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Rule

To keep my strips from absorbing moisture when I can't plane and glue in one session.  I tightly wrap the strips in Plastic Cling Wrap till I can get back to them. (Tony Spezio)

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I'm soon to receive 3 bales of 12' cane at my doorstep and we (Dave Norling and I) were thinking . . .

Do we really need to put drying splits in them?

Classic teaching is to put drying splits in your cane and then to store them.   However, it must take quite a long time to receive green cane from China's harvest to your door.  So what do the list's expert bamboo bale-maniacs think?  Does diameter of cane make a difference?  (Mark Lee)

    When they go "POW BANG" in the middle of the night it will scare the heck out of you it they are where you can hear them. If they have had a rod run through them knocking out the inner diaphragms then I don't think it would really be necessary.

    I think I would start a split anyway.  (Tony Spezio)

    I'd say an emphatic yes and make the split all the way from end to end.  I did the partial splits as suggested in a manual and had spontaneous splits develop elsewhere in that end of the culm before it finished splitting out itself. This ended up causing me to lose a number of strips since the spontaneous splits were not in the right places. I'd be curious to hear of alternative experiences.  (Jon McAnulty)

    When I got my bamboo I knocked out all of the dams, immediately.  The culms still developed several unwanted splits.  Next time I buy bamboo, I think I'll do what somebody suggested a while back and split the culms in half as soon as I get them.  (Steve Dunn)

    Is there any reason not to split them into 8 or more pieces (assuming the rods they will be used for will not need larger strips)?   (Jason Swan)

      Do you knock out the dams with a rod prior to using the splitter or isn't it necessary?  (Wayne Kifer)

        No need to knock out dams at all. When prepping a culm for a rod I band saw mine after I split to sixths.  (Steve Trauthwein)

        I don't knock out the dams. Just saw or sand a half moon shape out behind the node after the strips are split. This takes care of the inner node and gives a place for the outer node to be displaced.  (Tony Spezio)

        With the splitter being so rigid, the bamboo has little choice but to conform to where the splitter deems. When I split by hand I already have the drying split, then decide where the next split is to fall. This is rarely an equal half of the rod due to getting maximum number of strips out of the rod. After I've split it into "halves" I take a 90° angle die grinder with a 1" sanding drum and 36 grit sleeve, and I hog those dams out in nothing flat. It makes the further splitting much easier, and easier to  maintain  the  line  coming  through  the  node.  (Martin-Darrell)

        No, it's not necessary to knock out the nodal dams. The splitter will take care of that when you "bang" it through.  (Bob Nunley)

        I use the Hida splitter as well. I do not knock out the dams at all. Just align the splitter to the culm and smash the bejeebers out of it. As John has said before, it is a very therapeutic process. Afterwards, I take the backs of the nodes off by sanding them flat on the 12" disc sander. Then I split further.  (Bob Maulucci)

        I have seen a lot on the handling of the internal ridge in a culm.  No one seems to do it like I do, and I am really comfortable with my method.  I split in half, then in thirds.  on the third splits I lay them rind down on the bench and whack away at the ridges with a cheap Sears copy of a #9 Stanley.  It is set to take a pretty good slice.  At first it is like driving into a wall.  Hard to get going, but after two or three strokes, it suddenly becomes easy and flattens the bottom so that the third split can be split in thirds.  Then the planning is done on the pith of each of those splits.  If I need a relief on the pith side to displace the node, a small curved rasp will do the hob in only a couple of strokes.  I have tried power sanding,  too dangerous I ruined too many strips.  I wouldn't ever try to cut longitudinally on a band saw.  I am a bit too fearful of losing some of my anatomy.  Yes I still do the outside of the nodes with a No 20 mill bastard file.  Only if there is a significant dip ahead of the node do I use heat to correct.

        Just my way.  Why am I so different.  Oh by the way, despite watching Bob Nunley and Tony Spezio carve out strips that are well nigh perfect, I am still using Garrison's splitting technique.  (Ralph Moon)

          With the disc sander I can take off the backs of the 6 strips pretty easily.  I use 80 grit paper on the sander. I can even do the ridges on the enamel side with it if I bend the strip a bit when I do it. I usually flatten and file that instead. I have used a planed to flatten the pith side ridges, and it works well. You are dead right about it being like hitting a brick wall the first few strokes.  I have a great big rounded (Half round and flat on the other side. NO idea what to call it) file. It does a great, fast job of creating an area for displacing the node into. Thanks for sharing your way. I must say that power tools scare me as well.  (Bob Maulucci)

        I still use the method I learned from Wayne Cattenach. Don't do anything with the nodal dams until the strips are split to final size, then plane the back side of the node flush with a block plane. I haven't had any problem splitting strips with the nodal dams in place.

        I'd probably use a sander or bandsaw if I had one.  (Tom Bowden)

    I would at least put  a drying split in them or slit them in half.  Or, get a six bladed splitter from Hida Tool (they  have a web site) and do at least some of them into sixes.  You can split into sixes (nice even strips) as fast or faster than just a drying split.  Anyone who saw the demo at SRG can verify that.   (John Long)

    The last culms I received had a check split in them, and if they did not, I would have put one in. In addition to the split, I would also drive a rod through the center of the culm and knock out the dams. Those two things take out most of the stress in the culm thereby reducing significantly the pops and bangs, AND, most importantly, additional random checks. Water marks, scrapes, leaf nodes and blemishes are hard enough to dodge without random checks adding to the mess, IMHO.  (Eamon Lee)

    You don't have to put drying splits in them.  I have some culms out there that are 8 to 10 years old that have dried just fine... some of them made their own splits and some didn't split at all.  The only problem with NOT putting drying splits in them is that when your in the shop, and this always happens just when you're doing  something very delicate in the process, one of those culms will take it's own drying split, and it sounds like a gun going off!  It will scared the dickens out of you!

