Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Cane Prep - Seasoning


.

< Home < Tips Area < Cane Prep < Seasoning

Rule

How long should cane be allowed to season before use?  Is it a question like air drying wood for furniture use?  Where the "old guys" thought that wood had to air dry for at least 5 years before it was any good but kiln dried wood works just as well?  (Larry Swearingen)

    Maybe a more appropriate question is "How long are you willing to wait?"  If you are like me, then you'll start splitting out a rod the first day cane arrives on your doorstep.   No problem with that.

    From what I have understood the Demarests to say, most of the cane you'll receive is already a year old when you receive it.

    You should be okay with anything you have on hand now or are about to order.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    If it ain't green, use it. It's more than likely seasoned at least a year, if not more, by the time you get it.  (John Channer)

      I use fresh cut cane, and I let it rest for a couple of weeks until the green color changes to yellow. Rods made of this very unseasoned cane stay straight. I think that the cane you guys get is several moths old and should be good for immediate use.  (Geert Poorteman)

    The old "rule of thumb" for air-drying hardwood is a minimum of one year per inch of thickness.  But cane is different from hardwood in several respects -- not least, that its wall thickness is usually only a little over 1/4" thick, that half of that thickness is a pithy fiber, and that a year or so will pass between the time the culm is cut and the time you are ready to use it.  Bottom line: don't worry about having to cure the bamboo further. With nothing more than the judicious regimen of heat treating you would give it anyway, it's good to go when you get it.  (Bill Harms)

Rule

I have a few culms that I have avoided using because they are still quite green.  I predominantly build blonde rods and was wondering how some list members deal with the “younger” cane.  Do you just wait it out until it turns that lovely straw color?  I would suspect that some people who flame their rods, probably use these culms to do so (the few flamed rods I have built, I have used mature cane).  Also if I chose to treat the strips in the oven with ammonium carbonate, would the strips still turn that honey color, or would they just turn a darker shade of green?  All help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.  (Robert Cristant)

    Put it out in the sun and the green will disappear over time.  It all starts very green, there probably isn't a difference between that which is green versus that which is more straw colored.  The Angler's Bamboo by Luis Marden gives a nice description of harvesting and processing of cane for rod building.  (Bill Lamberson)

Rule

The last batch of cane I purchased was still a little green looking.  So I took one culm, which had a drying split, and set it in the bed of my truck.  I left the truck parked in a sunny spot during the day, which is easy to do here in Florida. ;~)  2-3 weeks of this treatment and the green tinge is gone, leaving a nice uniform straw color. 

How do y’all season your bamboo?  Anyone else out there tried using sunshine?  Or is this an old trick I just stumbled upon?  (Bill Benham)

    From my understanding of the harvesting and processing process in China, the sunshine is part of the process.  I have seen pictures of Harold Demarest standing beside a large tepee type pile of cane in Chine.  Might be on the Demarest web site even.  (Kurt Clement)

Rule

Does cane harden with age...?

Here's an observation I have made this weekend...

Over 5 years ago I Flamed, Heat Treated and Split Out a clum, then set it to the side...

5 Years later I decided to make a rod out of it...

Noticed the roughing mill was having a harder time cutting the cane then normal...

On the finish forms noticed the cane was like planing steel and took twice as long to plan...

If this is so...

What dose it due to a rod's action 5 or 10 years down the road from the original action...?

Will the cane harden in Dry Colorado or maybe Soften in Wet Mississippi...?

Anybody else have this experience...?  (Dave Collyer)

    What I think you are experiencing is the drying effect of Colorado's notoriously dry air. Try soaking the cane like Tony does and see if it doesn't split and plane a lot easier. I had a similar experience out here recently. I found a culm that I had stashed in the ceiling joists of my utility room which also houses the furnace and stays pretty dry. That culm was really dried out and tough. I've also heard of finished rods that were moved from a moist environment to a dry one and actually shrank enough that the ferrules loosened. Moisture content does funny things to wood and I think this is one of them.  (Larry Puckett)

      I had a culm Pre Heat treated bamboo that was a booger to plane, seemed hard as a rock. Nodes were real hard and would lift in spite of having a sharp plane iron. I was ready to chuck it but left it on the rack. When I started soaking I went back to that bamboo. Soaking it for about 7 days made it real workable. I own two rods made from that bamboo and they fish real well. Anyone that cast my rods at the Catskill Gathering did cast one of those rods.  (Tony Spezio)

      Will leave the soaking to a last resort..."-)

      I can see advantages in it under certain circumstances though...

