debarking live edge slabs

A common question we get from those buying live edge slabs is whether or not they should remove the bark from the slab. In short, debarking the slab is something we always recommend. In this blog, we’ll go into the reasons why.

Reasons Why We Always Debark Our Slabs

There are a number of reasons we debark our live edge wood before building them into a piece of finished furniture. Those reasons are:

  • It’s highly likely to fall off with time, regardless of the measures taken to preserve it.
  • Slabs will slowly lose their bark, which can lead to weekly cleaning underneath your table or finished piece.
  • It allows you to sand the live edge making it less sharp and giving it a smooth feel to the touch.

Plan on Keeping the Bark? Here’s What You Need To Know.

One thing to consider if you want to keep the bark on your piece is that the time of year a tree was cut down can matter. Dried logs that are cut in the summertime lose their bark more easily as the sap production is down in those months.

Another thing to consider is that some woods just down make sense to keep the bark. For example, hickory, also known as “shagbark hickory” will lose it’s bark regardless of what you do. Sycamore is another that can naturally shed it’s bark. Other species, even walnut, can get small bugs between the bark and the sapwood, which can make it lose it’s bark more easily.

The last thing you need to consider is finish. Pour over epoxy resin is your best bet to hold the bark in place if you plan on keeping it. Polyurethane would be another option, but won’t be quite as strong. Oils and waxes seal the wood, but they aren’t going to serve as an adhesive like epoxy would to keep the bark in place.

How To Remove The Bark on Live Edge Slabs

Removing the bark on a live edge slab is a pretty simple process. We typically use a small chisel and hammer and angle the chisel with the way the live edge tapers. After all of the big pieces are removed, you can sand the rest until your edge has a smooth surface.

For cookies, burls, and other types of live edge wood, it may be harder to remove the bark. For these, you can often use a grinder and then a piece of wire brush on your drill to clean the edges.

Questions About Your Live Edge Piece?

Lancaster Live Edge specializes in live edge dining tables, epoxy resin tables, and more. If you’re building a piece of live edge furniture and have questions regarding bark removal or anything else, simply drop them in the comment box below and we’re happy to help where we can!


  1. Stef on April 11, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you! Exactly the info I was looking for. Taking the bark off seemed so tedious… now I am convinced it is necessary.

    • Nolan Barger on April 12, 2021 at 7:41 am

      A chisel for the big pieces and some 40 grit sandpaper should do the trick!

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