    Cane diameter.  I don't worry so much about cane diameter as I do about power fiber density and surface quality.  I use the small diameter stuff on smaller rods (I don't flatten the outside of the rod, but leave the convex on it), such as 2 wts, 3 wts, and use the larger diameter stuff on 4 wt's and up.  The only reason I do that is so that the convex isn't so obvious on the rod.  If it has good deep power fibers, and the outer surface hasn't been desecrated with growers marks, it's good cane.  (Bob Nunley)

Rule

I have been sawing my strips for many years.  I used to saw straight many years ago, but the strips to tear at the nodes if you hand plane.  What I do now is split the culms into sixths or eighths then bandsaw them into thirds, but I follow the existing contours and then do my straightening.  I have no problem whatsoever with tearing.  I guess its just what you get used to.  If you do all this while the strips are 12 feet long, you can really maximize your bamboo.  It’s not as difficult as you imagine working with 12 footers.  I learned this from Bill Waara.

Here’s the technique.  I use a metal cutting bandsaw blade of 14 TPI.  I saw butt strips to 1/4” and tips to about 3/16”.  After splitting the culm into sixths or eighths, I turn the strips sideways and saw off the internodal dams.  From here on, I just push the sections through the saw (enamel side up) just eyeballing each strip.  I use roller stands in front and back of the bandsaw to help handle the 12 foot strips.  Some sections I saw into thirds and others into four strips, just depending on their size.

There is an interesting web site called Hida Tool.  They sell 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 bladed splitters (ALA the video Winston Waters).  I bought a 6 bladed one and split a whole bale of culms in a little over an hour.  I did it just like Glen B. did it in the video, against the brick wall of my house.  (My wife was out shopping)  It works great! You get very equal sections because the splitting forces are equal in all directions.  It was fun too! (John Long)

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Well, I have taken my biggest step in this process so far.  I ordered my first culms of Bamboo today.  Anyway, I have a question about storage, as I have no idea how long it will take me to finish collecting my tools and contraptions.  How and where should I stored my Culms until I am ready to use them?  I'm in Florida also, so is there any special precautions I need to take since the humidity is so high down here.  It was 87° here today, sorry had to throw that in.  Is keeping them in the house OK or are there other precautions I should take?

I have another question,  and I'll just ask it here to save bandwidth.  I need an oven setup, and was wondering what you all would recommend for a first time setup?  I want something functional, but not so complicated it will take me until June to gather the parts and put it together.  My wife is already getting suspicious of all these UPS trucks stopping by the house lately.   (Eric Young)

    Keeping them in the house is fine... Beware the loud "POPS" that occur when the stuff starts to make it's own check splits!  Sometimes they're subtle, sometimes they sound like a small caliber gun going off in your home.

    As for special precautions with the humidity, I live in Oklahoma in the "Arkansas River Valley" and the humidity here is considered low if it's less than 50%, so don't worry much about that.  You're going to remove that extra moisture it gains from the air in the heat treating process, so it shouldn't be much of a concern for now.

    For a first time oven setup and honestly, even a permanent one, I would just build a simple heat gun oven.  Not considering the cost of the heat gun, I probably have $30 tied up in mine and it's been blistering cane for almost a decade, now.  There are several sites out there that have plans for heat gun ovens, although I can't recall where off hand.  Maybe someone else will chime in and provide a URL.  (Bob Nunley)

    If you really wanted a simple oven you could use a pipe and torch as Ralph Moon wrote about in Power Fibers #5.  (Callum Ross)

    In addition to what has been said, if there is not a full length check split in the culm, I would put one in as soon as you get it.  If there are partial splits, choose one and work it the full length of the culm.  This will prevent you from having to work around multiple small check splits which locate themselves in the most inconvenient places.  (Kurt Clement)

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In his book Cattanach says  to start a drying split and open it only 2-3 nodes. I had assumed that the split should be taken all the way from one end to the other -- any guidance on this?  (Larry Puckett)

    Its been my experience that the culm will split here and there regardless what you do.  I used to do a drying split full length one side.  In recent years I have split the culm into halves, then taped them together for storage.  I still get an occasional "unplanned" split, but you work around it.  Most of the culms have been in storage in a heated basement for 3 years when I use them.  (Ted Knott)

      That brings up another question -- how long do the culms usually need to "cure" locally after they arrive? I'm sure that this will vary a lot depending on whether they are stored in a heated, low humidity environment as compared to a cooler or less humid location. However there must be some general guidelines and also how do you know when they're "ready"?  (Larry Puckett)

        Where I live in southern Ontario dampness isn't a real problem.  Plus I store the culms inside at a relatively uniform environment.  Some of my friends store the culms in an unheated garage with no ill effects.  When you first get the culms there may be some "green" color to them.   A few days in the sun will usually get rid of this.  I have some pre-embargo cane that has a beautiful tan coloring.  If you flame and heat treat the cane as I do, I don't think color matters too much.  I soak my strips in preparation for straightening and they gain 20% in weight from the water.   Two hours at 250 degrees and they are back to their original weight.  (Ted Knott)

    Most of my cane I have split into twelve and bundled together in the basement with the dehumidifier.  I have not gotten around to splitting some of my culms because the center of the twelve splitter is too fat for the culm or I have been lazy.  (Chris Lucker)

    Open the "drying-split" the full length of the culm, or another split may open on its own at the other end -- and these are not likely to align with one another.  (Bill Harms)

Rule

You may already be familiar with this but just in case you're not. I've heard it said a few times that you need to store your cane somewhere dry and warm. Well, I just learned the hard way why (although it really didn't cost me much). I have the equivalent of a few culms (3 to be exact) that I have leftover from a shipment I got about 5 years ago. Lately, been splitting out strips from these 3 culms and finding that most of the strips are bad. I wasn't having this problem with any of this cane a year ago. Has got to be the fact that I've been storing it in the rafters of the basement and the humidity is 60 to 70 % down there during the summer and about 40% in the winter. This cycling has probably finally done in the cane. For those doubters I have heat-treated strips from half of one of these culms that I did about a year ago. The heat treated strips are fine but the other half of that culm is bad. Breaking with short splinters or failing a flex test miserably. I tried putting some of the remaining cane inside of a hot car to dry it out. It dried out but still shows signs of decay. I'm taking the shipment of cane I just got and moving it into the attic space. Not an easy task where I live but I don't want to lose anymore cane.  (Bill Walters)

    Maybe this will dispel the "pre-embargo superiority" myth once and for all.  You have to wonder how that cane was stored for 40 years.  (Jerry Madigan)

      It's not the age but the humidity cycles that ruined the cane. I have some pre embargo cane I got from D. Holbrook and it's just great.  (Patrick Coffey)

        My point is that real old is not necessarily better.  Some aging is useful,  although a couple of years in our low humidity is probably fine. 

