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Cane Prep - Cutting

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Make your strips 5" longer at the tip ends, and your binder induced twists will be in the part you cut off (from Tom Morgan).  (Bob Maulucci)


When you receive a bale or partial bale of culms that are 12 feet long, and you need to cut them up in order to store them, where do you make the cut?  Do you cut exactly halfway regardless of how close that is to a node; do you cut exactly half way between two nodes, fairly close to the center of the 12 foot culm; or do you cut right at a node as close to the center of the 12 foot culm as you can get?  (Claude Freaner)

    The answer might depend on if you are going to make a nodeless rod or not, but in general you won't be too far off no matter what construction method cutting on a node as close to the middle as you can.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Even in my tiny little off-garage workshop I have found it possible to store the culms in their full 12' lengths.  I've got them wired to the ceiling to keep them out of my way!  That's certainly ideal, but not possible for everyone.  If I were forced to cut the culms, I would choose to cut very close to a node, and plan on discarding that node later.

    One thing worth considering is cutting the culms to the lengths needed to build rods of a certain length.  For instance, to build 7'6" two piece rods, I know I need about 58" of bamboo for butts and tips. 45" finished strip length + 4" for leeway + 9" for staggering nodes = 58".

    I usually try to observe Jon Bokstrom's recommendations to keep nodes 5" away from tip tops and ferrules, so I make sure there are no nodes within 7" of either end, then whack out the section I need.  I do wind up throwing away some bamboo that way, but hey, bamboo is cheap compared to the rest of the stuff that goes into a rod.  (Harry Boyd)

      Ditto. If I were to cut culms into sections I would first measure to the 6' mark, then see where my nearest node was. If it were, say 4" from the most forward node in the butt section I would cut there, but let's say it was right on a node. I'd measure up 3" from that node and cut. Why? Because I leave a minimum of three inches in front of my last node on the rod, which will either be under ferrule, or thereabouts, or under tiptop, if perhaps only a little.

      Only in limited circumstances would I cut right on the 6' mark. Before I started buying in bulk 12' bales I always seemed to have problems with culms that had been cut right at 6'. The node spacing would never work out, unless I used a 2 x 2 x 2, or a 3 x 3 x 3, which I didn't want to do.  (Martin-Darrell)

    I look over the culm and cut it like I was cutting it up to make 4' sections... since the longest 2 piece rod I make is 8', that works for me.  I eliminate the worst part to work with, usually from the butt section where the nodes are closer together, and go from there.  Also, after I cut, I tie wrap the two pieces of the same culm together and mark them with a black marker in small letters so I'll know where they came from and when I got them... for instance, if I go to the rack and find a pair marked D-04-96-06, that means that culm was from a bale I got from Demarest in April 1996 and was the 6th culm I cut up out of that bale... if marked R-02-98-01, then it's Royer cane I bought in February of 98, and was the 1st culm I cut up from the bale.  A lot easier to keep track of it, if you'll figure out a marking system that makes sense to you.  (Bob Nunley)

    If you are going to be building nodeless you want to cut at the node.  Where does not really make a difference as you are going to be sawing it into little nodeless pieces....:-)

    If you are going to build with nodes I think you have to think about good cane for the tip.  (Jim Tefft)

    I would caution against cutting in the middle (which I have done for some of my culms). If at all possible try to find a place to hang them, mine are in the roof of the garage, at full length.

    I now select a culm for a particular length rod. Some culms will suit particular lengths of rods depending on the distance between nodes if you are concerned about not having nodes in the top 5" of the tip and not at ferrules. There is a good explanation of this process of selecting culms for length of rod in the "Best of Planing Form." I can send you a copy of the page if you do not have it. The process is that if you are building say a 8' rod with 2 by 4' sections you measure down 4' 3" from a node near the top of the culm. You then allow say 7" for stagger ( 3 by 3 ) and measure down 4'10 from the same node. ( this assumes 1 1/2 "over length at each end) You then look at where those two bottom measurement occur. You know that the section above the furthest mark is where the ferrule will be and it is not desirable to have nodes. Similarly the 6-7 inches above the top mark is where the ferrule will be, also desirable not to have nodes. If these areas are clear of nodes, or they are towards the top of the area then that section is suitable for a 4' rod section. If it is apparent that a node will occur right on the ferrule then that culm section may be better for say a 7' rod. You can do the same for the butt section of the rod but you do not have to worry about node positions at the bottom of the butt. The important thing is that by measuring down from a node, and selecting the culm sections that suit a rod length you can usually reduce the number of nodes in a section as well as keeping nodes away from the ferrules.

    That is a long winded way of saying I do not think it is good to cut the culms in half and if possible it is better to cut them when you know the length of rod you are going to build. 

    Also a reason for not cutting in the middle is that the power fibers decrease as you go up the culm and if you can use the lower section of the culm and discard the upper section you will have more power fibers.

