View Full Version : A better way to PEEL and DEBARK?

2012 Hopeful
01-31-2011, 05:05 AM
Does anyone know an easier way to peel the logs?
How long does it take to peel a log that was cut in November if started to peel in April?
Let's say the log is 40' long and 20" in diameter?

I have seen some chainsaw adapters that really take it off fast!

Just wondering what your take is on the subject. Looking forward to your replies.

01-31-2011, 05:46 AM
Do a search on here for "spud".

01-31-2011, 06:34 AM
Does anyone know an easier way to peel the logs?

again, it depends. depends on what method you use to peal, the size, species of your logs, what time of year they've been harvested.

you have a lot of good questions. all will be answered in class, so that is my formal recommendation: take the class:)

01-31-2011, 01:45 PM
probably the biggest factor is how long they sit... the sap will become epoxy, and getting the bark off becomes MUCH harder. line up your logs, get your foundation ready, then have them cut and delivered. peel immediately. Winter cut is best, but not that big of a deal for evergreens (the sap never "goes down" all the way anyway). FWIW. The member's side will explain it best... Oh, and DON'T USE A CHAINSAW ATTACHMENT FOR DEBARKING. you'll regret it.

01-31-2011, 02:54 PM
My son and I peeled (with some others help) 71 logs. Most were 40 foot long. Most tops were wither 10 or 11. The bottoms were up to 21 inches - most about 17. My son and I peeled about 4 hours a day. Our goal was to peel 4 logs per day each. Some days it took me 6 hours to peel my four - some days I just quit. These were Douglas Fir winter cut logs. I took us about 3 weeks. We ended in the first week of May, if I remember correctly.

I would estimate that a 30 year old that weights 220 lbs can peel one log an hour... I took some what longer. We had one log that really dried out. Its number is #69. It took about 4 or 5 people and about 5 or 6 hours to finish the log with a demo hammer and chisel. I would have cut the damn thing up for fire wood but we needed it. It is in my wall and I know where it is... with all kinds of gouges...

I would and have suggested that you power wash your logs before you stack them. You should work the logs as much as you can on the ground so you can rotate the log and get the best side facing in when you stack them... or you have some really ugly spots...

On the members side there are really helpful hints that will make the jobs some what more manageable. But you should know, peeling logs sucks! Its just hard brutal work. I have pictures...

01-31-2011, 03:24 PM
I peeled about 200 8' pine logs for fence posts in a barn one summer a few years back. I really enjoyed it. It got me time away from who is now the ex-wife. ;)

02-01-2011, 07:05 AM
I could peel about 2 poplar logs an hour if they were really dried, if they were still wet the bark would almost fall off on its own. I've seen summer cut poplar that by the time it got to the sawmill, it had no bark left, just moving the thing completely debarked it. Maybe a change of species would brighten your day...

02-01-2011, 09:06 PM
Here's what I did, but just know, there may be some who would disagree with my method. It worked for me and it's been great. My logs (Doug Fir and Cedar) were harvested in the mid fall of 2009. It wasn't the best time, but we had a logging operation going on our ranch, so all the equipment was already moved in and logs were being shipped to the mill. I picked out the trees and logs, and my logger made it happen. Anyway, I was scheduled for the next class which wasn't until December. So, I put the logs up off the ground (240+) and hoped the bugs would leave them alone until I took the class and learned what I needed to. By the way, I think the days went to 36 hours long during that waiting time! I started peeling logs by Feb. 1 last year. I have about 40 left to go. OK, so here's what I did. Peeling with a spud was extremely tough because of the bark and I have a bad back, so I had to figure plan "B". One of the old threads mentioned a member who tried a demolition hammer and chisel with some success. So, I did some research and found Bosch just came out with a new, 7 lb., easy to use, chisel hammer. It's model #11320VS (I've attached a picture of it. That's what it looks like after peeling 200 logs!) It's light weight, comfortable to use with a variable speed trigger. I bought it for $289 (included shipping) from I think the Too Barn. It takes a little getting used to and you'll put a nick in the log here and there, but once you get the hang of it, away you go. So, I put a log up off the ground at shoulder height on top of two stacks of pallets (see attached photo), peeled down both sides, then used a pivey to turn it, and peeled the rest of it. Average time was 45 min to 1 hour per log ("12-15" at base) You still get a work out, especially as you work towards the base of the log, but easier I think than using a spud. Especially since I can't be bent over all day peeling logs with my back. Now granted, I have a tractor with a grapple to lift and move my logs around, so you'll need something like that or design a system to move them. The little nicks and cuts you might occasionally make will disappear in the walls when you put your logs together. Anyway, that's what I've had to do and it works great for me. About the bugs....they turned out to be a friend instead of a foe. Loghousenut posted awhile back that the bugs will eat at the bottom side of the bark and over time the bark will fall off the logs. SO TRUE! I'm a year into peeling my logs and the bark is coming off real easy! Very seldom do I find any burrowing trails or holes in my logs. They're mainly in the bark. Besides, I like the look of one of those trails on the surface of the log every now and then. I know a year is pushing it, but I'm almost done and its working out for me. Sorry for the long post, but wanted to share with you an alternative. Good Luck! (I TRIED TO ATTACH PHOTOS AND COULDN'T. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING WRONG, SORRY)

