One way to strip shafts

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One way to strip shafts

Post  Paul Gretton on Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:35 pm

In the British stickmaking tradition, shafts are not stripped of their bark. I try to adhere to that principle but I make an exception with ash, which I consider pretty boring to look at. I therefore strip off the bark. I can then get an attractive finish with my favourite stain, potassium permanganate.

Iíve experimented with various stripping methods. Recently I ďaccidentallyĒ came across another method that worked very well indeed. I was taking a break from weeding the garden and idly started scraping at an ash shaft (cut only a couple of weeks before, so the bark was still pretty soft), using one of my weeding tools.

The tool concerned is the hand hoe (GGT-415) shown at:
http://www.sneeboer.com/index2.php?page=19&articleID=63
and at
http://www.harrodgreenhouse.com/p_tools.html.

This worked marvellously and it only took me about 20 minutes to strip all the bark off a 6-foot shaft. I was left with a very nice surface that will eventually be sanded and stained. The hoe worked much better than the paint scraper tool that Iíve used in the past. I think the reason is that the blade is not at 90 degrees to the shaft but at about 70 degrees (i.e. it slopes back towards your hand).

Now Iím not suggesting you go out and buy a hand hoe so as to strip shanks. I myself am thinking of constructing a cheap dedicated tool that works on the same principle. It would simply be a blade set into a length of wood at the required angle. I intend trying to improve on the hoe by using a curved blade, i.e. with the cutting edge made to fit the curvature of a standard thickness of stick.

Perhaps I should add that I am aware that stripping a fresh stick may lead to the wood drying too fast. , Iíve never actually found that a problem. I deliberately cut my shafts overlong in the hope that any cracks will only be at the unused extremities, and I season them in an unheated shed. Cracking has not been an issue. The thing about stripping shafts soon after cutting is that itís a lot easier then than once the bark has hardened.

Paul Gretton

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Re: One way to strip shafts

Post  Wood Artist on Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:00 am

Interesting Paul....good idea. I haven't tried your method but have tried several others and wound up just using a "box cutter." It gives me a lot of control and is as sharp as a razor.
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