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Tree Bark removal with Nyalox
November 3rd, 2016
Excerpt from an article on WoodshopNews.com written by John English
Most people working with live edges like to remove all of the potentially loose bark and bring the surface down to the sapwood. That way, bark doesn’t fall off during the next heating/cooling cycle in the client’s home, when the bark and sap expand or contract at different rates. (For some rustic furniture the bark is kept in place, but it usually needs to be stabilized using glue and finish nails.)
Removing bark without damaging the wood can be challenging, depending on the species. Plastic shims work well: one can tap the fat end with a hammer and the soft plastic doesn’t do much damage. A putty knife works in some situations, when one can slide the leading edge under the bark and twist the knife for leverage. On burls and other nice shapes, use a series of nylon brushes chucked in a corded drill. Cordless ones don’t generally have enough power. Wire brushes are too harsh for this delicate step. Dico Products of Utica, N.Y., makes 4” diameter gray 80-grit, orange 120-grit and blue 240-grit nylon brushes that are carried by most hardware stores. If necessary, follow up with Dico’s cup brushes: they’re a little gentler, and they can get into smaller places.
Some woodworkers use a pressure washer to remove bark. It seems rather violent and, of course, the wood needs to thoroughly dried afterward, but several people have reported good results. Practice on some waste material.
While Mother Nature was the artist, we are of course still artisans, so we are free to bring some of our own skills to the job. I like to use rasps, files and even an orbital sander to knock off pointy parts that might dig into a hip or to blend in areas that are a little out of character.