        I sense the "baloney factor" when makers start waxing eloquent about pre-embargo cane, that's all.

        It may be really good.  it may be really bad.  It's still just bamboo.  (Jerry Madigan)

          I have Pre-Embargo cane and cane from Demarest in 1984.  I only use my Pre-Embargo cane because it is far better -- BUT, I SUSPECT IT IS BETTER BECAUSE IT WAS HAND SELECTED FOR THE FIRST OWNER, and on top of that I carefully cherry picked what I wanted.

          I suspect that many who compare Pre-Embargo cane to current cane are in fact comparing an old inventory of culled/screened/hand selected cane with a current bundle with the marginal culms still included.

          If you had a lot of good cane and some bad cane, would you bother storing the bad cane all these years?  (Chris Lucker)

        "the humidity cycles that ruined the cane."

        Agree, wholeheartedly with that statement. Its the only explanation I can come up about the remainder of my first shipment of cane. Absolutely not the age itself. If kept in a low humidity environment I'm sure cane will last a long, long time.  (Bill Walters)

          I'm wondering about the statement below. The numbers you quoted for the relative humidity are routine for virtually all of the South, with it actually being much higher during the summer months. I think it is more a matter of dampness, which of course is humidity but not of the relative variety, but more so in terms of actual moisture with very little ventilation. Thus, I think the problem was a damp, musty environment, with little to no ventilation,  rather  than  strictly relative humidity itself.  (Martin-Darrell)

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I am considering buying some cane from a friend that has been stored in his attic for 17 years. is this cane still good or should I pass?  (John Vitella)

    I have some bamboo from the 50's that’s as good as the day the original buyer got it.  A few years ago I received some 5o year old bamboo that was full of worm holes and useless for rodmaking.  In answer to your question, check the culms carefully for insect damage, mildew and water damage.  A few cracks in the culm don't matter.  If it looks good then it is.  (Ted Knott)

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OK, it must be groundhog day or something akin to it... I’m going to stick my head out of the hole-in-the-ground that I lurk in and pose some goofy questions and expose my general ignorance in the process. Here goes:

1) Is it generally preferable to have 6 ft or 12 ft culms for our rodmaking purposes? I understand why nodeless makers might place far less emphasis on this than us others. But, generally speaking....?

2) Under what circumstances can a 12 foot culm be shipped (if at all) by the major carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.)? Others?

3) As I’ve yet to personally visit another makers shop (other than Winston’s in Twin Bridges) I have no idea what the average maker’s stock pile of bamboo is. Do most people order a bale at a time? Several bales? A few sticks?

If I remember an offlist conversation with another maker... 12 foot is preferable in that the length provides for more “choice” cuts. Whereas a 6 foot length might prohibit the maker from being so selective thereby increasing the mass of the ‘rejects heap’. We all respect this fellow a lot and I’m sure he is representative of most other maker’s cane selection methods... I’m just trying to learn my own lessons through a broader discussion.

The same maker receives 12 foot bales via trucking firm(s), adding expense to the order and delaying receipt by a bit. Rodmakers being what they are probably have a good sense of their supply side economics and order well ahead of their need anyway. So, the delays probably not a true factor. Correct me if I’m wrong though!

The reason I ask all this is WalMart planted one of their famously huge distribution centers about 60 miles north  of Tulsa. In the process the state government is entertaining the idea of extending an existing shipping lane (which comes via the Gulf of Mexico to Tulsa now) to connect to that town. It just seems to me that if one could ship a container or two (or three) of fly rod quality can nearly to the geographic center of the nation and parcel it out from that vicinity that the accessibility to 12 foot cane goes WAY up and the shipping expense/delay of overland hauling might go down.

Did this make any sense? Do you think any of the present importers of cane would consider plopping a “cane outlet” in the heartland of America?

Something tells me I need to think about THIS stuff less and just make a darned rod!  (Gerald Buckley)

    1.    I strongly prefer 12' culms.  I cut the culms to working length (section length + stagger allowance + 2-6" on  each end) before splitting (but after flaming, if flamed).  For three piece rods, a twelve foot culm allows me to take tip pieces from directly above mid pieces, which are in turn directly above butt pieces. 

    2.    I am unfamiliar with any of the common carriers ability to deliver 12' pieces.  Still, the delays are minimal when using Demarest or Royer.  We're talking 7-10 days.  If you have no need for a full bale, find someone in your area who will split the order with you.  I can think of a coupla guys in Oklahoma.

    3.    As far as shipping wisdom, you'd better check with the suppliers themselves.  It seems to me that they have a good system already, and complicating it with a move to the central US might not make good business sense.  (Harry Boyd)

    One thing to consider when comparing costs is that Demarest sells full bales (20 culms) while Royer sells half bales (10 culms). Both have excellent quality and customer service.  (Kyle Druey)

      Terrific point and very well taken. As I mentioned to one of the other offlist responders this morning... If it was worth doing from the central USA I suspect some smart person like Andy, George or the Demarests would have perfected it by now.

