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Debarking trees yes or no  RSS feed

 
Roman Campbell
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Location: Blanchard, LA...zone 8b
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I'm building a small, barn/shed whatever you wanna call it and I'm building it log style. I'm using local pine trees and was wondering if it was mandatory that you debark the trees. My plan wasn't to anmd I've researched a little bit about it and some people say yes some say no. I've seen lots of pictures of log cabins with the bark still on. So would it be OK to leave the bark on? The bark would eventually fall off anyway.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Like always, the answer is "it depends"

From my own journey in the research, and based on no practical experience thusfar, you can certainly leave the bark on BUT it will invite problems you wouldn't otherwise have. Insect infestation, and specifically beetles, are #1 - they will lay eggs under the bark (and may have already before you've harvested the tree) which hatch out to larva that eat the outer layers of wood, tunneling as they go, creating weakness and entry points for fungus and other icky things. If you treat the logs, this might not be as much of an issue. The #2 problem is the fact that it will fall off over time, leading to a less than appealing look as chunks of bark slough off the dry, seasoned logs. I read of accounts where people glued this back in place using various techniques and glue types. #3 in the list of problems is that the bark may hold moisture against the wood where it would otherwise have dried out faster/stayed drier - this can lead to mold and premature rot (as well as invite more insect pests...they love dark, wet places).

So to truly answer your question, the requisite questions you'd need to answer would be "how long do you want the structure to survive, how natural/clean do you want it to be and do you care about what it looks like". It's a judgement call based on your needs. Me? I left the bark on all the logs I built my temporary (shooting for maybe 10 years of usable life) shed/wrap roundwood timberframing structure, but am peeling all the logs I plan to build my more permanent cabin framing with
 
Rob Bouchard
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Location: BC, Canada
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I'm doing some log outbuilding roof structures, and I'm going to try leaving the bark on... I've read the pro's and cons... I want the look and don't feel like peeling bark.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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It is always best to remove the bark and the new growth wood, the reason for this is to 1. stabilize the log so every part of it dries at the same rate. 2. removes the inevitable beetle larve problem.

To keep bark tight to the log you have to cut the tree either just before dormancy or after the tree is fully dormant and it helps if you also seal the ends of the logs with shellac or hot wax.

Logs, to last the longest possible time, should be treated with a borax solution ( soaked in it or six or seven coats brushed on heavily) to keep pests from entering and to kill those already present.
 
Roman Campbell
Posts: 52
Location: Blanchard, LA...zone 8b
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I've been intrigued by watching videos building log cabins and I'm going to hand hew my logs. My problem I have is I started my barn with the pole barn design. I have the 6 center posts in and framed and my side shed to cover my tractor. So how big a pain is it going to be stacking logs against the posts I have in the ground. I considered taking them out but their already in the ground and my side shed already has a roof. Am I over thinking it, like I do everything? Biggest issue I can see is getting the logs up top.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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In that situation I would treat the logs as the siding, use the poles as an easy way to keep the stacking in place as you go up using the traditional notching of your choice (scribed, flat notch or even plank notch).
The poles give you a nice start and a place to spike to so you have no worries.
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 314
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Roman Campbell wrote:I've been intrigued by watching videos building log cabins and I'm going to hand hew my logs. My problem I have is I started my barn with the pole barn design. I have the 6 center posts in and framed and my side shed to cover my tractor. So how big a pain is it going to be stacking logs against the posts I have in the ground. I considered taking them out but their already in the ground and my side shed already has a roof. Am I over thinking it, like I do everything? Biggest issue I can see is getting the logs up top.



There's always other building techniques you could use as well - now that you have a frame in place and some roofing done, the cordwood or "cobwood" infill method might work out depending on your needs and available materials. The cordwood technique is a more efficient use of the wood you have available generally, which is nice (you can use more "ends", "knots" and "skinnies" than otherwise). Another option is if you can get those logs cut lengthwise, you could double your mileage with the materials you have and make them perfect for just nailing up like large, rough planks, following along the basic polebarn design you have started.

Seems to me that when dealing with any of the more natural building methods, hybrids and fusion of the various styles and methods do tend to work out nicely and play well with one-another. This, though, is just my "partially informed" opinion...very little hands-on experience at this point
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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