leaving the bark on log poles

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paul Wheaton, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,443
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    I'm doing some thinning and getting a fair amount of wood that would make good poles for a porch or a barn or something. At first I was going to peel them, but some of that bark really doesn't want to peel! My brother pointed out the wood on a dead snag. The wood seemed plenty strong. The bark came of easily. There were little bug trails all over the outside of the wood, but nothing on the inside. He made a very compelling argument to just leave the bark on. Stack the poles and let them dry. When the time comes to build anything, make sure the overhang from the roof keeps 99% of the water well away from the pole in the ground. And make sure there is ample trenching around the structure to keep any ground water away.

    So I saw stars in my eyes and the lazy putz in me said "sounds good!"

    Am I gonna regret this?
     
  2. Travis in Louisiana

    Travis in Louisiana Clinton, Louisiana

    Messages:
    1,879
    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Louisiana
    I mess with log furniture some, so here is my somewhat answer. The green logs will peel better than when they are dry. I have found the bark is hard to get off of pine logs after they have dried. Also, if you peel the bark off, the logs will dry faster. I know if you leave the logs out in the weather to dry with the bark on them, the logs will usually rot. Now I live in the south where the humidity is quite high. On the other hand, at my cabin in Montana, there is no humidity and I see log buildings standing in the area that are ages old and are in fairly good shape. So in the long run, If it was me, I would peel the bark off. I use a draw knife, disc sander, or an electric hand planer to get the bark off and trim off the limb stubs.
     

  3. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    If you want easy to peel logs, springtime is the time to cut them. The lazy man's way is to just peel a single strip, preferably on two sides of the log and let the rest fall off.

    I've always been told that an unpeeled log will harbor critters and always be a problem, but the very first log cabin I ever was involved in building was constructed of small diameter, unpeeled lodgepole pine. That was 40 years ago and the bark's still tight and can't tell that there's been more of a critter problem there than conventionally peeled logs.

    The only time I wish we'd taken the time to peel them was when trying to clean all the collected dust from the interior. You simply can't.
     
  4. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    Forgot to mention...those bug trails you see on the cambium layer of the snags, under the bark? Those are beetle tracks and are in all likelyhood what weakened and killed the tree. As soon as the tree is dead, the beetles make tracks for another live tree. They don't stick around long in dead ones.

    As a side note, you can look at the pattern of those tracks under the bark and tell exactly what kind of beetle made it.
     
  5. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

    Messages:
    2,246
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Location:
    Northeastern Minnesota
    When I was a boy we used to cut poles for tobacco barns and they needed them to be peeled. They dry faster if cut in the winter and the good poles are easier to find will the leaves are off. We would cut them, prop them up off the ground, and take about a one inch strip off them from end to end with a drawknife. The poles would dry faster and the bark could just be knocked off later with an axe.

    Hickory and some other hard woods are not so easy if cut in the winter. Their bark would dry as hard as Portsmouth Flint and stick like glue. If you let the sap come up before you cut your poles the bark will almost fall off of any kind of pole; especially poplar.
     
  6. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,223
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    OlyPen
    Leaving the bark on harbors bugs and hide any rotting that may happen. The only logs that can be used with the bark on is cedar.

    Stack your poles in the goat pen. They will peel the bark off for you.
     
  7. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Michigan
    "Stack your poles in the goat pen. They will peel the bark off for you."

    :haha: Sure enough!! And do a pretty good job of it too!!
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,266
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    MN
    Very much depends on what species of wood you are talking about.

    It _can_ work your way, but you are inviting rot & critters & fungus to cause you some problems. If kept dry & stacked so air can circulate - can work. If tossed on a pile in the weather, more likely to rot out on you. Peeled logs dry out quicker & better so you will have more solid wood, less shrinkage when you start building.

    If this is a 'someday' deal & they might be laying there 10 years from now, let it be. If you are serious about wanting good poles next year, you can depend on good wood if you peel them.

    --->Paul
     
  9. MikeJoel

    MikeJoel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    132
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    Would sheep do this too?

    Thanks
    Mike
     
  10. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    OK
    Have you tried a draw knife? Next best thing to goats.
     
  11. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    Only peel logs when the sap starts to flow: in the spring and early summer. If you start the peel with an ax, shovel, spud, or just about anything, then, you can pull it off in big strips.

    I have had to peel logs at other times, because I wanted more logs for some building project -- I hated the sweat and physical effort -- only because I knew if I did it at the right time -- it would be no trouble at all; an 8 year old child could do it -- and did on some of our logs -- for our log cabin.

    About May 15 and onward up at Moberly Lake in northern BC is the right-easy time to peel.

    Good luck,

    Alex
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,443
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    These are all fir and pine.

    I'm not too far from montana.

    And, yes, these logs will be off the ground and under tin. Nice and dry.
     
  13. Virg

    Virg Active Member

    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    After stacking I like to put some tar on the ends. It helps to stop the checking.