How to Remove Bark from a Burl?

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Forum topic by Ron Ford posted 09-28-2014 08:00 PM 3581 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ron Ford

209 posts in 1973 days

09-28-2014 08:00 PM

Hi all – I was fortunate enough to find several nice little maple burls (about 9 – 10” across) on a tree that was in the local tree dump lot. I sawed them off and am looking forward to turning them on my Jet lathe.

Question is, how do I remove the bark? It seems that most of the nice burl pieces I see for sale online are free of bark, down to just the wood itself revealing a beautiful texture. A friend suggested picking off the bark with a small flat-blade screwdriver and an awl, which I’m sure would work (he has done it successfully) but I’m wondering if there is another way to accomplish this?

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions!



-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

7 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3199 days

#1 posted 09-29-2014 08:17 PM

I use a pressure washer. Trying to pick it all apart often ends up damaging the surface; pressure washing doesn’t usually get it all, you’ll still end up picking but it will get most of it anyway. 2500 psi washer is much better than a small, weaker one; higher and you will blow wood off the surface.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View UpstateNYdude's profile


918 posts in 2224 days

#2 posted 09-29-2014 08:46 PM

I use an old draw knife to get the bark off the logs I resaw in my bandsaw either that or my sharp hatchet.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View mahdee's profile


4045 posts in 2008 days

#3 posted 09-29-2014 11:26 PM

Remove a 1” strip from it and let it dry; the bark should fall off.


View Marcio Wilges's profile

Marcio Wilges

35 posts in 1538 days

#4 posted 11-20-2014 06:35 AM

Any chance to just crudely whittle the bark away? I’m assuming you want to have more control with the wood that’s left with the removal of the bark and it may just be me, but I find that getting right into it with a bit of a knife gives the best finish with that. Anything else, you can probably use the heavy machinery to fine-tune. Let us know how it turns out though! Excited to see how the burls turn out!

-- Marcio Wilges @

View runswithscissors's profile


2928 posts in 2266 days

#5 posted 11-20-2014 08:00 AM

A draw knife works well for removing bark.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1435 posts in 1971 days

#6 posted 11-20-2014 01:55 PM

I think this question needs to be in the Woodturners forum as most will know how to properly remove the bark and save all the nipples you are trying to preserve. A drawknife would do nothing but destroy the effect you are after.
Yuo defiitly don’t want to use a hatchet. .... Jerry(in Tus\cson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4201 days

#7 posted 11-20-2014 04:51 PM

Have you thought about a soda blaster?


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