2012 Hopeful
02-02-2011, 10:54 AM
Thanks for the info. I appreciate the time you took to tell me your story. I know what the majority of people will say about peeling the logs, (use the spud) but I want to hear it from all sides. Sure, I'll probably use the spud for a while. I, to, have a nagging back issue that I must be careful of. I also have time on my side right now. I can cut the trees this winter and wait. Perhaps after a year the peeling will be much easier, even with a spud. Either way, I just want to make sure that using a "power tool" was possible. Thanks again for your input.

02-08-2011, 03:37 PM
Forever. Or sometimes it feels that way. I agree with Rocklock. Takes me about an hour to two hours per log. Slow, mind-numbing work. Logs cut in winter are better wood (sap is down), but they are much harder to peel than summer cut wood.

02-08-2011, 03:46 PM
watch out for carpul tunnel... I peeled from March to October for 2010 and still have pain today when doing minor activities and sometimes it hurts when I do nothing at all

02-13-2011, 09:24 AM
Just wondering, i haven't seen anyone mention using a draw knife. Is that something that is looked down upon? Does that method ruin the trees natural protective layer?
Or is it no faster peeling logs with that method...


02-13-2011, 10:56 AM
I don't think the tool type you use is ANYWHERE as important as the NUMBER of people you can Shanghai to your log peeling party. I think $300 in food and beer is WAY cheaper than hiring a few guys, and a million times easier than 1 or 3 people killing yourself doing it every weekend for a season!

02-13-2011, 03:31 PM
Looks like that was a lot of fun!!

02-14-2011, 11:57 PM
Ponderosa Pine green cut peeled like a dream. Could peel a log in about 20 minutes

02-15-2011, 11:14 AM
I had some beetle-kill Grand Fir, and the bark came off in sheets. A huge log (22" X 40') can be spudded in less time than it takes to watch a commercial.

I spudded a few logs for G2P. He went inside to start dinner, and I got a time-check. The second time-check showed it took about about 22 minutes to spud a short, and smaller log. The bark was like glue. I have found it easier to place the spud below the armpit, and then draw the spud to you. For me it was easier than pushing, and I had more control. It's good to apply a thick hand lotion before putting on your gloves. Never spud bare handed, it's just too hard on your hands.

I also chain spudded (by accident). A fresh-cut log is braced with two trees at one end. The smooth chain is choked onto the log at the other end. The choker is then drawn down the log at about a 15 degree angle to the log. You will need at least a 35 hp tractor to draw the chain. A 22" x 40' log can be spudded (a little touch-up with a spud might be necessary) in about 10-15 seconds.


...chain spudding can be dangerous. Snapped chains have bonked people in the head, and a high draw bar can flip the tractor onto you. You may not have time to react, but while lying under the tractor you will have time to think it over. The bracing tress could also get a little too much side thrust. Falling trees have been known to damage sheet metal on tractors.

I can tell the best method, but only with the permission of the instructors...might be covered in class. It involves a friend of Skip who went to a store and out in the parking lot saw some scouts having a car wash.


02-15-2011, 09:21 PM
these are fir logs


02-16-2011, 01:57 PM
In my experience you have to get the cambium layer just below the bark off or it will attract bugs and encourage rotting/discoloring and negatively affect any future applied stain/finish. One thin strip removed with a draw knife after the bark is gone will remove this layer.

2012 Hopeful
02-26-2011, 06:12 AM
Has anyone had any success with using any power tools to debark?
Also, what's up with nobody using a drawknife? Is the reason people stay away from drawknife for the appearance reasons?

