How to Make a Geometric Log Side Table for Your Patio

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Side tables are a beautiful and functional addition to your outdoor space to hold a drink, potted plant or even extra guests, in a pinch. Making one from a fallen tree works well because it is durable, easily moldable and most likely free. Using a free-form pattern, such as a faceted geometric shape, is worry free too, because it doesn't require any precision or symmetry. If you're comfortable using a chain saw, this project can easily be completed in a weekend.

Create a geometric log side table.
Create a geometric log side table. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Things You'll Need

  • Tree log approximately 24 inches to 30 inches long (finished table height will be approximately 18 inches)
  • Chain saw
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Extra boards (two-by-sixes) to create a level platform and raise the log slightly off of the ground
  • Handheld belt sander
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Cloth
  • Waterproof sealer
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Cut the Log

Cut a 24- to 30-inch section of a tree. You want it to be longer than the finished height of the table, because you'll trim it.

Cut a section of a tree.
Cut a section of a tree. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Height

Using measuring tape and tape, mark the finished height of the table, such as 18 inches, which is a standard seat height. This measurement is flexible based on your preferences.

To get a straight line when sawing, place the log on two level boards (such as two-by-sixes), center the log on the boards and make it as straight as possible. Measure and mark two dots on the center of the boards below. Connect the tape between the two dots, carrying the tape over the log. From that line, measure down 18 inches for the second cut line, and place a piece of tape. Because the overall shape is free-form, absolute precision isn't essential, but the table should be fairly level.

Measure and mark the finished height of the table.
Measure and mark the finished height of the table. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 3: Trim the Rough End

Place the log on a steady surface, such as a platform of two-by-sixes. Raising it off of the ground will allow you to cut all the way through the log. Work over grass or a similar surface that won't be damaged while using the chain saw. Then, trim off the end of the log marked by tape.

Trim the rough end of the log.
Trim the rough end of the log. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 4: Trim the Other End

Trim the log to 18 inches.

Cut the final height of the table.
Cut the final height of the table. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 5: Draw a Template for the First Cuts

On the top of the log, draw angles for the top surface. This is approximate and free-form. Draw seven to eight lines, overlapping them a few inches from the edge of the log. Vary the length and distance from the edge. The center section should be 10 to 14 inches in diameter.

Draw the template for the top.
Draw the template for the top. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 6: Cut the Top

Follow the guidelines and cut at an angle. The cuts should be different lengths and thicknesses.

At an angle, cut the top of the log.
At an angle, cut the top of the log. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 7: Cut the Bottom

Flip the log over and repeat Steps 5 and 6.

Draw the guidelines for the bottom cuts.
Draw the guidelines for the bottom cuts. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)
Cut the bottom of the log.
Cut the bottom of the log. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 8: Cut the Center Facets

Vary the length and size of the center facets. Tip it, step back and look as you go to see how the shapes interact. You will most likely want to go back and adjust the angles.

Cut the center facets with the chainsaw.
Cut the center facets with the chainsaw. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 9: Sand the Individual Facets

Using a handheld belt sander, sand the individual facets with 80-grit sandpaper.

Sand the facets.
Sand the facets. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 10: Wipe the Dust Off

With a cloth, wipe off any dust.

Remove dust with microfiber cloth.
Remove dust with microfiber cloth. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

Step 11: Apply Waterproof Sealer

Protect the wood with a waterproof sealer. Apply thinly with a brush, and let it dry for two days. Because sealers vary, follow the specific instructions provided with the sealant.

Seal and protect the table.
Seal and protect the table. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

When done, use your new end table in your outdoor space to hold a drink or a favorite potted plant.

Let the natural grain show by using a clear sealer.
Let the natural grain show by using a clear sealer. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)
Add texture and function to your outdoor space.
Add texture and function to your outdoor space. (Image: Sarah Dorsey)

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