    I actually cut the culm to the rod section length as described above, sand the nodes down  and only then split that part of the culm.  (Ian Kearney)

    If I had to cut them prior to actual use, personally  it would depend on whether I intended to make 1, 2, or 3 piece rods, and what length rod I wanted to end up with.  If at all possible, you should try to store the full length, uncut if possible so you won't have to make a decision until you decide on the rod itself. As a general rule, I would prefer to lose the small end as opposed to the large end based on power fiber thickness. Mine I store in the rafters of my detached garage/shop full length and separated into blond Vs dark rod types only. If you have access to the attic, just stick them up there. This just my idea, the other guys I'm sure can help you better.  (Mike Shaffer)

    The first thing you want to do is to cut off the bottom 2 or 3 nodes first.  I know that may seem crazy, but when the nodes are 8 or 10 inches apart down there, they are absolutely useless and a pain to straighten.  Don't always worship at the altar of power fibers - you will be happy to move out into the better usable stuff.  After you have cut off the bottom 16 to 24 inches, then cut in the middle of what is left.  If the top section is junk and is splitting, cut out the junk (often to just below the next node) and then cut what is left in half.  You will end up with more than enough cane for a good rod, and don't try to squeeze 3 or 4 rods worth of strips out of a culm.  They aren't big enough anyway, and cane is such a small component of the cost of making a rod, that one shouldn't be so concerned to maximize the number of strips.  (Tom McDonnell)

    I do not recommend cutting a 12 foot culm in half. In fact if you look at page 62 of my book "Constructing Cane Rods...." you'll see information as to how to get the most out of a culm when it is cut.  (Ray Gould)

    I would get a six bladed splitter from Hida Tool -about $40- and get the culms into sixes and if you have the  space, leave them in 12 ft. lengths, each culm bundled separately. When you want to build a rod, just grab two of the six strips and cut them according to the length of rod you want to make, then finish splitting. That way, you don't commit an entire culm to a particular rod length. Also Bob Milward has some interesting things to say in his book and recommends throwing away the bottom three feet of each culm as it won't have the stiffness for a decent butt section. When I do cut a culm, I always try to cut it at the nearest node to where I am measuring. Just less filing to do!  (John Long)

    Here is how I cut to get the maximum from a 12' culm. A lot will depend on how far apart the nodes are.  I make mostly 7' rods and use 3X3 node spacing.  In some cases I will use 2X2 spacing if I have a culm with a lot of space  between nodes.   The butt of the culm is cut to get 41" plus 1/2 the space between nodes.  It generally comes out to about 48" The tip section is cut to get 43" plus 1/2 of the space between the nodes. Nodes being further apart at the tip. That is generally about 50". Another consideration is the space between the node and end cut on the tip section. This leaves about 42-44" from the center of the culm. This makes great 3 piece rods up to 7'. I usually make a nice 6' three piece 3 wt. from this section. I have made some 6 1/2' 4 wt three piece rods from this center section of the culm. Will be wrapping one today.  From the butt I get at least 24 usable strips and 32 -36 usable strips from the tip section. This depends on the diameter of the culm. On some small culms I may only get 24 strips from the tip section. You have other factors also, worm holes, leaf nodes, stains, scrapes, burns and just plain crappy sticks. (Tony Spezio)


I've for years built the strips 1 to 1 1/2" over the finished length. Trouble with that is sometimes a node is right @ the ferrule and is a bitch to straighten. So now I build the strips 4 to 6" longer than required. Makes the node straightening a lot easier. Plus you end up with all those little offcuts. Makes neat fly tying bobbin handles and the like.  (Don Anderson)

    Yes. Good Idea.  And what about this one.

    Ever notice that a 2 x 2 x 2 node spacing on an 8 feet rod almost always leaves you with a node only 7 or 8 inches from the tiptop. Try as I might, I find great difficulty with either the 2,2,2 or the Garrison stagger in getting the node further down the tip. Never have this problem with 7.5 and 8.5 feet rods.  (John Zimny)


After years of cutting cane with an assortment of Hacksaws I have been looking at buying a Japanese multi tooth saw and I am bewildered by the number of different types available.

What are you using, any particular makes and specific names to volunteer as being suitable for fine cuts without damaging the end of the cut cane? (Paul Blakley)

    I am back to using my granddad's fine tooth crosscut saw. (Timothy Troester)

    My preference is for a Dozuki with a blade about 240 mm long fine cut.  This is the backed version of these saws, like a dovetail saw but cuts on the pull stroke.  I have  both fine dovetail 200 mm long and 240 mm long versions.  The former is used to cut blanks the latter culms and the larger saw has replaceable blades.  The depth of cut is limited by the back to around 40 mm but this is not a problem as you rotate the culm as you cut to avoid splitting.

    They work much better than a hacksaw.

