How to Peel a Log

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Whether you're making fence posts, building log furniture or starting a log cabin, you may want to peel the logs you use. The advantages of peeling a log rather than using it with the bark on include protecting the wood from insect attack and speeding the drying process. You may decide to leave traces of the bark for a rustic appearance, or peel it completely for cleaner lines.

Things You'll Need

  • Logs
  • Lathe (optional)
  • Chainsaw
  • Peeling spud
  • Drawknife
  • Decide whether you want to use a machine such as a lathe to peel your logs, or if you want to peel them with hand-tools. Using a lathe creates a nearly perfect cylindrical log. While this may work well for a log home, using hand tools is preferred by most people working with logs.

  • Cut your wood between spring and fall with a chainsaw. Logs cut then are easier to peel than those cut in the winter.

  • Start your peeling by using a peeling spud. This tool pries most of the bark off the log.

  • Choose the size and weight of the drawknife you want to use. The drawknife removes the bark that's left after you've used the peeling spud. Base your choice on your size and strength, the size of the logs you're working with, and what feels most comfortable in your grip.

  • Scrape the log with the drawknife to remove the rest of the bark. You may need to use a chainsaw or a grinder to wear down the knots. Doing that can ensure that you don't nick the edge of your drawknife's blade.

  • Consider what you're going to be making with the logs. You may want to leave some of the bark on the log to give it a rustic look, but remember that if you do that, you may also leave some wood-boring insects in the log.

  • Work with the drawknife until your log is as cleanly peeled as you want it to be.

Tips & Warnings

  • Usually you push the drawknife against the knots, but if one is particularly hard or jagged, you may need to peel in the opposite direction.
  • Be sure to keep your drawknife sharp as you work on the logs. A dull knife not only makes peeling more difficult, but it can also cause you to hurt yourself.
  • If you want squared-off logs, use an axe or an adze to remove the bark and shape them.

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