      Someone also attributed Mr. Demarest as saying there were 2 or so containers of cane coming into the US per year. Can that be right? Seems low... Only ways I see the math working is if you factor in the higher quality of cane these days (?), more efficient use of the cane at hand (?), fewer rods made per year than say the average year of the mid last century and accumulations of cane at the modern makers shop I can see where the need to import fewer bales could translate into fewer containers. I'm quick to point out -- WHAT DO I KNOW!? I'm a wannabe at this point.  (Gerald Buckley)

        Look at all the production companies that were making cane rods prior to the fiberglass and then graphite invasion, Granger, South Bend, Shakespeare, Heddon, Montague, etc. plus the higher end companies like Leonard, Orvis, Thomas, Powell, Winston, Young, Dickerson, Payne, Edwards, Carlson, Gillum, etc.  All these companies were heavy users of cane.  Today there are more people building cane rods than ever but I'm not aware of anyone who is producing rods at the same pace as the production companies.  It would be interesting to know if anyone is even producing 100 or more rods a year.  (Bob Williams)

          I think all of the cane used Worldwide (combined) this year to make Bamboo rods does not come close to equaling that used by the Montague in just one year.  (Marty DeSapio)

        Two containers amounts to 10,000 culms.  I was surprised at how large the number was.  (Bill Lamberson)

      A Demarest full bale is (the last time I purchased one) 25 culms.  (Marty DeSapio)

        According to their web page a bale is 20 culms, and that is what I have received in previous shipments.  (Bill Lamberson)

          Same here... 20 Culms... at least for 10 years or so.  (Bob Nunley)

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To keep my strips from absorbing moisture when I can't plane and glue in one session.  I tightly wrap the strips in Plastic Cling Wrap till I can get back to them.  (Tony Spezio)

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Like most of us I put a check split in my bamboo and hang it out of the way. 

Why not just split the bamboo, shape it to initial bevel and then tape them, along with the date and culm?  They'd dry faster having a larger area open to the air and a smaller mass and they'd take less storage space.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    That would work very well.  It just goes to prove that there are no hard absolutes in rodmaking.  (Joe Byrd)

    Filing, flattening, and straightening the nodes on all that bamboo before initial beveling takes quite a while.  That's one reason I don't initially bevel it all.  Also, sometimes I like brunette rods, sometimes blondes.  Don't wanna have to make up my mind on that immediately on receiving a bale of cane.  (Harry Boyd)

    I am keeping Tonkin in split form but not in the initial bevel shape.  They would never have natural splits.  Yes they dry faster!  (Max Satoh)

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I check split my new bale last week and as the splits have opened up, I can see that at least half of the culms have mold patches the size of my hand in them.  White mold, blue mold, red mold.  Some right at the butt, some patches here and there the whole length

I've only bought single culms till now and have never seen this.

Is it cause for alarm?  Is there something I can do to preserve the quality of this cane?  What have other's done in  this situation?  (Joe West)

    Lay them out in the sun as soon as you can.  I'd wipe them with a mild bleach solution on the inside to kill what's there now first.  Light surface mold on the inside shouldn't be a problem for you, but if it's heavy you will want to cut it off.  You can't always tell how bad it is until you have split it out and started to plane it.  Surface ugly isn't always cause for alarm.  (Brian Creek)

    How does cane get moldy inside?  (1) it was shipped green;

    (2) condensation inside the container.

    It is questionable whether or not the inside mold could reach the power fibers or stain the outside of the cane.  A report of Bob Milward which appeared in the Best of the Planing Form, Volume 2, Page 67, shows a total average wall thickness of 2-2-1/2" butt cut Tonkin of 8/32nd of an inch; of that thickness 3/32nd is usually power fibers, leaving 5/32nd of an inch in the inside wall.  There has been no research done that I know of as to the mold accumulation within the soft interior thickness.

    Brian Creek's suggestion to lay them out in the sun as soon as you can and wipe them with a mild bleach solution on the inside to kill what is there is the right approach.  (Harold Demarest)

    Thanks to all for the help re the cane.  I split it, washed it with a bleach solution, and sun-dried it for two days.  All of the surface mold is gone, leaving a very few patches of mold that goes into the pith (and even then, not into the power fibers).  (Joe West)

    I had carped and complained about mold in some cane I bought and I just want to say that I've found the cane to be 100% sound even where the mold was. It was mostly superficial with a few small patches of mold that extended into the pith, but not even the lower power fibers.

    I think there was also some red dirt that clung to the inside of the cane that looked like mold, too.

    Anyway, I'm learning bit by bit and I appreciate all of your patience as this particular moment played out on the list.  (Joe West)

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How do you all store your yet-to-be used culms?  My wife and I have a six month old son and we're going to start "childproofing" the outlets, cabinets, curtain cords, etc. 

Up 'til now I've been storing  full length 12' culms in the living room. I like that the temperature and humidity are more constant that if they were stored in the garage.  But the living room will be out of the question very soon, as I'm sure our son will find the culms and pull them over on him, my wife,  the dogs, in-laws, piano, etc.  So I must move them to a safer place.  

My first option is to cut 'em in half  and move them all to the garage.  So I'm wondering if there is a risk of damage/degradation from wider temperature and humidity fluctuations to raw culms.    (Eric Koehler)

    I hang mine in two "U" shaped racks from the ceiling joist in my garage. Works like a charm.  (Patrick Coffey)

      I built a rack similar to what Patrick describes, but mine is in the shop rather than the garage.  (Harry Boyd)

    I keep mine in my attic workshop tucked up under the insulated roof and rafters where it is too small to walk or be useful for anything other than storage.  I would use the joists but have other long rod making items stored there.  My attic is nice and dry almost year round.  I have a window A/C unit going in the summer.  Rising heat naturally heats and dries throughout the winter.  (Rick Crenshaw)

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I just received forty sticks of cane and understand from Wayne's book that I need to put a split in the butt section up to the second or third node to aide in drying and curing.

I would like to leave them in twelve foot sections until I use them so would that split need to be deeper into the cane??  (Dick Steinbach)

    I always split one wall from butt to tip, one end to another.  It won't hurt anything.  Leave them at 12' and only cut to length later to most efficiently use the entire culm.  (Harry Boyd)

    I’ve found that even with one split the full length, you will occasionally get a random check elsewhere.  My last batch, I split in halves.  Haven’t had them long enough to know if halving will prevent additional checks.  (Al Baldauski)

    You're gonna get different opinions on this one.

