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Harvesting Hickory Bark

I want to weave a hickory-bark scat for a chair I made. Can I harvest the bark myself?

Kendra Marshall Johnson City, TN

O Hickory bark must be harvested in the spring. The peeling season starts when the leaves first emerge, and lasts for about two months, until the hickory nuts start to fall. During this time, you can easily peel the inner bark from the tree. The inner bark is a layer of pliable, living bark tissue between the dead, dry outer bark and the sapwood.

Shagbark hickory is best for chair seats; its thin inner bark makes the supplest strips. Find a tree that will yield a log 5 co 10 in. dia. and 10 to 12 ft. long. The trunk doesn't have to be very straight, but fewer branches make an easier harvest. Try shaving off some of the outer bark with a drawknife before you fell the tree. It should shave cleanly and quickly, or harvest will be messy and difficult.

To avoid straining your back, harvest the bark right where the tree falls, and work in a kneeling position. I chop a V-shaped notch in the tree stump and rest one end of the log in the V, with the other end on a rock or some leftover wood.

You want to remove all the outer bark and some of the inner bark, until there's just Vg in. of inner bark left on the whole length of the log. Grab your drawknife and start at one end of the log. (See top left photo.) Take long, light strokes and work slowly, with the drawknife bevel-up. Check the thickness of the remaining inner bark by looking at the end of the log. The inner bark will show as a

The Best Blade Height

I do most of my cutting on the tablesaw with a 50-tooth combination blade. What's the best blade height to use when cutting different materials?

Carl Rickcl Rochester. NY

OThc "ideal" height for either type of combination blade (see page 64) puts the blade's primary gullet about Vg in. above the workpiece at its highest point. On combination blades with alter-

Remove the outer bark. Shave with your drawknife bevel-up, until the inner bark is 1/g in. thick.

layer between the outer bark and the growth rings. When you're down to in., look at the light and dark growth patterns on the shaved part of the inner bark. Procccd down the log, shaving away the bark until you see the same pattern.

Use a pocketknife to score vertical lines in. to 1 in. apart, down the length of the tree. (See top right photo.) Cut all the way through the inner bark, so it peels off easily. (See bottom left photo.) As the strip gets longer, it's better to stand up and walk your way down the log.

nate top bevel and raker (ATB&R) teeth, the primary gullets are the smaller ones.

In some eases, there may be advantages to setting the blade a little higher or lower. For example, when you're cutting stock under in. thick, lower the blade so there are more teeth in the workpiece at all times. This gives a smoother cut, and helps minimize chipout on the bottom face of plywood, since the teeth are cutting forward instead of downward. Keep in mind that lowering the blade increases the chances of kickback, since a lowered

Slice the inner bark. Score the inner bark into 3/4- to 1-in.-wide strips that run down the length of the log.

You can use the fresh strips of bark right away or store them indefinitely. For storage, roll up each strip and tie it with a thinner strip of bark. (See bottom right photo.) Keep the rolls from each tree together, and hang them in a dry place with good air circulation to keep mold from forming. When you're ready to use the dried bark, soak it in hot water until it's completely saturated and pliable.

Owen Rein, Chairmaker Mountain View, AR

blade is pushing back at you rather than pushing the board down against the table.

On the other hand, raising the blade above ideal height reduces wear on the teeth, because each tooth remains in the cut a shorter time and doesn't heat up as much. You can feed a board faster when there are fewer teeth in die cut. Keep in mind, however, that a raised blade can increase your risk of injury, since more teeth are exposed above the workpiece.

David B. Stokes American Carbide Saw Co.

Peel off the strips. Start at one end of Roll up the strips. To store the bark, the log, and peel off full-length strips roll each strip into a loop and tie it with one at a time. a thinner strip. Store in a dry place.

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