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Thread: Stripping Bark

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Asheville, NC
    Posts
    2

    Stripping Bark

    I am planning to make some rustic furniture with bases made of branches. How does one strip the bark? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Miitch Trager

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    1,487
    Hey Mitch,

    Hope things are cooler up in the high country than they are in Charlotte! I don't really know the answer to your question, but if I remember correctly, branches cut in the summer when the sap is high will release the bark pretty easily. Branches cut in the winter, when the sap is low, hold their bark. So if you want to do rustics with the bark, cut in the winter, and if you are going to strip the bark, cut in the summer! I may have this backwards, so hopefully someone else will chime in.

    Welcome to the site, there are a lot of great people here!

    Ed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,697
    Never easy. Depending on the type of tree, some bark will just pop off, especially if cut in spring. Most of the time, I have had to resort to use of Neanderthal tools. Often, I'll use a broad ax (beveled on one side only) or a draw knife. For pines and cedar sometimes I can get by with a pocket knife. Always requires elbow grease and blisters.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
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    15,582
    Good leather gloves are a must, a hooked knife helps, but if the bark don't want to come off, it is a bit of work.

    Like the other guy said, bark off, late spring is best.

    If the branches are not HUGE you can also let them soak in a tub overnight, this will help with some species not with others.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Oliver Springs, TN
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    1,618
    If the branches are large enough I would use a pressure washer. The attached pictures are of the porch railing I made for my house. They are made from ceder trees. I started out with a draw knife. After a few hours of cutting I had enough for one section of railing. With six sections to make I figured there had to be a quicker way. I got out the power washer and did in about twenty minutes what had taken two hours with the draw knife.

    I had some of the trees that had been down for about three months and the bark came off these very easily. I had to cut a bunch of smaller saplings for the spindles and it took much longer to get the bark off the green trees.

    I will say that I liked the look of the trees cleaned with the draw knife better than the pressure washed trees. The draw knife left more "character" than the wood of the pressure washed trees (it was very smooth).

    I used an angle grinder to grind down the branches.
    Last edited by John Daugherty; 08-10-2007 at 09:08 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Clardy View Post
    Most common tool to do it with. Draw knife
    I was gonna say that.... Most coomon tool for the job in my humble opinion. BUT Most furniture made with "Sticks" and such, have the bark intact? what for are you stripping it?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Clardy View Post
    Most common tool to do it with. Draw knife
    I'm afraid that isn't quite true. The most common tool for debarking trees is with a debarking spud, or spud as it is known here in Maine. There are two types, the long handled type and the short handled type. In my honest opinion, they are the only way to debark a log. It takes very little effort and a surprising amount of logs can be peeled via this simple, but functional tool.

    As for the history of this tool, well back as early as the 1980's, a logger/ landowner could get a few more bucks per cord by debarking the wood on the woodlot rather than having the mill or paper company do it. Popular logs, cedar and fir ands spruce were the most common logs debarked and paid extra for though there might have been others before my time.

    The major tree that was debarked however was the Eastern Hemlock. The bark was full of reddish tannins that were used to make everything from medicines, tonics, dye and tanning acids for tanneries. Back in the early 1800's, these big trees would be felled, had their bark removed and harvested, while the rest of the log was left to rot in the woods. Back then pine and spruce were king and no one wanted hemlock for anything.

    Anyway enough history, here is a picture of the debarking spud which interestingly enough, can still be purchased at Northern Tool.

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    Travis, I'd like to use that debarking spud on the dogs next door. Looks like it'd handle a barking problem quite nicely
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
    You're probably right, ther is way to much logger in me still.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    2,323
    You two guys are both "loggerheads".....
    About 8 years ago I had to build a tree 26' tall and about 24' in diameter. I used limbs from newly cut down trees. I tried the drawknife for the first time and it worked ok, I tried a rig axe and it worked okay and I tried a carpet knife which was okay on some small limbs but what worked the best was when I hired two guys from El Salvador! Real workers. "con" machete's. Sometimes it is best to share the wealth.
    Shaz
    P.S. Welcome Mitchell, nice of you to join us here!
    I am a registered voter and you can be too. We ( registered voters ) select the moderators for this forum by voting every six months for the people we want to watch over this family forum.
    Please join me. Register now.
    Shaz
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