    Keep the twelve foot lengths.

    The check split, if started through the first two or three nodes only,  will propagate the length of the culm as it dries and shrinks. Some folks like to split the whole length, thinking it cuts down on secondary splits occurring, though personally I don't think it makes a difference.

    I had one bale that I never check split (the guy who went in on the order never paid me, nor picked it up, so after a year of trying to chase him down I just kept it), and all the culms are in the same condition as the other bales that I did check-split.

    If you don't check split, you will hear what sounds like gunfire coming from your culms as they start their own splits.  (Chris Obuchowski)

      Yep! gunfire is what it's like. I had one crack behind me one day. I hit the floor. Thought someone was shooting at me in the basement. I think I see some difference check splitting but it will go ahead and split if you start it. So there you go. If you you are going to check spit you can work in better clothes. If you don't check spit you should wear clothes you don't mind crawling around on the basement floor with.  (Timothy Troester)

    The reason I asked the question about the splits is because my first buy was only a half dozen or so and they were only six foot lengths, so I  was certain the three node split would continue down the six foot length; I just wasn't sure it would travel the full twelve.

    I   have   another  question:   These  were  all  covered  with gray-green dry mold and it took some time to clean it off.  Is that a common occurrence?  (Dick Steinbach)

      Was the gray green stuff on the inside or outside? Outside it might have been some natural color left on the bamboo, sun will bleach it. On the inside is not really a good thing. Needs to be taken care of. Too much will ruin the bamboo.  (Pete Van Schaack)

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Is it possible for otherwise straw color bamboo to turn greenish if exposed to moisture long enough? Sort of like leaving a potato out too long.

I have some bamboo that before I purchased it had been sitting in a warehouse for at least 7 years at temps over than 100 degrees. I'm pretty sure it was yellow during the summer but now that I'm working with it, I see a greenish tint. It's of course winter here which means lots of rain. My house stay's pretty moist during the winter with moss growing on the patio and that sort of thing.

Not all of it is greening.  (Jim Lowe)

    I just tried planing some strips that I soaked for three days, for the first time.  They were definitely greener than they were when dry.  (Al Baldauski)

    It might have looked more yellow out in the bright sunshine. Put it under a UV light for a few days or outside in the sun and let it bleach. I wonder, will heat treating green cane bleach it?   (Larry Puckett)

    You may want to wipe the bamboo down with a mild solution of Clorox to stop the mold. and discoloration.  (Don Schneider)

      Thanks, it's not mold. I've got plenty of that and have frankly found that I simply have to throw the culms away in most instances.  (Jim Lowe)

        I've noticed on a number of occasions that bamboo that appeared to be straw-colored still had a definite layer of chlorophyll at the bottom of the enamel layer.  Sometimes, I have not noticed it until I started working with the bamboo. There will be a very slight greenish tinge to the culm, but when you scrape through the enamel to the power fibers, there is a dark line visible on each side of the exposed power fibers.

        Andy Royer's recent article in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of The Planing Form discusses this briefly.  He says the growers consider the stuff with a greenish tinge to be the best , strongest poles.  But that rodmakers complain about it.  Personally, I just think it could use a little more time out in the sun.

        All the bamboo is green when they cut it in China.  They lean the poles together in piles, like teepees, to dry and bleach the color out.  It's UV light, not heat that breaks down the chlorophyll.  Storing it in a dark warehouse will never get rid of the green, no matter how hot it is.  I've had success bleaching the green out by leaning the poles up against the south side of the garage for a while in the summer, but here in the Seattle area, it takes a couple of weeks to get enough sunshine to bleach it out.  I suspect that it would happen a lot quicker in more tropical climates, but I don't believe it's possible for chlorophyll to return once it's been destroyed, and the bamboo is dead.  (Robert Kope)

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When I came home this afternoon I found on the front porch my first shipment of cane - man was I excited.  When I opened the package I couldn't believe how different it was than I expected - when they say this stuff is hard they aren't kidding.

Okay, now what.  My final planing forms won't be finished until Friday and then I have to cut the groove, and my oven won't be ready for two weeks. 

Should I put a drying split in the cane (it's in 6' sections) since I won't be ready to really start using it for a couple of weeks?  It will be stored inside my workshop which is only heated when I use it.  (It's getting cold in Michigan)  (Aaron Gaffney)

    Heh, there is a whole world of adventure awaiting in those unassuming culms.  You still need to determine how you are going to treat the nodes, whether to flame or not, and then learn how to split. You don't need to wait for your  forms or an oven to proceed. If you are going to file the nodes with the sections intact, and you are going to be doing it within a couple of weeks, I wouldn't put a split in. If you are going to flame, I'd split it just before I flamed it. If they start to split before you are ready to proceed, you can always finish the split when it appears.

    You can ask the following questions:

    1 - Should I file the nodes before or after I split
    2 - Should I flame
    3 - Should I build nodeless
    4 - What is the best method for splitting
    5 - What kind of gravy... hmmm, no, better leave that one out)

    That should be enough to keep us going through the winter!

    All of that is tongue-in-cheek, obviously, but there are multiple ways of approaching each of them. I think that half of us would admit that learning to split is somewhat of a rite of passage. The other half are fibbing!  (Larry Blan)

      I like what Larry wrote. 

      Don't let the bamboo poles burn a hole in your pocket <grin>

      Take the WORST culm you can find out of the bunch.  Practice splitting it until you get sections that are around 1/4 to 3/8" wide.  Spend time experiencing (and learning) how the cane splits and how to steer a "run" back to where you want the split to go (I like using a vice ahead of the split to slow down the splitting run). 

      Once you have a bunch of strips of size, practice filing and sanding down the nodes.  You'll learn to love these buggers!  Practice taking off just enough of the node to leave the enamel side flat with the smallest sanding "footprint" or worn-away area.