    Avoid the flexible unbacked saws with longer blades and coarse teeth as they tend to jam.  (Gary Marshall)

    I use the Bamboo Saw for Craft Work (Gyokucho) from Japan Woodworker.

    It cuts a bamboo culm very quickly on the pull stroke.  (Paul Franklyn)

    I bought mine from Jeff Wagner. It has the the reinforced back and has 21 TPI from memory. He also sells the replacement blades.  (Nick Taransky)

    I cannot tell you what the saw designation is for the one I use, as it's all in Japanese; but it has a 1 mm tooth spacing and pretty well no set on the teeth.  Cuts beautifully on bamboo.  The one I use is 240 mm long, 1 mm teeth, and is a backed saw. (Peter McKean)

    In my opinion, the Japanese saws essentials for a bamboo rodmaker are a Kataba - saw without back - to cut the culms and for the fine works a small backed Dozuki for crosscut with a teeth ratio between 1 and 0.8 mm.  This type of saws are a pleasure to use.  (Marco Giardina)


Let's say I want to make a 7' two piece rod.  Should I cut my strips to that the tips will go from 0 station to the 40 station plus a couple of inches on each side, and then set up the butt section to go from the 35 station to the 75 station plus a little on each side. 

I ask because 1/2 of 72 is 36 which falls between stations.  Do I always need to overlap 1 station on each side of the ferrule location and then add a couple of inches for safety?  (Aaron Gaffney)

    This won't answer your question till then end, but it is the start of a crusade for me.  After studying tapers for several years I am convinced that 99% of the tapers we see in print these days are not measured in the best way.  The only one's I know that are correct are those in Jack Howell's book.

    Over the past few weeks there have been a couple of nice discussions on this List about step-down ferrules and their affects on rod performance.  When we begin measuring a taper at the tip top and only record every five inches we don't always know what the taper is at the ferrules.  If we will start at the larger end of each section and give a few extra measurements, we will know.  As an example, let's suppose we're measuring an 8 foot Dickerson 8014GS.  We begin at the butt with .375

    0     .375
    5     .375
    10   .375
    15   .342
    45   .242
    48   .238

    On the tip section, if we will again start at the large end, we get much more helpful numbers for our tapers.

    0     .221
    5     .216
    48   .092

    If you have read through this point, I suppose this becomes a poll.... do you agree that the taper numbers recorded this way are more useful?

    Now, to answer your question... for a 7' (that's 84", not 72") rod you want to cut both tips so they are 42" plus some leeway on each end.  I would recommend cutting the sections so they are at least 46" long.  Start with your zero station, and set all the way through the 50" station.  This method of form setting works well for all rods with super Z style ferrules.  (Harry Boyd)

      I too am a crusader on the same path.  I would like to ask a question, if I may.  You mention measuring from the bottom up, and I can see where you are going with this.  However we end up at the same dilemma.  Your 48" measurement on the butt will bring you to the ferrule (female).  We cannot get the true measurement that the taper called for with a ferrule on the rod.  I mean, we have an idea because of the size ferrule that is mounted. But that is all.  Also if we take it that you are measuring the tip from the ferrule end, then your "zero" measurement is also on the ferrule (male). Same problem.  This being the case, how do we get accurate measurements at these two points IE: the ferrule station.  Some how, some way, I believe that the taper through the ferrule station has to be estimated or averaged. Unless of course you have the benefit of having on hand the taper from the original makers records.  I,  unfortunately am not that lucky.  (Robert Cristant)

        You are correct, it is impossible to get a 100% accurate measurement from an assembled rod.  On assembled rods we will still have to make some educated guesses.  But we can get a lot closer if we'll be sure to measure as close the ferrules as possible.  Let's assume that the flat to flat diameter just below the female ferrule is .214", and the diameter just below the male ferrule is .194".  That .020" drop over the length of the assembled ferrule is pretty significant, right?  You can do some interpolations and see that the large end of the tip is probably .196" - .198", and the small end of the butt is probably .210" - .212".  That still gives a drop over the ferrule of at least .012".  That is enough of a drop to make a quite noticeable difference in the feel of the rod.  (Harry Boyd)

          Harry is right about the value of the extra measurements.  I disagree pretty strongly with my friend about measuring the sections separately, though. 

          The best method, in my view is:

          Assemble the rod.  Start at the tip and measure at the standard increments, usually 5" in practice.  Then, also take measurements as close as possible to the ferrule (both sides) and  as close as possible to the top of the grip.  In each case, not only measure the diameter of those last three, but also the distance from the tip.  Then you have something with no guesswork involved.  (Jerry Madigan)

            Some time back, Frank Stetzer (Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive) enlisted a few of us to "edit" tapers for his online Hexrod. I ended up with more examples than I would have thought possible (we really owe Frank a debt of gratitude for all the work he put into those tapers!) Some of the raw data was so hard to interpret that I had to draw a picture to end up with a taper that made sense. By far and away the easiest tapers to read were the ones done as Jerry described. No guesswork! (Larry Blan)

            I can see your points quite well, and think you're on to something.  But I still don't agree wholeheartedly. Here's my theory as I wrote about it more briefly to Jim Lowe earlier tonight.  If you start at the big end of each section, that automatically gives you a "0" point that falls directly at one station of your forms.  That's important in knowing where to place the strip in the forms.

