This DIY branch table post came about because my Step-Dad did some extensive pruning in their backyard. I can’t remember if he asked me if I could use the branches, or if I saw them and asked him for them – but I had this branch table from Brent Comber pinned as a wish-list project to try:
click image to be taken to BrentComber.com
He uses alder branches that he finds (he’s out in Vancouver) and creates these gorgeous piece of furniture – the cheapest being $1,200+ US.
Looks doable right?
My Step-Dad did most of the leg work and cut down his branches to find the straightest sections.
He also got ahead of me and built this small table frame from scrap wood in his garage. (Thank you Papa!)
If you are attempting this – and you should, it’s fun – remember to keep the cross beams of your table to the outside of the legs – this is what you’ll be screwing the branches into.
For my patio, I needed a taller table than the standard 18″ – Miss Lacey’s tail wags at exactly that height and I’m tired of getting dog hair in my drinks, so he sized this to be 22″ tall, by 11″ wide by 20″ deep. Once all of the tree branches were attached it came in at 24″ tall by 15″ wide by 22″ deep.
This step is key, place a scrap piece of 2×4 on the table top, then flip it over. This will give you an approximate 1.5″ gap between the table top, now upside down, and the floor. This is the gap you’ll fill in later with branch stubs.
To begin, we pre-drilled each branch where it met with the upper and lower cross beams, and then screwed them into place. No need for counter-sinking, the branches were soft so the screws hid themselves.
We started at the corners and then played around with the remaining branches to try and find the best fits for each piece on the sides – again, pre-drilling each branch before screwing them into place on the table frame.
You can see below how the top of the table now has a ring of branches around it that are ~1.5″ higher than the table top.
From there we needed to fill in the branch table surface. Bill came up with the jig idea so that you could make cut after cut by just lining up the straight edge of your branch against the straight edge of the jig and each piece was a perfect match.
One thing to note: as you cut each 1.5″ piece, let your mitre saw blade stop before you lift it up. Lowering to cut and then raising immediately will guarantee you have branch pieces all over your garage or workshop as they go flying.
I placed all of the branch slices on the table top and tried to balance out the different types of wood so that one side wasn’t darker or lighter than the other.
From here I added a dollop of wood glue to each piece and stuck it in place…
You can skip that step.
When I went to sand the branch table top smooth, the wood glue cracked under the vibration and most of the pieces came loose.
The upside was that the vibration shuffled the pieces around and created openings for me to add more branch slices for a tighter fit and more compact look.
Silver lining to every cloud right?
This is the only expensive part of the project – the epoxy resin. Michael’s charges $52 Cdn for a 32oz bottle (which you will need), but with my 50% off coupon, it rang in at $29 taxes in.
Cover your workspace before doing the next step – this stuff does not come off!
I mixed up the resin per the package instructions and then carefully poured it in between the branch slices. A small amount oozed out and down between the side branches, but for the most part the branch slices were compact enough to hold the epoxy resin in.
I added about half the package to the branch table on one day and then mixed up the other half of the package and poured it on/in the next day. I used an old paintbrush to brush the tops of the branches for a smooth, water-proof surface.
It’s funny, but some branches soaked up the epoxy resin and others have a watery shine to them?
Regardless, it’s super smooth and now the branch table top is water-proof.
You may notice that some of the side branches are showing a bit of sanding – that’s because they stuck out further than the rest and I wanted to try to even them up a bit. Eventually the bark will peel off of all of the branches, so you won’t notice the difference at all.
You could go one step further an fill in every single gap on the sides of your branch table with twigs and glue and clamp them into place – but since you can’t see much of the table frame on mine, I decide this was good enough.
Perfect height – above dog butt – and it lines up perfectly with the arms of my patio chairs.
This was a fun build – first because I got to make it with my Step-Dad, second because it’s one of those “I just wanted to see if I could” projects and finally because of the price difference between the inspiration piece and mine: $1,755 US to $29 Cdn (which is roughly $22 US).
Send the kids out to collect tree branches and by next weekend you could have your own nature-inspired DIY branch table!