      Once you've mastered <grin> node sanding, you can enter the lovely and quite frustrating world of straightening nodes.  Read up on the process and apply different concepts to see what works best for you.  (This advice applies to all the techniques you'll practice above). 

      So GET BUSY, you have a lot to do while waiting for your forms to be completed!!!  Have fun and let us know when you first bleed on your cane.  It's a passage rite that must be obeyed.  (Scott Turner)

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I've been making a group of rods for about 4 weeks now and have had several planed but unglued splines lying around my shop. We've had several unusual storms lately and everything is pretty wet. I've got moss growing on the patio, my forms and planes are rusting and all the paper in my shop has started to curl with moisture. Needless to say, I'm sure my splines have absorbed a bit more moisture than I would like and I'd like to drive that moisture back out again. The plan is to turn my oven up to 225 and cook the glued blanks for about 15.

My question is this: Is it safe? Is 225 a low enough temperature that I don't risk turning my finished tip into  charcoal?  (Jim Lowe)

    Anything above the ambient temperature should dry them out.  I keep my strips in a cabinet at about 90 to 100 degrees while I'm not working on them. in a situation like yours, I  would use a lower temp, a 100 degrees, and more time, like a couple of days, to make sure they were dry.  (Mike Canazon)

      Do not worry about it. If your cane has been properly heat-treated in the first place, the humidity it may absorb afterward is just part of a lifelong process of "breathing."

      This is the driest time of the year for most parts of the country, and (unless something odd may have happened), it's unlikely that your cane could have taken on more moisture than the ambient humidity has dished out.

      If you like, you can put the strips in your oven again to drive that humidity out, but, varnish or no varnish, the bamboo will always adjust to the atmosphere's moisture content. In the summer, the cane absorbs moisture, and in the winter, it is released. You just can't stop this, although once the rod is varnished, the process will be slowed down.

      About the only thing that's critical is that you mount your ferrules when the sections are as dry as possible.  (Bill Harms)

        Thanks. I understand the natural tendency to equalize with the environment. The problem is the moisture content is much higher than is normal. (High enough to notice the absorption in a normal piece of computer paper (think firm to limp).)

        Too moist I think to use as a starting point for ferruling and varnishing the rod.  (Jim Lowe)

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I am just beginning this new venture and am a little confused on the curing process of Tonkin Cane. Does one have to cure a culm before it can be processed, or does the heat treating (by flaming) take care of this?  (Dan Weiman)

    The answer you will get depends on who you ask : )

    Theoretically, the cane has been cured in the sun in China prior to shipping, and you should be able to work the cane once you receive it.

    Nearly all rodmakers these days are tempering the cane during the building process with open flame, or an oven, or both.  There are a few who speak up every now and then claiming to make   rods   from   "aged"   cane,   sometimes   reportedly pre-embargo cane, without heat treating with good results, but most are still heat treating.

    I have made rods from newly acquired bamboo (from both Demarest and Royer), that were lightly flamed, then cooked in a heat gun oven (a modified Neunemann vertical oven - and a modified garrison time & temp recipe), none of which have taken sets in nearly a decade of hard use.

    If you buy a bundle of cane, the culms will have the additional benefit of age-curing  before you get around to working with them, but don't be afraid to split and plane "new" cane when you get it if it's all you have.

    I personally will state that in my opinion bamboo strips should be heat treated in some form to temper them as a preventative against developing sets in the finished rod (I also believe in not abusing a rod, and in giving the rod a good vigorous wiggle after landing a big fish - as per advice from Paul H Young).  (Chris Obuchowski)

      I second everything that Chris has said. Right on the money. I would add but one additional piece of information:

      In most cases, cane has been off the mountain two years before you get it. Despite that, some culms may have a green tinge. If you are making blonde rods, you might want to put the greenish culms in the sun until the green disappears and is replaced by yellow. Especially if you are using minimal heat treatment. If you are flaming, then it doesn't matter.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

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I received my bamboo today and noticed there's a split in two of the culms two nodes up from the end on one culm and three nodes up on the other. Is it all right to continue the split out towards the end of the culm???  (Ren Monllor)

    By all means, go ahead and split the culms all the way out. In fact, the first thing I do when I get new cane is to split each culm all the way lengthwise down one side.  That relieves any stress in the piece, and keeps it from splitting on its own, which can make for a waaaaaay uglier split than if you do it when it first arrives. Also, it keeps it from waking you up in the middle of the night when one of the culms in the ceiling joists in your bedroom (exposed-joist ceiling) decides to go off!  (David Spangler)

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I'm brand new to split cane rod building (although have been fly fishing and building glass/graphite rods for longer than I'm going to admit).  I'm still in the tooling up stage although I did receive my first order of bamboo (from Golden Witch) that came with the drying split already in place (the split runs the entire length of the culms)  So I decided to store the culms up in my upstairs bedroom - which is essentially an attic level of the house and remains warm and fairly dry all the time - even in Virginia's climate.  I went up to "check in" on my culms the other day and noticed that they have begun to check - all three of 'em.  Is that normal?  Is my cane defective?  Am I screwed or have I blown it already?  (Actually the check lines are pretty straight down the linear length of the culm do I'm planning on just splitting down the check lines - does that make sense?  (John Turner)

    Cool and dry would be better storage.