02-26-2011, 12:57 PM
Most people just knock the bark with a spud and leave the cambuim/sap layer.
If want to clean the logs up more than this or if you have processor/delimber marks, knots, scars or you actually want to remove the sap layer for appearances. You could use a curved base planer. Makita makes one. Some people call them banana planers. But they don't work very well on the bark itself only the wood.
There's attachments you can put on a chainsaw but they don't work that well or fast and leave a very rough finish. Some people use a high pressure washer to blast everything off but its slow leaves a fuzzy finish and is messy/wet work.
I find drawknife is the easiest. I get the logs up on a deck about waist high or what ever is comfortable then I use my chainsaw to cut the knots down flush then I use a bigger knife to knock the bark off then a smaller light sharper knife to remove the sap layer and clean things up. The key is to have and keep your knife sharp which I find is the missing link when I see people try to peel. It is a knife not an axe and it should actually peel the wood like its butter not chop it like and axe.

02-26-2011, 02:08 PM
A few thoughts about peeling bark from Douglas Fir (also Hemlock and White or Noble Fir). Other logs may be different.
I have a real problem with how we talk about cambium layer and the like... I was taught in biology about the xylem and phloem cells that make up the layer of Cambium Cells... The Xylem cells make the woody layers that are more or less dense which make the yearly rings... OK then, I got that off my chest. See below.

I have been taught that the annual layers help shed moisture hence it is good to just remove the bark and keep the ring structures intact. The easiest way to do that, IMHO is with a spud or scraper that rides along the sapwood and leavers the bark (phloem) off... You are then left with ( in Douglas Fir) a dark streaky dirty layer of stuff that can look quite attractive sometimes.

If you want to remove the streaky stuff you can use a power washer with out tearing the fibers of the heart or sap wood. It can be easily done because I have done it. Check out any of my logs.

One thing about peeling logs from an ergonomic perspective is that the leverage from a long handled spud is really important. Note; the spud in the picture is the original Blue Wonder, the perfect spud.
The reason you want to power wash the logs on the ground is because you want to put up clean logs and not need to power wash both inside and out like the below picture.
About logs that has been peeled with a draw knife. They look like this - you can see different annual rings. some folk like it... I don't care for it... But that's just me...

Below is taken from the Encyclopędia Britannica.
"cambium, plural Cambiums, or Cambia, in plants, layer of actively dividing cells between xylem (wood) and phloem (bast) tissues that is responsible for the secondary growth of stems and roots (secondary growth occurs after the first season and results in increase in thickness). Theoretically, the cambium is a single layer of cells, called initial cells; practically, it is difficult to distinguish the initials from their still-undifferentiated daughter cells, and several cell layers are collectively called the cambium, or cambial zone. Cambial cells divide to produce secondary xylem cells toward the central axis of the stem and secondary phloem cells toward the outside. The cambium originates from undifferentiated cells that have retained their embryonic capacity for continued growth and differentiation."

02-26-2011, 03:38 PM
The only reason to leave the cambium layer is if you don't know how, there is no benefits to keeping it only negatives. But leaving it won't cause the house to immediately fall apart or rot or anything like that. I have seen people leave the bark on and build, but those were trapper/hunter cabins built in a few days with out any regard to the appearance. Some people do a skip peel leaving strips of cambium which quickly turn dark brown really for a striped type look. So what every ones personal preference for what they want their house to look like they should do that and they will have a great house.
But if you want your house to be clean, smooth and see the beautiful grain of the logs and want it to stay that way for years peeling with a drawknife really is the only way to go.
Not to mention the mess the cambium layer will make of any of the protective finishes available on the market.
Luckily peeling a log with a drawknife isn't that hard if its what you want to do. One of the best log peelers I have met was 58 years old and probably 140 lbs. Its no surprise he was the best at shapening a drawknife I have ever seen tho.

02-26-2011, 07:02 PM
Personally, I'll stick with the Skip Style Home and stick with the Associations recommended ways of doing things. Of course you can do it any way you want.

As for which peeling method looks best? I'd love to hear which homes in the student built homes section you find unattractive because they didn't use a draw knife on their logs.

