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Heat Treating - Replacement Strips

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I am new to this endeavor and have some questions.

When you have final planed a strip and decide that it is substandard and you wish to replace it with another strip, how do you heat treat a single strip and what is the procedure? (Bruce Combest)

    What I've done in that situation is make up a set of dummy rough strips out of maple and just bind up your replacement bamboo strip with 5 of the dummy strips.  This will keep your replacement strip straight and the entire bundle will have about the same thermal mass as the original bundle of six bamboo strips and as long as you treat at the same time/temp as your original treatment the replacement strip should be very close.  (Ned Guyette)

    I usually bind an extra piece to the outside of the bundle when I heat treat. You might want to seek out one of Martin-Darrell's new heat treating set ups. They are extruded metal (aluminum?) that nestle the strips when put in the oven. I just got mine Monday, but man they look nice. They should work as well for one strip as they do 6.  (Bob Maulucci)

      Being able to heat treat single, double, etc., strips was one of the design criteria, so yeah, it works fine. I actually think it better to heat two strips minimum when doing this, one directly across from the other, to minimize or counteract the stresses.  (Martin-Darrell)

    I have taken a number of strips from the original culm and bundled them up as well as possible to heat treat for one. I now carry four extra strips all the way through the rod building process to rough planing in case I need extras. I will have to make a rod from the remainders some day.  (Steve Trauthwein)

    I used to make 7 strips for 6 strips rods - in fact on my first 6 rods. I never used them and made a section out of them. Then I made several rods without problems until I cut a very thin tip section with a plane. I used two pieces of fresh bamboo with  outsides/enamel facing up and down in the oven. It worked with about 1/2 the time for the 6 sections. But I did watch the bake carefully for the correct color. I pulled them out a few times and rotated as well as turned them over (like Garrison).  (Rex Tutor)

    I routed shallow V-grooves in a long piece of wood and bind them into that. Somebody suggested this in a Planing Form several issues ago, but he used a maple dowel. Couldn't figure out how to rout a straight groove in a dowel.  (Bill Hoy)


While preparing tip strips for glue up I unfortunately broke one. I need to make a replacement but I have to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and rough bevel, heat treat and final plane this new strip. What are the recommendations from the list as to heat treating this new strip. Since it will not be bound to the other 5 strips, I am concerned about over cooking.  (Bill Bixler)

    M-D's  heat treating fixtures are quite handy for heat treating a single strip.  Otherwise, I bind the strip to some extra strips from former rods or a couple of dowels.  (David Van Burgel)

      That's a good idea as you'll carbonize a single strip for sure unless you really watch it.  (Tony Young)

        The first strip you break is the worst, after that it's not such a big deal.  David makes some good suggestions and Tony is also correct. Another alternative is to heat the strip for less time. I treat my bound strips for 7 minutes at 325, I would do a single strip for 2 & 1/2 minutes at 325 with a end to end flip half way through.  (Al Spicer)

    I just had the same problem (for the second time on this rod). I just bound the strip to a wood dowel and heat treated. Seems to have worked without any trouble.  (Pat Higgins)


When you choose to trash a strip and make a new one, how do you handle the heat treating of the strip. You can't put the other strips that have already been heat treated back in the oven, so what options are there. I was thinking of binding my single strip to a dowel rod, so it sets straight. Also, is  the  time you treat for  affected since this lone strip isn't bound (protected) by other strips.  (Mark Bolan)

    I had overcooked some strips, and set them aside. When I needed to do a single strip some time later, I used 5 of the baked ones, and the new strip. I worked great.  (Chad Wigham)

      I try to handle this two ways.  First, I almost always rough out and heat treat an extra strip or two to go along with each rod section. I'll split to 28-32 pieces on the tips, and 24-26 pieces for butts. The extra pieces are bound together and heat treated like the rest. Second, I use the heat treating fixtures (gizmo's) that Martin-Darrell Odom sells for all my strips.   Should I need to heat treat a single strip, the fixtures make it simple.

      BTW, before MD came out with the fixtures, I often bound a strip to a hickory or oak dowel and heat treated it that way.  I usually shortened the time a little, since two sides of the strip were exposed directly to the heat.  (Harry Boyd)

        OK, I get the extra strips.  The thing that I'm hung up on right now is what do you do with node staggering?  I guess if you used 2 x 2 x 2 staggering you can do 3 extra strips and if you use 3x3 you can do 2 extra.  Am I way off-base on this?

        I haven't really worried about it until now.  I'm just starting to build a "special" rod for a guy I know.  When I build rods for myself, I live dangerously and don't worry about extras.  (Todd Talsma)

          I cut my strips to length before splitting.  For example, if I'm making a a 7' 6" rod, the finished strips will be about 45.75" long.  I measure down from the top of the culm 57" (45" + 4" extra" + 8" for node staggering), and cut 1" above the first node below that mark.  I then cut out that node, and use the next 57" for butt sections.  So both the sections I split for 7' 6" rods are 57" long.

