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Ways to use bamboo, dumbed down to my skill level.

 
pollinator
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I'm gonna document low / no skill bamboo ideas here as I try them. I'm open to ideas, too, so post away. One of my bamboos is supposed to max out at about 3" diameter by 50' tall, but to date my largest culms are about ⅓ the diameter of my wrist by about 12'-16' tall.

1) The ring. Not the first thing I've made, just the first documented.



It was kinda chonky until I started whittleing and sanding. I cut it off of the unworked piece next to it.



I based the size and profile on my wedding ring. (I don't wear a lot of jewelry.)



It fits.



Still kinda uneven. I think I can make a drill into a mini lathe so any future ones could be shaped better. It's green because I used a cotton swab to brush it with food coloring. I tried to shine it up, first with olive oil, then with a "finish" I made from old candle wax and baby oil. Didn't really take much shine, but I figure it'll stay sealed for as long as it takes me to break it.

Maybe I'll show you the towel drying rack sometime. (I... didn't know how to lash. The intersections are... interesting.)

 
pollinator
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i made a series of little cups from bamboo that i can’t seem to find at the moment, that took nothing more than a bit of cutting and filing - just using the natural sectioning of bamboo segments.

also, years ago i made this two-handed maraca (the loudest maraca ever when loaded with kentucky coffee tree seeds), but i wanted to be able to change out the seeds so it could be quieter or just generally tonally different if desired...so i cut the gourd in half and added a bamboo ring with a peg to lock it in tight. i was lucky to find some bamboo that matched the size and shape of the handle i was using pretty well.
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pollinator
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Put the manure to it and it will grow!
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T Melville
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2) Bean teepees:



Again, no idea how to lash, but this is still my best teepee. Made it for a friend's little girl. When they moved in, the little satellite dish next to the barrel was mounted on the little metal post in the center of the teepee. They didn't want it, so we took it down and connected a center bamboo pole to the post. Each side pole sits in a little dimple cut in the dirt about 1"-2" deep. Stood all season unchanged.



I thought it was time to up my game, so for this one I found a youtube video that taught how to lash a tripod. It worked great. Had no idea how to lash a hexapod, so I leaned the other three poles into the gaps between the poles in the tripod. I just wound around the outside and tied it off.

Once beans started to climb, it caught more wind. With that much leverage, it shifted. So I staked several of the legs. Wasn't enough. Now that amaranth next to it (You can see it over the left corner of the hose hanger. It's taller than me now.) is held up by a t post, and hitting that is why the teepee hasn't fallen all the way down. It's pretty sad. In the future, I guess I'll build in support from the start. I'm thinking:
a) center pole
b) square lashed supports between each pair of adjacent poles
or
c) a hula hoop square lashed to all the poles



 
T Melville
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3) Halloween decoration:



Bought a bag of skulls at the dollar tree. I found a website somewhere that gave the lengths of body parts, using "skull" as a unit of measure. That let me get the proportions nearly right. Hot glued the joints.



Sprayed with walmart's cheapest spray paint.



I don't know what website that was anymore. For some reason I do still have the template I made from it.

I lost interest along the way, but if I were making it again, I think I'd use fishing line to articulate the joints.
 
T Melville
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4) Towel drying rack:

My wife complained that wet towels in the dirty clothes stink after a few hours. We didn't want to do laundry immediately, every time someone showers, so I decided to use some bamboo and make a rack they could hang on to dry, right above the dirty clothes. When they're dry, we just drop 'em. I intended to lash it together, and for it to be free standing. The culms kept sliding out of my lashings. I didn't know how to last right. Also, the legs could've used some horizontal bracing lower down. Finally connected the legs to the cabinets to keep them upright, and wired the non-structural towel bars in place. Works great, but if I ever redo it, I'll try to lash it together, and to have it stand up by itself.



 
T Melville
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The ring broke yesterday. Made it about a week. Also the color didn't hold if it got wet. It was no longer green.
 
pollinator
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T Melville wrote:4) Towel drying rack:



Love the drying rack idea! One could make a bit of a bigger one for drying a load of laundry instead of buying it from somewhere. And if one parks it (or them if making more than one) on top of some scrounged pallets, that should help the bamboo rack to last longer since it won't get moist as much. I am looking into that. Thanks for sharing, as well as the pictures!
 
Gray Henon
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T Melville wrote:The ring broke yesterday. Made it about a week. Also the color didn't hold if it got wet. It was no longer green.



I was afraid it would break. :( Bamboo isn't very strong across the grain.  Maybe shave a very thin strip, soak it in waterproof glue, then wrap around an appropriatly sized mold?
 
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T Melville wrote:

We didn't want to do laundry immediately, every time someone showers, so I decided to use some bamboo and make a rack they could hang on to dry, right above the dirty clothes.

OK, ever since I was little, everyone in our house had our own coloured towel and our own rack to hang it on. I'm *clean* when I come out of the shower. If I hang my towel to dry so it doesn't go mildewed, it will easily last a week or two of showers. Since I'm not washing it as often, and *never* put it in the dryer (crunchy's not so bad - stimulates the skin), my towels have lasted for decades. So if it was me, I would put that lovely bamboo rack near the bathroom and save a bunch of water and electricity.
 
