There’s a reason you’ve never seen a “Rotting Stump Exhibit” at any museum or fair. Old, decaying hunks of tree—otherwise known as eyesores—aren’t exactly camera-worthy sights. In fact, they’re usually something you pay a lot of money to get removed.

…Unless, you’re Brent Graham that is. This DIY wizard, who posts on Imgur under the user name grahamvinyl, didn’t just see a slab of rotting tree in a backyard; he saw a potential art project for the ages!

After finding the sad-looking stump in his customer’s yard, Brent hauled it back to his workshop, grabbed his tools, and set to turning it into something incredible. By the time he was finished, you won’t believe what he’d pulled off…

You might think of a rotting stump as little more than a castle for termites, but if you own and operate a hobby workshop like Brent Graham, you might view it differently. When he heard a client of his was planning to throw this tree stump away, Brent’s creative gears started turning.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

The tree stump in question had seen better days. It was in danger of being chopped into wood chips unless Brent could do something with it. So he stuffed it into his van and brought it to his garage…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Evidence suggested this slab had been worked on in the past; someone had clearly hand-chiseled a pattern into it, though it surely didn’t look terribly fancy. Brent had big plans for this old stump, and luckily for DIYers everywhere, he documented his work!

grahamvinyl / Imgur

In addition to the chasm carved into the surface of the stump, someone had removed all traces of bark from its sides and sanded it. Given those parameters, Brent’s plan needed to incorporate what his canvas provided. So, what could he do?

grahamvinyl / Imgur

What’s obvious is that Brent is a man who appreciates wood, and that showed in his Imgur description of the stump. “The grain and the rot pattern is beautiful,” he wrote. Instead of cutting it out or filling it in, Brent’s plans would emphasize it.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

First in this rotting-stump makeover was to sand and wet the wood, which helped the grain to really pop. Brent tried to count the rings, and he determined he was working with a Douglas fir that was around 400 years old.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

With the help of his wood-working skills, Brent used a router to flatten out the top surface of the stump. In the full routing clip Brent uploaded to Imgur, he accidentally slipped and gouged the top. Luckily, he recovered and moved on to the next step.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Next, Brent mapped out the shape he wanted for a glass filling that would sit in the hole. Carefully tracing a pattern that followed the curves of the wood grain, Brent noted that it reminded him of a caldera, or a volcanic crater. For this next step, he would need some help…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Brent digitized the coastline, scanning the shape and dimensions to his computer so he could bring them to a water jetter, which would cut the shape into pieces of glass. He also used it to cut a piece of particleboard that he could use as “a template for routing the recess the glass [would] sit in.” After that, it was back to his shop.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Things were looking good for Brent’s project. As he wrote, “The top has been planed. The glass has been cut. The wood has been wetted.” The blue glass sat neatly over the chasm, and the end of the project was near. But first he had something to fix…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Earlier, when Brent was routing the stump, he made that little chip. Before he could go further, that would need filling in. So, he cut a square from figured walnut and tapered the bottoms “so the bottom had a smaller footprint than the top.”

grahamvinyl / Imgur

With cuts of figured walnut, he traced the squares onto the slab over the gouges. He used a plunge router to carve out the shape, then hammered the tapered wood squares into the fresh-cut holes, and voila! See those purple squares? Those were his patches!

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Using a wet T-shirt, Brent rubbed Arm-R-Seal satin finish on the project. Despite a successful career in carpentry and a portfolio of beautiful projects, he claimed that the Arm-R-Seal was the best finish he’d ever used. Still, there was more work to be done.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Brent flipped the stump onto its side and installed three 2.5-inch feet on its bottom. It now stood at 18.5 inches tall—the perfect height for Brent’s end vision. After a lot of difficult and technical work, he was nearly finished…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

As with every wood-working project, one coat of finish is never enough. To give this former-rotting stump the sleek shine he wanted, Brent applied a second and third layer of finish. Now it was looking good. Only a few minor touch-up details remained.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Because of the additional finish and its initial rough cut, the glass wasn’t fitting so well over the U-shaped pattern. To fix this, Brent took a sander to the routed edge of the “caldera” so the glass would fit snugly. That attention to detail paid off—now it looked great!

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Brent took a few close-up pictures of the carved-out crater and the now-snug glass. From this close, you can see why Brent was so keen to keep that in the project: there’s definitely a unique, rocky-looking texture to it. Now, he could finally take a look at the whole finished project…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

After some serious effort and creative vision, Brent built a coffee table out of that old stump! Some commenters praised Brent for his work, and he offered suggestions for those who wanted to build a table like this for themselves.

grahamvinyl / Imgur

One Imgur commenter said, “I want one … formed in [to the shape of] the State of Michigan … all the great lakes represented.” Now there’s a project! Finally, it was time for Brent to see how this table looked in his house…

grahamvinyl / Imgur

With everything done, he brought the coffee table home where it fit right in! Hopefully he never stubs his toe on it while sitting down with his morning coffee, else his neighbors three blocks over would hear some hollering!

grahamvinyl / Imgur

To top off the project, Brent placed a gold sailboat right on the glass “lake,” and somehow, that little decoration really brought the whole thing together. With these final shots you can really see just how impressive Brent’s handiwork and creative vision was!

grahamvinyl / Imgur

Sure, you’ve never seen the “Rotting Stump Museum,” but if a museum that featured rotting tree stumps like this one existed, you bet Brent’s design would be in it! Check out Brent’s portfolio to see more of his work.

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