02-26-2011, 07:58 PM
If thats your preference thats great. It's easy and quick and cheap like it is intended.
The lhba, butt and pass stack, bark on style is meant for the person who is only going to build one house without having any previous experience. That's not saying you don't have to be somewhat handy. But the system works together and that's a great thing. Actually a lot of log home companies have terrible building systems. They use incompatible features that are soley meant to look unique or give them some useable sales pitch over their competition. I have been contracted to build huge mansion size log homes using round notches (which are terrible from an thermal efficiency and structural stand point) but that is the look the owner wants and it's their nickel.
And I'm not advocating anyone to go against their training and knowledge if they are not comfortable/knowledgable/skilled enough to do it. But their are many different ways to build a log house and once built they will all out last you or I.
If someone asked me what the perfect way to build a log house was I would respond is first the way you are able and second the way you want it to look. Just like a conventional house they don't all look the same or have all the same materials(brick,wood,vinyl etc). What one person likes and wants isn't anothers choice or budget.
The only difference between someone being capable of building lhba style and all the other methods is chainsaw skills and tool sharpening skills/knowledge and a couple more cheap tools(good chisel,transfer scribes,flexible square,drawknife)

02-27-2011, 11:12 AM
Open invitation...

Open invitation to any member who wants to borrow a few of my collection of 16 peeling spuds. I extend the invitation to include my drawknife collection. I have a dozen or so and they are extremely useful. I have always shied away from the "carved" look that a draw knife gives to a wall log and, because of this preference, I have had usually peeled wall logs with spuds. Whenever friends or family have been around at peeling time they have always had access to the drawknife collection but once they know that the "carved" look is not what we are after, they tend to gravitate to their favorite spud.

Obviously we who love the LHBA style of building tend to lean toward the "don't carve away the log" teachings of our departed mentor Skip Ellsworth. I buy it and live it and it makes sense to me, and yet there are plenty among us who build LHBA homes using lathe turned logs. Their homes turn out great, as they would have if they had used drawknives to carve a texture into the logs.

I LOVE drawknife work and have peeled my share of 5" poles over the years, but in my life the primary use for a good drawknife is making tool handles out of firewood. Give me a straight bolt of clear Ash wood and set me at the shaving horse with Grandad's old drawknife and I am in my element. Perhaps it makes little sense to save $10 in todays USA in the making of a hammer handle but, then again, maybe I'm not totally in today's USA. In my world, any hammer head is worth a quarter and sooner or later I'll have a handle set into most of my bucketful.

Superloggy, It is kinda nice to have someone from the LHOTI side of the world to yak at without all the name-calling and posturing that tends to come from both sides at times like this. It'll probably break down sooner or later and deteriorate into all of us rolling around in a muddy gutter, but I'm here to say welcome to the fray. We all get stuck in our own comfort zones and hold hands with those of like minds. You can hold my hand if you want to but I'm sure you will understand how we will always think of you as "that guy superloggy".

Next time you are in Medford, Oregon I wish you would stop in at Costco and look me up. I am the largest thing in the building that is not a forklift and everyone knows I am building a funny looking log house with a big ridgepole. The association asks us not to give out our email address or phone # on the non-member side and I respect that. I'm sure the moderator won't mind my invitation in the manner that I have given it.

02-28-2011, 12:53 AM
Thanks loghousenut,
I appreciate your offer if I get to do a set up close enoughto Medford and I have time I will look you up and of course you would be welcome to come check whatever house/style I have on the go.
I realize I'm not this websites intended audience and you won't fully accept me into the fold. I have worked on more log homes than I can remember(I actually worked for the worlds largest manufacturer approx. 500 units a year) and almost every log building company I have contracted for has their own system and ideas. And they all think they do it the best way. I don't agrue or call names its not worth getting emotional over I just want to get the job done and have a happy client.
I do admire everyones passion for log homes here, its a sentiment I share in a different way and I appreciate you tolerating me.

02-28-2011, 09:01 AM
Having peeled my share of 60ft logs, I will state with 100% confidence that if I'd used a drawknife, I'd still be peeling. 1.5" thick bark on the butt of the 22" plus, winter cut, EWP pine logs I used was not drawknife friendly. Takes a pile of effort with a spud. Done correctly, you get a perfectly smooth, cut/knick free surface that looks just like nature intended, with no cambium.

02-28-2011, 09:47 AM
Ya build on the common ground and ya let the uncommon ground find its own level. Of course sometimes all that uncommon ground gets soggy and full of slung mud (from the mudslinging) and the entire mess goes downstream in a flood of foul language and insults, taking whatever you have built with it all the way to the sea.

We are passionate and yet I find this forum to be one of the most civil on the web. I think it remains civil because most of us follow a similar dream and, though we are a diverse lot, we have so much in common. It is even more so on the members side of the forum. Folks from all over come here because they are attracted to a dream of freedom and simplicity. Attracted to the notion that, right now in the 21st century, we can build a home for our family and own it when we are done with it. If we keep it at that level it stays fun and nobody gets hurt.

