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Tree branches and trunks can make rustic and inexpensive furniture and accessories

Empty table and chairs in a glade
Empty table and chairs in a glade

Branches, leaves and other tree elements are everywhere in home decorations, from branched bedposts at stores like Anthropologie to forest-patterned wallpaper.

Now, those who want to be surrounded by the great outdoors are literally bringing whole trees inside – either as furniture, accessories or simply placed in a vase to be admired.

Anybody can find wood outdoors and turn it into a statement piece for the household, says Chris Lubkemann, author of “Big Book of Whittle Fun” (Fox Chaple Publishing, 2012), who has been carving wood and turning it into projects since his days as a boy in Brazil and Peru. He now works on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.

Start by looking for a hardwood like oak or maple, he recommends. Avoid softwood like pine that may contain messy sap.

The majority of his projects use old evergreen Christmas trees, which are plentiful after the holidays pass.

“When the tree is done for the year and starts to dry out, I’ll use the stumps and trim off the branches,” he says. “From the trunk, I can make three table lamps.”

Karen Bertelsen, former HGTV host and blogger at “The Art of Doing Stuff,” flexed her woodworking skills when she made a table out of walnut wood.

“Walnut is very difficult to remove the bark from and harder to come by,” she says, noting that it shouldn’t be used by DIY amateurs. “It is, however, a really dark, rich color that looks great.”

Whichever wood you choose, make sure to follow proper protocol.

Bertelsen says to allow the wood to dry out so it’s easier to remove the bark.

It also getes rid of bugs, Lubkeman says.

Another way of de-bugging wood is to put it into a plastic bag and either spray it with bug spray or let it sit in the freezer for a few days, according to Bertelsen.

Work with wood that’s reasonably seasoned, Lubkeman advises. Any wood that’s too green will crack as it dries.

Once it’s prepared, the wood can be used in DIY projects or simply put on display, leaves and all.

Lubkeman suggests searching for wood that might have unique features. Wood that’s been struck by lightning or mangled driftwood can add flair to any project.

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