getting the bark off of a log

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, May 30, 2004.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    missoula, montana
    Looks like I need to buy a tool to do this.

    My local farm store has a drawknife for $60. I can find them on the net for about $30.

    In another thread somebody suggested using a sander with a coarse grit sandpaper. Or high pressure water.

    On the internet I found a tool where you stand:

    I also found something that you hook up to your chainsaw:

    I have never taken the bark off of the tree before. I like to think that I'm going to start making lots of stuff from logs and will debark a couple dozen trees each year. I don't own any of the tools to do any of the suggestions above and would prefer to get just one.

    I suppose that the drawknife is the standard. It would be nice to be able to do something that doesn't require me bringing the log to electicity.

  2. heelpin

    heelpin Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2003
    Paul, buy you a gooseneck hoe and have it straightened out where you can push under the bark and strip. This works well with softwoods but gets a little tougher with something like Hickory or Oak. In the 50's we had to peel all pulpwood before the mill would take it and this is the way we did it, also a thin double bladed ax is good. The greener the log is the easier it is and also when the sap is up.

  3. Peanut

    Peanut Member

    May 10, 2002
    British Columbia
    I've peeled over 80 logs with a $15 drawknife I got at an antique store. Most of them were propped up on the tailgate, but it's even easier if you have a couple of heavy sawhorses with a vise on one. If the logs are cut and peeled in the spring when the sap is running, the bark peels off like butter and it takes no energy.
  4. Deck your logs where the goats have access and they will do most of the work for you.
  5. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Northern Wisconsin
    The right tool depends a lot on what species of wood you'll be peeling, what time of year the logs were cut, your climate, etc.

    Aspen is the easiest of all logs to peel, especially when it is cut in May/June when the sap level is at its highest. A simple homemade device made from a car leaf spring, called a spud, works fantastic. A 50' tree can easily be peeled in under 5 minutes when conditions are ideal. Of course, nature has a very short "window of opportunity" in which these ideal conditions exist. Usually, its approx 6 weeks out of the year.
    I should add that peeling other species of wood other than aspen.....range from 5 to 50 times more difficult.

    A draw knife works fairly well on conifers such as white pine, balsam, and red pine. In this area, logs for log cabins are usually harvested in December, January and February. They peel best (at least in Northern Wisconsin) in early April when the daytime temps reach 50 - 60 degrees.
    Timing is everything. I witnessed people spend the better of an 8 hour day peeling 1 (one) 50' white pine log in March....when the logs were still frozen. 2 weeks later, they were able to peel a similar 50' white pine log from the same batch in approx 90 minutes.

    I have used a Log Wizard on red pine logs and wasn't especially impressed with it. It didn't really work very fast, and the finished look was too refined for my tastes.

    Peeling logs is difficult work, regardless of what method is used.
  6. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    central idaho republic
    I have several drawknives, for various types of work, for log house logs i use a knife made in Hamilton Montana by a fella that peels professionally for a house builder.... cost me $125, but beats the heck out of the smaller knives on the large diameter logs.

    for furniture i use a smaller knife that has handles that tipout similar to a spoke shave, made by Jennings circa 1900, it is the 8 inch version i picked up for $50 at an auction, online it goes for around $125 in the same condition.

    I also have a vise on a post that i can lock small logs into for furniture making, it saves time and if you put an old towel around the log it wont mark it any on already peeled stock. For log house building i like a rack of logs put up so that the log i am working on is chest high which dramatically saves the back [learned this from a professional peeler as well]

    I have used a powersaw peeler but do not like them as they do not peel the log as nicely as they proclaim they can, and again it is hard on a persons back even if you use a short bar for balance purposes. Plus tying up a powerhead for peeling purposes only just dont make for production on the log house, and mayhaps an excessive cost for some people too.

    dry logs build the best, and peel hardest, however building with green logs is harder to due to shrinkage. If you peel a green dry to remove bark, and sticker it for a year, you will have an excellent seasoned log for building, but it must be peeledagain to get that just peeled look, and to remove mold spores that will grow on just about every green peeled log there is.

    Skip peeling is nice on a dry log for furniture, it gives a rustic look to a piece without having to be 100 years old, but on a green log it can peel off before you use the log for anything and make it not look as nice in the end. It all depends too upon the end user. Clean peelingtakes more time, and therefore commands more dollars if you sell the object, but perhaps does not sell as well as skip peeled furniture, Log houses on the other hand generally are always clean peeled. a professional peeler gets .50 per foot, and makes between $100 and $200.00 per day on 12 inch average logs, on smaller diameter logs a $100.00 day is a long day at times, just to give you an idea. A person can peel and put together a bed frame after they get used to the work in a day, and i know of a couple fellas that can do 2 per day skip peeling and just plain 4 inch straight logs, nothing with charactor.

    That Barkbear looks similar to an old "spud" which is easy to weld out of all steel, and the bark strips like shown can be done with a screw driver if peeled in the spring when the sap is running, or any tool once you get a piece to grip and pull. The nice thing about that particular weapon is that it may be heavy enough to go through smaller knots without pullingthe knot out and leaving an undesired hole [yes a drawknife can do the same once in awhile].

    A sander just makes a mess on logs you are trying to get peeled, the belts fill up way to fast and grinders leave wheel marks very easy. However they can be used for finishing a piece of furniture to give it a very nice polished look on end grains which is trotally adverse to most woodworking projects.

    Hope i answered a couple questions, and if you have any more give me a holler. I started building custom log houses circa 1990 using the full scribe method [no chinking required] and the one ting i have found is there really is no short cuts that can be made in peeling logs.

  7. Beststash

    Beststash Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Liberal Texas (Austin)
    I have used a turbo nozzle with a pressure washer on cedar if it has been cut for awhile - just flies off.