      This brings up a question...

      Does anyone steam there cane instead  of soaking...?  (Dave Collyer)

        After beveling I steam them loose for a half hour or so and then on the anvil of MHM to taper. Works fine. The other five sticks are left in the steam box and work even better because they got more time and are more saturated.  I have to experiment some more to see what's the optimum steam time. I'm wondering if too much cooking will hurt the cane breaking down the fibers or whatever. Some final straightening if necessary and then heat treatment in the heat gun oven follows.

        When I get my fixtures from Harry I'm going to bind the sticks and steam them to see if that helps with straightening before final tapering, but the problem is the steam won't be able to get to all three surfaces evenly and it may be a useless step; I'll see.  (Dick Steinbach)

    My question is:  Howinell can you let cane that's been flamed, heat treated and split sit around for 5 years, and not be made into a rod?  (Mark Wendt)

      I was wondering that myself, guess I put them way to the side...

      There going to make one killer rod...(Dave Collyer)

        Well at least the good news is that nice, snappy cane will be making its way to being a fishin' pole!  (Mark Wendt)

          That's what so cool about this Hobby...

          You can take a worthless pile of grass in the corner and make something worth while...(Dave Collyer)

            Question about the cane and tempering, I have access to a large enough oven to cook a 8'-9' culm, anyone ever do that?  I was thinking of splitting in half, clearing the node damns and then heat treating the whole thing before splitting and rough tapering.  If anyone has done this with success what time and temps were used?  (Pete Van Schaack)

              Seems I remember Bob Nunley talking about using a pizza oven on his.  (Larry Puckett)

                Bob Radasch and John Bradford offered pretempered culms of bamboo for awhile.  I don't know if they  still have them for sale or not.  I made a coupla rods out of one of their culms and found it amazingly tough!  Straightening and flattening heat-treated nodes was a pain in the posterior.  It did make some nice rods though.

                You might try to get in touch with the Ft. Worth duo of Bradford and Radasch and see what they say.   (Harry Boyd)

                I recall a few years ago there was a couple of guys that were setting up a service where there were offering to heat treat entire culms. If I remember right they were in Texas somewhere. I also recall that their technique was to monitor the temperature closely and when all the moisture was driven off the temp would jump up quickly and that's when they stopped heating. Sorry I can't give you any more details than that. (Darryl Hayashida)

                I've been oven treating whole culms since I started "production"- (yeah right...)

                Maybe I should clarify, a 12' culm cut to 6' then split in half by length (into "C" shapes) then into the oven. I don't find the strips particularly hard. I do it so I'll always have replacement strips on hand with the same tempering. That way I'm less tempted to try to push a bum strip that should have been tossed several stages previously.    (Rob Hoffhines)

                  Do you know, I think that doing what you are suggesting has been possibly one of the great epiphanies of my rod building so far.  Golden Rule #3, in fact.

                  Have the spare strips, have them ready, and have them tempered, and as soon as a strip looks really suspect, chuck it out and do another one!  I used to be so bloody ikey about bamboo, and would spend incalculable time and trouble trying to salvage a strip that was just not worth the trouble.

                  And in the end I would throw the damn thing out and start again anyway.

                  The rule of thumb is that if you look suspiciously at a strip and wonder if a little extra care will salvage it, it probably won't!   Golden Rules #1 and #2 - sharpen the bloody blade before you need to, and don't be in a great rush.  It's called a "pastime" after all, and that is exactly  what it's meant to do!  (Peter McKean)

                    Good rules Peter, feel free to post any others you may have. Being relative new to the building end of this I've wasted countless hours trying to save cane that should have just been discarded.  (Will Price)

                    Good thoughts, Peter,

                    I make my rough strips by passing them through a machine.   While I'm at it, I do an extra 6.  If it's a two piece rod, I make 18 strips.  If I need to pitch one, I actually pitch the "pair" (did that just this week)  That way I don't have to mess with matching nodes.

