De-Barking Maple Burls

Tips for improving the labor-intensive process of getting bark off a maple burl log. December 11, 2007

I recently sawed two maple burl logs. The live surface of the logs were 50% spikes. I hand picked and chiseled the bark away. The trees were cut down this late spring and the bark wasn't stuck like winter growth. Two logs, one 14', the other 8', both about 16"-36" diameter. What is the best way to remove the bark? I assume powerwashing with about 5,000 PSI? I've tried powerwashing with 2,500 PSI, but it doesn't do very much at all.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor M:
I've dealt with a bit of that material. It seems to work best to let it dry (air, then kiln) and during that time it will tend to separate. This also serves to protect the outer edges. Then chisels and drawknives and even dentist tools work better.

From contributor R:
I tried several techniques to remove the bark from burl. They were cut in the spring, so the cambium layer was soft. My first try was using a pressure washer, no luck. Second attempt was using a framing hammer to strike the bark straight on. It flew off in chunks without breaking the points, but way too much work. Tried a small air impact tool (like the ones used to cut off mufflers) with a special hammer shaped tool. Didn't hit hard enough. Picked up a short air jack hammer at Harbor Freight. It only came with pointed chisels, so I cut the point off the chisel, and that effectively gave me a 1" diameter hammer head to strike the bark. It works fantastic. You can definitely stay on the trigger too long and damage the wood, but with a little practice you know when to stop. Followed that with the pressure washer and it came out sparkling clean. Certainly a lot cleaner than I was after pressure washing about 20 burls!