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Thread: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

  1. #1
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    Question Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    .
    My forth coming duck punt conversion is coming along. But the sea trials are still in the future I have plenty of time to tune up components. I aim to use bamboo for the sprit. The one I have is cracked in places. By luck I got a green length cut to day.
    Is there any way to cure or preserve it’s " greenness" for marine use ?

    See this thread for details:

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...02#post3718202
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    My limited understanding is that bamboo hardens significantly while curing, so there doesn't seem to be any way to not cure it over time. Everyone I know who builds with 'boo works with dried, drilled and borax treated materials.

    You could try this method - http://www.bamboocraft.net/forums/showthread.php?t=338

    http://bambooroo.net/about_bamboo.php
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Split it into 8ths or more. Plane the inside a bit. Sticker and dry. Then glue back together. It's a lot like making a fly rod.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Thorne , thanks for that site. Interesting but I don't think I'm gonna put a torch to the bamboo. I think I'll let Mother nature do her thing.

    Split it into 8ths or more. Plane the inside a bit. Sticker and dry. Then glue back together. It's a lot like making a fly rod.


    3 sheets

    Are you kidding ? Splitting it into 8ths etc.. Way beyond my skills.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Torching of bamboo is done for a number of reasons. The proper name for the process is called flame hardening. Originally it was done to harden the wood like you heat treat knife steel to make it hold the sharpened edge better. This process has been done for many centuries and is still quite commonly done with bamboo fly rods and arrows. By the way, not all woods can be heat treated successfully just like some steels don't harden very well. Because of the color and look that is imparted to bamboo when flame hardened, it became a popular cosmetic thing to do. What most folks don't realize is if the process isn't done properly, it will actually weaken the wood. Bamboo can be successfully hardened with any heat source and it does not have to be flamed. Old fly rod makers just used to store the split bamboo culms in the attics of their homes for years to accomplish this. This slower and lower temperature process is the best way to accomplish this safely. Most people won't wait years for things anymore so low temperature ovens are often used instead. It takes quite a bit of practice to use a torch or heat gun successfully so I wouldn't recommend using them without some training.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    We used bamboo for several things over the years; once a sprit, several times poles for awnings, once a boat hook...and found that the splits are really sharp! Our method of dealing with the spliting was to use very small line and do decrative knotting on it between the joints. Once I used dacron thread brushed with epoxy, then varnished, and that held up for about five years before we lost that particular pole..

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Its important to make sure that the culm is mature when cut - that is at least 2-3 years after the year that it grew.
    I have found that younger culms have no rot resistance and are readily attacked by pests because they still have high sugar content which powers their outrageous growth rate.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    You won't get boo to stay green and flexy any more than you can get green white oak to stay that way -- they all cure and harden. Your best bet is to cure and treat the boo, then build the spars you need based on the cured material's flex and strength.

    My old Urban Farm housemate Kevin works all over the world with boo, building structures like this -

    Last edited by Thorne; 03-07-2013 at 09:45 AM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Maybe I can help. . .a little. I live in SE Pennsylvania and have a very large grove, actually it is two very large plants. It covers perhaps 1500sq. feet. As the grove grows, new shoots must grow ever taller and also wider at the base. New, interior shoots annually now reach heights of fifty feet and are three inches across at base. They reach that size in about four days! Needless to say it is an awesome thing and also quite intimidating. I expend too much energy keeping up.
    The grove is now thirty years old. I have some experience using it. First. Where it is grown and used regularly there is plenty of it and therefore very replaceable. But architectural quality bamboo is treated much like valuable timber.
    A piece, untreated in any way, will last two summer's in the garden, then they shatter and splinter and are quite dangerous! As we say here, don't ask me how I know. Kept dry and out of the sun a piece will begin to cure on its own after a few months. The green is transient. Springiness is a bamboo quality but depends on the taper and length. Obviously a shorter consistent diameter piece will be stiffer than otherwise. It is impossible to have let's say a ten foot piece tapering from 1 3/4 to 3/4" not split eventually. But if you bore a hole into each section you can prevent splitting somewhat. In the Orient, they get a long rod red hot on the tip and ram it thru from end to end. No OSHA! I've tried drilling an eighth inch hole, spirally around the piece along its length in each section. Seems to help. They cure with Borax to stop mold. I've mixed up household cleanser and used with Scothbrite to rub down. I guess it works. I have a lot of back up pieces so don't concern myself with longevity! Anyone can drive on by and have as much as they can carry! Seriously!!
    "I am what I am and I am what I am that I am." - Popeye 20th Century A.D.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Big diameter bamboo was popular for spars on Broads craft. However to stop splitting a whipping was put on every section between the nodes.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Bamboo contains a bunch of "sugars" that provide a wonderful diet for all kinds of decomposing organisms. The traditional way to reduce them is through heating or chemical treatment. Just flaming the outside with a propane torch doesn't heat the culm up as much as it needs force out the sugars and oils. Steaming will do it, drill a small hole at each node, and if the culm is crooked it is possible to straighten it while it's warm. I harvested my culms in early December and they are on a rack in the shade drying until May.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    The only way I've found to make bamboo suitable for the marine environment is to sleeve it with composite sleeves set in epoxy. Just varnishing it helps but the composite sleeve thing is really the way to go unless you have a continuous free supply of the stuff and don't mind replacing it often. Of course even if you do the composite sleeve thing you still have to protect the epoxy from UV damage with varnish or some other UV protective finish. On the plus side, the composite sleeves double or triple the strength of bamboo and I have booms, boomkins, and tiller extensions of composite sleeved bamboo that are still very strong after five years of use. The raw stuff I used for boat seats got bugs in it and also turned black with fungi.



