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How to remove tree bark

Updated February 21, 2017

There are a number of reasons to strip a felled tree or log of its bark. Tree bark is removed to prepare logs for building material or chainsaw sculptures, to prevent insect infestations in stores of firewood, and to avoid creosote build-up in the chimney due to burning bark smoke. With proper tools and techniques, bark is removed cleanly and safely. The ease at which the bark is removed largely depends on the type of wood and whether it is green or dry.

Cut off any remaining limbs, using a hacksaw or a pruning saw.

Secure the log into a shaving horse, vice or other type of secure clamp.

Grip the handles at each end of a drawknife with each hand. Position the blade at the cut end, pointing the saw's teeth into the tissue of the cambium layer where the bark meets the sapwood. Use sawing motions while pulling on the drawknife to work the blade under the bark.

Remove the drawknife and wedge the tip of a bark spud under the bark. Push down on the handle of the bark spud to pry off a chunk of bark.

Continue to use the drawknife and bark spud in tandem to cut into and remove bark. Work gradually towards the other end of the log. Also put on a pair of work gloves and peel as much bark as possible by hand.

Tip

Break up leftover bark to use as mulch or groundcover in the lawn and garden.

Warning

Avoid using good shop tools, such as chisels and pry bars, to remove bark, as they may end up covered in sticky sap.

Things You'll Need

  • Shaving horse, vice or log-compatible clamp
  • Hacksaw or pruning saw
  • Draw knife
  • Bark spud
  • Work gloves
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.