    As long as the splits don't taper out (run out) at the ends you should be OK.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    It's fine, don't worry about it. All it means is that you'll have to work around the splits in it when you split strips out of it.  (John Channer)

    I don't actually know, but I suspect that the ends are drying out and splitting inwards. So the answer is to wax the ends of the culms. Just as we do with the cut ends of lumps of likely timber for reel seats. In the UK there is an ancient car rust proofer for vehicles called Waxoyl, I have found over many years that it works just as well on wood, like gates, posts and garden wood. Or you could use that expensive stuff that seals trees after you have removed a big limb, it's called Arbrex here, or probably was, I just use Waxoyl now. (Robin Haywood)

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Where do you guys store your bamboo? I live in Northern VA, so I'm assuming it's too humid here to store them in the garage (not climate controlled). Is that a correct assumption?  (Greg Holland)

    All that really matters is that you keep them out of the weather, they are going to stabilize to the relative humidity when you get them out of storage anyway, so it really doesn't much matter where they are kept as long as it is dry.  (John Channer)

    I would think that the rafters of your garage would be a wonderful place. I kept mine in the attic for several years until we added insulation. Now I have them in a cradle on the enclosed back porch.  (Timothy Troester)

    I don't have room for all my culms in the shop, so about 30 are stored hanging from the ceiling of the carport.  While they are mostly out of the weather, they do get plenty of fog, mist, and blowing rain.  I can't tell that it hurts anything.  (Harry Boyd)

    I'm fortunate enough to have a wall that has a 15 foot long hot water baseboard (fed by an oil-fired furnace) in my bedroom.  The cane lies next to it.  I am occasionally awakened by a loud POP from drying culms expanding (cracking) every now and then, but I'm getting used to it.  (Dennis Haftel)

      I store my culms in the upstairs heated portion of my garage.  I've never heard them pop and was wondering if you cut an expansion cut down the entire length of the culm.  As the culm dries out and shrinks all stress is relieved in the expansion cut.  Without this single continuous cut you end up with stress splits in random parts of the culm which can waste part of your culm.  (Doug Alexander)

        I do put a check split in all of my cane.  I think the popping is because of uneven stresses on the culm as it dries.  The pops usually,  if not always result in small cracks on other parts of the culm.  I just work around them with very little waste.  (Dennis Haftel)

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I’m trying to think of ways to store the bamboo that I am going to pick up today.  12’ is a long piece of material to store.  Is there any issues with check splitting the culm and then sectioning it into two 6’ sections for storage with identifying marks for base, tip and culm # on each piece?  If I do this I can store the sticks in the attic space above my garage (dry and out of my way).  Or should I check split  and keep them in their 12’ length until I’m ready to use them.  (Mike Monsos)

    Do you ever build 3 piece rods? If so you might consider cutting a culm or two into three 4' sections. I believe that most people keep them 12' if room is not a problem, if it is then 6' sections is the way most do it.  (Will Price)

      I am building a three piece right now and I was considering cutting at least two of the ten sticks into thirds just for that reason.  What about doing the check split after I section out the sticks?  (Mike Monsos)

        If you don't split them yourself they will split, maybe multiple splits, on their own. If you are near them when they do split, it is like a gun shot. I would split them.   (Timothy Troester)

          I'm going to do a check split on all the sections after I cut them to lengths (I'm thinking I might be able to follow the checks easier).  The tip on cutting at the node is great and I think the chop saw should be fine there I have a 60 tooth "fine" cut blade on it (the nodes are within about 4" of the 6' mark).  We'll see after the first cut.  I picked the two sticks that had nodes closest on the approximate 4' mark for the three piece rods. Thanks for all the advice and tips.  (Mike Monsos)

    I see no problem with that. As far as 6’ sections, I usually cut mine at the nearest node instead of halfway between nodes. 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)

    Lot of waste cutting them in 6' lengths. I cut what I need from the top and from the bottom. The middle section that is left makes 3 piece rods. This may not work for you but I try to get the most I can from my culms.  (Tony Spezio)

    I store mine whole! When I built the rod shop, along one wall I installed a set of cheap kitchen cabinets.  Above the wall cabinets, instead of a boxed in soffit, I build a wide shelf. I don't know how many poles I can store up there, a lot more than I have in stock! LOL I'll take any/all donations to see how many will fit!  (David Dziadosz)

    If there are no 3-piece rods in your future (or even if there are), there’s nothing wrong,  in my view,  with  check-splitting and culm-halving ahead of time.  Some might even extend that to splitting up the entire culm ahead of time, if you have the right storage/labeling.  (Steve Yasgur)

    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.

    The six way pie splitter was one of the best investments I made as I don't have to worry about a drying split that may "swim" on me or splits developing on their own that I do not want.  It takes a good half a day to do it with an entire bale but it's worth the hassle in my opinion.  You also almost always get 6 sections that are near perfect that have no secondary splits which makes it a lot easier to do the final splitting and get the ~24 or so strips you want out of a half of culm.  (Scott Bahn)

    I agree with Tony as set forth in George Mauer's book.  You might study your culms rather than automatically cut them in two equal pieces.  If you cut out the node above or below the middle (approx.) you wind up with two sections that already have adequate spacing for the ferrules stations - and it saves cane.  I like to have some long ones for one-piece rods, too.

    My cane is stored in a temp controlled basement, so I never worried about check splitting it and have had no trouble there.  But then, I recently split out a pristine culm and it didn't split any cleaner than an already split one either.  So check splitting doesn't really to matter to me.  As for 3 piece sections - probably the shorter the culm the less necessary is check splitting.  Just my 2c's.  (Darrol Groth)

    I use a 3x3 node stagger on all my rods just to keep things simple. When I do a check split, I also split the entire culm in half length wise producing two 12 ft lengths. Regardless of whether I cut it into two or three sections, I place my node stagger with those two pieces and proceed to take off three or so inches at the top of one piece and same from the bottom of the other. Then I measure it out for equal lengths, whether in half or thirds and use my chop saw. I go straight through each half culm with no splintering, but I do move the blade down deliberately slow. This method minimizes waste, but won't work with a Garrison spiral stagger. With this method you only lose 3 or 4 inches from the entire culm. If I remember correctly I learned this from Tony Spezio.