            Using a 7' rod as an example, the tip ends at 42", and the butt begins as 42" and ends at 84".  None of those measurements falls at a 5" station on the rod or the forms when we start from the tip.  Yes, you can do some careful figuring and make it come out right, but it requires that you really think carefully about where you place the strips in the forms.

            With the 84" rod,  you set the tips from 0" to 45", and the butt from 40" to 85".  Setting your forms that way works great if you're using SuperZ ferrules.  But if you have a step over the ferrule, you have just eliminated it with your planing form settings.  Does that make sense?  (Harry Boyd)

              I haven't built anywhere near enough rods to argue with you about putting strips in forms! But, note that we haven't actually gotten around to putting the strips into the forms yet, we are just measuring the rod right now.

              I actually do it pretty much the way that you describe. The form setting sheet that I use is output that way.

              There can be a lot of gray between getting the dimensions and setting the forms. I still prefer to see the taper the way that Jerry described. I can put it into Hexrod and see what it does with the dimensions.  I can't speak to every version out there, but most of them allow you to input dimensions at "odd" intervals, so that you don't average over what might be an important dimension. Call me a control freak, but I like knowing what I am doing to the taper.

              This strays a bit from the original topic, but I'll reference Tony's recent request for a 101 taper. I firmly believe that we have butchered a lot of tapers to no end by a combination of measuring errors, typo's and letting Hexrod decide what we are going to build. If we know what it is supposed to be, we can be certain that we're getting out what we put in. I'll give just one example. Some of the Hexrod programs start at the 1" value, others start at 0. Consider what happens when someone is given a taper beginning at 1", and without realizing what is going on, they put it into a version of Hexrod that begins at 0. Imagine now, that taper being passed on to someone who puts the 0 dimension into a version that begins at 1". Toss in a typo.... publish the taper somewhere.... well, you get my drift.

              I've always thought this, but it was the exercise in editing the tapers for Frank that really convinced me. There is more than one way to list a taper that will not give you what you set out to build if the numbers are just put into Hexrod without a bit of thought. I think it is a credit to the material that most of our published  tapers cast as well as they do.  (Larry Blan)

                I agree 100% that it is easier to study tapers and input information when we do things the way you, Jerry, and others suggest -- the way that has become almost universal.  It is much easier to start at one end and go straight to the other.  But just because it is easier, is it better?  It's easier to use a router and a dovetail jig for joinery work than a dovetail saw and a careful and consistent layout.  But is it better?

                One of my misgivings about Hexrod, at least the online version,  is its tendency to change the information that is input to fit its own understanding of what a taper should look like.  My main concern is that it will not allow swelled butts which are a major design factor in those rods where they occur.  Don't get me wrong, I think Hexrod is a fantastic tool.  I input almost every rod taper into Hexrod and manipulate it up and down, backwards and forwards.  But I do think the shortcomings of the program need to be thought about when one gets ready to actually build the rod designed in Hexrod.  As an example, many of us love the Heddon Folsum 7' taper.  Hexrod will "smmmooooooooooth" out that dramatic swelled butt.  The output of the program does not have that dramatic swell.  If you don't amend the output of Hexrod when actually working on that taper by building in that dramatic swell you substantively change the taper of the rod.  Any time I want to mimic an original taper I check closely for the numbers that were taken from the rod BEFORE they were input to Hexrod or other design programs.  That's one of the great things about Jerry Foster's taper listings, and another reason we all owe Jerry another big round of kudos.

                Are there better options than Hexrod?  I don't know.  I hear good things about Rod DNA, but here in Podunk, Louisiana with a dial-up connection at 49.2 Kbps, it is too frustrating to use.

                Back to my point.... for studying tapers and recording information, starting at the tip and measuring each 5" with the rod joined is great.  But I'm sure it's not my way of actually building rods.  Too many aspects of rodmaking are complicated in my opinion.  Following an original taper shouldn't require us to interpret the numbers after they have been massaged and manipulated by a computer program which, though it's a great help, has some limitations.  (Harry Boyd)

                  The online Hexrod uses whatever dimensions it is given to "interpolate" to 1-inch points for the "action length" of the rod.  If it's given measurements 5 inches apart, then in between it will just have guesses.  But if you give it values an inch apart it will use them.  It won't change a taper if you give it the details.

