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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I mentioned in the favorite wood thread, I cut some mulberry in mid-winter, and found one piece sitting in my garage was sprouting leaves a month ago. I cut the branch in half. I sealed the ends w. glue, and stripped one of the halves of its bark. The green bark could be peeled off by raising an edge w. a blade, and the pulling strips away by hand. Did the 2" + thick branch, over 4' long, in less than 20 minutes. Bad idea.

Left it to dry some more and saw longitudinal cracks opening in a few days. It has been about a month since stripping the bark, and the cracks have penetrated to the core of the stick.

Evidently mulberry harvested in the dead of winter has so much water in it, and is so porous, that shrinkage can be massive. I have a couple of pieces that are already over a year seasoned, but I suppose I won't touch thm for several more.

Wood Floor Asphalt Wall Flooring
 

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Gdenby,

I have stripped Siberian Elm and Schubert Chokecherry the same way. The strips come off in long peels that just go up the stick in long, wonderful pieces that only break when they hit a side branch. It is wonderful to watch a strip actually go up a side branch, and strip it , too! It is incredibly wet underneath the stripped bark.

However, there are three layers to bark. Outer, Middle, and Inner. What I've found, is that the Outer and Middle layers will strip this way, leaving the Inner bark, which is the major mover of water in the tree. This Inner layer is also what turns into the next ring, and turns to wood to mark the growth of that year in the trees history. The Inner bark won't strip, it has to be scraped off. Most trees it appears as a slight greenish white, soft(compared to the real wood underneath), and very wet(as it stores water with a "tree anti-freeze" for winter)layer that looks like you are done stripping bark.

I start dragging a knife backwards (scraping)with a good amount of pressure, and this Inner bark will start peeling away from the true wood of last years growth. Most Trees, the last years growth shows as a bright white, hard wood. It takes a while to scrape a walking stick length piece of its Inner Bark, and as the Inner Bark dries( because the middle and outer bark are gone, it de-hydrates) will turn yellow/brown. Scrape until the entire stick is down to last years wood, and it should be fine, as that wood is dry.

I harvested both elm and chokecherry at the end of this winter, stripped and scraped one branch of each, just to see what the wood was like. My stripped and scraped sticks have been just fine, no cracking, very minor checking. My bark on sticks, coated with parrifin wax at the cuts, are major checking and cracking as they go through the drying season, even in the first 6 months of a 2 year dry time.

I did harvest a bit of Blackthorne deadwood, and assumed it was dry, as it was dead. This is too small to be a cane, so I tried making a club, about 13" long. It was 3/4 dead core(spalted,grey/black, with to the core cracks already in it) with only about a quarter of the branch with bark on it, in the thinner outer branch/shank regions. The base area where the hand hold is, was fully barked. Traditionally, blackthorne is left bark on, so I left the rest of the bark on. Assuming it was dry/dead, I shaped the handhold area as a traditional shilleleaugh. Three days later it started splitting and cracking open. Evidently, even deadwood is too wet to process immediately! Threw it into my curing solution of detergent, water, and alchohol for a week. It stopped the cracking/splitting, but I had to recut the whole stick to get the cracks out of the hand hold area.

You just never know about found, natural woods, though I'm learning quickly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good tip about the inner bark/soon to be wood layer. I'll try scraping a small piece of mulberry from storage, and see if it holds together.

One of the 1st things that occurred to me making sticks was that unlike other wood working I had done, I was the one who would have to gauge the quality of the wood and cure it.
 

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Judging the quality and curing wood to maintain or improve the quality is turning out to be harder than I ever thought it would.

Even my curing solution of detergent,water, and alchohol has its problems. It can drastically change bark color! I cut a stick of redossier dogwood in its winter bark color of a vibrant red. When I cut it, temperatures were just above freezing during the day, mid teens at night, yet it started dripping water as soon as I cut it.

I knew that the stick would dry too fast and split, so I put it into my curing solution for a week. When I pulled it out, that glorious red had turned a sickly green. My wife was devastated, so I stripped all its bark down to bare wood. She uses it now and again, but she wanted it to be her favorite.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep a redossier dogwood in its winter red color. Next winter I'll try again, cut when it's well below zero, only with a natural cure, not a chemical one.

Good Luck with scraping the Mulberry, I hope it works!
 

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Rad,

I've never tried Pentacryl. Read about it and know it is expensive. If it wouldn't change bark color, it would be worth it. Has it changed bark color on any of your sticks?
 

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It appears a lot of people harvest deadwood, something i have never done,It must be better to harvest sound stock and cure it over a year.Its better for the shrub/tree to do this it keeps the plant healthy and encourages growth.

But i do envy some of the woods available to you
 

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Rad,
I've never tried Pentacryl. Read about it and know it is expensive. If it wouldn't change bark color, it would be worth it. Has it changed bark color on any of your sticks?
Not really -- maybe a little darkening, but not significant.
 

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cobalt,

I started with deadwood for several reasons. First was that I couldn't see myself waiting 2 years to make my first stick from fresh harvested wood. Second was, I have a brushpile on hand, from prunings of my trees. Third, it's easy to get permission to remove deadwood from others tree rows. Live wood is different, they want you to take the whole tree row, right down to stump pulling, so modern Agricultural equipment can access small legacy fields. At least that is what I've been asked to do, had to turn it down. I'm not into making firewood!

I have helped several friends clean up storm damaged live trees, however, and have over 50 sticks drying. Saved several fruit trees, the owner would have just felled them, but I cleared the damage and left cleaner, leaner trees. They (trees and owners) are very happy now!

Rad,

I'll try to find a source for some Pentacryl locally before I get it from an online woodworking site.
 
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