How to Debark Wood


Taking the bark off wood can be challenging. Using a hand held bark spud or drawknife is the old-fashioned way and works fine for small jobs. Chainsaw attachments that fit on the end of the blade and act like small planers can speed up the job. Lumberyards and pulp mills use larger machines called ring, drum, Rosser head and flail debarkers. Medium-sized machines that use these techniques can be used for whole house projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Chainsaw
  • Bark spud or spade
  • Drawknife
  • Turning hook
  • Use axe or chainsaw and cut the branches off the tree. Cut flush with the tree trunk near the inner part of the bark. Remove separated branches from the cutting area to keep it clear of debris. Use extra caution when cutting branches that carry the weight of the tree trunk.

  • Start on one end of the log and use the axe to remove a piece of bark. Push the bark spud or spade between the bark and tree trunk and pry off the bark. Push and peel along the full length of the log. Use a drawknife by holding both handles and pulling towards yourself to cut off bark of small branches or for intricate work.

  • Use a log-turning hook on larger logs to grip the log and turn it over. Continue turning and peeling until the entire tree is debarked.

Tips & Warnings

  • Different species of trees and the season of the year will make the bark peel off harder or easier.
  • Saw the tree trunk into shorter pieces to relieve some of the weight off the branches.
  • Cutting larger branches in two steps can prevent loads from shifting, falling or binding on cutting tools. Leave a nub near the trunk and cut it off after cutting off a larger section of branch.
  • Use gravity as an aid to remove the falling pieces, being careful not to allow two pieces to fall down at the cut and bind the chainsaw blade.
  • Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while using hand tools.
  • Never place feet or legs in a position behind or off to side of cutting motion. Axe or chainsaw blades can glance off and cause severe injury or death.
  • Cutting branches that carry the tree trunk weight can cause the tree trunk or branch to shift and fall with the possibility of crushing arms, legs, tools or anything underneath.
  • Falling branches can spring back and cause injury after being cut from the tree trunk.

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