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Bamboozle
28th March 2005, 09:38 AM
I've done several Internet searches trying to find how to cure Bamboo quicker and better than in open air. Many of us, especially those just starting to work with Bamboo are daunted by the prospect of a 4 to 6 month wait for the cure process to complete. Impatience? Yes! Not as much for the time factor, but more for the lack of specific workable information. I have read that some Bambo users, for their intended purpose, cure Bamboo for up to 3 years.

I was hoping to find information on kiln drying Bamboo for use in musical flute making. I hoped to home construct a small kiln, but need information as to the best temperature to use, the time frame for curing with the least splitting, the percent humidity to keep inside the kiln, air circulation parameters etc. Actually, I'm very much in the dark, as I don't even know the name of the Bamboo that I have access to. I've learned that there are more than 1,000 types and that the cure process can vary according to the type.

The following link is to a site that has some general and some specific information about Bamboo and its harvesting and treatment for preservation. It is both more than and less than I want to know, but after reading it I have a better idea of how and when to harvest and treat Bamboo for curing and preservation.

http://www.inbar.int/publication/txt/INBAR_Technical_Report_No03.htm

I hope you find the information you see on the site interesting and useful.

If you have any information that is specific , tried and proved successful I would appreciate having the information at hand.

Thank you very much.
Bamboozle

Mark Meckes
28th March 2005, 02:23 PM
Hi, Bamboozle, and thanks for providing the link to this very interesting article.
It more or less provides an overview of some perceptions, practices and principles for harvesting and processing bamboo.
However I must say that in a way it makes this subject appear more foreboding then it need be, that is, to the average artisan and home user. True, that if one was intent on using bamboo for industrial or long life `30 year home mortgage' style building and construction applications, then one would need to investigate fully, and very specifically, the structural qualities and preservative applications outlined.

So in other words, I believe this topic cannot be overly generalized but will be specific to individual circumstances, needs and intent, and of course to actual types of bamboo species, tools, equipment and materials and resources at hand.
If one were to examine this subject based on the bamboo interests of everyone who has joined at this site, well, without a doubt, this topic, if it could be seen as a road, would have many forks and side roads!
I'll give my own circumstances as an example... I have a grove that produces more then I need, so when it comes to building garden fences, biodegrade-ability is a natural built in factor. After a few years, when the structure degrades, I'll build a new one. Call it job security.
Now, if I want to carve a bamboo sculpture that will require many hours to complete, I'll want to use the very best of materials that I have available, that is unless it begins as an experiment, in which case I'm not so fussy.
(Though I must say that if the experiment turned out a success, I will wish that I started out with better material, if it took a long time to accomplish.)
Bamboozle, in your case, whereas you may want to make a flute with the material, the importance of stability of materials is paramount, as a great deal of effort may then be expended on a small stick of bamboo. Storing the materials for 3 years prior to use may give some indication that the material has stabilized, but if the bamboo was stored in a` perfect environment', there's no telling what will happen if the finished flute is then subjected to adverse conditions. This is where experience through years of trial and error comes into play.
Musical instrument makers have a lot to teach us about preserving the highest integral quality of bamboo, though based on numerous musical instrument makers I have met, each one has his/her very own quirks and ways of doing things.
This thread, Heat Curing / Tempering Bamboo (http://www.bamboocraft.net/forums/showthread.php?t=338) is one method I have observed and used myself to speed up the curing/drying process while preserving, ie, `capturing' the integrity of the material, while circulmventing the so-called 3 year curing wait.
Please feel free to write in to that thread if you have any other questions about that topic.
Regarding the above link, there's some points in it I'd like to discuss, er query... another time! :)

Mark

Bamboozle
29th March 2005, 10:15 AM
Thank you for the reply Mark. You're exactly right about the link being generalized. Again, it was both more than and less than I wanted to know. I had read the information you and a few others posted before I found that generalized link. Since then I contacted a sales person who is a supplier of Bamboo for a Bamboo curtain rod company. He sent a few links which I'll check thoroughly, then post them here if it seems there's specific and useful information.

I guess I'm going to have to get into the fray, waste some Bamboo in a learning experience to see what works with my "brand" of Bamboo and my location. I'll probably use just the topmost sections of Boo for experimentation and use the higher quality lower sections with more patience. I may eventually see that there's no shortcut to decreasing the curing time factor. If so, the beauty of the finished product is, after all, worth the wait.

Oh yes, some of the builders I read after recommend that after the Bamboo is cured and the flute is made, the interior of the flute should be treated with a coat or two of clear laquer and the exterior treated with various kinds of oil. The oil recommended depends on the preference of the particular writer of the articles I've read. Some makers prefer using oil only on both the inside and the outside.

I viewed the gallery of your plantation Mark. "BEAUTIFUL" And interesting.

