How to Peel Bark Off a Tree

Updated November 21, 2016

If you want to use trees for fence posts or fence rails, consider peeling the bark. Bark on felled trees retains moisture and provides protection for wood-boring insects. By peeling the bark off, the lumber won't decompose as fast and insects won't have anywhere to hide. A debarked tree provides a cleaner and more uniform look compared to a tree with its bark on. Peeling works best in the spring, when the sap runs between the bark and the cambium layer of the tree. Sharp tools make light work of tree bark when you peel shortly after felling the tree.

Put on leather work gloves and safety glasses. Lift the tree log so that it sits at hip height. Set it on top of other tree logs to achieve the proper height.

Hold the handle of the peeling spud firmly with both hands.

Place the three-sided blade between the bark and the cambium layer at the thickest end of the log.

Push the dished blade under the bark along the length of the tree log.

Peel the bark off by prying the handle up and away from your body. Gradually turn the tree log as you peel the bark away from its sides.

Put on leather work gloves and safety glasses. Set the tree log waist high and straddle the thickest end of the log with your legs.

Grab both handles of the drawknife and position the blade so that if faces the bark on the tree log.

Extend your arms and pull the drawknife toward the smaller end of the log while keeping downward pressure on the blade.

Rock the blade back and forth to compensate for the curvature of the tree log. Peel until you have removed all of the bark.


When you get a piece of bark peeling with the spud or drawknife, grab it with your hands and pull it off. This works best for peeling green logs.


Keep fingers away from the sharp edges of the equipment. Never peel tree logs on uneven ground. The log could shift and pin a foot or leg. Always carry the peeling spud or drawknife down by your side, with the cutting edges away from your body.

Things You'll Need

  • Peeling knife
  • Drawknife
  • Leather work gloves
  • Safety glasses
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