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Thread: Growing a boat from bamboo?

  1. #1
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    Default Growing a boat from bamboo?

    The other day I had the idea of training bamboo to grow to the shape of structural members for a boat. In theory bamboo can grow up to 24" per day, and can be trained to take on shapes. From wiki...

    Various structural shapes may be made by training the bamboo to assume them as it grows. Squared sections of bamboo are created by compressing the growing stalk within a square form.[19] Arches may similarly be created by forcing the bamboo's growth with the desired form and costs many times less than it would to assume the same shape in regular wood timber.
    So I had this mental image of a boat mold sitting on top of a bamboo grove, with the bamboo being trained to take on the shape of various structural members. Frames, obviously. Maybe interwoven diagonals. Still thinking about it. Cut them off at the bottom when they've grown enough, and finish off the boat.

    It'd be an interesting project. I know bamboo has lots of issues of a boatbuilding material.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Or you could just cut the bamboo and heat it while it's still green, and bend it to the desired shape.
    Never trust a man with a clean workshop.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Now I have a secret plan for the greenhouse of my lady

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mrleft8 View Post
    Or you could just cut the bamboo and heat it while it's still green, and bend it to the desired shape.
    Squaring the members might be tough, and there's the option to interweave them as they grow. No idea how sharp of a turn you could train them to.

    The birdmouth mast is an obvious candidate.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Bamboo does not hold up well in the marine environment but it makes an excellent core or mandrel for composite construction using carbon fiber/fiberglass sleeves and epoxy. I use composite reinforced bamboo for booms, yards, and tiller extensions. My seats in my boat are raw bamboo just sealed with linseed oil. It gets labor intensive to keep the raw bamboo looking nice so I'll eventually go with clear fiberglass sleeve protection for all the bamboo in my boat.


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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    I admire Kenjamin's very earthy fastening details and was thinking, now here's a guy who is unafraid to embrace the past, until I spotted the Chrysler-van-cupholder. ;-)
    Gerard>
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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Bamboo boat?

    DON'T DO IT!

    IT'S A TRICK!!!







    She's not quite yet launched, but her name is 'Bamboozler'. It's a name she has earned, many, many times.

    I have an estimated 400 hours in this POS. Well over 1000 knots...

    I fully expect her to be watertight when launched, to behave very well with my Girl and her 2 chillun aboard, and to self-destruct within a month or two from the wretched, unspeakable weaknesses inherent to the use of this material.

    I hope Cuyahoga Chuck will chime in with his excellent rant/rundown of the drawbacks to using bamboo.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Here we go again.
    Bamboo is a member of the grass family. Like the other grasses bamboo comes in hundreds of different varieties all with somewhat different potentials. And most varieties grow in Asia.
    It is difficult to work with edged tools, doesn't take metal fasteners well and is not a good candidate for glueing. There is also a rumor that it rots if exposed to water for too long. That I have no expierence with.
    Bamboo dreams show up in places like duckworks and the stripper kayak sites where overly-inventive minds just can't accept that the bamboo boat just isn't in the cards unless you are of a mind to search for the Holy Grail or extract Excaliber from the stone.
    I'll bet it took all the brain power in the People's Republic of Austin to construct that bamboo wonder.
    Good luck Bean-man. We expect a full seagoing report. But please do a test with sandbags first.
    Last edited by Cuyahoga Chuck; 08-31-2010 at 12:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Split bamboo bends so easily and has been used for building boats for a loooong time:







    Rick

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    It is difficult to work with edged tools, doesn't take metal fasteners well and is not a good candidate for glueing. There is also a rumor that it rots if exposed to water for too long.
    someone should let the makers of custom bamboo flyrods know about all this

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    There is also a rumor that it rots if exposed to water for too long. That I have no expierence with.
    I can attest to that.

    Bamboo grows as a weed in central Virginia. I don't know which particular variety or species, but when it gets going, it spread like mad and can grow up to about 40 feet high. The largest ones I've seen were nearly 6" diameter at the base.

    Anyhow, a couple years ago my wife thought it would be neat to get some to use in making various gardening structures - beanpoles, climbing frames, etc. I found an ad on Criag's list - a guy had about two acres that had taken over his back yard and he wanted it gone, so he was giving it away if you come get it. I took my chainsaw and spent probably two hours cutting them up - I mean, these things were like trees. Like I said, 4, 5, even 6 inches diameter, 40 feet tall. I took home a very full pickup truck load, including some smaller diameter, more flexible stuff.

