How to Remove Birch Bark From a Fallen Tree

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Things You'll Need

  • White birch branches

  • Utility knife

  • Stiff-bristled brush

  • Dish detergent

  • Water

  • Airtight box

  • Work gloves

Birch bark and stone vase

The bark from white birch trees is a highly sought material used by woodworkers and crafters. The bark’s silvery white sheen offers a rustic beauty that can be applied to crafts as accent pieces. Birch bark can be easily harvested from trees, but it is preferable to remove the bark only from tree limbs that have broken or fallen off. If you live in an area where birch is plentiful, broken branches can usually be found quite easily.


Step 1

Find branches from birch trees that have fallen onto the ground due to bad weather or natural decay. The longer the limbs have been on the ground, the easier it will be to remove their bark. It is possible to remove the bark from a freshly fallen branch, but it may take more effort. And the thicker the branch, the bigger the sheet of bark will be.

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Step 2

Lay the branch in front of you vertically, and with your utility knife cut an even slice down the center. You may need to apply a bit of pressure to make your cut.

Step 3

Peel the birch bark from the tree wood. You may notice that under the bark the wood has already began to decay, but this will not affect your bark. As you peel, be sure to remove the entire thickness of the bark. Birch bark has two layers--the paper-like skin and the veneer backing. You will want both pieces together, forming a sheet of bark.


Step 4

Brush any dirt or debris from your birch bark sheet with a stiff-bristled brush. Washing your sheet of birch bark with some dish soap and warm water and allowing it to dry thoroughly will make it nice and clean for crafting. It will also remove tiny bugs and parasites that have been living on it.


Step 5

Continue the process until you have as much birch bark as you need for your project. You can also remove extra sheets of birch bark for future projects by following the steps and then storing it an airtight box.


It is advisable to ask permission before removing birch branches or bark from property that is not yours.


Be very careful when stripping bark with a utility knife. The knife is very sharp and can cause a severe cut. Gloves should be worn to protect your hands while harvesting birch bark.


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