Barking Spud

Vintage barking spud for peeling logsThe barking spud, or barking iron, is a tool used to remove bark from a log. It’s a spoon or wedge shaped iron bit that is worked underneath the bark to free it from the log. The idea is to wedge the barking spud into the layer between the bark and the wood, pushing around and along the log to loosen the bark. On a freshly cut green log the bark will come off in big chunks. After the log dries out the bark can stick to the log making it difficult to use the barking spud, so it makes sense to debark your logs right after cutting the tree down.

I bought the barking spud in the picture to the left for $9.95 on eBay. It’s hand forged by an anonymous blacksmith (no visible stamping). Most barking spuds that I’ve seen are shaped more like a spoon, but this one has a hook that makes it an interesting find. And did I mention this was less than $10 bucks? In this article, I’ll restore a vintage hand forged barking spud to working condition.

Here’s what it looked like in the eBay pictures for the auction listing:

Barking spud from eBay ad.

Barking spud from eBay ad.

The steel, although heavily rusted and pitted, isn’t cracked or compromised in it’s strength. I’ll be able to restore this tool to a it’s full working glory. The first thing I did was sand off all the orange surface rust with 80 grit sandpaper. I found a sturdy handle from the hardware store to replace a shovel. I rasped one end down to fit into the tapered socket. After a lot of test fitting and rasping, I forced the handle snugly into the socket, drilled a hole for the pin, and hammered the pin home.

Barking spud after light sanding.

Barking spud after light sanding.

Then I sanded the varnish off of the wood handle and applied several coats of boiled linseed oil. I like to fill in any gaps between the socket and wood handle with melted beeswax. I don’t want air or water getting in there and loosening things up. Lastly, I coat the steel with mineral oil to prevent any new rust from appearing.

Linseed oil and beeswax to finish the handle.

Linseed oil and beeswax to finish the handle.

With that, I’m ready to start peeling some logs!

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