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Keeping bark on wood

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  • Keeping bark on wood

    I have some large-ish logs (silver maple, 6 to 8 inch diameter) that I want to use as bases for carvings. I'll also carve the logs a bit, but mostly the logs will remain intact. But I want to keep the bark on the logs.

    I know I can use Pentacryl to keep the bark on "cookies," but these logs are 12 to 18 inches long. Is there any way to ensure that the bark doesn't come off after a few years? I suppose I could cover the whole thing in epoxy, but I'm looking for something a little less drastic.

    The wood is from a silver maple tree that a friend took down in March. The tree was dead, but the wood was still quite green. I carved a bowl from one piece: it lost 1/3 of its weight in a 6-week period after I finished the rough carving.

    I cut the ends, coated all the bare wood surfaces with a thick coat of paraffin wax, and set them in my garage. One of the logs has one split, but the others are still intact.

    Any ideas on preserving the bark? Or is it really the crap shoot I've been led to believe?


  • #2
    All I got to say this one is a major gamble....the shrinking of your green wood will decide the final outcome of the bark staying on the log, plus the issue of greenwood cracking. As you do not know what time of year the tree died, which makes a major difference in sap wetness winter vs summer? I just wish you good luck in trying....but in my book, this will be one major experiment. Sometimes worth just seeing and experimental is fun, that is if you wish to go that way?


    • #3
      for my bark on slabs that I carve, I paint the bark with a 50/50 mixture of Elmer school glue and water, but maybe this, not the same situation. but it does hope the bark on the slabs, which are dried when I get then.
      . . .JoeB


      • #4
        Good luck when you carve it dried. It is very hard.
        Every day should be unwrapped like a precious gift.


        • #5
          Crap shoot at best. The more you do, the better the odds are that you get a few useful pieces.
          Dry in shade and very cool, outdoors = very, very slow so that stresses can settle down.

          All you can do is try it. I have no ideas for holding the bark on slabs as they dry.
          As Dileon says, shrinkage will be your worst enemy.

          Some woods respond, some explode.
          I "lost" a dozen perfect 24" x 6-8" alder log pieces with end-to-end multiple splits.
          I brought home a single 6" x 24" fresh piece of willow. Dripping wet. I saw it being cut.
          Cut away a 1/4 log Vee out of what I decided was the "back".
          Not a hairline crack in sight. Daily wipe-down of mold, though!
          Brian T


          • #6
            It is clear that you have some information. The tree was taken down in March, presumed to be dead. It was cut into 12 to 18" sections and the bare wood was coated with paraffin. One section has developed a crack. Your stated plan is to use the maple to make bases for your carvings, which I picture as "cookies."
            What you have done is your best guess for stopping or slowing the processes that lead to the shedding of the bark. But when you cut the logs into cookies you will probably release the processes again. If you remove the paraffin, the drying starts up. I would recommend that you choose one log and cut it into cookies now. See what happens.


            • #7
              Generally your best time to cut wood you are going to try to preserve the bark on should be cut when the wood is dormant in the winter. And even then it is not a sure thing. Sounds like you are doing all you can. Only time will tell.
              We live in the land of the free because of the brave!