Is there an easy way to strip bark off branches that will be used as walking sticks?
Andy Rae: Your best bet is to pick ’em in the spring, when the sap is rising. The bark will peel right off with gentle prying from the dulled edge of a 3-in. putty knife. If you’re forced to peel branches in the winter, or after the bark and sap has dried, you can loosen the bark first by applying heat and water, most effectively in the form of steam. A steam box is just the ticket, but you could improvise something simpler by pouring boiling water over the sticks. While the wood is hot, take the same dulled knife and start prying. It’s a fair bit o’ work, but you’ll still get that lovely, nature-made smooth surface underneath.
Mike Van Pelt: I would suggest a shave horse, a draw knife, and spokeshave. The shave horse will give great control and easy adjustment as you strip off the bark. A curved spokeshave would help in retaining the shape of the round branch.