How to Keep Bark on your Live Edge Wood Cookies and Slabs

If you're a woodworker, you know that bark is an important part of your project. Not only do "live edge" wood pieces add visual appeal, but the bark also helps to protect the wood from moisture and decay. However, if the bark isn't firmly attached, it can come loose and fall off, ruining the look of your project. In this blog post, we'll give you some tips to ensure that the bark stays attached to your wood.

Live edge wood slabs

How often have you come across the perfect piece of wood that has a beautiful ring of bark or natural live edge of bark that you want to keep intact? This is particularly common with cross-cut “cookies” and slabs.

However, keeping the bark on your wood can be difficult. To ensure that the bark does not fall off, it's best to cut the tree during the dormant period in winter when the sap has stopped flowing and the wood has hardened off. Because no more sugar is coursing through the sap edge, the bark is more firmly attached to the wood at this time.

Another way to keep bark attached is to stabilize it with Pentacryl (if it's green wood) or Wood Juice (if the wood is semi-dry), as it reduces the shrinkage of the wood and prevents it from pulling away from the bark.

This piece of maple was cut in the New England area in the late fall and treated with Pentacryl. After 6 years, the bark still remains intact and snug to the wood:



This large cottonwood cookie was cut in November and left untreated (not stabilized with Pentacryl) in a garage all winter.  As the wood dried, it shrunk, cracked and pulled away from the bark.

wood cookie with bark

This stack of Lodge Pole pine logs in Colorado was cut in early December – the perfect time of year for making rustic, bark-edge “cookies”:

Lodge Pine logs in winter

Bark can be a beautiful addition to your woodworking project, but it's important to make sure that it is attached firmly. By cutting the tree during the dormant period and using Pentacryl or Wood Juice, you can have a good chance that the bark stays on your wood.