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Thread: Using branches with bark still intact?

  1. #1
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    Using branches with bark still intact?

    The wife does a lot of crafts and wanted me to go in with her to do a craft fair this December. I've been looking for simple projects that won't have a lot of time required so I can keep the prices affordable. One idea I had was to make some candle holders from a split branch, with holes drilled on top for glass votive candle holders, tea lights, etc. What will I need to consider when using this type of raw wood? Will I need to do something to make sure the bark doesn't fall off? I don't want to make a product that would be an embarassment. Any advise would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I've used spray finishes like shellac or lacquer over exposed bark with good success. (I've done the same with heavily burned wood.) The finish seems to help the bark itself stick together better.

    The other issue is to keep the bark from falling off the branch itself. For that, I'm pretty sure the time of year the wood was harvested plays a part in it. (I think winter trimmings hold together better than summer trimmings, but I could have those backward.) Also, how the wood is dried makes a difference. If it dries too fast, the bark is more likely to fall off.

    For something like candle holders, I think I'd look for already dried branches. If the bark is still on them, it's likely it'll stay. If you use green wood, you won't know for certain if the bark will still be hanging on in a year or two.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  3. #3
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    Yep, Vaughn had it right although in his area, what is the difference between summer or winter??
    The way I understand it, the bark is tighter to the wood in the winter due to the sap being down out of the tree. In the summer the sap is between the bark and the wood.
    Another little, quick, easy project are snowmen and mushrooms. Especially turned green and bark left on the edge, they twist and move as they dry and get a very natural look to them.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  4. #4
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    Most hardwoods you can almost count on the bark coming off eventually. Red cedar should hold it OK. And you should have a lot of that around you. Downside with leaving bark on is insect infestation. Some woods are worse than others at that than others (dogwood, persimmon, pine). The cedar is relatively resistant to buggies.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Most hardwoods you can almost count on the bark coming off eventually...
    I've had good success with walnut and box elder. I know others have done well with cherry and ash.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    I've had good success with walnut and box elder. I know others have done well with cherry and ash.
    Walnut, ash and Box Elder for me too...
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  7. #7
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    definitely winter wood, or perhaps mid summer. Avoid spring and fall when the sap is moving up or down (spring is the only time the bark is loose enough I can slip it off to make whistles ) Younger wood seems to hold better than old as well.

    I've found that taking a little bit of the bark of here and there stress relieves it so its less likely to split and crack off entirely. Whether or not that works well definitely depends on the wood.... but no specific recommendations there other than "try it"

    I've had some luck with cherry and willow.

  8. #8
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    Sounds like if I want to try this project, it will have to wait until next year's fair. I'll be on the look out for some appropriate trees in the meantime. Thanks for all the information. I'm glad I found this site, I've never met a more helpful bunch before. And welcome Ryan!

  9. #9
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    Good catch there Raymond!
    Yes, welcome to the family Ryan.

    Well Raymond how about someone in your neck of the woods that burns wood. If they cut their wood in the winter, you will have a ready supply now. One hunk of firewood makes a lot of little projects on a lathe!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

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