                  When I put tapers into Hexrod I tried to spot the swelled butt rods and stop the action length at the start of the swell. The purpose of Hexrod, I guess, is to use the Garrison stress measure to see how the rod works.  I can't see much value to looking at the stress numbers within a butt swell. Probably some rods I didn't spot the swell in the numbers and it is lost in the Hexrod database.

                  There are lots of things that affect how a rod feels and performs that can't be captured by stress measures.  Swelled butts, ferrule design and number and size of guides  and probably other things. Hexrod and Garrison's stress measure are a for-what-its-worth tool. If someone is not interested in looking at the stress numbers I can't see any reason to put the taper into Hexrod.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

              That should mostly work OK for the butt,

              The problem comes at the  time to cut off the section.  You still have the mystery of where.  The tip does not start at 42 and unless your ferrule is identical, you don’t know where it starts..  And guess what, we don't have the old ferrule in front of this.

              I feel a lot better about a .001 potential error from interpolation rather than a wrong measurement potentially much larger.  (Jerry Madigan)

                I believe Jerry M. was the originator of the cutting guide that I use.  If you haven't got it, you should get it.

                Again we have a one size doesn't fit all.  If looking at tapers to set up in 5 in forms, then 0 measurements of butt and tip are great, or any close to reading on the ferrules and tip top, as long as you can adjust your forms to that reading.

                The fill in blanks part is up to the perceiver (for stepped ferrules).

                I now have to switch to that way of thinking because of the mill.

                I put a tip taper in starting at 36" and sure enough, it wanted  to go 36" and started cutting. Duh

                I think the issue is technical for those who use Hexrod type programs. Inputs to the program start at the tip and go straight through, as you know. Then you get a taper that starts with the ferule end of the tip and it says  1 3/ its not a big deal, you just have to flip the numbers around properly for data entry.. Another one of Larry's "pitfalls in translation".  Also, the current programs only take 1" interval inputs.

                The only truth to the masters tapers is to measure their templates, platen, bars, paper trail, whatever, to see their intent.

                By the way, Larry, that is a brilliant insight (the planing bar measurement fraud)

                And I don't believe you will hear anyone who uses stress curves for  additional analysis (input) say that it is the only way to look at a rod and it's action.

                AJ let me cast one of his rods, at the Metolious, when I returned it I mentioned that it was a really nice rod, his response was:  "But did you enjoy it?"

                The perfect summation of what a good rod should be.

                It was a great rod, so I think I told him it was "adequate"

                Measurement recording is a process issue; does it fit within "my" normal procedure, or do I have to read it in a mirror.  (Jerry Foster)

              I must admit, I still don't get this. I understand the need/value of having two separate tapers for tip and butt but I still don't understand the value of a butt to tip measurement.

              If I start with the tip at point 0 on my forms and mark my forms at point 42, and make sure all the 5 inch values between 0 and 40 are correct and that the value at 42 is correct than what is the difference? The only difference that I can truly see is that you perhaps end up with a different taper. In other words, from butt to tip, you are taking a measurement at the tip, 2 inches from the tip, 7 inches from the tip where as from tip to butt you are taking a measurement at the tip and 5 inches from the tip and 10 inches from the tip.  If there is a larger change from 0 to 2 and 2 to 7 than there is from 0 to 5 and 5 to 10, you'd presumably end up with a different rod. (Hence the reason some folks take 3 inch measurements. (?))

              Does that make sense?  (Jim Lowe)

                In short, the two sections of a 7-foot rod are not 42".  How the difference falls on the taper remains a mystery unless you measure assembled.  I don't like mysteries in this regard.

                As an aside, I have seen a much greater incidence of blown measurements on rods measured disassembled.  Tougher to pick out the odd measurement visually.  (Jerry Madigan)

          I have to agree. From now on when I publish "Classic Tapers" in my Power Fibers articles I will try to get measurements as close to the ferrules as I can. I think this is quite important on some of the older 3 piece rods where there is considerable step-down between sections which may effect the action more than we think.  (Doug Easton)

    I too am a beginner like you, and I am sure there are those on the list that can answer your question better than I, but will give it a quick try.

    A 7' foot rod is 84", 1/2 of 84 is 42, that is the length of your sections.  When I did my first rod, I set the tips from 0-45, marking them at 42",  I then  set the butt from 40-85 (actually 84).  This should give you the overlap that you need. 

    Thomas Penrose's site has a good section on the cutting of the blank to length and it also covers your overlap question to some extend.  (Denny Reiter)

      And don't forget to allow extra length for staggering the nodes. (Ron Grantham)

    I think you and I are at about the same place in our rod building.  I am working on my first bamboo project, a PMQ 7' 4 wt.