Once in awhile someone like me spouts off about politics or religion and the next thing you know everyone is ganging up on everyone else and then the moderator has to step in and moderate all that freedom of speech. Then it gets back to the common ground part of the forum and folks concentrate on the task at hand... Building a home with their own hands. Once in a while someone from outside the group spouts off about how it OUGHTA be done and the thread deteriorates into a scramble for bigger and better slanderous insults from all sides. Sure, it's fun for awhile but it's not productive and no wall logs get stacked while it's happening.

Superloggy, you spoke in a previous post about not being welcome as a member because you are already a builder. It is a shame to exclude folks who have so much to give from the members side, and yet it is totally understandable. Pick any one style of building (round notch, dovetail, mud brick, hay bale) and teach a system to a bunch of rank amateurs who want to build, and that system will stand on its own past the architect, engineer, and building inspector to possible completion as a family home. Once you start combining one or more systems, you get the project to the complexity that requires skills and creates problems that cannot be addressed in a short class or on a forum.

Our method (I am only a student from 20 years ago and a LHBA member) teaches one way to build that is incredibly simple and creates a bulletproof home. It is doable by folks like me. When the few rules taught in class are followed it works. Every time I have broken a rule it has cost me money and time. Breaking some of those rules may cost building integrity and risk injury or death. The idea of this group is to keep teaching that one method and keep a string of satisfied students living the dream. It works. The instructors discuss and describe many methods of log building in class but the system would not work if the focus were not on the LHBA butt and pass method. As a student I can see that. As a guy who loves building with logs and yet does not want to be a contractor or work for someone who is a contractor, I LOVE it!

This kinda thing doesn't come along every day, and when it does it doesn't often keep going for decades. As you look through the photo gallery you will see things to nitpick about and you'll see things that you woulda done differently. We all do. You'll see those same "why did he do it that way?" things in my latest project. I don't know why all those other folks did it that way but I know in my case, we did it that way because that's how Skip woulda done it and it works.

This is what it's all about... A college kid who will take time out to work on a house for his Mother... And his Grandchildren!


drummer boy
02-28-2011, 09:59 AM
Nice photo. Very inspiring. I have seven special needs children that we homeschool. My hope for them is that they embrace this way of living called community. Caring for family and generations of them to come is true community. This is somehow lost in our society today. I hate that. LHBA has truly embraced this concept more than even my church. (I am a pastor) I would love to take them through the class so they can see community in action and in training. Thanks for the photo.

02-28-2011, 11:16 AM
Very nice photo and words LHN. And, that IS one helluva ridgepole!! LOL

02-28-2011, 11:25 AM
The kid by the flag was homeschooled through the 8th grade. His needs are fairly "unspecial" but he's a good kid nonetheless. We homeschooled him because we wanted to control his friends and because we knew there would be pressure from a school system to put him on drugs. It has been my experience that kids (and adults) who don't fit the mold sometimes gain a lot from the empowerment that comes from accomplishment. Perhaps it's time to build a church or a parsonage. While the kids may or may not fit into the classroom, they might very well fit into the building project. It is fascinating to view the change that comes over a person who has been shown his/her limitations for a lifetime, as they operate the most dangerous tool this side of a teenage boy in a Corvette.... a chainsaw.

Our Son is easy. Straight A's happen in any subject whenever he is turned loose. His peers and his teachers in College LOVE him. If success is what you're after, just decide how far you want to go and what you're willing to risk to get there. I'd never suggest that you prop a wheelchair up on the ridgepole but that doesn't mean it can't be done (tongue is firmly implanted in cheek). We all need to win at a project that has a chance of failure.

May I point out that the controls for my telehandler are very similar to the joystick for a computer game. The hard part was forcing his Dad ( a coworker) to watch with his eyes open and his mouth shut. The kid in the video knows only that he is constantly told what he should NOT do. In the video he has been told that by working the joystick, he can place a real (real short) log in a real house. We pinned the log where he set it. Good luck Parson.

http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t55/loghousenut/Allen%20and%20the%20forklift/th_5thcourse10-6-09038.jpg (http://s157.photobucket.com/albums/t55/loghousenut/Allen%20and%20the%20forklift/?action=view&current=5thcourse10-6-09038.mp4)

2012 Hopeful
03-04-2011, 05:42 AM
Thankx for sharing the pics, they are great!