Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Planing - Final - Edges

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When final planing, I am noticing I consistently get little "strings" of bamboo on the edges that abut the enamel flat.  When they come off (have to be pulled off) they leave a glue gap.  What am I doing wrong that is creating these little bamboo slivers?  (Louis DeVos)

    I don't think you are really doing anything wrong, I think you are just have some bamboo that has "strings".

    I planed out some bamboo that was that way today. When I get some bamboo that does that, I find that I can scrape all the way down to the metal with a razor blade and you will see the "strings" disappear. As you scrape you can see the "strings" come off and a fuzzy edge, keep scraping till you have a clean even line flush with the top of the forms. I had to do all the strips from this culm that way for this rod, it had a lot of "strings". The rest that culm will be set aside to be used another time if I have to use it. Got it glued up,no strings, no glue lines.

    I think we are talking about the same thing.  (Tony Spezio)

    As you've discovered, you don't want to ever pull those little fuzzies off.  You can usually nip them off with a sharp razor blade at the point where they are still attached to the strip.  (Neil Savage)

    Do you split or saw the strips?  It could be that the "grain" of the fibers are at a slight angle to the axis of the strip.  Do you get these slivers on both sides of the enamel?  Are the ends facing you or facing away?  Take a close look at how the fibers are oriented.  (Ron Larsen)

      My take on why this happens is that if your strip is not formed to 60 degrees, and therefore sits in the groove  with a certain degree of movement, the edge tends to roll away from the plane, leaving the edge untrimmed.

      If you keep your blades really sharp, and if you check your angles with a gauge you should pretty well get away from the problem.  It  can also help if you hold the strip with your fingers firmly in the groove when trying to remove the feathering.   (Peter McKean)


I have had some problems with small string like fibers on my tips when I am getting close to my final dimensions. These fibers are on each of the apex.  I have tried many things to deal with this such as pulling them off, rolling them off and sanding them.  None of these have worked and as you can imagine have made my final dimensions off.  What have you all done to deal with this?  I hope that I am not the only one to have this problem.  Could it be dull cutters?  (Dan Noble)

    No, those are not a result of dull cutters.  If you look closely at the cutters, you will see that the corners are slightly rounded.  The result, at the apex of the strip, is the famous (or infamous) "chimney" typical of strips cut with the MHM.  That chimney is present on all strips, whether tip strips or not.  To measure the height of any strips cut with the MHM, it is necessary to remove the chimney.  Careful sanding is the best method that I have found.  I use 220 grit sandpaper for this and sand while the strip is still mounted on the anvil.

    On tip strips, you are cutting into the best power fibers and what appears to be a single fiber is left as the chimney.  You can successfully sand these fibers off while the strip is mounted on the anvil by holding the strip in place with one hand and using the other hand to sand very close to where you are holding.  Use a light touch with the sandpaper and look closely at your progress.  You will be able to see exactly where the offending fibers come up out of the strip.  That occurs, of course, towards the thicker end of the strip and requires special attention while sanding.

    I will be interested to see suggestions from others.  (Tim Anderson)

      I agree with Tim and handle the wicker in the same way by lightly sanding it while the strip is still mounted on the anvil.  (Bill Lamberson)

        A while back, this came up on the MHM list. A number of users suggested setting a very sharp block plane for the finest shavings possible and making a pass over the strips right before the glue was applied. It works for me, but I might not be as particular about such things. It may leave a tiny void in the middle of the rod (I can't see it in my cutoffs), but the strips nestle down together much better at glue up.  (Doug Easton)

    I handle them the same way as the others. What I have also found is that if you run the wicker through a leather gloved hand with a bit of denatured alcohol on your palm, it seems to slide off easily.  Just keep the apex in the palm and pull it through.   (Don Peet)

    So, I wasn't very clear in my original question.  Let me see if I can restate this.  I am getting this problem with small string like fibers on all points of my 60 degree triangle.  In other words,  on the sides when I am planing these fibers show up and if I remover them they cause some very bad glue lines.  I understand the issue with just the apex but I am getting this on my sides as well as the apex.  Any ideas?  (Dan Noble)

      Sounds like dull cutters or bad bamboo...

      Have you cleaned out the interior of the mill lately? Could there be something that inhibits a clean cut? Clean soft cloth and some compressed air...?

      Change cutters is my first reaction, otherwise use a different culm of bamboo. It could be the fibers are just bad. How did you split the bamboo? Following the grain or just however a saw happened to go through it? I always split... no waste and it ALWAYS follows the grain, even though I may straighten a little more.  (Mike St. Clair)

        I hand split this cane.  I have had the same problems with this culm all the way through it so I will try a new culm that I just got from Andy.  I will also replace my blades and see if that fixes it.

        Scott, I wonder if my problem is from the anvil being too small?  I just resurfaced the anvil and while it is not very wide at the tip, I am shaving the anvil with each additional plane.  The rod is a Payne 101 and my final dimensions are only .0325 so if I am planing the anvil with each pass is the tip anvil too thin to support it?  (Dan Noble)

          If you are shaving plastic off the anvil, it is not too narrow.  In fact, it should provide perfect support for the strip.  I hate to say this, but it sounds like the cane is the problem.  (Tim Anderson)

            I have had trouble with this sometimes when my cane has been too dry. I've put the strips in a humid part of the house for a day or so and that has helped.  Are your shavings coming off in nice curls, or are they dusty scrapings?  (Bill Lamberson)

              This cane has aged for some years and I do live in the desert so no humidity.  I have been using a heat gun oven to cook the cane before final planing..  I am cooking the cane at about 300 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Is this too long?  (Dan Noble)

                I have had this problem. I think it is a cane problem. I cooked some flamed cane and at the  final planing stage the reaming enamel separated from the power fibers, leaving strings along the sides. The problem went away without making any changes in the mill and has not returned, so I think it must have been either how I heat treated the cane or the culm itself. I think that Jeff Schaeffer had the same problem. Maybe he will chime in .BTW: I have had the same strip twisting problem at tips and it usually has to do with too little support from the anvil, a hold down that isn't properly centered or angry cane gods.  (Doug Easton)

          Although I can not prove it, I believe when the anvil is too small the cutters can sometimes push down on the strip and separate the enamel from the power fibers.  This results in the strings on the side.  When the strip is better supported, this is less likely to happen.  Just my guess though! (Scott Grady)

      For problems with strings on the sides, check to see how small your tip anvil has become.  If the sides of the strips are too big compared to the size of the anvil, you will get not only strings but also have problems with the strip twisting.

      My suggestion is to resurface the tip anvils and see if that solves the problem. As to the strings on the apex, sanding works well.  I use my flat head cutter.  (Scott Grady)

      If you have a regular set of forms, why don't you try planning a strip of the same cane. It should tell you if you have a MHM or cane problem.  (Don Schneider)

    Had the same problem- it was overflamed cane. I flame hard, and the enamel would get brittle and crack off in long feathers. Not on the apex, but on the other angles.

    You can get rid of them by GENTLY rolling the strips between your bare hands until they come off. Do not do it hard or fast, and the first time you do it have a spare strip or two handy because one might break. This is a very delicate operation for tips. Better to start with a strip that has been flamed gently or just baked in the oven, but you can save overflamed strips.   (Jeff Schaeffer)


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