    What I did was take a piece of masking tape, stick it on my workbench and mark out all the stations(0-42, every 6 in).  At each station I wrote the dimension I am shooting for (butt dimension on left, tip on the right)  I took the butt section, staggered the nodes by two inches, then positioned them so that the most amount of nodeless canes was in the tip of the butt section.  This put one node under the cork.  I marked the cane with a pencil at the 0 and 42 station, but did not cut here.  I added two inches to each side, then cut.

    I did the same thing with the tip section.

    Now it's time for me to bind these things and get them into an oven.  (Matt Fuller)

    Like Harry said, cut the strips with a few inches leeway on each end. Harry suggested 46", I like to have about 3 inches on each end, so I would recommend 48" (42 + 3 + 3).  Stagger your strips before cutting them to length.  Your ferrule will fall around 42", actually it will be a little bit more than that because the tip goes to the bottom of the male ferrule and the butt doesn't go to the end of the female.

    I like to extend the taper and set the forms for at least one station beyond the cane to avoid any wiggles in the taper caused by stress in the bars at the ends of the strips.  So, I would use the second or third station from the small end of the form for the 0" station (if possible), and set the taper on the forms through the 50" station on the tips and starting at the 40" station for the butt strips.  Then I take a Sharpie permanent marker and draw a line across the forms where the ends of the strips go.  With 48" strips this would be at the 45" station and 3" beyond the 0" station.  With 46" strips, it would be a 44" and 2" beyond the 0" station.  Then you just keep the ends of the strips lined up with the marks on the forms as you plane.  (Robert Kope)

    What I've been doing when the ferrule doesn't fall on the multiple of 5 is taking an the average drop per inch between the measurements above and below the ferrule and calculating the section thickness at the ferrule that way. Say the 40" is . 120" and the 45" is .140, then at 42" it's .128". The tapers that should have step-down ferrules don't work with this, but unless a taper is giving you separate numbers for the "between the fives" measurements on both the butt and the tip I haven't a clue as to how set the forms for a taper that requires a step-down.

    It would be nice if Hexrod indicated where step-down ferrules should be used and had an option for a step-down ferrule. I'd hate to have to do the math myself.  (Henry Mitchell)

      I do the exact same thing to a degree.  I measure directly above the male ferrule and directly below the female ferrule.  Once I have those measurements, and the length between those measurement, I then just break it down by the inch and get my ferrule station #.  The reason I do it this way is that I have a very hard time believing that the master builders of the golden era as well as the big production houses, sat there and developed tapers for their tips and separate ones for their butt sections.  I mean, if you were sitting there developing a taper for a rod, would you not develop it from tip all the way down to the end of the rod.  You then find the halfway point measurement and put the appropriate sized ferrule on it.  (Robert Cristant)


A few weeks ago someone referenced a jig/fixture for sawing Bamboo. It was on page 984 of the "Wise Fisherman's Encyclopedia." I looked it up. It is a sled of 1" x 2"s longer than the culm to be sawn and held together by a cross piece at each end. the 1" x 2"s are separated by about 3/8" and the top edges of the 1" x 2"s nearest the groove are at a 45° angle, similar to a roughing form, so the the culm sets down in the groove. The groove is centered over the blade by the fence. Thus a smooth edge on the fence and the blade is perpendicular to the bottom of the culm. After the first cut the culm is rotated the desired width needed for the strip plus the kerf and another cut is made, and so on. That should be easy. could be made out of any scrape wood long enough.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    Bob Maulucci used to have a great tutorial on his Down and Across web site that was under the rodmakers on the canerod site. Unfortunately it's no longer there and I don't think it's in the archives on Todd’s tip site. Bob probably did a Power Fibers article on it. He stated you could follow the grain using his method. Maybe Bob Nunley will chime in as he saws his strips and says it's easy to follow the grain when done properly. (Will Price)

      I haven’t seen Bob’s tutorial in years either, but if I remember right he used a straight fence on a bandsaw with a small block of wood about an inch long and an inch high screwed to the middle of the fence directly behind the blade to act as a pivot point. He also stressed the importance of a high quality 14 TPI raker tooth blade, thinner kerf than average blades. You don’t buy these at the box stores. I order mine custom from a place called Fasteners here in western CO.

      What I found to be far superior to the wood block method is a Kreg 4 ½” curved resaw guide for the bandsaw. You can see it here.  Scroll down to the right side and you’ll see a picture of it…

      You can absolutely easily follow the grain and produce straighter strips with very square edges, helpful to mill users.

      That said, this technique will be considered by many to be very wasteful. You will only get at most 16 to 18 strips for tips because of the kerf of the blade, so for all practical purposes, one 2 tip rod per culm (that is if you only use the top half of the culm for your tips).

      I suppose you can say this method is a cheaper alternative to the Bellinger Gang Saw, but it does take a little practice. It takes focus to keep the strip tight to the fence. Blade drift will want to pull the strip away, and you will cut across the grain.  (Tom Vagell)

      Bob wrote that up in issue 14 (January 2004) Power Fibers!  (Todd Talsma)

        I think there are several variables here that various speakers are skirting, not necessarily intentionally.