          I use the strips for each section exactly as they came from the culm.  I number them 1-6, 1-6, 1-6, 1-6, etc.  If there is a leaf node or other problem that makes a strip unusable, I discard that strip before numbering.  Even when I split to 32 strips, I'm happy with 25 or 26 good strips.  That will make 4 tips, plus an extra strip or two.

          At this point I stagger nodes, and cut to length (49" in the above example).  The extra strips are not cut to length, but left at 57"+. Should I screw a strip up down the line somewhere, I then match the node staggering needed and cut the strip to length.  Leaving the extra strips long sometimes forces me to deal with a few more nodes, but that only takes a few minutes.

          Truth is, I haven't screwed up a strip bad enough to have to replace it in quite a few rods; though saying that almost guarantees I will screw up everything I touch tomorrow.  I've got a handful of rough planed strips out in the shop that I'll one day turn into a couple of Frankenstein rods.  (Harry Boyd)

    You probably will get a variety of answers to this one.  Those that use MD's fixtures will chime in that it's easy to lash one on and treat it.

    Once you have made enough mistakes, you'll have enough scrap around to bind up with it.

    Although it's extra work,  I like to make extra strips from the start.  I like to split out two culms and make 3 rods out of the two.  If I'm not spastic, there is plenty there to get 42 decent tip strips and 24 decent butt strips.  I just heat-treat all at once and then I have no hesitancy to chuck a bad one.  BTW, I alternate strips from 2 culms in each rod (sacrilege, I know).  (Jerry Madigan)

    You might consider planing to final dimension before heat treating. The shrinkage for a tip section is about .004", but exposure to relative humidity  in your shop will regain about .002", leaving a loss of about .002". Butt sections shrink about .006", but regain about .003", for a loss of .003". Those figures are from tests done by three independent rodmakers and were presented last year at Corbett Lake by Don Andersen and me (check out a report here).

    If you take the shrinkage into  consideration when planing to final, you can avoid all those nasty problems such as you have mentioned.  (Ron Grantham)


When I flamed my culms it was easy to produce seven or eight likely strips and finally select the six best.

Now that I have this oven thing I bind up six strips and cook them, but it leaves me no spares for errors or discovering that one was not as good as I might like. How do you all overcome this?

And, whilst I'm being silly, my heat gun oven is operating horizontally and I wonder if there may be advantages in altering it to vertical mode.  Doing this will mean it has to be used outside due to headroom restraints, as it's 2 meters long and, for various reasons, needs to be, this causes me weather problems and the need for skyhooks to hang it from.

I'm being lazy, since if I sit down for long enough with enough red wine I shall probably fathom an answer, but you may be able to save me the hangover, perhaps?  (Robin Haywood)

    I just bind the six strips and then hand-bind the extra strip or two right to the bundle of six.

    I have a hot-air oven set horizontally. I reverse the strips halfway through the process. I use temp gauges at three locations and change the heat gun setting as necessary.  (Steve Weiss)

    Bind up the six and them bind any additionals you please to them. Open a good bottle wine and hope for the best. If it doesn't turn out right, at least you can enjoy the wine.  (Don Schneider)


I ruined a butt section strip planing in the secondary taper, and so I had to make another strip.  My question: Since the other 5 strips have been heat treated, how do I treat a single strip?  Do I need to bind it to something to help keep it straight or relax sweeps?  If so, what does one do?  (Anonymous)

    One of Harry's fixtures will fix you right up!

    OR...take a half round dowel, nail a quarter round dowel to it and bind your strip in it. Toss it in the oven.

    YES...sheesh I know...that's not a 60° angle. Doesn't matter as long as it's straight in the groove and not kinked. The wood and bamboo heat up about the same and it will work fine.  (Mike Shay)

      For what it’s worth, wouldn’t a piece of small aluminum 90 degree channel do the same??  (Ren Monllor)

        I imagine...fwiw  (Mike Shay)

    Before the fixtures I used an Oak board with grooves in it. This was discussed with MD and thus the aluminum fixtures. On occasion, I have had to heat treat single strips. Use less time and keep checking the color of the strip unless it is flamed. I don't flame bamboo so I can't help you there. It does take less time than you would use for the whole batch.