Naturally, I'm consdering growing some of my own. I have up to 4 acres I could use for that.

elran
18th June 2009, 04:22 PM
Hi,
i've read somewhere on the internet about mud treatments of bamboo.
then i talked with someone who has been working with bamboo for 10 years who also told me that this treatment was good at strengthening bamboo, as it would mineralize it.

and i'm wondering if anyone here is familiarized with this technic,and had any input?
haven't found that much on the subject...

thanks,
JVT

jgflutes
20th June 2009, 11:52 PM
I have been making Native American flutes for 18 years. Over that time period I developed a process that makes the bamboo harder and eliminates any spliting . I copywrighted this process several years ago and it will be in my new bo0ok on making Native American Flues. I have flutes in the field ten years or older that have not split or cracked.

Here is my process, I hope it helps.


Processing River Cane and Bamboo for Flute Blanks

Before we get started lets talk about safety. working with dried river cane can be hazardous to your health due to the high silica content in the dust. Wear a respirator (less than $30 from Lowes or Home Depot) and not a dust mask, as the fine particles will pass through the dust mask. The dust mask will only stop particles that the hair in your nose will stop, so the only thing it does for you is keep your nose from stopping up. It will not protect your lungs. Also be sure to wear eye protection.

The cane you harvested has now been drying for about a month and can now be cut into flute blanks. You can use various tools to cut the cane into blanks. I use a small band saw with a 3/8 blade that has 6 teeth to the inch. It is a small band saw and they can usually be purchased for about $100. You could use a table saw, cutoff saw, hacksaw or a coping saw. The method you use needs to leave a smooth cut. You will need to remove the bungee cords or rope that is holding the bundle of cane together. I cut the cane into at every fourth joint, be sure to cut it on the inside side of the joint ring. You want the joint ring removed at each cut about ¼ inch on each side This is harder than the rest of the cane and will dry at a different rate and can cause cracks to start. I cut the four joint section of cane in half, which will be between the second and third section. This will give you two flute blanks. Seal the cut ends with some type sealer or wax so the canes will not dry out to fast. I will bundle these into groups of 25 blanks, which I will hold together with bungee cord or old truck tire inner tubes that have been cut up. You can usually get the old inner tubes at any tire store that services large trucks. I put these bundles up to dry for about two more months in a dry shady place. If you want to give the cane some character you can wet them down and place in the sun in a closed black garbage bag for a month or two so they will start to mold. Now take them out and let dry for two months in a dry shady area. This will give black streaks and specks to the finished flute. I swab out the blank with a 10% household bleach/water mixture to kill any mold spores.

The next process will be to heat treat the blanks moving the torch in the direction of growth while they are still slightly green with a propane torch or a suitable heat source. I must stress that drying the canes in an oven will lead to a loss of all your cane. I recommended one time that the kitchen oven be used to heat treat cane but I have since found through testing I performed, that it does not relieve the internal stress built up in the cane. I use a 20 or 40 pound propane bottle and attach a torch that is sold at Lowes and Home Depot for use with map gas. The unit has a long hose, which is attached to the propane bottle. I like to have a high heat source so I can heat-treat the cane fast. You will need some old towels or discarded Tee shirts that can be used to cover the cane as you heat it. If the cane cools to rapidly it will crack. There are two purposes of heat-treating the cane, one is to relieve the internal stress in the cane and the other is to harden the cane. We are actually going to heat treat the cane while it is still slightly green and again after it has completely dried. Start heating the cane with the torch on the longest section of the cane that will be the sound chamber. As you heat the cane you will need to rotate the cane in your hands and this will give a more even treatment. Heat the cane until it is a golden brown color and no more at this point. After you have heated about one half of the cane you can turn the cane around and cover up the part you have heated with a cloth. Continue to heat the cane in the same manner and when you get to the joint you will need to apply less heat here. If the joint is heated to hot it will crack. Try to keep the heated area covered as you continue up the cane until you have the entire cane a golden brown color. Cover the cane completely with the cloth and put it away for about one hour, to cool down. After all the canes have been heat-treated, you will need to store them in a dry area for the next 6 months. At the end of this time it should be about 8 to 10 months since the cane was cut. Now it’s time to do the second heat-treatment on your cane flute blanks but I would recommend that you do this as you make your flutes. You will do the second heat-treatment the same as the first except this time you want to bring the color of the cane to a medium brown color. You will control the cool down on the cane the same as before by covering the cane with some type of cloth. After the flute blank has cooled down you will need to test the cane to see if you got a good heat-treatment. You will need to cut a thin slice of cane from each end of the blank that is about 1/16 wide. This will give you what looks like a large cane ring. Lay the ring of cane down on a flat wooden surface; take a razor knife or any sharp thin bladed knife and cut straight down anywhere on the cane ring. If the cane ring closes up at the point you cut the ring into so you can’t see a gap, you have a good heat-treatment that has removed the internal stress in the cane. If the ring springs apart and you see a gap where the cut was made, you have a piece of cane that is no good for a flute. If you use this for a flute it will crack or split within two years. This is the reason most cane flutes crack. I run this test on every flute I make. If you run this test on cane flute blanks that are heat-treated in the kitchen oven, you will have a failure rate greater than 90%. An improperly heat-treated flute is subject to crack with a sight bump or drastic change in the environment.


