Tips on making furniture, stools & placemats from tree stumps?

We have a downed tree from a windstorm and I want to make stools and even placemats from the tree trunk. It can be difficult to cut the wood evenly for stools & thin enough to use as placemats, as I have seen in the home decor stores. They should probably be finished off with varnish or is liar product. I love the look!
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