Ever made utensils or cups?

thatcompostguyDecember 11, 2013

Next spring, I hope, I'm going to go help someone clean up a Moso patch nearby. This is the famed Anderson Silver Brook Cemetery patch. It's actually several patches there. I've seen it recently and there are some decent 4 inch diameter poles in the patch. I have no idea how much cleaning up they will be doing, or where specifically they'll be cutting. I spoke with the guy that runs the landscaping crew a month or two ago now and he said call back in April, so I will. It's fascinating. Creeks run through parts of it and people that live around dump all manner of trash in them. It's not a great neighborhood. I don't know how many poles to expect, but I hope for a couple hundred. I know they won't all be 4 inchers, but I would be upset if there aren't at least some in the batch. He said they usually end up throwing them away because nobody wants them, so I'm going to try to solve that problem this year, anyway. I'm going to try to get on his short list of folks to call when they want to do a clean up. There used to be an organized annual clean-up, but that hasn't happened in quite a while.

OK, so with all that background, I'm hoping to actually have enough bamboo poles when it's all said and done that I can make some things with them. I've been looking at everything from those simple utensil packages you get to cook with, to cups, to candle holders with carved sections in them, salt wells, saki pitchers, maybe furniture. And lots more. Utilitarian things, mostly. Maybe some artsy things.

I have a pull knife to help with trimming leaf branches. I have a chain saw to help with harvesting and paring to fit the truck and trailer. I have basic tools at home. But if I want to make utensils (spoon, spatula, fork, etc) and other things what else would be beneficial? Band saw? Scroll saw? Fine tooth blade on a reciprocating saw? Belt sander? Or should I forget it's fibrous bamboo and just think of it like wood? I know a Dremel type tool will be beneficial for smaller things.

If all else fails, I have a big garden and they will make nice stakes. :-)

Thank you for any pointers.

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daveh_sf(San Francisco)

My husband has made musical instruments of bamboo for many years, mainly using a large machete-like knife and a chop saw. One thing to keep in mind is that bamboo will dull cutting tools significantly faster than wood does.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 11:31AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

A few tips. You are going to have to let it dry for a number of months, and then some of it will have split from the drying process. Also, some of the things you make may split afterwards...just so you know.

When you cut it, you're likely to have the surface fibers tear away, which will cause a cosmetic defect, although not a structural one. This can be somewhat mitigated by tightly wrapping the cut line once or twice with adhesive tape before you cut.

Power tools help a lot in building things like this. I use a chop saw with a cabinet cutting blade in it, a finish sander, a small belt sander, and a drill press with a selection of regular, brad point, and Forstner bits. Small sanding drums (1/2", 3/4", etc.) that you can chuck into a power drill are also useful, particularly if you are wanting to insert a piece of culm into a hole you've drilled into a larger one: bamboo is hardly ever perfectly round, so any larger diameter hole must be custom-shaped for a close fit.

It's fun to try to build with bamboo, but it poses challenges even if you've been doing woodwork for decades, like me.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 9:12PM
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Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 8:56AM
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