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Coppicing, Debarking, Associated Projects...  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I'll be coppicing a few trees this winter. I will need to debark some of the resulting logs. Somewhere on Permies I think saw, and failed to bookmark, video instructions how to debark logs in one piece. I found a print version that describes doing this only in the spring, because...

The keys to an easy peel are to cut the tree when it is actively growing, which only happens in the spring of the year, and peel it as soon as possible thereafter. In spring, the cambium is dividing rapidly and creating new wood, resulting in a soft, slippery layer beneath the bark. This allows the bark to be peeled away easily. Loggers know to be careful not to bump up against trees at this time of year (generally mud season to mid summer), since just a light bump against the “loose” bark of the season can cause a large section to be stripped completely off.

By the time autumn rolls around, the sapwood and cambium are drier and the bark has tightened. If you try to peel a tree in autumn, you’ll find the bark is practically glued to the wood. The most important part of any log-peeling task, therefore, is planning. https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/peeling_logs



After looking for a couple hours for the video, I ask, anyone know where that video is!?

I had thought that it would be best for the trees to be cut when dormant. Any thoughts there? Also, a few years ago when the power company came through, they coppiced at about 5 feet tall. The trees all came back, with mostly nice straight vertical limbs. As I plan to use these trees for firewood in an emergency situation, should I cut them this time at 3 1/2 foot for easier hand saw cutting? (Yes, chainsaw, this time! ) Or is this too short for the trees to recover? After this cutting any further cutting ought to be above this? These are mostly Maple, Bradford Pear, and Redbud, all self seeded.

Anyhow, on the debarking front, things are cool, because I just bought a draw knife yard sale for $5! Ha! I'll just change the order of my projects to minimize the pealing!

Some plans...
Fixing the porch railings, dimensional wood for the horizontal rails, roundwood for the verticals.
Shave horse, to accomplish the above!
Framework for greenhouse shelving.
Mushroom logs.
Garden trellising, beanpoles.

That's rather ambitious of me. Could be a multi year plan. We'll see.


 
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I haven't had issues with coppicing trees almost right to the ground.  I normally cut them at a couple feet tall, but I've cut them at all different heights without issue.  Of the three you mentioned I only have Maple though, so I can't be sure about the other trees.
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:
After looking for a couple hours for the video, I ask, anyone know where that video is!?



Maybe Evan's  Ant Log?      
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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I have some mulberry that need to be shortened. I have read that cutting them during the growing season can cause them to bleed to death. Last year I coppiced one of them, even dormant, it seeped a lot of sap. It came back in the spring just fine though.

Are there any other trees that must not be coppiced during the growing season?
 
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Thanks to your thread I just joined silvaculture forum to learn more about coppicing. I've never done this, but am anxious to get some of the trees you've mentioned started on our property here in northeastern New Mexico. On the other hand our family has worked with small diameter softwoods extensively. Cutting small diameter trees in the Winter is actually easier in my opinion because the ground is frozen and the wood is stiff making the sawing action easier because the tree is held in place nicely. I also cut low for the same reason; not so much sway in the trunk.
As far as peeling goes, again we do mostly softwoods, I hadn't noticed what season makes it easier, but that quote you cited makes a lot of sense. "Peel them while the juice flowing..." I've always done draw-knife work when I needed peeled logs, whatever time of year it was.
Brian
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Brian Rodgers wrote:Cutting small diameter trees in the Winter is actually easier in my opinion because the ground is frozen and the wood is stiff making the sawing action easier because the tree is held in place nicely. I also cut low for the same reason; not so much sway in the trunk.



That is interesting. Though unlikely to help me in my climate. It has been just the last few years that we've had more than 2 days in a row that are below freezing. And so far, only once or twice more than a week at a time within a given year. Also, my personal schedule seems to be opposed to the weather's schedule!
 
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I have experience with only a few species..

Doug fir  is pretty bad in fall/winter, lovely in spring. Literally an order of magnitude faster.

Tan oak is noticeably worse than Doug fir in fall, haven't done it in spring.

