How To Remove Bark From A Branch (For Indoor Decoration)

Preserving branches for decoration can be a fun and creative process that allows you to get a touch of nature into your home.

Removing the bark from a tree branch sounds quite an easy job. But if you don’t want to compromise with perfection, there is hardly any way left but to do it professionally.

In this article, I will explore the art of preserving tree branches for indoor decoration and discover creative ways to incorporate them.

From understanding the preservation process to learning how to remove bark from a branch and how to preserve branches for decoration like a pro.

How To Preserve Branches For Decoration: Step-By-Step

Cleaning branches for homemade diy tree branch decor is essential to remove dirt, debris, and potential pests, ensuring they look their best when used in various displays. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean branches:

tree branches for indoor decoration

Step 1: Find A Suitable Branch

Start by selecting a branch that suits your desired decoration. Look for a branch that has an interesting shape, size, and texture to enhance the overall aesthetic.

Step 2: Gather The Necessary Tools

Before starting the process, make sure you have the right tools. You’ll need a sharp knife, a small hand-held saw (needed to trim some thick branches down), a wire brush, sandpaper, stain, and a pair of gloves for protection.

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Step 3: Prepare The Branch

Ensure the branch is dry before you begin. It’s easier to remove bark from a dry branch compared to a wet one. If necessary, allow the branch to air dry for a few days.

Step 4: Make A Shallow Cut

Use the sharp knife to make a shallow cut along the length of the branch. This initial cut will make it easier to peel off the bark.

Step 5: Peel Off The Bark

Starting from the cut you made, gently peel off the bark using your fingers or the knife. Be careful not to damage the underlying wood.

Step 6: Remove Stubborn Bark

For any stubborn or hard-to-remove sections of bark, use a wire brush or sandpaper to gently scrub and smoothen the surface.

Step 7: Sand And Polish The Branches

Use sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections on the branch’s surface. Sanding will also help to create a clean and polished look. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually move to finer grits for a smoother finish.

Step 8: Stain The Branches

If you want to add some color to the branches, consider using wood stain. Choose a stain color that complements your overall decoration theme. Apply the stain evenly using a brush or cloth, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the stain dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 9: Finish To Protect

To protect the wood and give the branches a professional finish, apply a wood finish or sealer. There are various options available, such as varnish, polyurethane, or wood wax. Apply the finish in thin, even coats, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next.

This will help to protect the wood from moisture, dirt, and other elements, ensuring your decorated branches last longer.

How To Remove Bark From A Branch: 5 Methods

There are several methods you can use to remove bark from a branch, depending on the tools and materials you have at your disposal. Here are some common methods:

Method 1: Using A Pressure Washer

In this method on how to debark branches, I will use the high pressure created by the flow of water to remove the bark of a tree. Waterflow of very high pressure does two things once applied in a parallel direction on the body. 

Firstly, it makes the work easier and quicker. In this way, you don’t have to deal with every piece of bark on the tree.

And secondly, it makes dealing with large and hard tree branches easier. All you have to do is to learn the correct pressure and the correct manner. 

Tools You Need:

To make sure that you conduct the process in the right manner, here is a Pressure Washer that you will be needing throughout the way:

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Step 1: Power It Up

At first, find a perfect power outlet near the place, and provide the tool with power. Once done, check out for the functionality and make sure that everything is working pretty fine. 

Step 2: Set The Right Pressure

Pressure washers are able to create splashes of water that are different in pressure amount. And the same thing goes for the spraying pattern as well. 

To find the right combination of pressure(psi) and water spraying pattern we would ask you to go for a test drive. Usually, the pressure of 3000 psi works fine with most of the softwoods and hardwoods. 

Step 3: Put The Nozzle On A Pressurizer

All set? Great! Now it’s time to put the nozzle on the pressure washer and apply it on the wood. To put the right nozzle, you can consider the thickness and the pattern of the spray.

If the wood is dry enough, the barks might be coming off. In those cases, a low-profile nozzle will do. Once the nozzle is put on, start applying the pressure on the wood. 

Step 4: Take Off  The Loosen Up Backs

At this point in the process of how to remove bark from a tree branch, you have to take out the loosen up barks from the body of the logs.

This can be done in both dry and wet situations and we can call it debarking logs by hand. Based on the work type, you should decide one from these two.  


In this process, many users have complained that using a pressure washer is peeling off the soft grain from the log bodies.

Well, in case of such a situation, you need to vary the pressure and the spray pattern. Each kind of wood might have its own required pattern of water spreading. 

Method 2: Using A Vegetable Peeler

The next method on your list is debarking smaller and often, yard-borne trees and their branches. As we’re doing the task of dealing with a small tree branch, things are needed to be careful enough. 

Step 1: Make The Wood Shorter

Before applying the vegetable peeler on a wooden branch, it’s essential that the branch is cut down into smaller pieces. That will make the work easier. 

Step 2: Make The Cut

Once you have tree branches that are ready to be peeled off, start peeking the barks off with the vegetable peeler

Take short turns at a time, and make sure that the cut is not being too thick. Because a thick cut would take off a layer of the wood as well. And in the case of a thin wooden branch, that’s something that you can’t just let it go. 

Step 3: Take the Short Branches Off

Debarking is the doorway to many wooden and carpentry works. Especially to make sure that the finishing is done properly. 

To ensure a ready-to-work, smooth tree branch, take off the unnecessary branches and limbs. 

