How To Remove Bark From A Tree (5 Methods For Woodworkers)

How To Remove Bark From A Tree

Tree branch debarking is the initial step of the manufacturing procedure, yet this step is complicated and time-consuming.

Therefore, woodworkers must be skillful in terms of estimating pinpoints for cutting and operating debark tools.

In addition, they must be agile in hewing to avoid causing tears and jagged edges, which damages the appearance of wood.

By knowing the difficulties of debarking, this article is published to guide you on how to remove bark from a tree.

Precautions Before Removing Bark From A Log

To ensure absolute safety before learning how to debark a log, users must follow the safety regulation and prepare protective types of equipment:

  • Measure the appropriate depth, do not cut too deep since you simply need to peel off the skin. When digging into the log, ensure the sufficiently tight pressure to avoid cutting yourself when pulling up the tool.
  • Prepare safety glasses, protective gloves, facemask, safety earplugs to protect your body from harmful external out splash of the bark and the extra loud noise from the machine.
  • Please pay attention to the machine’s emission index to ensure it does not outreach the accepted levels for human beings’ health.
  • Set the lowest mode for all debarking tools initially. If the log requires more vital force, switch to a more powerful mode.

Tools To Remove Bark From A Branch

The first action of debarking is selecting proper tools. As different instruments require different procedures while cutting.

Hence, we provide some basic information on debarking tools for you to review. Then, you can select ones that fit yours.

Bark Spuds and Adzes

There are plenty of tools for debarking. The traditional equipment includes bark spuds and adzes, yet, due to its being more time-consuming and forced from woodworkers, bark spuds are less preferred than pressure washers.

Pressure Washers

A pressure washer is a powerful tool to scrub dirt and grime off outside surfaces by using water pressure with the assistance of gas engines and electric motors.

Pressure washers help woodworkers remove a more significant amount of bark in a shorter time.

Drawknives and Chisels

Debarking Wood

For small pieces of wood or preliminarily processed wood, woodworkers can use drawknives or chisels to remove the outside bark. Drawknives and chisels come in different variants.

Then, depending on the thickness of the bark, woodworkers pick up the proper tools for debarking.

Usually, drawknives for wood have small to large sizes and the shape of straight to curves. For deeper cuts, curve drawknives are ideal, whereas straight drawknives are better for smooth cuts.

For chisels, models encompass from 8.9 to 14.6 inches for general carpentry, general cabinet making, and deep mortise, depending on the purposes.

How To Remove Bark From A Tree: 5 Common Methods For Woodworkers

This part will provide more detailed guidance on how to debark tree branches with different tools.

Besides the main tools listed, please prepare electric chainsaws, hacksaws, and pruning saws, depending on your purposes.

In the preliminary debarking process, electric chainsaws are for large logs, hacksaws for hewing and woodcrafts, and pruning saws for trimming live trees and shrubs.

Method 1: Debark with Bark Spuds

How To Debark A Tree

Using bark spuds is the classic method of how to remove bark from a log. Recently, this technique has also been widely used in the States. This process includes several steps, as listed down here.

  • Mark the intersections on the log; at this point, four divided sections overlapped. By doing this, woodworkers will cut the log more neatly and straight.
  • Use the chainsaw to cut and sharpen four sections on the surface of the logs. Do not forget to turn around the log to cut the other sides.
  • Use the blade underneath the bark for slice and dice.
  • Push forward along the length of the log with the sawhorse up and down in constant movements.
  • Keep going until the bark is completely peeled off.
  • Repeat this process to the rest of the sections.

Method 2: Debark with Pressure Washers

Peeling barks with the spud is too weary for woodworkers. Thus, some of them change to Pressure Washers. Removing bark from a log with the pressure washer is kindly simple as step-by-step guidance below.

  • Test a perfect mode outside the cutting area and examine all functions to ensure they work well.
  • Apply to the log and test the effectiveness of the pressure washers to the peeling process.
  • Adjust the nozzle of the pressure washer.

How To Remove Bark From A Log

One tip for adjusting the nozzle is to consider the thickness, patterns of spray, and the wood condition. If the wood is dry, it is necessary to intensify the spray for better effectiveness.

On the other hand, retain or lower the power of the spray as the moisture of the content partly causes the bark to be more short split.