    We piled it up in the back yard and then - predictably - never really got around to doing much with it. It laid back there for about a year, maybe two, by which point, most of the stuff at the bottom of the pile had pretty well disintegrated from being wet and in contact with the ground.

    When it's green, it's very hard and surprisingly strong. Once it lies around a bit in the wet, it rots pretty quickly.
    - Bill T.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    someone should let the makers of custom bamboo flyrods know about all this
    +1

    Doug

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    First year growth bamboo shrinks like crazy. Generally it takes three years for bamboo to mature. When the color shifts
    towards the yellow it will hold its shape and dry better.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Not just talking about building from bamboo, but about training the bamboo to the boat shape while alive. No steam bending or after the fact shaping. Here's some normally straight bamboo trained to spiral. Cool looking stuff.

    Maybe you could grow frames that went all the way from port to stbd?

    My wife swears she will not allow me to plant any in the yard. Maybe I'll sneak some into my neighbor's.

    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    These guys are thinking along the same lines...

    http://www.bambootechnologies.org/objectives.html
    Objectives of the Project

    • Study of the Rheological, Physio- Chemical (density- lignocellulose content) and Biological (insect resistance) properties of Indian Bamboo (Forest/ Farm grown) in various agro climatic condition, including effects of Preservative Treatments.

    • Shaping Bamboo in its initial growth stage for beams and Columns for rural houses, Green house etc.


    • Investigation of Existing Bamboo Civil Structures in India and testing of novel Bamboo Structural Joint and Elements.

    • Development of Cost effective test equipment for measuring the rheological properties of bamboo, the joinery and the structural elements with bamboo/bamcrete.

    • Design, Development and Demonstration of Bamboo Based selected applications for sustainable Bamboo Cultivation - Rural Housing, Cattle Shelter, green houses, solar driers, Grain Silos, etc.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Y Bar Ranch View Post
    Not just talking about building from bamboo, but about training the bamboo to the boat shape while alive. No steam bending or after the fact shaping. Here's some normally straight bamboo trained to spiral. Cool looking stuff.

    Maybe you could grow frames that went all the way from port to stbd?

    My wife swears she will not allow me to plant any in the yard. Maybe I'll sneak some into my neighbor's.

    That is not bamboo, it's Dracaena sanderiana, aka "Lucky Bamboo" no relation to real Bamboo. The curl is a natural occurrence and it is not trained into the plant.
    Last edited by Old Dryfoot; 08-31-2010 at 01:37 PM. Reason: fixed link
    Nosce te ipsum

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    Here we go again.
    Bamboo is a member of the grass family. Like the other grasses bamboo comes in hundreds of different varieties all with somewhat different potentials. And most varieties grow in Asia.
    It is difficult to work with edged tools, doesn't take metal fasteners well and is not a good candidate for glueing.
    Some right, some wrong. No, you can't shape bamboo as you do wood. No, you can't expect bamboo to hold nails or screws, in its natural form, anyway, because it will split. This is also the reason you can't tie it to a frame unless you pass the line around the whole piece: If you drill a hole for the line to pass through, you will be tying only the part next to the frame, because everything outside the hole will split off at the slightest provocation.

    Yes, you can glue bamboo very well once it has been split, dried, planed, etc. Millions of SF of bamboo flooring are testament to this.

    One more thing (related to the tying of longitudinals to frames): If you plane off the nodes, you weaken the stick. Between this and the knots holding the wretched thing together, there will be leak-promoting lumps (AKA wear-points) all over the skin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    There is also a rumor that it rots if exposed to water for too long. That I have no expierence with.
    Bamboo dreams show up in places like duckworks and the stripper kayak sites where overly-inventive minds just can't accept that the bamboo boat just isn't in the cards unless you are of a mind to search for the Holy Grail or extract Excaliber from the stone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    I'll bet it took all the brain power in the People's Republic of Austin to construct that bamboo wonder.
    Wrong again, He-Who-Pollutes-His-River-Until-It-Catches-On-Fire. We didn't tap the brain-trust at all, on this one. The reserves of patience and persistence, however, have been drawn dangerously low.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyahoga Chuck View Post
    Good luck Bean-man. We expect a full seagoing report. But please do a test with sandbags first.
    Are you just determined to hack me off today, or what?

