How to whiten logs for wooden furniture

How to whiten logs for wooden furniture

Log Peeling Techniques and Styles for Wooden Furniture

When making wooden furniture, the goal is to make a work of art. Regardless of the type of material you use, handcrafting is an art form.

The artistic form comes from the type of wood used, the design used in creating the shape of a handmade chair, and the finishing application of the log in both bark and stain color.

This article will discuss peeling methods or ways to remove the bark to reveal the natural beauty of the wood. All peeling techniques used are applied with a traditional draw knife, allowing the craftsman to create exactly the look he intends.

With any skinning technique, first follow these steps to prepare the carcass.

  1. Secure the log at both ends with a bench clamp of sufficient diameter above the top of the clamp so that you do not hit the clamp when you peel back the ends of the log. Also remember that if the end is going to be made into a spike end, you don’t need to peel the last few inches.
  2. Once you’ve made sure your draw knife is sharp, stand next to the log, standing straight enough to get a straight line with the fireplace, not awkwardly moving or stretching too far, you should be comfortable.
  3. Start at the far end of the log, furthest away from you, with the blade at about a 45 degree angle. Note that a smaller angle will simply slip and simply scrape the bark, but too large an angle will result in cutting too deep into the wood. Pull or “pull” the knife toward you and the nearest point of the log, applying even pressure with both hands.

How to apply “Clean Peel” with a knife

Clean peeling is just that, peeling off the entire bark of the log. If too much or too little bark and wood is peeled off, you’ll end up with either a lumpy-looking log or a log that looks like it’s experiencing partial baldness. A good peeler removes all the bark completely, but not too much or too little of the bark and wood underneath.

  1. Pull, using just enough downward pressure to get through the bark and into the wood, but not so much that you dig into the wood and leave anything like ‘ditches’. You want the log to stay as round as possible.
  2. Once you’ve peeled the top third or quarter of the log, put it back in the clamps and repeat for the other sections of bark until you’ve turned the log all the way around and your peeling is complete.

How to apply a “Skip Peel” with a knife

1. Skip bark is meant to leave some bark to reveal the wood underneath. As you peel the bark and the small piece of wood underneath, think about how “heavy” you want the bark to be, heavier being just small strips of bark left behind, and lighter being larger patches of bark left behind.

2. Using the same angle and draw technique of the knife as above, select areas of the log to peel, applying shorter and longer strokes so as to leave different shapes of bark on the log.

3. Remember, this is your art, so you can choose whatever patterns you want. Apply peels to larger areas of the bark and see the resulting look of the areas of bark left behind. Use shorter strokes to leave larger strips of bark, and longer strokes to leave smaller strips.

4. You will need to experiment and practice your technique to get the look you want. Don’t get frustrated, sometimes you will remove too much and end up having to use the log for firewood in your wood stove! You can always take more off, but you can’t put it back. Start with a little and you can always fine-tune the look you want by peeling off more.

This information is available to you from the video series “How to build and care for wooden furniture”

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