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Thread: Building end tables using slices from a huge oak tree.

  1. #1

    Building end tables using slices from a huge oak tree.


    I would like to build a special gift for my sister and her husband as a house warming gift for their new lake cabin. They have a bunch of large red oaks on their property...some of which have fallen from storms. Most of it is beautiful wood and I was hoping to build a couple of side/end tables for their new cabin. My questions are:

    1. How do I keep the bark from falling off over time? I was planning on putting heavy coats of lacquer finish (made for tables) all around the table top but not sure if that will keep the bark on. I would like these to last forever if possible.
    2. How would I best add legs to it? I was thinking of making a tripod shape base (ie...3 legs versus 4) but not sure what to use to fasten the legs.
    3. What types of legs should I use? I don't care to use oak branches just because I'm not sure of the stability. They did say they are having flat black metal rods for their railings but not sure how they would look under the oak table top.

    I appreciate any input or suggestions.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Hi Jeff, and welcome to the forum.

    Keeping the bark on the slabs can be tricky, especially if the wood is not yet fully dried. (And 'fully dried' on a 4" slab can take up to a couple of years.) The oak that I've dealt with in tree form tended to warp and move a lot as it dried. This movement is the main reason the bark tends to fall off. The lacquer alone won't necessarily keep the bark on, although it will help to stabilize it somewhat. One option might be to let the wood dry and move as it wants, and if any barks fall off, using CA glue (Super Glue) to reattach it to the tabletop. I know I've done similar repairs to wooden bowls with bark-edged rims.

    Hopefully others here with more experience on similar projects will chime in soon.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    i agree on letting the bark fall and mark it in some way to replace after the wood drys,, as for legs you can mortise them in the bottom after its dried,, you could take it to a kiln and that would speed up the process. i am referring to a round slice
    Last edited by larry merlau; 02-08-2013 at 06:21 PM.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Arkadelphia, Arkansas
    If it was me, I'd remove any bark that didn't come off by itself. Eventually most, if not all of it, will come loose anyway. I wouldn't try to profile the edge, just leave it natural. If for no other reason than a bark edge will collect every bit of dust and dirt in the air and be next to impossible to clean. The easiest way to attach the legs is with table leg mounting plates. Go to and search for part number 892-680. (Sorry I'm not computer literate enough to give you a link. What can I say,,,,,I went to school with a slide rule.) I'm sure other vendors sell them as well. With these you can attach any wood leg with hanger bolts. I'd use the plates with the 10 degree slant to get as wide a footprint as possible. With a solid oak top your tables will be top heavy. I would certainly use 3 legs, especially since the bottom of the table top will probably not be a flat plane. Put 4 legs on it and it will certainly rock. You could easily turn a table into a foot stool by the time you got it stable. I wouldn't dismiss oak branch legs so quickly. As long as they were dry and not cracked, they would work just fine. They will attach just the same as any other wooden leg. They should be of a thickness that is in proportion with the size of the top. When you make these......take pics and post the process on here.

    I have a mind like a steel trap....
    ....rusty and illegal in 29 states.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Hi Jeff!

    I think the flat black metal rods would look pretty good. For those you could simply drill some holes at the angle you want and epoxy them in. I would also remove the bark but leave the natural edge. Make sure to take some pics and show us what you do along way if you can too.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thomasville, GA
    Welcome to the Family, Jeff!

    I can't really add anything to what has already been said, since I've never done a project like you describe. I agree with Norm about taking the bark off and leaving a natural edge. I also kinda like the idea of tying the tables into the room's motif with the black rods. When you said "flat" black rods, I assume that's the color and not the shape. Round rods painted flat black sound good to me.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Jeff I just did a google image search for "oak slab table" Check it out
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Hi Jeff and welcome to the forum. Glad you found us. If you are using 'slices' that are slabs cut lengthwise from the trees, all the previous advise is good. If you are using 'slices' that are rounds made by cutting perpendicular to the trunk where you can see all the growth rings you will have different problems....which is it??

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    HI Jeff Welcome to the Family hope you have a good stay. Dont forget we like lots of pics around here.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    central florida
    I cut some slabs from a secondary trunk on an enormous century oak here in florida. I had 3 slabs. 2 from a giant limb the size of a normal tree. they were over 30" across at the widest. the secondary trunk produced a slab that was about 48 inches or more.

    I put them in my garage and after a year and a half they all had really big checks in them but the bark had not fallen off. I sold them to a guy during my garage sale and he told me the best way to do it would be to let a whole log dry but he didn't tell m how long that would take. He was going to use them with the checks. said it gave them character. ( i would rather them not have checks)

    If he wanted a table with bark he would remove it after he cut the slabs. and then glue the pieces on after some sanding and cleaning.
    claimed to have made a lot of tables and clocks out of florida live oaks.

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