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    Yes, you can glue bamboo very well once it has been split, dried, planed, etc. Millions of SF of bamboo flooring are testament to this.
    I wonder how much work goes into making it into the flooring? The flooring is relatively cheap, but is that just because its coming from places where labor is super cheap?

    Reading an article on bamboo flooring and then thinking about this thread I got to thinking about bamboo based "plywood." Would it be profitable for someone to do large panels of bamboo strips, glued up on at 45* angles, I'm thinking, as a panelling material.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Because there are hundreds of varieties of bamboo, that which is used for flyrods has exceptionally long joints between nodes. There are varieties that grow in tight clumps and others that spread by underground stollons like quackgrass. Five years ago my neighbor on the other side of the creek planted about a half dozen nodes at the back of his place. It has now spread across his back line and onto his next door neighbors place. So far it hasn't crossed the creek.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by OconeePirate View Post
    I wonder how much work goes into making it into the flooring? The flooring is relatively cheap, but is that just because its coming from places where labor is super cheap?

    Reading an article on bamboo flooring and then thinking about this thread I got to thinking about bamboo based "plywood." Would it be profitable for someone to do large panels of bamboo strips, glued up on at 45* angles, I'm thinking, as a panelling material.
    As in bamboo OSB?

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by OconeePirate View Post
    I wonder how much work goes into making it into the flooring? The flooring is relatively cheap, but is that just because its coming from places where labor is super cheap?

    Reading an article on bamboo flooring and then thinking about this thread I got to thinking about bamboo based "plywood." Would it be profitable for someone to do large panels of bamboo strips, glued up on at 45* angles, I'm thinking, as a panelling material.
    My experience with bamboo would suggest that making the flooring is super-easy for an industrial plant. The stalks split very nicely between two rollers, and they could then be planed, etc. with little trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by ssor View Post
    As in bamboo OSB?
    I don't know if Oconee Pirate was thinking along those lines, but it seems to me that an Oriented Strand Board would be very, very easy to make from bamboo in an industrial setting.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssor View Post
    As in bamboo OSB?
    Bamboo OSB has been available for years. As has woven bamboo engineered boards. As has more 'conventional' bamboo veneered plywood.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by oznabrag View Post
    ...Wrong again, He-Who-Pollutes-His-River-Until-It-Catches-On-Fire...
    I don't know if we can blame Cuyahoga Chuck for that envirnmenmtal mess single-handedly...but I was just a kid when it happened, and it sure did connect with my (evil) sense of humour...

    Now, back to Bamboo...there was a post here about pouring 'boat soup' into Red Oak frames to make them highly resistant to rot. So, could treating (preformed) Bamboo frames, etc., with something similar increase the rot resistance of Bamboo?

    Commnts from RNFK (and others wit Viet Nam experience) will be appreicated - if only to remind me how full of $hyte I can be...

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Bamboo is one of the 4 best naturally growing materials from which to construct bows, the other 3 being osage orange, yew and greenheart, which was also used to build fly rods. It glues up perfectly with epoxy and takes almost no "string follow", which means that it springs back all the way, again and again and again and ag..........

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Commnts from RNFK (and others wit Viet Nam experience) will be appreicated
    The various bamboo boats in Vietnam are always coated on the outside with lacquer or tar but this is for waterproofing. Many are also coated inside with paint or lacquer and I'd guess that this helps to prevent rot. Something (among many things) I don't know about VN boats is how long they typically last. They're worked pretty hard, dragged across the sand and rocks etc. and they seem to wear quite well but I just don't know how big a problem rot is in the bamboo boats. I haven't seen obvious rot in the bamboo boats but it could be a big problem without it being obvious to me. Next time I'm at the coast I'll ask. Rick

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    At the age of 62 I have come to realise that you can't breed out stupidity.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    someone should let the makers of custom bamboo flyrods know about all this
    Custom bamboo fishing rods are made with a SPECIFIC type of bamboo and a SPECIFIC method of working the segments down to overcome the shortcomings I mentioned above. Those poles rely on wrappings as much as glue to maintain the integrity of the unit. In fact I think they specifically specified silk in the old days because of it's strength. If you will notice there are no metal fasteners driven into the completed wand. At least I have never found any. Maybe your eyesight is better.
    Last edited by Cuyahoga Chuck; 08-31-2010 at 10:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by OconeePirate View Post
    I wonder how much work goes into making it into the flooring? The flooring is relatively cheap, but is that just because its coming from places where labor is super cheap?