Jim Gillilamd http://www.jimgillilandflutes.com/

jgflutes
21st June 2009, 04:07 PM
My name is James Gilliland (www.jimgillilandflutes.com) and I am a Native American Flute maker and have been processing river cane and bamboo for flutes for over 12 years. I have tried about every way you can think of to heat treat bamboo so it will not crack. Over the past 10 years I have been using a process I happened on by accident. I have used the propane torch to flame my cane for years but I had trouble with it cracking on some canes a year or two after construction. I now flame the cane with a hot propane torch (with the process I have listed below) and as I move along the cane I cover it with a towel. I wrap the cane up and let it cool for about an hour before I uncover it. Wrapping the cane as you flame it keeps the cane from cracking later. My guess is it allows the heat to disperse through the cane evenly. I can cut a slice or ring off the treated cane after this process and if I cut the ring with a razor blade it will close up after I remove the razor blade. If the heat treatment is bad to bamboo ring will spring open, leaving a gap when I cut it. I test each piece before making a flute from it. Since I started cooling the cane slowly after heat treatment I have never had a flute crack.

I also impregnate my heat-treated cane after the final heat-treating by submerging the blanks in a metal cylinder filled with lacquer and leaving submerged for about a week. When you remove the cane and dry it will have dried lacquer all through the cane fibers. At times I also use a vacuum/Pressure process I use at times to stabilize the cane and that can be done in less than 30 minutes. I use lacquer or a solution I make by dissolving Plexiglas in acetone.

River Cane/Bamboo Heat Treat Process

Caution: be sure that you have punched a small hole through all internodes except the one to be used for the block on the flute. Enclosed sections may explode while heating with torch.

Heat-treat the blanks while they are still slightly green with a propane torch or a suitable heat source. I normally allow my green material to dry two or three weeks before heat-treating. I must stress that drying the canes in an oven will lead to a loss of all your cane flute blanks. I recommended one time that the kitchen oven be used to heat treat cane but I have since found through testing I performed, that it does not relieve the internal stress built up in the cane and about 90% of the flute blanks would crack later. I use a 20 or 40 pound propane bottle and attach a torch that is sold at Lowes and Home Depot for use with map gas. The unit has a long hose, which is attached to the propane bottle. I like to have a high heat source so I can heat-treat the cane fast. You will need some old towels or discarded Tee shirts that can be used to cover the cane as you heat it. If the cane cools to rapidly it will crack. There are two purposes of heat-treating the cane, one is to relieve the internal stress in the cane and the other is to harden the cane. We are actually going to heat treat the cane while it is still slightly green and again after it has completely dried. Start heating the cane with the torch on the longest section of the cane that will be the sound chamber. I start the torch close to where I am holding the cane and move it toward the end of the cane. As you heat the cane you will need to rotate the cane in your hands and this will give a more even treatment. Heat the cane until it is a golden brown color and no more at this point. After you have heated about one half of the cane you can turn the cane around and cover up the part you have heated with a cloth. Continue to heat the cane in the same manner and when you get to the joint you will need to apply less heat here. If the joint is heated to hot it will crack. Try to keep the heated area covered as you continue up the cane until you have the entire cane a golden brown color. Cover the cane completely with the cloth and put it away for about one hour, to cool down. After all the canes have been heat-treated, you will need to store them in a dry area for the next 4 to 6 months. Now it’s time to do the second heat-treatment on your cane flute blanks but I would recommend that you do this as you make your flutes. You will do the second heat-treatment the same as the first except this time you want to bring the color of the cane to a medium brown color. You will control the cool down on the cane the same as before by covering the cane with some type of cloth. After the flute blank has cooled down you will need to test the cane to see if you got a good heat-treatment. You will need to cut a thin slice of cane from each end of the blank that is about 1/16 wide. This will give you what looks like a large cane ring. Lay the ring of cane down on a flat wooden surface; take a razor knife or any sharp thin bladed knife and cut straight down anywhere on the cane ring. If the cane ring closes up at the point you cut the ring into so you can’t see a gap, you have a good heat-treatment that has removed the internal stress in the cane. If the ring springs apart and you see a gap where the cut was made, you have a piece of cane that is no good for a flute. If you use this for a flute it will crack or split within two years. This is the reason most cane flutes crack. I run this test on every flute I make. If you run this test on cane flute blanks that are heat-treated in the kitchen oven, you will have a failure rate greater than 90%. An improperly heat-treated flute is subject to crack with a sight bump or drastic change in the environment.

CaroleMeckes
2nd July 2009, 10:27 PM
Thanks James for posting your detailed description on heat curing and flute making.
Carole

jgflutes
3rd July 2009, 07:35 AM
Carole, send me an e-mail at jgflutes@aol.com and I will send you contact info for a friend that lives in Houston, he uses my system. He may be able to give you some pointers also.

Jim Gilliland


CaroleMeckes;11900]Thanks James for posting your detailed description on heat curing and flute making.
Carole

trackalack
20th November 2009, 08:59 PM
James, thanks for explaining your process. I've done torching without puncturing the internodes and this tends to make me nervous when the bamboo isn't treated within the first few days (usually within 4 days), but the freshest greens seem to handle the heat treatment well with careful heating around the nodes.

Would you suggest puncturing the internodes through the side walls versus over all the way through length wise? Is there a tool to do this lengthwise?

Zack