Build Your Own Hardwood Tree Table

This homesteader shares the secret to making your own hardwood tree table, includes tips on what type of wood to use and where to harvest the wood.

| January/February 1978

  • Learn how to build your own hardwood tree table.
    Learn how to build your own hardwood tree table.
    Photo By Fotolia/_ossa_

  • Learn how to build your own hardwood tree table.

Learn this homesteader's secrets for building a beautiful hardwood tree table from scratch.

Build Your Own Hardwood Tree Table

It you've ever tried to fabricate one of those tables made from a massive slab of log you know there's more than meets the eye to the project. That is: A thick and imposing slice of wood cut diagonally from most tree trunks may look as solid as granite the day it's buzzed out . . . but there's almost a 100% chance that it'll warp, crack — even "explode" — as its fibers dry and shrink.

Ah, but there's a very simple "trade secret" known to the folks — such as Rey Sheldon of Marlboro, Vermont — who make this kind of furniture for a living. A secret guaranteed to keep those beauteous, burly cross-sections of timber from cracking after you've worked with them.

The secret? Cut your slabs only from old hardwood logs that have lain out in the woods so long that mushrooms have started to grow on them. No one really quite knows why, but mushrooms growing on a dead and downed tree trunk seems to be a near-infallible indication that the log has already naturally cured wall past the warping and cracking stage.

Another point: Once a tree has been down long enough for ground fungi to grow on it, the splintered end of its trunk will probably have rotted so much that you can poke a finger right through that part of the wood. Don't lot the fact discourage you. Chances are good that this is only another sign that the main body of the log is just starting to really cure well. Use a crosscut or chain saw to slice out the lengthwise slab or oval that you want. If the wood is solid — not rotted or punky — all the way through where you make your cut, it doesn't really matter what the log looks like on its end.

Take your slab of wood home and — just to make sure — let it age in a dry place at room temperature for an additional two months. If it hasn't cracked by that time, it probably ain't ever gonna. That's your signal to get down to work.

Ted Frumkin
10/28/2008 8:00:01 AM

I love these tables! I have many large & beautiful raw slabs, as well as some finished pieces. They can be seen at

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know ā€” and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me