Pine (jack pine? White pine?) in spring was 3-4 times more time than fir. Won't waste my time on that twice.

Western red cedar is dead easy in spring, and other times of year still so quick I don't worry about scheduling ahead if it's just a couple trees.

None of that helps with your question except to say, it depends, in a lot of words!


I would try pretty hard to do any large amounts in spring, but shouldn't be a big deal to do a little bit to allow you to start the smaller projects in the meantime... and then you'll have a better feel for whether it's slow enough, to be worth waiting.

Nice score on the draw knife!


I havent seen thebvideo you mention, but would guess the one-piece peel is about slicing or peeling a cut/strip the length of the log and then working your way around; a curved, thinnish, preferably fairly wide pry bar with a sharpened end is nice for this technique. Someday I will make a timber-slick-esque tool just for this purpose, but in the meantime the pry bar suits.


I like, where practical, to try and fall the log with hinge intact, at a height that let's me conveniently skin most all of it before freeing it from the stump and taking it where it's going.

My favorite purchase for this work is a choker cable intended for use with an atv. I use it by hand when moving things that aren't vehicle-worthy/accessible. It's amazing how big a log can be skidded by one person, once it's peeled.

Have fun!
 
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:I'll be coppicing a few trees this winter. I will need to debark some of the resulting logs. Somewhere on Permies I think saw, and failed to bookmark, video instructions how to debark logs in one piece. I found a print version that describes doing this only in the spring, because...

The keys to an easy peel are to cut the tree when it is actively growing, which only happens in the spring of the year, and peel it as soon as possible thereafter. In spring, the cambium is dividing rapidly and creating new wood, resulting in a soft, slippery layer beneath the bark. This allows the bark to be peeled away easily. Loggers know to be careful not to bump up against trees at this time of year (generally mud season to mid summer), since just a light bump against the “loose” bark of the season can cause a large section to be stripped completely off.

By the time autumn rolls around, the sapwood and cambium are drier and the bark has tightened. If you try to peel a tree in autumn, you’ll find the bark is practically glued to the wood. The most important part of any log-peeling task, therefore, is planning. https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/peeling_logs



After looking for a couple hours for the video, I ask, anyone know where that video is!?

I had thought that it would be best for the trees to be cut when dormant. Any thoughts there? Also, a few years ago when the power company came through, they coppiced at about 5 feet tall. The trees all came back, with mostly nice straight vertical limbs. As I plan to use these trees for firewood in an emergency situation, should I cut them this time at 3 1/2 foot for easier hand saw cutting? (Yes, chainsaw, this time! ) Or is this too short for the trees to recover? After this cutting any further cutting ought to be above this? These are mostly Maple, Bradford Pear, and Redbud, all self seeded.

Anyhow, on the debarking front, things are cool, because I just bought a draw knife yard sale for $5! Ha! I'll just change the order of my projects to minimize the pealing!

Some plans...
Fixing the porch railings, dimensional wood for the horizontal rails, roundwood for the verticals.
Shave horse, to accomplish the above!
Framework for greenhouse shelving.
Mushroom logs.
Garden trellising, beanpoles.

That's rather ambitious of me. Could be a multi year plan. We'll see.



To peel the bark off a tree you need it to be able to slip, that means there needs to be sap flow to swell the cambium so it is looser than it would be when dormant.
To slip a full bark ring you first need (besides the draw knife) a good wood mallet.
First you use the draw knife to strip a thin piece of the bark from end to end, in as straight a line as possible (chalk line really helps here).
Once this is done down to the hardened wood under the cambium layer you will decide how long you want your bark rings and you will then mark them out and cut all the way around the tree at each mark, you can use a very sharp hatchet to do this or you can use your draw knife if the tree will fit between the handles.
Next you take the mallet and hit the bark just enough to not create any impact cracking, you will need to continue the whacking until the bark comes loose (slips) at this point you can pry it gently away from the trunk and remove it in as large a piece as you can. (the rings might break into two pieces if the bark is really stiff)

I have yet to find a tree species that peels well when dormant or in fall/winter.

Redhawk
 
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