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Working with Bamboo General discussion: All aspects about design, construction, tools and techniques.

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Old 7th April 2001, 02:37 PM
Mark Meckes
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: USA - Texas, Austin
Posts: 2,374
Trimming Branches (Phyllostachys)

One method of pruning branches is to use a fine toothed coping saw or hand saw to cut almost all the way through at the node,and then the branch can be snapped off.
With this method, the branch can be cut off flush with the culm wall.
Another method is to use a hand pruner.
I always keep a file handy to sharpen the blade at the first signs of dulling.
With this method a small segment of the branch is left on at the node.
It is best to cut at right-angles, or perpindicular to the length of the branch so that no sharp stubs are there to cause injury, especially if the bamboo is going to be hand cleaned or handled later.
I generally prefer this pruning method because:
- It's quicker then with a coping saw.
- It makes the node look more prominent, more bambooey, which adds to the character of a product.
This branch stub can always be sanded down on the edge
of the belt sander or trimmed to shape later if needed.
- If this branched culm section gets used for garden stakes, the branch stub is helpful for tying and securing growing plants.
Sometimes I will leave a longer branch stub for garden
Modified Pruner
The side cutting pruner on the right has been modified.
The `anvil' portion portion has been filed down to a narrow point to enable it to fit closely between the branch stub and culm wall.
This should be filed smooth, with no sharp edges, to avoid scratching the culm wall while cutting.
Trimming Phyllostachys Branches

Trimmed Phyllostachys Branch Stubs

~ Mark
Mark Meckes -

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Old 7th April 2001, 11:45 PM
Posts: n/a
Generally I leave the full set of branches for bean poles, pea brush,etc. Tops and small thinnings are the best pea brush I have used.

Are you pruning during growth or when the bamboo is harvested (in which case I would call it "trimming," not "pruning.")? I would think that pruning the branches during growth would reduce the vigor of the clump by restricting

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Old 8th April 2001, 04:13 PM
Mark Meckes
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: USA - Texas, Austin
Posts: 2,374
Hi Dan, Title has been edited from `pruning' to `trimming'.
`Trimming' is possibly a better definition then`pruning' as that implies pruning live growth. I guess that's my landscape background coming to the fore.
In a landscape setting I might prune out some lower branches up to about waist height or so, if the desired affect is to see into the grove.
Many of these branches usually only leaf out for a couple of years anyway if the grove is dense.
Density of growing culms seems to be the biggest factor in number of leaves produced on branches, and this certainly affects the quality and strength of the culm.
It's easier to get in and around for maintenance, and there's also better air circulation for the bamboo with some lower branches removed.
Care must be taken when pruning young culm branches as the culm can be easily scarred.
In a cold,cold climate I don't prune as high up, because if it's an extremely cold winter, the bottom portion of the culm/ and branches may be the only part that remains alive, and I may leave the bottom section in the grove for another season to harden them up before harvesting.
About trimming, after I have harvested poles, I like to lean them up against something for a few weeks before pruning branches, (or I may leave them standing longer during the winter, colder periods), so that any remaining leaves will
drop off, and also so that the juices in the bamboo will set. This helps prevent mildew/stains forming on the branch stubs.
Then, during trimming, it's time to sort pole/branch quality and bundle and store the bamboo for the final drying phase, prior to putting them to various uses.
Yes, untrimmed branch tops makes good pea staking etc, and coarser weaving material for garden fencing etc.
I select the medium to lowest grade of branch material and stakes for these purposes because it breaks down readily into compost after one or several uses.
The better material gets saved for special craft use.

~ Mark
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Old 8th April 2001, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: USA - Hawaii, Kailua
Posts: 27
Hi Mark,
When I was in Kyoto a couple of years ago I watched a harvest of Madake bamboo (P. bambusoides?) and after felling the culm the men started trimming branches near the top of the culm working down and used a short syckle kind of knife (wooden handle - 12" blade - 9" long X 1/4" thick
X 1 3/4" wide - slight curve) and swung down and back striking the underside of the branch, but not cutting all the way through and in the same motion swung back up striking the topside of the branch with the thick, rounded back of the blade and snapping the branch off - then back down for the next branch.
It was extremely fast at a branch each second of time and left a small stub (1/4") that was clean cut.
I tried it myself and made quite a mess, but with some skill and practice it is a very fast way to trim branches.

Cal Hashimoto -

My Photos: Gallery - Bamboo Arts & Crafts - - - Bamboo Workshop
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