    If you are going to remove nodes with the miter saw I might suggest a full face mask. I have had a couple of nodes come flying up at me once it is detached from the rest of the culm and almost always seems to touch the high RPM blade, sending it flying. I have yet to be hit, but I am certain it will hurt at the least.  (Scott Bearden)

      Interesting ideas and good too!  I like the method you use to get to the 3x3, too late or me this time but I did make a mental note.  I had a very light touch on the saw with safety goggles, should have used the shield now that you mention it.  Oh well no blood no foul, THIS TIME.  I have taken note thanks!  (Mike Monsos)

    Why not build an overhead rack? I have 20 culms stored in 1x2 frames attached to the ceiling joists in the garage. Took about an hour to build and install.  (Jon Holland)

      I did the same thing. Except I have steel beams in my work room.  Dropped three sets of chains with 2x4 bases.  (Grant Adkins)

        Thanks for all the suggestions!  I did use the chop saw and made my cut at the nearest node on the sticks without tape using a 60 tooth 10” blade on my chop saw.  It came out real clean.  I figure I’ll be cutting down the strips a few inches anyway if something comes up.  Also I make a check split in all the sections.  I indexed the butts, mids and tip sections to each other with a code like I use or my fly lines.  Right now they are resting nicely in a attic space above my garage supported on 2’ centers.  Life is good!  Now projects around the house may not be as happy getting pushed back.  Oh well!  (Mike Monsos)

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Just wondering how some of you guys feel about leaving raw cane in the cold.  Illinois.  Supposed to be below freezing most of the time where I'm at for the next ten days or so.  The all have check splits, but how will this affect the structure of the bamboo down the road?  I've seen where it's been delivered in the winter months to places much further north than I am.  Most of my stuff has already been split & treated (for nodeless) & bagged away inside where it's warm & dry.  Any harm, you think, leaving it out there in an unheated pole barn?  (Bob Brockett)

    There are probably a lot of guys on the list who know more about this than I do, but the first six rods I made were from culms stored outside under a tarp on a coupe of saw horses. The culms were probably over 10 years old and were from Herters. There were on the bank of West Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa and it gets real cold up there, 20 below lot of winters. Those rods are still in good shape and have been fished a lot. So, I don't think cold will be a problem.  (Larry Myhre)

    I keep the bulk of my bamboo on the back porch. It's sheltered from the rain. Before, I kept it in the attic, I got both very hot and then there was the winter temps. I think having it someplace where the air can circulate around it is more important if you don't keep it in a climate controlled place. I suppose when it warms up it might sweat,  which could promote mold of some kind.  (Timothy Troester)

      I store my culms on top of the garage door rails and this seems to work well for drying as well as keeping them out of the way. I have a metal tray I built with some conduit tray left over from an old commercial job I did and have it sitting just clear of the door height so that the door opens anc closes with out a hitch. My garage stays within a 20-25 degree range and since I have exhaust fans in the garage, the summers are not hot in there.  (Rudy Rios)

Rule

Soon I will have, for the first time, enough cane that I need to consider it's storage.

I suppose it is a bit unique in that it needs to be out of the way most of the time, but, when you do need access, you need full access.

I'm considering a rope/pulley system to pull the bundles up to the ceiling/lower them down to the floor. Or just a rack hanging from the rafters.

Any ideas/tips from the list?  (Conor McKenna)

    Try Googling “Hanging Canoe Storage.”

    Two ropes going over two pulleys to a central cleat.

    See this or this.  (Larry Swearingen)

    If you have a garage with overhead access, you can store the stuff on the V rafters - it works well for me.  (Frank Paul)

    A few considerations on storing cane.

    Put a check split in the culm, if the cane is going to be subject to any sudden, say in an hour or so temperature changes.

    If you split the culms an take out the nodal dams you can store a lot of cane in a much smaller space. By taking out the nodal dams, these quarter or half strips will lose some of the natural curvature of the culm. This is not a big factor, but may be of interest for those who build quads and Spey rods and want strips with less of the natural curve.

    Lowes sells plastic drain tile, which is light weight and strong, fairly inexpensive,  and can be strapped/taped together. Put your split strips in the tile. This allows for easy access to any and all of your cane, especially the stuff at the bottom of the pile.  (Peter Jones)

      I purchased a dingy lift for my garage to get my Adirondack out of the way when not in use. It is made by Larken, the same people who make the blocks for sail boats. I got mine at a marine hardware store, it cost about $150. It works great and will hold over a hundred pounds. It is basically two slings with a block and tackle system with a cam cleat. It is pretty slick and should work well in storing cane overhead. I have no commercial interest in this product. Just a thought.  (Phil Crangi)

        I think I've settled on a one rope, bunch of pulleys similar to a bicycle hoist.

        About how much does a bundle of cane weigh? Gotta purchase some pulleys and rope, and I don't want to under gun myself. I'll have about two bundles up over the bench, and I know they will weigh enough to hurt!  (Conor McKenna)

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I'd like to hear list members thoughts on storing culms.  Since I rough my strips after soaking for 3 days, is there any reason the culms can't be stored outside?  Pros, if there are any, and cons would be appreciated.  (Tom Key)

    I hang mine under the house, in what I guess you blokes would call the basement, except that it is above ground.  This area in my house is steady as to temperature pretty well year round, and humidity stable and low.

    I just hang 3 loops of rope from the roof about 5 feet apart and sling the culms in those.  Self adjusting, self tightening, allows easy access, permits free air circulation.  You can also get a count with no trouble, and the culms stay straight.

    Also there are no little sequestered cracks or cul-de-sacs where moisture can accumulate or rot happen.

    Works for me, at any rate.  (Peter McKean)

    I guess I don't understand your question completely and why you ask it. 

    If you mean store them outside before you process them, shouldn't be a problem if they are under cover.  When drying the culms in Thailand or China they store them vertically.in the sun.  Depending on where you are, I'd be sure they were under cover and out of contact with the ground to avoid mildew.

    If you mean outside after processing and they are wet, they might freeze and produce internal splits, don't know.  (Dave Burley)

      I store bamboo in the garage's attic, unheated through the Maine winter.  I avoid leaving any soaked strips to freeze, because until somebody else proves it doesn't happen I fear there could be internal splitting or lignin disruption. The dry culms I don't worry about. (Henry Mitchell)

        I have 17 foot ceilings in my family room & I have my bamboo stored standing up in the corner behind the TV.  My wife thinks it looks cool there.  She asked me if I minded if she used it for decorating since she has an outdoor fishing theme in this room.  When people come over they never fail to mention how much they like the look.  (Bret Reiter)

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