        1) John's main objective, as I saw it, was a tablesaw kickback problem, and then he added that the method was wasteful of the cane and problematic.

        2) Others are then suggesting sawing, but by bandsaw; but I don't believe ther's much of a kickback problem with bandsawing, AND I think you can follow the lines of the cane better (as witness the rounded ripguide in Tom's mail)

        3) Now still others are talking about how the old makers sawed their cane. But, as I recall, there was such wastage in those days (they could use the saw on ONLY the straightest culms)  that guys like us (Garrison) found plentiful "unusable" material available just by buying what the larger makers couldn't use. I believe I read somewhere that places like Orvis could use only a small percentage of the cane due to its waviness.

        This is not offered as an inflammation of the discussion, just an observation by a disinterested reader.

        BTW, I split my cane and have also shot pieces of wood across my basement using my tablesaw with abandon, but not much experience at the time!  (Art Port)

      My sawing method is pretty simple, but the right blade and right fence are the keys.  For a blade I use a 14tpi raker, like someone has already mentioned in this thread.  My fence... very simple.  It's a piece of 1" X 1" purpleheart (didn't like it for reel seats so had to use it for something) with a cut off finish nail set in it, a little less than 5/16" from the edge (I cut my strips just a hair less than 5/16ths... set it however wide or narrow you need it).

      As for the bamboo, I split it first, into quarters, remove the dams with a hammer followed by a die grinder, then I look down the edges.  The kinks in the nodes usually go to one side or the other, so I pick the side where they stick out from the rest of the bamboo and sand the kinks down even.  I then run that kinkless side down the fence and cut my strips.  What you get, doing this, is a strip that has straight nodes, yet it still follows the power fibers just as though it were split.

      This really only saves one step...  straightening the kinks at the nodes.  The only reason I saw instead of splitting is that the width of my strips for the beveller is pretty crucial.

      Warning... if you want to try to saw, pick out a couple of junk culms and do them first.  This is easy once you get the hang of it, but it's pretty tricky at first, and you WILL ruin a lot of strips trying to get the hang of it.  (Bob Nunley)

        With all admiration and respect for Mr Nunley

        Would someone else explain how you interpret sand the kink flat and cut a straight line and follow the power fibers?

        There is some magic in there i am missing..  (Jerry Foster)

          My apologies.  After reading my post again, I can see that it was very vague and unclear.  Hey, I typed that out in a hurry.  Dinner was on the table and you have to make sure you make all meals ON TIME, in order to maintain 280 pounds!

          The kink (for lack of a better term) IN the node itself (the sharp sweep that sometimes goes out to the side when you're looking at the enamel side of the strip, not the material on either side of the node) is the only thing you sand off.  While you are not following the power fibers THROUGH the node, you are following the line of the power fibers BETWEEN the nodes.  This is easy, since, except for the sanded off "kink", the quarter of a culm that I'm sawing was split, following the power fibers.  When you saw parallel to that split edge, then you're staying in line, for the most part, with the power fibers between the nodes as they naturally run in the bamboo.  In sawing this way, you don't see the run out of power fibers in the strips they way you would when sawn with a straight fence or gang saw.  You can look at rods where the strips were cut with gang saws, or in table saw jigs like the one in the Wise Fisherman's Encyclopedia, and see a very defined run out of the fibers

          Just to be clear, I am not sanding off anything beyond the node itself, and I'm only sanding off the edge of the node, not the rise in the node.  The kink that I'm sanding out is usually less than an inch long, the "pin fence" allows me to follow the split edge with those kinks and ONLY those kinks, sanded even with the rest of the strip.

          When you're finished sawing strips in this manner, you do NOT have a straight strip.  Far from it!!!  What you have is a strip that's just as crooked, maintaining all the sweeps, dips and bends, as the strip would were it split only, with the exception of the node, which is cut straight through, instead of splitting in a kinked or bent pattern as they normally would.

          Again, I don't saw to save time.  I can split, straighten and press in fairly close to the same amount of time it takes me to saw and press.  I'm really only saving one step, and when splitting, I straighten and press in one step.  The ONLY reason I saw is because of how critical the width of the strip is for my saw beveller.

