How to Peel the Paper From a Birch Tree


The paper of the white birch tree is used for canoe, basket and craft construction. Native Americans have used birch bark containers for storage for generations. Children's toys and sleds have also been crafted from the versatile bark. The white birch has a layer of paper thin bark with distinctive gray and black coloration on top of it. A downed or dead tree is the best source of preserved bark that you can strip and gather for your craft projects.

Step 1

Search for fallen or dead birch trees. Be alert for any tree top that is rotted, as it is an extreme hazard. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from insects and possible splinters.

Step 2

Cut a vertical line straight down the trunk.

Step 3

Pry under the darker inner bark with the knife blade to loosen the edges of the piece.

Step 4

Pry the loose edges with your gloved fingers, and lift up on the bark. Gently lift and peel the bark strips away from the tree.

Step 5

Brush the harvested bark with a soft bristle brush to remove any dirt. Place the strips into a carrying container.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never peel birch bark from a living tree. If you gouge below the thick inner bark you can kill the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Sharp knife
  • Container
  • Brush


  • Native Tech: Uses for Birch Bark
  • Nature Skills: Birch Bark Basket

Who Can Help

  • Northeast Area Forest Service: How to grow and maintain a healthy birch tree
Keywords: birch bark, harvested bark, bark for crafts

About this Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written ad copy and online content for Demand Studios and Associated Content. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Chilldren's Literature course in 1988.