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Hi Guys,

I was thinking about making a walking/hiking stick or two, maybe with some hand carving on the top. I also have an oak tree that needs to have some lower branches trimmed off. If I cut some likely candidates to be walking sticks, how long should they dry? What would be the process to strip them of the bark? These will be about 1-1/2 inch diameter on the fat end. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Bill
 

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Cut them longer than you need them, I have found they will crack on the ends after a while, I just cut off past the cracks and wind tight with leather string. If you harvest in the warm months the bark comes off easy, when the sap is down in cold weather the bark is tough to get off.

I still leave the bark on even in warm weather, it slows the drying down and don't split as bad while drying.
 

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I wouldn't bother debarking with a sander, I'd think it'd be too sticky. Knife, drawknife, hatchet... ever debark a stick for cooking food on a campfire with a pocket knife when you were a kid? You're just scaling up.
 

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Getting the bark off:

1. Harvest in the spring/early summer when the sap is running. As new wood growth begins, it is very soft and weak. Easy to cut into the bark and pull it off. If you try to run a cut along the length of the stick to peel the bark off, that line is where the entire stick will make its first split.
Lesson learned from the Diamond Willow shop down my street = they harvest about 500 at a time, all cut 8' to allow for end splits.

2. Late wood harvest (aka any other time) wood growth has more or less matured so the bark is kinda sorta stuck on.
a) the proper tool which is designed for this job is a draw-knife. They are made in several sizes. Google Magard Log Home Building Tools to see the variety. Magard makes big ones, 48 at a time.
b) serious pressure washers work for some species.
c) try one of those hook-bladed linoleum knives.
 
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