Trump That Stump! Easy Removal of a Tree Stump





The goal of this ible is to show you how to easily remove a stump.

Giveaway: follow my instructables and YouTube channels and post an "I've made it" picture to get the free pro membership voucher I got when this instructables was featured.


Step 1: Material

First off, I call this the easy way and not the lazy way, because the lazy way is to wait 15-20 years and push it over. This means it will still involve some work, and some tools. However, this does not require heavy machinery, excessive digging, and if some tools listed are not available to you, you can just use alternatives (which I will list).

What you absolutely need:

Stuff that will really make your life easier:

Step 2: Digging Around and Cutting

The first step is to dig around your stump. The important part is to try to clear up the upper roots as best as you can so that you can cut them. As you cut them, you will see water gush out if the stump is fresh; the less water it has, the easier it will be to burn. The second aspect to digging is to try to clear some space to be able to burn from under as much as possible. Burning form the top won't do much, I spent a summer burning my other stump from the top, and it did nothing but make the top black.

Sometimes cutting will be difficult, pre-drilling a series of holes will make the cutting much easier. The wood is very wet and under tremendous force from the stump, so leaving gaps makes it less likely that the blade will jam.

At this stage I also used a splitting wedge to open up a gap in the middle of the stump to make it easier to burn and cut up later on.

Safety tip: if the root system is older and dried up (or even if it is not), it can catch fire. Once you have cut up the roots to prevent water from being drawn back it, it's probably not a bad idea to cover the exterior roots with some mud or clay.

Step 3: Fire Number 1

Start a fire. Actually, start multiple fires! I used 4 small fires in the main nooks of the stump. I then pointed my fan towards the flames to feed them with plenty of oxygen (crucial part), and let it burn overnight. I did not do this at the time (I only thought of it for the second fire), but using the shop vac in reverse will really create intense heat; I'm talking blue flames and glowing white coals.

Step 4: Clean Up!

This fire will take out a chunk, but it will also dry up the soil. The next day you can vacuum up the sut but also the extra soil to really clear out. I took out about 40L (10 gallons) of extra soil with the shop vac. It made the second burning much more efficient.

Step 5: Fire Number 2

With the stump very well cleared up, and the side walls burned up a bit, you are ready to really put the fire under there. Over the course of the fire push the coals under the stump as much as you can without choking them. You will be able to burn inches of stump per hour with the use of the higher power blower.

Step 6: Cut Up the Rest (or More Fire)

At the end I had 2 thin (ish) pieces left. I drilled a long string of holes and just zipped the rest off with my reciprocating saw.

That's it!



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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Why didn't you use a paddle bit and drill holes into the stump and pour used motor oil into the holes to assist the burning process.?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I did start off by making holes, but the stump was still green so large bits, and even smallish ones had trouble. Also the oil would have been burning on the surface, it would not have helped much, and oil needs to be pretty hot to burn and burns real dirty. Getting it under might have worked, but then it would have soaked into the ground.


    3 years ago

    I've got a stump in my yard that I've been angry at for years. I've never once thought of burning it out, though.

    This is a clever solution, thank you for sharing it! :)

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    But don't be a fool like me and think you can burn it from the top! I tried that for a whole summer... Apparently it takes me about 20 tries to learn anything ;)


    Reply 3 years ago

    Don't be too scared just smart and cautious. I make all my gun ,powder with potassium nitrate or ,stump remover. Just don't add sulfer and charcoal.


    3 years ago

    I have burnt stumps out before. But I seriously need to caution folks. Be very very careful when burning stumps. While you think the fire has gone out, it can smolder for days. Once I burnt out a stump and thought everything was extinguished and okay. And then about a week later smoke started coming out of the ground about 30 feet away from that stump. Seem the roots were still smoldering and surprising to see the smoke coming out 30 feet away days later. So be careful. But if you are careful, burning stumps is a great way to be rid of them. You can even use a product called stump rot. Basically Potassium Nitrate, commonly used to make black powder. And if you know anything about chemistry, that is an oxidizer.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I will second that caution. Usually, if you really want to burn something, you will have a difficult time getting a fire going. When you don't want to burn something and think you have the fire completely out is when that tiny hidden ember takes off on its own.

    Regarding the overall content, I will probably put some of these tips to use in the near future. I recently had a tree blow over in a wind storm, leaving a stump in a bad location. I discovered there is an old steel drainage pipe embedded in the roots which will probably prevent using a stump grinder on it.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Root fires are a thing. I will add a note. In my case this is a tree that can re-grow from the roots, so the root system was still very much alive. It gushed water when I was first cutting it even though it is over a year old! However, for something that is dry, once the cuts are made, covering the exterior roots with some mud would probably be a good idea.