                    They're already  matched.  (I do 2x2x2).   (Terry Kirkpatrick)

                    I have one golden rule of rodmaking, one that I have paid a lot of dues to learn:

                    Every step in making a bamboo rod is as important as every other step.

                    So usually, when I have paid less attention to a step than I should have, it seems that that step has punished me with a bad outcome. How many discreet large or small steps in rodmaking are there? I haven't counted them all, but if I want an outcome that I am proud of, then I keep reminding myself of my golden rule. (Steve Weiss)

                  Thanks for the info, how long and at what temperature are you tempering?

                  I have access to a very large oven, I'm planning on treating two rods worth of strips this week end and would like to throw some more cane in so I don't have to go back to the bakery so often.  (Pete Van Schaack)

                    I'm pretty conservative with heat, I go 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. That's when I see a reduction in the steam coming out of the vent at the end of my oven. I figure the flaming does most of the actual tempering, and rely on  the oven  to drive  out the moisture-but that's only what I feel-no actual data or testing to verify my reasons.  But I think the 20 minutes at 350 is a good place to start.

                    BTW,  I   turn   my   halved   culms end-for-end at 10 minutes as Garrison did with his strips. My 6.5' oven is an end-loader with a lot of temperature variance at the ends I'm sure. I betcha a big oven  wouldn't suffer this problem.  (Rob Hoffhines)

                  There is a guy in Texas that sells whole, heat treated culms. I want to say his name is Bob Radash (or something along those lines). This is the cane that Gary and I are using a lot of. It's a real B**** to get strait, but makes one hell of a rod. It has a nice brown tone and is tough as nails. BTW, you can try all you want...you'll never press the nodes, just sand them down.  (Robert Hicks)

              I think that Powell used to heat treat their culms whole.

              If anyone has done this with success what time and temps were used?  (Steve Weiss)

                Partridge did too. It makes the cane very hard.  (Sean McSharry)

                  Why would heat treating a whole culm result in any greater hardening, stiffening or strength than heat treating after splitting?  (Ralph Tuttle)

                    I believe what there discussing is the difference in heat treating the whole culm, which would be prior to rough planing.  Normally I  would complete the rough planing and then heat treat the strips.  The final planing of the heat treated trips would then be on  noticeably harder cane. Just my $.02.  (Wayne Daley)

                    Look, there may be more to this. The Partridge cane I have is very  solid to begin with. It is also at least 25 years old. I was told  it was heat treated for 2 hours, but not at what temperature. The  outcome is that it was extremely difficult to split accurately and  I had a lot of run-outs. This was before I learnt the  hand  splitting technique. The the split strips were relatively large and  hence needed a lot of planing, and this blunted the plane blades  fast. The material is hard. As the nodes had been heat treated  before any filing, sanding or flattening I had the impression they  were relatively difficult to get flat. But as mentioned, age and  stoutness are probably playing a role also.  (Sean McSharry)

    If the cane got that hard after only 5 years I would think that the guys who claim to use Pre-Embargo cane would be turning out rods that were stiffer than graphite.  (Larry Swearingen)

      Seems to have something to do with the heat treating more then long term storage alone is my guess...

      I have culms over 5 years old that flame, heat treat, split and plan just fine...

      I have used pre embargo culms and had no problem...

      Just thought it was interesting... (Dave Collyer)

        The heat treated cane I got from Partridge some 23 years ago is the  hardest stuff around. Thanks for the idea to soak the entire culm for  a while. I had to soak the highly irregular strips I was getting off  these culms in order to plane them. One six foot culm I have from  this lot weighs 2.550 kg or 7 lb 10 oz. The rest of the batch weigh about 1.5 kg or 5 lb 5 oz for six feet.

        This heavyweight is a strong yellow that appears in some Leonard  rods, while most cane I see is a pale straw color. (Sean McSharry)

Rule

I just harvested a culm of bamboo from my great grandfather's citrus ranch in Orange County, CA and hope to use it to build a rod.  I know it might not be the highest quality, even though it seems to have lots of power fibers, but I want to do it for sentimental reasons.  The culm is green, has been cut into 6 foot lengths, and is about 2- 2 1/2" in diameter, and I need to know what to do with it now.  I assume it will need to dry before being split, but how long will that take.  Do I need to put a drying split in each piece now?  (Tom Key)

    Yes, put the drying split in it now. It is going to split anyway, so you might as well have one straight split rather than several small ones. I have no idea how long it takes a culm to really dry, but the ones we buy have been off the mountain two years. Putting it in sunlight should help it change from green to straw colored.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    You leave it somewhere warm and ventilated, perhaps a roof space, for about a year, a check split would be nice. Or you take the view that life is too short to wait for wood to naturally season, split it out, rough bevel it and whack it in the old oven.