          I hope that's more clear than my first post, but as always, open to questions!  (Bob Nunley)

            Years ago I wrote about some experiences that I had with a third generation rodmaker here in Michigan .. the opposite of Old . . they had for year sawn their strips . . but they did it on a bandsaw . . the bandsaw having be equipped with a bearing set on a index point so that it acted as the rest that the split halves were touched against when sawn . .  Perhaps I should throw this idea out again here . . . A thought that was almost complete when I finally gave up trying to help the maker was that of using a sheet metal break to both flatten the nodes and to straighten the strips all in one effort . . follow . . place a strip in a heat treat oven and let it set for 3 1/2 minutes . . then add a second . . at 7 minutes a third strip is added and the first removed and quickly laid pith down on the bed and the clampdown is released and the bend is raised and the strip is both flattened and  straightened  against the preset stop of metal . . Just a thought . .  (Wayne Cattanach)

              I had a fence at one time with a bearing on it.  I could have sworn I bought it from Jerry Walls at, but it's been a long time ago... no telling where I got it.  It was basically a stick with a roller bearing bolted to it and it worked great, but it got lost in one of the shop moves, I guess.  I haven't seen it in years.

              And Jerry... I haven't figured out how to rough in with a saws-all yet... Still using a butcher knife, but hey, for a Country Boy from Arkansas... at least I'm not using flint axes these days.  The butcher knife is progress! :^)  (Bob Nunley)

              A couple of years ago I put together a device that did just that, I think.  I first constructed a copper pipe fitted with an input for a hose and a Tee on the other end.  I had a wallpaper steamer that hadn’t seen any action for several years so I used that to steam soaked strips in the pipe for about 15 minutes.  They came out limp and pliable.  Placed them on an aluminum bed constructed of a 2 by 6 architectural square tube with a 2 by 2 square bolted so that I had a 90 degree angle.  Each was fitted with a sliding 2 by 3/16s aluminum bar slotted and fit with cams.  The steamed strip would be immediately placed in the angle and the cams would force the 3/16’s bars down on the 2 exposed sides making the strips perfectly straight.  I had removed a little half moon behind each node ala Tony Spezio’s method for displacement.  After letting them cool in the fixture for several minutes and then remove.

              Total and absolute failure.  The nodes were not displaced and sweeps and kinks were only marginally straightened.   Just one man’s experience.  (Ralph Tuttle)

            Ah..great, Bob, thanks, perfectly clear..and as good a process as any, of course. I think you told me but I guess you don't have to rough  with your saws-all.  (Jerry Foster)

    I've been following the sawing strips thread and would just like to say I find hand splitting top be one of the most enjoyable steps of the process, and I've got just about every type of power saw known to mankind (that might be a bit overstated, but just a bit).  Hand splitting for me is kind of a Zen thing.  (Tom Key)

    Yes and one cool thing about it  is that you set the saw so it doesn't cut much deeper than the thickness of the wall. This slices into the dams but leaves enough to hold the whole culm together. When you're done you just run a froe through the cuts to separate the strips. I have always wanted to try it. You definitely would need a helper. I would use a featherboard to hold the cradle against the fence. I wonder about the tendency for the cradle to rack and twist.  (Doug Easton)


For cutting culms, would the use of a chop saw be a bad choice for sectioning the culm into 6’ lengths?  (Mike Monsos)

    I cut mine with a fine tooth hand saw to avoid bad splintering.  (Timothy Troester)

      I also cut mine with a fine tooth handsaw but, I wrap a couple of turns of masking tape where I am going to cut.  Really helps to keep the Bamboo from tearing out.

      Never thought about cutting at the nodes.  What a concept, then I won't have to tape.  (Pete Emmel)

    I use a chopsaw all the time (as did Golden Witch in their video).  (Steve Yasgur)

    You will find that you can use practically any saw to cut your culms in half.  Just make sure that you wrap the line of the cut with masking tape before you cut to prevent splintering. I use a Japanese pull saw for the job.  A friend uses a drop saw.  Lots of people use hacksaws.  (Peter McKean)

      Wrap the cut with masking tape to prevent splintering! Great tip!  (Reed Guice)

        Here's how I do it.

        With a fine tooth saw, cut halfway thru the wall, getting thru the power fibers, all the way around the culm then finish the cut thru the pith. No splinters, power fibers don't pull away when the halves separate.  (David Atchison)

          The RIGHT way to cut bamboo culms in half is to first go to Lowe’s and purchase a DeWalt 12” double bevel sliding compound miter saw for $679.00

          Then you have to chuck the inferior factory blade that came with the saw and buy a Freud 96 tooth ATB ultimate cut off blade for another $125.00

          Then you have the right tools for the job.  Right, John Channer? ;)

          Couldn’t resist it’s my birthday and I’m feeling my oats…  (Tom Vagell)

            I think you're setting your sights too low as a rodmaker. I'm sure Mark Wendt will tell you that a ruby laser will do the job even better! As long as you have access to a university physics lab!

            Or maybe a plasma cutter??  (Art Port)

    When I get a bale of bamboo, I used my chop saw to cut them into 6' lengths.  I then use a 6 way pie splitter to split the 6 footers in to six sections each.  I use a gouge to take out the inner nodal sections and band the 6 pieces together with plastic wrap and store in the ceiling of my basement.  I mark them as tip or butt section.  (Scott Bahn)


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