Method 3: Using A Bark Spud

Bark spuds are made of steelhead and a wooden handle. These are tools that are dedicatedly made for removing tree barks once they are loose enough.

You can identify one by the ice cream scoop-shaped blade that they come with. At this point, we will learn how to debark a tree branch with a bark spud:

Tools You Need:

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Step 1: Identify The Spot Of Cutting

Before beginning, you need to pinpoint the layer where the tree bark and wooden section of the tree get interacted. You will be sliding from this layer in the upcoming step. 

Step 2: Decide The Correct Side

In a bark spud, there are three cutting sides. Each of them is supposed to get into different types of barks and make sliding cuts. Based on the bark type you are dealing with, you need to make the first cut. 

Step 3: Keep Yourself Safe

While you will be debarking a tree branch with a spud, the cutting edge will not be too distant. So, it’s essential to keep your hands, feet, palm, and other people aware of the scene. 

Step 4: Go For Step By Step Peeling

Start with the first slice of bark and get the cutting edge into it. Go through the bottom with the spud and take off that layer easily. Once you are done, proceed with a similar approach for the next segment of the bark as well. 

Once done, there will be a discrete layer of barks that are too small to cut with a spud. Use a hand knife to take them off. 

Method 4: Using A Chisel

Chisels are of many types and size variations, and you get to choose the right one based on what thickness of bark you are dealing with.

Wood chisels are usually rectangle-shaped blades that sport a flat shape on the bottom. Also, another way to choose the right chisel for woodworking is to locate a beveled back. 

Tools You Need:

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Step 1: Select The Right Bark Type

Unlike spuds, chisels are able to make very deep cuts as you apply handmade pressure on the tree branch with them.

So, it’s imperative that you deal with only a thick kind of wood barks with the chisel. Tree stump debarking is a good example of such chores. 

Step 2: Hold It At Right Place And Start Hammering

Now, take the chisel and put it on the bark at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees. This will not make deeper cuts into the wood.

Once done, start hammering the chisel with a mallet or hammer(lightweight). You can do it by hand, but it will take harder effort. 

Step 3: Repeat Chiseling Around The Circumference

If you are willing to deal with a round-type wood branch, you have to come across all the perimeter of the branch and repeat the chiseling process we’ve mentioned in the last step. 

Don’t forget to protect your hands from hammerings with gloves. Also, as wooden specks of dust and debris can get into your eyes, wear a protective glass. 

Method 5: Using A Draw Knife

In case you are with a small tree branch that doesn’t sport too much thick barks, this is the method that you need to go with. At this stage, we’ll continue the process of debarking a tree branch with a drawknife. 

Tools You Need:

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Step 1: Set The Drawknife On The Branch Bark

To start with the process, understand how a couple of angles and the outward direction between them work.

It is also provided with a serrated blade in the middle, which works as a cutting edge in this case. Once done, put the knife on the action. 

Step 2: Position Of The Tree Branch

In this method, the proper positioning of the tree branch is quite important. In case the tree branch is located on the ground parallelly, you have to act in one direction.

In case it is upright on the ground, you have to go otherwise. For instance, we prefer putting the tree branch upright(vertically), as it is safer to deal with. 

Step 3: Pull The Knife Downwards

Now, position the knife on the branch bark, and pull it downwards. Make sure that you have grasped the handle of the knife with both hands.

This will peel off the first layer of the bark. Once done till the bottom, go for the next line of bark and continue. 

However, if you don’t have any scope to put the branch vertically, you can put it horizontally as well. In that case, you have to draw the knife towards you. But be safe while you’re going through this process. 

Safety Precautions

All that being said, stripping bark from branches is a process that requires expertise and guidance from the user’s end. To make sure that you’re up to par, here is a list of essential safety precautions:

  • While debarking a tree branch, ensure secure, tight positioning of it. 
  • Don’t overdo or underdo any part of the wood, especially if you are up to debarking logs for furniture
  • Don’t cut deep, just take off the skin. 
  • It’s better to pressure wash the tree when the tree is in a dry state. 
  • Make the right choice of pressure washer nozzle. 
  • Don’t set the pressure washer at the automatic mode. 
  • Keep an eye on the log debarking emission factors.

Bottom Line

Finally, we are at the dead-end of the article on how to remove bark from a branch and how to preserve branches for decoration of both thin and thick types of limbs.

Hopefully, you’ll be smart enough to make the best way out to debarking tree branches and bark peeling from tree parts as well.

Good Luck and Happy Woodworking!

Kevin Smith

5 thoughts on “How To Remove Bark From A Branch (For Indoor Decoration)”

  1. I make small three-legged wood stools, I let the wood dry, have been using a drawknife, thinking of trying your pressure washer idea.

  2. Just trimmed a neglected apple tree and have a bunch of suckers that I was thinking of trimming down, removing the bark, and cutting them into chip pieces to use on the smoker. Do you think soaking the branches before stripping off the thin bark would help?

  3. The best way to debark a tree is to cut tree and let nature take its course for like 8 months then come back and bark peels off all by itself.

  4. I’m trying to remove the inner bark that is gray kinda stringy looking from some old dead pieces of locust tree. I have tried pouring boiling water and soaking, helped but it doesn’t bring the colors out. I tried soaking in a mixture of Murphy’s Oil soap, mineral oil and furniture polish. it was better but still have the gray stuff on them. Any help?

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