How to Remove Bark from a Branch (5 Methods Explained)

It takes a lot to process for the newly felled tree to turn them into logs ready to work with. In the meantime, there are a number of steps involved. And tree branch debarking is just one of the initial steps. 

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

And in today’s article, we’ll tell you how to remove bark from a branch like a pro-

How to Easily Remove Bark from a Branch

how to remove bark from a branch

Method 1: Using A Pressure Washer

In this method on how to debark branches, we 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 list of log debarking tool that you will be needing throughout the way-

However, we will be taking you through detailed steps-

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 hardwood. 

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. 

Tools You Need

For this method, you will be requiring these- 

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 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. Specially 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 icecream 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

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 variation, 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

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 efforts. 

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

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 fo 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. 

How to Remove Bark from a Branch (Safety Precautions)

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

  1. While debarking a tree branch, ensure secure, tight positioning of it. 
  2. Don’t overdo or underdo any part of the wood, specially if you are up to debarking logs for furniture
  3. Don’t cut deep, just take off the skin. 
  4. It’s better to pressure wash the tree when the tree is in a dry state. 
  5. Make the right choice of pressure washer nozzle as a part of the best log debarker
  6. Don’t set the pressure washer at the automatic mode. 
  7. 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 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!

5 thoughts on “How to Remove Bark from a Branch (5 Methods Explained)”

  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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