    If its a first rod you'll never know the difference!  As we don't know the cane, but can surmise it is not A. Amabilis, it is likely to be much less stiff than A. Amabilis. Certainly every other cane I've tried is, but I've hardly gone through the card. So cook it a bit longer, but not hotter, say 25 minutes at 350, 375 if brave and you can just pop down to see the folks and get some more. This business is not applied science, it's not even real engineering, it's an artisanal trade and it helps if you have a certain amount of artistic flair coupled with some very basic mathematical and physical ability and can use basic tools reasonably well with practice. So don't get all concerned about which plane or plane blade to use (to give an example) at this stage, any old block plane will do to start, just keep the damned thing sharp. I've got an execrable old block plane here, but when its sharp its infinitely better than a slightly blunt Lie-Nielsen. I have a boat builder friend, he picked up a blade I was about to sharpen once and pronounced that he had never ever felt such a keen blade.

    Keep talking to us as you go, if nothing else you won't feel so lonely and most of the guys here know that if we don't recruit newcomers this golden age of cane will come to a grinding halt.  Everyone will then have to pay a thousand bucks for a bit of plastic that could have a factory gate price of less than fifty.  (Robin Haywood)

Rule

I am still looking for a method to turn a culm that is greener than straw colored, and turn that nice light color. I am going to use it to make a nodeless rod and have cut it up and right now I have the pieces sitting in the sunlight, but where I live the sun doesn’t shine everyday and my wife doesn’t like the look.  I guess she is wondering what the neighbors will think.  I don’t think flaming is an option because of going nodeless but I am up for suggestions and any would be appreciated.  (Rick Barbato)

    Why not make a green rod?  Wonder what SWMBO and the neighbors will think as you progress and perhaps take to the Dave Collyer method of cutting ferrule stations without pants.  :^)  Since we all started this there's a lot of strange things lying around our houses.  (Darrol Groth)

      I took that to mean your wife like the look of a green rod.  (Henry Mitchell)

    Generally speaking, there's no substitute for time, but you can try to do it in the oven. Split a strip off one of your sections and put it in your oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 then scrape and sand the enamel off and see what it looks like, if it works, great, if not you've only lost one strip and will have to go to plan B, if we can think of one.  (John Channer)

      Put all of those nodeless chunks in the back of your wife's car and let her drive around with them.

      Or yours.  (Carl DiNardo)

Rule

I have cane that is four or five years old and has been stored in the loft of my garage. The roof gets full sun and the area gets well above a hundred.  Is sit possible that the cane is tempered or do I still have to put it through the oven?  (Dick Steinbach)

    It's more than likely dry but it is not tempered.  (Don Schneider)

    My cane is stored in the same kind of overhead garage environment - colder in winter and warmer in the summer here in upstate South Carolina. I heat treat all my cane because you not only want it dry as the garage environment does, but you need to modify the chemical molecular bonding that the heat treating process produces in the cane. Just my opinion and experience.  (Frank Paul)

Rule

My first ever “new” cane from Andy Royer has been drying in my garage since the middle of last month.  I put check splits in all of them.

Maybe three weeks ago I set 3 poles outside on my wood pile to dry and ”bleach out” the green cast.  The green is still there, but the splits traveled along the entire length of the poles.

Yesterday I split the poles completely in half lengthwise, and stored them in my basement workshop.

I split one pole into strips.

