Straightening Strips.

Strips have to be straightened before planing down to size. The best way to straighten the strips is by heating them over a heat gun. This softens the lignin in the cells and allows the strips to be bent straight. Strips retain their new shape when cooled.

Bamboo strips have nodes where leaves attach that need to be smoothed out by sanding and or planing. Heating the nodes and squeezing them in a vise also helps flatten and straighten the strips.

You can spend literally hours and hours hand planing a dozen 1/4” square strips down to a 1/16” triangle. However, you can drastically reduce hand planing time using a power planer.

I routed three 60 degree channels of varying depths in a block of wood and clamped it to my Delta 12 1/2” planer. Then ran square strips through the grooves flattening one side at a time, turning and repeating until the square strips transform into a triangle. 

The deeper channel makes the strips the right thickness for butt sections and the narrower channel for tip sections. The strips are the same thickness from end to end at this stage and ready for planing to specified tapers.

Now is a great time to strengthen the bamboo by heat treating. Tradition teaches that heat treating makes bamboo stiffer and reduces the tendency of the rod to “take a set” or remain bent.

Twelve strips (six for the tip and six for the butt sections) can be tightly bundled up and put in an oven to be dried and strengthened. Fifteen minutes at 250°, fifteen minutes at 350°,  finally, fifteen minutes at 250°. My oven is a four inch galvanized steel pipe inside an eight inch pipe. A heat gun blows down between the two pipes and up the four inch pipe where strips are suspended. Note, I have since wrapped the oven in fiberglass insulation to retain heat evenly top to bottom.