    I had to do one just last week, found a hidden worm hole in a butt strip and had to heat treat a single strip in the fixtures. They do work well.  (Tony Spezio)

      Here's a newbie question regarding this topic:

      How much of an affect (effect?) - never have been able to learn when to use those two words - does one strip have on the glued up section when all is said and done?  I figure if you flamed the original sticks it might be more important to match the color than the heat treating (which would be almost impossible).  (Tom Key)

        Even before I got the Morgan mill I would bind one strip to my metal form and in the oven it would go. I built my forms two sides so two would be even better.  (Ron Rees)

    Before I had a pile of reject strips laying around I used a board with a groove in it to bind a single strip to, actually it had 4 grooves in it so if I really screwed up I could make more than one new strip. Now I have a big enuf pile in the corner that I can just bind  the new ones in with some old ones so they heat up the same. I confess to cheating on a couple of my own rods, I just mixed a new  untemperd (but flamed) strip in with the others, so far the world hasn't come to an end and those rods don't have any horrendous curves in them.  (John Channer)

    One thing you should bear in mind.  The new strip will have zero moisture in it while the other 5 strips have reached equilibrium with the ambient humidity in your shop.  If you glue it up before the new strip reaches equilibrium, the new strip will continue to absorb moisture after glue-up, and the butt section will develop a sweep in it with the new strip on the outside.  After making a replacement strip, you should let everything sit for about a week before you glue it up. (Robert Kope)

      That's a good thought. Easy to overlook. You could put the other strips in your drying cabinet overnight.  (Steve Weiss)

      Gee, the other thing we could do is cut to length or not, flame or not, and temper the the entire culm  before final splitting. Before you blast,  I know Powell, Reams, Bogart, Raine, and others have been successful using this method. (Jerry Foster)

    I don't see why you just can't do one strip. I never bind my strips before heat treating. I just throw them in loose. Never had any problems doing it that way so far.  (Ken Paterson)

      You can do one or a bunch, bound or loose. If anyone has seen the Sweetgrass program that was on the Outdoor Channel, then you've seen Glenn Brackett and Jeff Walker doing a huge basket of strips. I certainly don't think that those fellows would do anything that flew in the face of wisdom. Glenn Brackett has a long and rich history in the bamboo rod building arena and is considered by many to be one of the premier rod makers of modern times.  (Will Price)

      While it is true you can just throw a strip in the oven, it does pay off to take out major sweeps, address the nodes, and rough bevel first. Then you can at least bind them all together tightly, or better yet, if you have the heat treating fixtures bind them to that. Coming out of the oven they are nearly straight because they relax to the fixture or strips they rest against. Once they are heat treated I hate to use any more heat than is necessary, and I have found very little straightening is left to be done. Plus, having them all beveled to a consistent size helps for even heat treating across the length of the strip.

      Certainly your way works for you, and you are not the first or only to do it that way. I just feel that I get more consistent strips and save time with the method I mentioned above.   (Scott Bearden)

        I guess I'm a little nuts in the way I build my rods regarding heat treating, but this how I do it.

        I rough plane my strips wet. After rough planning I let the strips set for a few days and then I do my final planning to taper; after final planning I put them in the oven and heat treat, wait a day glue and bind.

        I have tried it both ways and the difference in size between planning as I do and heat treating first and then final planning is so small as to make no difference in the final taper.  (Mark Dyba)

          Yabut your tip tips and your butt butts will have completely different temper. One may be too much and the other not enough. Even thickness of a strip during tempering provides a consistent and even temper across the whole finished rod.  (Scott Bearden)

          I know your idea will work because I have done a very similar way.  good on yer for doing your own thing. There is no right or wrong way to make a bamboo rod. But you know this already.

          I would not worry to much about over tempering of  the tips. Tests show strips will reach equilibrium after heat treating. So what is all the fuss about  (Gary Nicholson)

            I just have to disagree. There may be no right way to make a bamboo rod. I'll admit that. But through extensive study and testing I can say for sure there are many, many wrong ways. Now, somehow putting my carefully planed .030 tip strips in an oven scares me more than fresh bear pooh on the creek bank. But I'll probably try it anyway........some day.  (Tom Key)

          Something else to consider...or more of the same, but different..

          Conventional wisdom for  heat treating  (if you believe in it at all) says that there are 2 major benefits. And all claims are based on an even tempering of the cane..although I have seen no REAL scientific evidence. Milward and others have released partial studies but leave doubts as to time, temp, and thickness ratios.

          1.  Tempering the bound cane stripes relieves stress in the strips. The benefit is to take out the sweeps and any nominal torque and allow the strips register better in the bars or mill. Obviously if you do this after you plane you do not receive this benefit.

          1.5 As Scott stated, any attempt to temper should be even across across the length of the strip.. at a given temp, skinny steaks cook faster than thick steaks. This is a much different process than simply driving out moisture.  Tempering is accomplished at a temperature much higher than just evaporating water. The Temp must be high enough to cause the lignin, cellulose, to polymerize (cross link) thereby changing the chemical composition of the cane. That's the theory anyway. This process is totally independent of the final dimensions.

          2. The final result is that the rod should be more resistant to taking on sets..  (Jerry Foster)


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