So how long should I wait before do anything else to the strips?  (Lou Martin)

    The green hue fades over time as it dries.  Or you can flame them, even lightly which takes care of it. Opinions vary, but I say go ahead and use it now. Heat treating will take care of any moisture issues, and after heat treating is when you want to wait. The strips if heat treated properly should be very dry. Too dry to plane well, and even if you did they would swell over a few weeks until they reach ambient humidity.  (Scott Bearden)

    I asked the same question in 2004 and the consensus, if there ever is one on this list, seemed to be to just go ahead and work it.  It would get dried out during the heat treating.  (Larry Swearingen)

    I saw some of this year's cane that was green and it looked different than any I'd seen before - almost looked dyed green, though dry, rather than not quite cured.  Odd.  (Darrol Groth)

      Mine was somewhat green when it arrived from Andy Royer, but I check split them all within a few days of arrival. The check splits are now as wide as the culms I had left over from last year and the green has gone away. Maybe my house is drier than other's. Andy told us at Grayrock last year that the Chinese growers insist that the culms that maintain some of the green are much stronger than the culms that yellow quickly.

      Wayne Cattanach received a bale of still green culms from Demarest in his video. He said it didn't matter since he flamed all his rods.  (Scott Bearden)

    I received my first cane from Andy several weeks ago and several pieces were green looking.  To date there has been little change in the green hue.  I plan on putting them outside in the Texas sun shortly.  (Grant Adkins)

    I started building rods only in the last couple of years, it took me ages to finish my first rod, but now number two is almost complete.

    The cane I bought all had green at various points along the culm, some more than others.  As you did I put check splits in and they're all in my garage out of harms way drying out.

    I couldn't wait to start so I chose a culm with the least amount of green on, still pretty green though and made Rod No. 1, after heat treating and working  the bamboo there was no sign of green, so like everyone else, I think the best thing is to get on and start to make a rod, there are so many things you learn on the way.  My rod number 2 is much better than my first and hasn't taken me nearly as long, but like you I was worried about starting and getting things right first time, my view is to now perfect my skills as I go, so in years to come when I get that perfect culm and everything slots into place, I should end up with a perfect rod!?  (Nick Brett)

    Thanks to all who replied.

    I figured the poles had a long time to dry out before I got them, but were still wet if they hadn’t shrunk enough to split by themselves.  And the check split I put in them only helped the process which would still take some time.

    I understand now that my heat treatment should take care of any remaining moisture AND do the tempering thing.

    I’m going to set out a few more poles to try and bleach out the green.  (Lou Martin)

      I may have misread you, but it sounds like when you put in your check-splits you didn't split the full length of the culms. The check splits should go the full length of the culms, allowing the drying culm to shrink circumferentially without creating more splits.  (Henry Mitchell)

Rule

I just took receipt of my first "big" order of cane.  Most of the poles have at least some amount of green tinge to them; not bad, but a tinge.  What do you guys do with a new order like that?

Set it all out in the sun for a week or two before shifting to long term storage?

Put it in long-term storage, and sun-bleach as needed when making a new rod?

Put it in long-term storage a forget about it?  (Maybe the color will fade without direct sunlight, given enough time?  I don't know since I've never had any long-term.)

What's a guy to do?  (Tyler Beard)

    I store my cane in the trusses up high in my shed, which is kind of like an easily accessible attic. It gets real hot in the summer.

    When I get a new bundle of cane, it gets check splits, marked on the end with a sharpie with the month/year I received it, and gets stored all the way to the right to separate it from the other sticks, which get used first - and these are usually a few years old by then. With this said, I have only bought a few bundles over the years since I am a hobby maker. Some I've given away, some is unusable, and some of it I screwed up.

    In my climate in western Colorado, the cane will go totally blonde in just a few months. I've never put cane in the sun so I don't know if that speeds up the process, but with our intense summer sun I would guess it will.  (Tom Vagell)

      Thanks for that info. 

      I have already built a little shelving set-up that suspends the culms up near the roof of my garage.  They are up there now, and, it sounds like after a summer with 30+ days in the 100+ degree range, everything will be nicely straw colored.  (Tyler Beard)

    When I receive the culms, I dry the shipment by placing the culms in the sun until dry and then I place them in a rack above my workbench. I live on the coast of NC and the humidity gets real high here, but I have not had a problem with mold in the culms (well except a few but I think they were already inoculated when I got them). If I pull out a green culm, I then sun treat the culm for about a week in the sun (summer) or low heat treat in my oven (100 degrees F for about 1-2 hours). That usually takes care of the green cane and I then select the strips that are most blond. The rest cures quickly after splitting I guess because of the additional exposure from the edges. I cannot provide guidance if your cane is real green only suggest that you not store real green cane because of the possibility of mold.  (George Wood)

Rule

Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store