all you wanted is a nice new table.