    Here is my thread on using a bar-be-que meat turner to turn bamboo as epoxy and sleeves are applied. The turning action allows a much thicker first coat without drips.

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...+on+the+barbie

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Hello all! I'm a newbie to site, but this thread to curing bamboo is what lead me here. I have a trimaran that I am planning on experimenting with bamboo on. I'm curious about the way I've read on the curing. Specifically the process of drilling holes. I'm guessing this is to allow quicker drying? I've been drying some 3 inch by 20 foot bamboo in the shade for several months. My goal is to cut them to 16 foot lengths, and use them for the akas (cross arms) to tie the 3 hulls together. My question is, will the drilling weaken the bamboo? I don't know if that factor would impair me or not as I'm contemplating having to lash 3 pieces together to give me the strength I need. I'm not real sure as to the strength o bamboo in the aspect I'm wanting to use it.
    I currently am using a 10 foot piece as an unstayed mast on my 14 foot sailfish. It works quite well and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. I have people waiting to see if I can make the tri work out as well.
    Thanks in advance or any info and help.
    albert

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Try asking WX (Gary). He used to grow it as a crop and still has big stands of large diameter bamboo on his block.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    bugs
    I see West Indians use bamboo for booms and sprits and downwind poles .
    Fast , light , free ...short lived
    bugs....love it
    If one has to cut it apart and spend time on it milling and gluing it back together...
    even my bamboo cutting board is crap, I do not trust it to not be full of bacteria.( it's gone)

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Try asking WX (Gary). He used to grow it as a crop and still has big stands of large diameter bamboo on his block.
    I'd like to hear from Gary too. There is some very nice 2''+ material near here that would make great lug sail spars.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Drilling won't weaken big boo, otherwise they wouldn't do it for structural pieces. It allows air and borax-treatments to reach the sections that would otherwise remain sealed. Better to not reinvent the wheel here, but go with the info from the many online resources about boo.

    The biggest challenge is finding drill bits that can be extended to the required length, in your case a bit over 7'. You could check with boo suppliers locally or fab up your own.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    Drilling won't weaken big boo, otherwise they wouldn't do it for structural pieces. It allows air and borax-treatments to reach the sections that would otherwise remain sealed. Better to not reinvent the wheel here, but go with the info from the many online resources about boo.

    The biggest challenge is finding drill bits that can be extended to the required length, in your case a bit over 7'. You could check with boo suppliers locally or fab up your own.
    Non-issue.

    Electricians use them frequently.

    They are called 'flexi-bits', that may be a brand name. Also seen as 'cable bits'. They typically have a long, flexible shank, with a cutting tip considerably larger in diameter, and a hole across the business end for tying a fish-line through.

    You may have to use an extension, but the total lengths achievable are amazing. The trouble one runs into boring through wood, is that the shaft can begin to twist into a mess, if you hit a nail or a knot, but bamboo shouldn't be a problem.

    Rattling the teacups.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    In looking at paintings of oriental boats, I've noticed that on some, their spars are bundles of relatively small diameter sticks. It reminds me of Aesop's story about how easy it is to break a single stick, and how hard to break a bundle of them.


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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Curing bamboo or ageing it for marine use.

    Those extra long bits were once called "Bell Hanger Bits". They were used for boring straight holes for bell ropes in church steeples. Of course you all knew that!
    Jay

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