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My bamboo building skills are pretty low, too. I do a lot of tipi-style trellises with mine. Another idea is to make wattle fences with the bamboo. I don't usually have enough bamboo for as much fencing as I like, but I usually use the bamboo for the upright rods, and use random other branches for the rest. I also use mine for fence posts for fencing that I'm installing for just a few months or to go around young fruit trees as the trees grow.

Here's a garden bed that I used a lot of bamboo on. I used upright bamboo both on the inside and outside to hold in a bunch of alder logs that I slid between the bamboo. On the front end, I also wove (wattle-fence style) the bamboo.

bamboo garden bed
front (woven) side of the garden bed


roundwood pergola, gravel play pit and bamboo garden bed
back and side of the garden bed
 
Jay Angler
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A neighbor gave me a 1/2 dozen mini-tomato plants so I needed to give them a trellis to climb. The uprights are hammered into the soil, then the cross supports were added in at least two stages as the plants grew (because I ran out of time at the beginning).
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T Melville
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5) Bamboo squash shelf:
I finally learned to square lash! Made the framework nice and stable. Along the X and Y axies. [Spelling?] But, like a moron, I had to go and build this in a three dimensional world. Stupid Z axis! Has anyone else ever noticed how bamboo is round? So two pieces lashed 90° stay pretty close to 90°. But either one (or both) can rotate. That lets other parts get way outta plane. So I made a whole bunch of twine braces and tightened them by twisting a stick in them. I guess that makes 'em turnbuckles? If I went and bought a metal thing at the hardware store to do the job, that would be a turnbuckle. In the end, it's sturdy enough, and it's free standing.

I even did a little floor lashing, kinda. (The left part of the bottom shelf, with the bamboo decking.) Kinda because the video I watched for that didn't show me the ends of the rope for the first knot, only some loops. I didn't want to have to go elsewhere to learn a clovehitch, just to come back and continue to learn floor lashing. I don't know what to call the knot(s) I used, but they held. I got tired of cutting bamboo, so I finished up the shelf decking with wire racks and square lashing. There were a lot of other easier ways I could've stored these, but I wouldn't have learned as much. I already knew how to give up, but now I kinda know how to square lash and floor lash.



 
Jay Angler
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T this is awesome - yes I see improvements in your knots and making "stick turnbuckles" is also a great skill to have in your tool-box. Yeah - that Z axis can be a nuisance, but your squash is 3D so I'm glad you persevered.

Did you consider using cross braces out of bamboo lashed on? If you search images for pictures of farm fencing where the gate attaches to a segment of fencing, you will often see a solid wood angled brace in one directions and "double wire with a stick" bracing in the cross direction. I believe that on our fencing, the "double wire" has one strand on either side of the solid wood cross. I'll try to take a picture of ours if the rain slows down.

Importantly, you're learning a critical bit of building "truth" - triangles make things stronger and can be used to prevent "leaning" - I've used that principle from trellises to shelving units to projects large and small.
 
T Melville
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Jay Angler wrote:Did you consider using cross braces out of bamboo lashed on?



Yes, but I had a vague idea of "How do I get 'em tight enough? Will they do any good if they're too loose?". In hind sight, I don't think that makes much sense. I think if every twine turnbuckle was replaced with bamboo it would've worked fine. I was pretty sleep deprived, I probably wasn't at my sharpest.
 
Jay Angler
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T Melville wrote:

"How do I get 'em tight enough? Will they do any good if they're too loose?"

Excellent thoughts to have, but I think it also depends on "too loose in what direction? If you're trying to fit the piece "between" two other pieces, then, yes you need to have the unit "square", take a measurement of the location the brace belongs, allow for the brace needing to be cut on an angle, and think of how you're going to fasten the wood together. One technique I've seen, is to drill though the corner bamboo and the cross brace bamboo and insert a piece of whittled bamboo as a "pin". Or you learn more fancy knots! If you're just going to run the brace on the outside of the shelf, it doesn't have to go all the way from the top to the bottom and it can be lashed to the verticle wherever it crosses. The knot would still have to change a little, but a few extra turns around each piece of bamboo alone as anchors and then connecting lashes in both directions would likely do it.

Again, if Mother Nature would stop crying, I'd take a picture to post, as in this case, a picture's worth a thousand words for sure!

You really are doing great -  and I really do think your shelf as is is awesome!
 
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I've no bamboo,  but I do aspire to have bamboo...
In that spirit,  I'm wondering if lashing with wire might be a useful shortcut.
I have used wire lashing extensively in tying wood fencing to steel posts,  it's very cost effective,  even if one opts for stainless steel wire
For some applications,  I think wet rawhide might be useful.

Recently I have been watching videos on bamboo vinegar.
Because bamboo lacks the turpins and tars of wood,  the vinegar made from it is more pure.

One more reason to figure a way to grow bamboo on my limited land.
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