Create a DIY Upcycled Coffee Table for Your Living Room

6 Materials
$5
2 Days
Easy

Want to make a coffee table for free? Let me show you! This project makes use of material that people normally throw out, a tree trunk! With a bit of time, and a lot of elbow grease, I upcycled a few cross sections of a tree trunk that a friend was throwing away. In addition to being eco-friendly, I also loved how this project brought a bit of the outside inside, and brightened up my living room. Check out my step-by-step tutorial so that you can make one yourself!

Tools and Materials

  • Tree trunk
  • Ax
  • Sandpaper
  • Brillo pad
  • Water
  • Fireplace (you can use a heater or log burner for this, it’s used to dry the wood out)

Source Your Tree Trunk

Source Your Tree Trunk


The first thing I had to do was find myself a tree trunk! Luckily, I had a friend who had a tree cut down and had plenty of wood for me to choose from. I took three different sized pieces, with different heights and widths, to create three small tables with staggered size. 

Remove the Bark

Remove the Bark


Using an ax, we removed all of the bark on the trunk. It took a while and there were quite a few bugs as well, but once the bark was removed I loved how the bare wood looked. Make sure to be extra careful while doing this part, as one slip of the ax can take off a toe!

Dry Out the Wood

Dry Out the Wood


This part took a few different tries to get it right. At first we tried to lay them over the subfloor heating, with a towel underneath them, to dry them out. This did dry them out quite a bit, but not enough. We decided to sand and clean them up a bit, and then try to dry them again after.

Sand

Sand


We sanded the logs a few different ways as well. At first, we roughly sanded them outside. 

Clean

Clean

Then we brought them inside and I washed and scrubbed them with a brillo pad and water. I wanted to get rid of the mud that had accumulated on the ends of the log, but I didn’t want to remove all of the dirt, as I liked the rustic vibe that a bit of dirt lent to the piece as a whole. 

Dry the Logs Out Again

Dry the Logs Out Again


Now we tried to dry them out again. We placed the logs in front of a wood stove, propped up on logs so that the heat could get under the logs to dry the bottom as well. We also rotated them around a few times so that each side dried as well. This process worked a lot better than our first try, and after one night they were ready to be put into use. Even with this, they weren’t completely dry, but with time they will eventually dry out entirely. 

Sand Again

Sand Again

I gave them a little sanding once more, and they were ready for action.

DIY Upcycled Log Coffee Table

These logs are easy to move around and provide a nice little spot for my mug of coffee in the morning. I loved making them, and I love the fact that they were free even more! If you’re having trouble finding a tree trunk to use for this project, try contacting a local gardening company and ask if they’re planning on cutting down a tree any time soon. Let me know if you’ve tried this project and how it went for you in the comments down below!   

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Jen
    on May 1, 2020

    so you didn’t treat it or apply any poly ? I want to do this too and like the natural / matte.

  • D
    on May 1, 2020

    Nice. What do you do if you have company?


Join the conversation

3 of 5 comments
  • Kim Taylor
    on May 2, 2020

    I am using two pieces of trunk as garden stools. These are cute, too.

  • Greg Scholl
    on May 8, 2020

    Just a word of warning from a Woodworker/ Furniture restorer with over 35 years of experience.

    Something to be aware of.....Many logs like this will have insects/worms/larvae inside them. Same with wood slabs and other rustic natural products of wood. This is why materials like this, sold at reputable suppliers, will have been kiln dried to a moisture content around 10-18 percent. The process of kiln drying will kill any larvae and/or insects inside the wood...and you cannot achieve the same effect with simply propping them up near a heat source.This may in fact force them out of the wood. The general rule for air drying wood slabs and the like is one YEAR per inch of thickness....and without the sustained heat of a kiln, it won't kill anything alive deep in the wood. You can also expect them to twist, warp, and crack during their drying period, if forced to dry too fast. The last thing you want to do is to introduce ants, termites, borers, powder post beetles, etc...into your living area and the surrounding flooring and other furnishings. By the time you notice them...it may be too late to discover where they've moved on to.

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