    Reading an article on bamboo flooring and then thinking about this thread I got to thinking about bamboo based "plywood." Would it be profitable for someone to do large panels of bamboo strips, glued up on at 45* angles, I'm thinking, as a panelling material.
    Bamboo for flooring or paneling is processed to make it workable. I think they use something like an industrial autoclave to make it do what they want. If you have ever seen how fast they can veneer a log for plywood you can guess how much more costly a plywood would be because you had to cook the ingredients.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Tried to heat cure some bamboo last summer over a charcoal fire, very peaceful... had a U shaped piece of galvanized metal over the top to keep the heat in, musthave gone too fast or it was too green, one of the nodes exploded. Just about like a shotgun at close range....

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    one of the nodes exploded. Just about like a shotgun at close range....
    Yep, poor man's fireworks.
    At the age of 62 I have come to realise that you can't breed out stupidity.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Another approach to using bamboo is using the fabric as you would fiberglass. You could either do a stitch and glue, a foam core and glass, or a hull from a mold or plug. I've been considering this for some time and think it may be a realistic alternative or even replacement for glass. If there were only an alternative to epoxy.

    There are some surfboard builder doing the foam and glass building now. Greenlight Surf Supply sells the fabric but it's still on the costly side right now. http://greenlightsurfsupply.com/natu...oards9-11.aspx

    I imagine that there are bamboo fabric manufacturers that would be willing to give some help and decent prices to get their wares known to a new industry.
    John
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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    I have a T-shirt made from bamboo fibre, very soft to the touch.
    At the age of 62 I have come to realise that you can't breed out stupidity.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by WX View Post
    I have a T-shirt made from bamboo fibre, very soft to the touch.


    - I have friends in Philippines, half a village (a large family), which I could ask making/designing still more structures of bamboo. In here, we have many sorts of willow which grow fast... but I'm not planning to go and sail in a willow basket, not now, not in the future.
    ~ God bless and protect all sailors and please let them guys make boats longer than I have my skis amen ~

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    By use of molds you can cause the bamboo to be square in cross section.



    So I'm thinking you could grow the main timbers right to shape? Grow yourself a stem that is one piece of bamboo of 4" cross section yet is a single piece of...grass, that exactly fits the shape of the bow.

    Not practical for a bunch of reasons, I guess, but still seems like a cool idea.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    People have been weaving water tight baskets for millenia and there is no reason that a boat made from bamboo and coated with pitch or tar wouldn't be perfectly servicable. It just couldn't be built along traditional timber frame boat lines. you must suit your method to the material. Birch bark makes fine canoes but the construction method is very different from plank on frame.

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerarddm View Post
    I admire Kenjamin's very earthy fastening details and was thinking, now here's a guy who is unafraid to embrace the past, until I spotted the Chrysler-van-cupholder. ;-)
    I doth protest. I have never owned a Chrysler van. That there solid mahogany drink rack must have taken me at least a half an hour to build and I drive a '03 Tacoma or an '06 Miata. Zoom Zoom!!!

    As for the bamboo, I love to play with the stuff. My grandparents had a huge stand of it in the backyard when I was growing up in St. Augustine. For fastening the seat pieces in my boat I use a variety of methods in an attempt to find the best method. I think what I like best is sticking one end in a hole and lashing the other end down using cordage and plastic "D" straps that are designed for securing bimini tops and sunshades. I've also carefully countersunk stainless fastening screws (near nodes if possible) and let the screw pull down the end of the bamboo into a dab of epoxy. This last method keeps the stick of bamboo oriented the way you want it to stay. For seats I like them to bow upwards in the middle so they are more comfortable and hold you better when sailing heeled over. The seats in that picture are the old ones that have gravitated to the bow in the down position. The new seats are better but I don't have a picture of them handy at the moment.
    Last edited by kenjamin; 09-01-2010 at 09:32 AM.

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Well, these guys tried to grow a boat. They had a yearly update in Maine Boats and Harbors magazine. I think some kind of wood boring insect got into it and ruined the frame, however.

    http://www.treeshapers.net/laird-funk.html

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    Default Re: Growing a boat from bamboo?

    Awesome! Thanks for the link.
    It will all be OK in the end...so if it's not OK, you're not at the end.

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