Monday, July 18, 2011

Birch Bark Canoe Construction

Today my wife April and I ventured out into the very hot and humid forests to gather canoe bark. It was very hot and sweaty but once the tree was scored, the trees just about peeled itself. This is what happens sometimes in  the very hot weather. It makes getting bark fun but very hot work. We had found these trees while harvesting "winter bark" mentioned in an earlier post. These trees had some very nice bark, one was almost too thick, at almost a 1/4 inch, at least for my liking.  We used a ladder to get as much of the bark as we could. When harvesting this much bark from a single tree we are killing them. But, as we looked around at the other birch in this area, many were already dead, and after that, the bark is pretty much useless for most things. I like the idea that we are getting the bark before the tree dies and turning it into a canoe that can last much longer than the life of any birch tree....rebirth.
Over the next few weeks I intend to update this every few days with pictures and a small amount of description while I build a birch bark canoe. I hope folks will check back during the process.
Heading into the forest
testing a small piece of bark
first tree peeled
nice piece of bark


  1. It does look like it comes off the tree easily .Are trees like the ones in the last picture the ideal girth for canoe building?

  2. depends on how big your intended canoe is. i'd say 14 inches or bigger is good size...but quality of bark is most important not so much the size, bark can be sewn together and pitched if it's too small.