Bark stripping off hazel shanks

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Established Member
22 Sep 2017
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Norfolk Broads
I need a better way to strip the bark off of hazel shanks that I use to make hiking staff, beaters sticks etc. I have tried spoke shaves, these tend to block quickly and a pain to clear out. Currently using a 4-1/2 inch angle grinder with a 120 grit flap disk which a little aggressive. I dont have a draw knife and thought I would ask advice before spending out on a tool that may not be fit for purpose. Any advice welcome.
Yes, you do need a drawknife and a simple way to hold the wood. It will be much more pleasant to use than the angle grinder and I reckon it would be safer as well.

If you buy one and really don't like it, you'll be able to sell it again for about the same amount, so don't just buy the cheapest Chinese one, go for any well known old Sheffield or Black Country maker.
Shaving horses seems cruel to me, especially when the weather is getting colder.

More seriously, that's a very interesting link. Thank you.
No problem holding the shanks in standard wood vice, its the bl00dy bark that causes issues.
Without trying to sound like an expert... I'm obviously not....
If you haven't tried one out you can knock one up easily and quickly. Space an issue, store it outside and build another when it rots after 4 years
A shave horse is the perfect co efficient device. It's comfy, the harder you need to work the better it works and its super fast in use. Release legs and take a breath, turn the wood and carry on. Liken it to rowing. As you pull the oars your feet brace. Legs arms and back all working together. The harder you work the better it works. Harmony.
It's an amazing piece of design and ingenuity really. No surprise when it was such a common tool for so long.
If you have the space give it a go. It will transform how you work with a draw knife compared to a vise. They just work.
Anyway . Soapbox moment over. Sorry. But they are really are that good when working like this.
I used to do a bit with sticks when I was younger, I found the best way to strip off just the hazel bark was to scrape it rather than trying to peel it with a drawknife and take nicks out of the stick itself. A regular bar of steel (Something like 6mm plate) with a sharpish square edge can be used as a scraper to great effect, and great cost effectiveness! That was on fairly green sticks though, perhaps sticks that have been stored for a while will have tougher bark with the draw knife would be better at.
I do love how everyone thinks I'm taking the pish.

If it's green hazel, potato peeler. my 3 year old can do it, she's been doing it since she was 2 in fact as it's what they used in forest school because it's safe, easy and works.

if it's been dried with the bark on, then forget it.
I'd try a piece of glass.

Seriously, cut a piece of 4mm plate glass 6" x 2" and use like a cabinet scraper, does a lovely job. Just dub the short sides on a coarse stone to save your fingers and it'd be perfect fir the thin bark on Hazel.
Use your thumb nail.

Seriously, cut them when the sap is rising and the bark just peels off. You get a beautiful finish. That's it a minutes work if that per stick.
So if you do not cut during March, Aprill, or May time then shaving horse and drawknife is the best way to go. If you want to know more or just want a giggle then try 'Shaving Horses, Lap shaves and other Woodland Vices' the only book on making 11 different wood holding devices and info on using sharpening and renovating drawknives.
Sean Hellman":kcn1hi7e said:
Seriously, cut them when the sap is rising and the bark just peels off. You get a beautiful finish. That's it a minutes work if that per stick.

This is what I did many years ago when making walking sticks and cutting patterns in the bark, too young at the time to wait for the ones that had been restricted with binder twin and wire to contort into various patterns in the coppice hazels.
Not taking the micky, I fletch arrows from hazel and use a knife blade as a scraper to strip the bark, when I make hazel bows, though, that's different, I use a shave horse and draw knife, my draw knife is about 100 years old, garage clearence freebie, 14inch long blade