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Summary

Paul sits down with Kyle from bootcamp again to record a mini-podcast about log peeling.

Firstly, the right time to peel a log depends on the tree - they peel best when the sap is flowing up and stimulating growth.  According to Kyle, this makes the peeling process take about 5% of the effort of peeling a tree in winter or late fall.  That said, all trees aren’t equal - one tree can peel with the 5% effort, while one cut at the same time requires much more.  This is simply because that harder tree may well just be a little behind or in a cold pocket.  Taking a few swipes at the bark with a hatchet before cutting it is a good way of finding out.  All this being said, there were a few pieces that were apparently cut during the winter and the bark peeled easily, so there’s definitely more here.  If you have more info on this, let us know in the comments below!  At Paul’s it seems the magic time to cut is usually in May, after the rain comes, which may be a greater factor than temperature seeing as the sap is also a lot thinner when they’re easy to peel.  

As for actually peeling the logs, Kyle likes to use bark spuds with long handles.  Paul buys them from Amazon, labeled as some sort of sidewalk ice scraper tool, with only the short-handled ones being called spuds.  Draw knives are decent, but the purchased ones are too narrow for Paul’s trees, and although the homemade ones are an appropriate size, Kyle only really uses them for very stubborn bark.  Also, the draw knives are supposed to be used by sitting on the log and pulling the knife towards you, but this tends to turn your pants into sap sponges.  Propping the log up and pulling the knife downwards works a lot better, but you have to be able to get the logs up that high.


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I have little experience, I have used homemade tools to clear the bark off of cants (soon to be railroad ties) and again on live edge slabs (to reduce bugs in the air drying stacks or posts).
I've seen some posts recently of a Japanese woodman peeling bark into sheets he was using something like a linoleum knife with a long handle to score it into four foot sheets. Not sure what species of tree.
MSL logging (YouTube) also has a video on peeling poplar bark. He uses a chainsaw to score the length of the timber and a Stanley knife to score the circumference. He is harvesting for shingles and or bark panels (siding/wallpaper). BarkHouse.com
I'm curious what other species that bark can be harvested. Chestnut (when it was more common), poplar, cedar are the ones I've come across so far.
https://bunnyvista.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/poplar-bark-shingles/
The foxfire book, circa 1972, mentions bark as well, hickory bark lashings. Hickory is native and advailible to me, so I might play with the concept.
Though I suspect that you are just clearing the bark down to the cambium layer to get rid of bugs and preserve the log.
 
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