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I just finished straightening and node pressing on 24 new bamboo strips and I think I may have a problem?  All of the strips after soaking exhibited a soft spot where if I bend the strip it will stay bent, no resiliency.  This is not at a node but in a 3 inch section between nodes.  This morning I took one strip and heat dried it for 3 hours and while less of a plastic noodle, the plastic/soft spot remains.  There is no apparent reason for this, the bamboo at this spot looks the same.  Has anyone else experienced this problem?  All 24 strips exhibit this same  problem at the same location.  (Bob McElvain)

    Sounds like you got a bad culm -- better keep that one for a nodeless experiment.  (Larry Puckett)

    Yes, indeed.  This happens a great deal more frequently than most guys suspect.  For some unknown reason, certain culms (though very few) will exhibit this "softness" between nodes, but when it exists, it is usually in only one such internodal area.  The rest of the culm, up and down its length, probably will be just fine.  Most annoying is that,  outwardly, there will be no telltale signs on the culm to raise your suspicions. Unfortunately, even some of your very best-looking cane may have this problem.

    Most builders I know do not bother to check their strips to discover if there is a soft spot, though there is certainly an easy test.  Select any one of your split-out strips from a given culm and, before soaking, simply give EACH internodal area in the strip a good bend between your hands -- feeling for the desired resistance.  Then release to see if the cane snaps back (or nearly back) to its original shape, and move to the next internodal area.  You only need test one strip in this manner, because what pertains to one strip, pertains to the entire culm, and any internodal weakness found in one strip will be present in the same relative position in all the other strips as well.

    The bend-test is a "relative" sort of thing (like the "heft" of a good culm), but you will very quickly gain a sense for the feel of really good cane.  A soft internodal area will be very soft in comparison to its neighbors.  Only if you build nodeless, will you be able to salvage the culm -- in which case, obviously, you would simply cut out the bad area along with the nodes.  (Bill Harms)

Rule

Yesterday while doing the bend test on strips, a weak spot was noticed about one third of the way from the butt on the butt strip.  Checking the rest of them, I found about 2/3 of them failed at that same point.  Upon releasing the tension, they stayed slightly bent and had no spring.  These strips had been flamed on the outside.  I've flamed some rods,  but never  had any trouble before.  I found enough to make a butt section. 

Seems like the culm may have been bent too much at a young age and ruined only one side that may have collapsed.  Anyone else found similar culms and what was the outcome?  (Tom Ball)

    This is not a common problem, but it happens often enough that one should never begin to begin a rod without testing at least one strip taken from your culm.  Sometimes a localized weakness can be caused by careless straightening before shipment, but just as often the problem is a natural "soft spot."  I don't suppose anyone knows why this should occur in an otherwise strong culm, but sometimes it does.  Unfortunately, you cannot rely only upon a visual examination to detect such weak spots.

    Flex a test strip by bending it carefully and firmly between each node.  If the strip is of uniform width, each bent section should show a smooth curve with no segment of the curve bending more than another.  When the  pressure is released, the strip should snap smartly back to nearly straight again. If there is a weak spot, you can both feel and see it immediately.

    Cane is funny stuff, and sometimes quite unpredictable in its flexing characteristics.  (Bill Harms)

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