Live Edge, Always Remove Bark?

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Forum topic by Croikee posted 01-09-2021 03:20 AM 414 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Croikee's profile


59 posts in 136 days

01-09-2021 03:20 AM

Hey all, question on live edge projects. Being super new, I picked up a $10 3 foot piece of maple lumber, with a live edge. My plan was to use it as practice for a danish oil, then shellac, then lacquer finish. Then I started researching and it seems most people remove the bark. A few questions:

1) Can you leave the bark on? This is practice for a future live edge dinning room table (after LOTS of practice).

2) Whether bark or no bark, is it fine to just spray (HVLP) the edge with shellac then spray with the topcoat? do you sand it normally etc?

Any help is much appreciated, thank you!

11 replies so far

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


4763 posts in 2188 days

#1 posted 01-09-2021 03:58 AM

I was thinking the same thing.. hopefully, someone will chime in

-- Desert_Woodworker

View Ocelot's profile


2804 posts in 3612 days

#2 posted 01-09-2021 04:28 AM

Bark is crumbly. I like wood better without it. That’s just an opinion. I’m pretty sure there are bugs in the bark too.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View SMP's profile


3192 posts in 879 days

#3 posted 01-09-2021 04:33 AM

I think its part personal preference, part wood species, part what nature wants to do, etc. Some bark will stay on, some will crumble off. It depends on if you are ok with whatever happens to it over time.

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


4763 posts in 2188 days

#4 posted 01-09-2021 04:43 AM

how about an epoxy coating?

-- Desert_Woodworker

View Croikee's profile


59 posts in 136 days

#5 posted 01-09-2021 04:46 AM

If I decided to leave the bark on, could I just spray a seal coat of shellac on it, then spray lacquer on it, like I will the main surface?

View Andre's profile


4124 posts in 2780 days

#6 posted 01-09-2021 07:18 AM

Just did some Poplar live edge shelving, bark stayed on after drying so gave it a good soak with Varathane and it is solid as a rock.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View MikeB_UK's profile


261 posts in 2009 days

#7 posted 01-09-2021 12:36 PM

I did a live edge oak shelf for the bedroom a couple of years ago that I kept the bark on and have had no problems with.
I left the bark on because I liked the look and figured it would be easy to strip the rest if pieces fell off.

Main problem with keeping the bark on is that it’s weaker and prone to coming off, so your finish needs to harden it. It’s probably not helpful at this point, but if you want to keep the bark on cut the tree in winter.

I’ve never used maple so not sure how the bark acts.

Honestly, for a dining room table that’s likely to get a lot of knocks I’d remove the bark, you can leave the cambium layer (bit between bark and wood) if you like the look though.

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View Peteybadboy's profile


2857 posts in 2923 days

#8 posted 01-09-2021 01:00 PM

I have left the bark on. It will eventually pop off. Well at least it did on a Walnut slab.

-- Petey

View Lazyman's profile


6360 posts in 2361 days

#9 posted 01-09-2021 04:55 PM

You don’t want the bark on the edge of a table since your arms will often be resting on the edge of the table. That would be pretty uncomfortable. Also, most bark will eventually fall off, especially if in frequent contact, though different species com off more easily than others. On a live edge bowls, I have carefully removed the bark and then glued it back on just so it would not come off later.

Another thing I sometimes do on bowls is sand the bark smooth and then apply the same finish to it as the rest of the piece. On some species, especially Bradford pear, this can create a really cool pattern as it reveals different growth ring layers in the bark. Again, some species work better than others for this.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View pottz's profile


13851 posts in 1958 days

#10 posted 01-09-2021 05:46 PM

yes you can leave the bark on a lot of times,some will come off but check my projects and you will see some ive done, a few were done about 20 years ago with no problem.if you have one thats loose ill soak it with ca glue,most i just apply the oil finish i normally’s a personal preference,i like the look of bark on rustic furniture.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View OnhillWW's profile


289 posts in 2206 days

#11 posted 01-09-2021 05:52 PM

I treat live edge three ways; remove the bark, remove the bark and stain the edge, and leave the bark. As others have stated if the piece will see contact the bark will eventually suffer. It should be noted that LE collects dust making it look horrible. If you leave it intact clean it with compressed air to remove the dust buildup. When I leave it on I fix it to the wood prior to finishing and depending on the condition even prior to working the piece by running thin CA along the interface between the bark and the wood. This is easier said than done. It will soak in so you need to apply enough so that it penetrates enough to fix as much bark as possible but not too much that it runs off onto areas where you do not want it. Going back over the same area a 2nd time is usually not successful as the first dose seals the porous material and inhibits new penetration. I tilt the workpiece so any excess CA runs down over the bark LE rather than onto the wood. If you go the stain the LE route it can take 2 applications to get the darkness you might prefer as the cambial layer can be resistant to the stain. I have grown to prefer dyes over stains but in this case dyes have greater penetration and can bleed into areas where you do not want them more so than a stain. If you, stain then sand, you can get a nice crisp line between the LE and the wood, a nice effect on cutting boards.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

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