It is noted that woodworkers need to vary the pressure to avoid overcutting the softwood. However, the standard is psi 3000. This mode works well with either hardwoods and softwoods.

Check how people debark with a pressure washer in the video below.

Method 3: Debark with Drawknives

Drawknives are also good tools to debark a log. Nevertheless, drawknives are small; they are only suitable for thin and slim barks, not for thick layers.

How To Remove Bark From A Branch

Usually, edges of processed plywood are applicable for drawknives. People also use them in the wood sculpture to remove the retained bark. The process includes merely a few steps:

  • Initially, estimate the angles and outward direction of the blade on the bark surface.
  • Position the tree branch to the aligned direction vertically for cutting.
  • Grasp the handle with both hands and pull downward. In case you cannot pull the knife vertically, then do it horizontally.

Method 4: Debark with Chisels

The use of chisels is similar to drawknives. With the assistance of chisels, woodworkers can make intense cuts with their hand pressures.

These two types of tools are used when the wood is peeled and cut into shapes already.

Chisels and drawknives are meant to slough off the trivial tiny bark retained on the wood surface. Like debarking with drawknives, you should follow these steps:

  • Dig the chisel on the bark with 20 to 30-degree angles.
  • Then, hammer the log with the mallet by hand.
  • Continue the chisel with the round shape of the log.

Method 5: Debark with Adzes

An adze is an axe with a curved blade used to finish the beams/ logs to form a flat surface. Debark with adzes is also a traditional method, yet, it is very challenging since mostly woodworkers rely on the power of their bare hands.

Bark Removal

Therefore, woodworkers cannot debark tree branches only using adzes.

Nevertheless, for soft, small wood, adzes can carve on the surface to slough off the bark and peel with bare hands. The process of how to remove bark from a log with an adze includes these steps:

  • Use one hand to steady the log to prevent it from moving (you can also use legs to stabilize the log).
  • Grip the adze with both hands and slash on the bark several times with significant force so as the bark gradually sloughs off.
  • Use bare hands to peel the bark from the tree log.

Check how to remove bark from a log with an adze in the video below.

Debarking with adzes is slightly more complex than other tools, so here are some extra tips to enhance hand power. Like other tools, adzes come in different sizes.

The longer edge of the adze is often used to remove bark from the branch.

Besides, short handle adzes are used for woods that reach the height between your waist and knees. On the other hand, long handle adzes are used for woods lying on the ground.

Best Time For Tree Debarking

Spring is an ideal time to debark your logs as the moisture in the content of layers is rich during this time. On the other hand, in autumn, the bark is drier.

Secondly, the best time is when logs are newly cut from trees.

Experienced woodworkers suggest it when you have just removed branches from a tree; debarking must have occurred as the layer is still soft.

As a consequence, woodworkers do not have to intensify the hand force to peel off the bark.

However, if you leave them for a time on the outside, the air and temperature affect the content inside the logs, which makes the bark drier.


How to dry tree bark?

If you accidentally let the water absorb into the bark, do not worry about it. When the bark gets rot, woodworkers can dry it with the heat of the washing machine in low mode.

If you are afraid that heating with a washing machine is too hot, a hairdryer is an ideal alternative to evaporate water molecules inside the bark layer.

Read more: How To Dry Wood Without Splitting or Cracking?

Does debarking mean killing trees?

Sadly, yes, debarking is taking the life from a tree.

For those who yearn for sustainability development, using products made from trees such as paper, furniture, fashion accessory is a pang of considerable guilt. It bothers them to see logs carved into pieces.

This action means killing trees as the tree no longer has the phloem, sap, and nutrients from the outer bark to survive.

Hence, nowadays, people often opt for genuine wood alternatives to save the environment. The first called-out name is Laminate, the copy-cat artificial wood materials for home furniture.

It is more wonderful than you expected.


Above is our guidance for woodworkers to broaden their understanding of how to remove bark from a tree.

Overall, debarking with adzes and bark spuds is more familiar and widely applied. However, trying on a pressure washer is also a good idea.

With chisels and drawknives, debarking is just a trivial matter in the woodcraft and sculpture phases.

Hopefully, you grasp some valuable information and tips to execute correctly, with higher safety and productivity.

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