Bamboo Tips - Tips Area - Planing - Wet

< Home < Tips Area < Planing < Wet



     Tapani Salmi’s Wet Planing Swelling Calculator


I usually soak for about two days. Bamboo flies off like slices of butter! I flame and straighten before soaking (this also helps them slip into the PVC tube). I once forgot a set of strips for almost two weeks. I decided to try them anyway and found that they do not SEEM to soak up any more water than they would in a few days. I would caution you to open the tube outside if they are soaked for more than a few days. Ahh, there's nothing more aromatic (except maybe bong water I've been told) than over soaked bamboo! Maybe because I flame first, a two week soaking did no harm, I don't know. I plane to .040 over final. Bind and throw the strips in the oven to roast out the last of the water. The strips dry fast as you plane and you should let unplaned strips soak in the tube as you plane other strips. At least, that's what I've found. (Mike Shay)


I soak my strips before planing and they do cut a lot easier. I soak overnight. Don't take them out of the water until you are ready to cut them. They dry out fast. And remember to allow for shrinkage. Usually around 20%. (Dave LeClair)


I have made half a dozen rods using soaking prior to planing (I use the Morgan handmill). I have had other experienced builders suggest 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, as appropriate times for soaking, and tried them all. What I do now is if I think about it before hand,  I throw the strips in the PVC tube the night before (8-10 hours soak), which works great-probably the best of all. I wipe the strips down with an old cloth (wearing leather gloves to protect against the inevitable splinters ), and then I plane to rough dimensions (about 20-25% oversized) while wet, then heat treat. I have found that only the outer cane soaks up the water; by the time I'm near rough dimensions the cane is very dry again. Then I heat temper, and do the final planing to specs.

I like starting with wet strips and ending with dry (very dry) strips ready for the oven.

Four hours soaking and the cane is a little too dry. More than twelve hours seems too much, though I haven't tried it.

That's how I do it. (Chris Obuchowski)


Actually, the 20% shrinkage quoted by some (after wet planing) sounded very large to me and the anecdotal evidence that I have seen so far says it is too big. I'll bet that when they said 20%, that was meant to include three things:

1. The shrinkage caused by drying soaked, bloated strips (that looks like 5% to me now)

2. The shrinkage you get anyway by heat-treating "dry" strips - the binding thread definitely loosens up

3. The oversize you need to leave for final planing.

Adding all of those up, the 20% sounds more reasonable - you just use a straight .030 for that. (Jerry Madigan)


I just finished several rods that had been soaked and wet planed. I can't tell you how great it went. That made me think, what are the pro's and con's? Perhaps a thread and maybe even someone could begin documenting some of the process that has proven to be effective. This especially since (to my knowledge) this is reasonably new in terms of writings at least. Thoughts?  (Doug Hall)

    The only con I can think of involves the heating of the strips. If you straighten and then soak and rough taper your strips, you will get the pressed nodes to return a bit when you heat treat before final planing. If you soak and then straighten, your nodes will be dry and may chip when you plane them. I have yet to figure out the perfect routine for this. I would like to know what others do.

    I myself split or saw out the strips; flame; straighten, press, and file the nodes; bevel strips to 60 or 90 degrees; soak strips for 48 hours; rough strips to within 10-15% of final dimensions; heat treat for 1 hour at 225 and 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees; press nodes and straighten again if needed; and then final plane.

    Am I making things too hard on myself? (Bob Maulucci)

      Interesting to see how other people carry out this process. I file and sand the nodes, then split, then straighten any kinks but do not worry about sweep type bends. If the splitting has been a little cautious (wide strips) I will soak for 8 hours and then rough plane. If the strips are quite close to the right width and there is not much to come off I do not bother to soak. I do not taper the strips before I rough plane as this has caused problems in the oven for me. (one blonde end and one tan end) Soaked strips I hang in the drying cupboard for about 5-6 days and then I heat treat for 7 1/2 minutes at 340 degrees. This takes out the sweeping bends. I keep the sections coming out of the oven straight, so they cool straight , by putting them on the planning form with a couple of pieces of metal on top of them .

      I then sand off the enamel and the nodes flat again before I final plane. I do not press the nodes (some may suggest this means they are a bit obvious as a result but that does not worry me) and try to keep straightening to a minimum in the process. I try to keep the heat gun away from the strips as much as possible as the failures I have had all seem to be associated with pressing nodes or straightening.

      Also my process is fairly simple. (Ian Kearney)

      Probably. If your are planing the last 10 -15% when the strips are heat treated and dry, and when the process is the most critical, a sharp plane makes easy short work of the first 85 - 90% when the process is less critical. I am a newbie to rod making, having only completed 6 rods, but I doubt that I will ever plane wet strips with all the associated steps and trouble just to let my plane iron get too dull to cut easily. Just my $0.02. Everyone must do what one must do. It makes for interesting reading. (Lee Koeser)

        I mentioned this before, but when you have some rather old culms that were heat treated many years ago, that cane is really hard. Soaking the strips in these circumstances is a real relief. (Sean McSharry)

    I wanted to try the soaking method for heat straightening and "squaring-up" my strips. I have done two rods this way, but I do not think I will do more.

    It is true that the soaked cane yields much, much more readily during the heat straightening process, but this seems to be more a function of the fibers being wet  and limp than of the heat itself. The result, for me, has been that, while I can easily bend the nodes nice and straight, they do not want to stay that way for long.

    Moving the fibers nicely into alignment because of their water saturation seems to have created an "illusion" for me, whereas it seems that only the application of heat really can really do the job permanently. Moreover, because the saturated nodes can be straightened SO easily, I fear that the fibers may be tearing or shredding without even noticing. I don't know, but I think that heat (a sort of "melting?"), rather than water, is what is wanted to create the pliability that permanent straightening requires. Others can chime in on this.

    Secondly, as to the "squaring-up" process, again it is true that the cane just rolls away before my plane, like butter. But I don't like it. My objections come from something I hadn't anticipated at all. I am so accustomed to the feel of the blade as it cuts, and to the sound the plane makes that I was almost shocked when I cut the wet cane. Suddenly, I felt as if I didn't know what I was doing anymore, because all the sensory feedback that I had almost taken for granted was radically altered. And I just didn't like that.

    Furthermore, filing the outer surface of wet nodes does not go at all well. The file quickly becomes loaded with a gooey slurry of bamboo mush, and before long, all my tools begin to flash over with rust.

    Besides, the feel of cold, clammy cane in my hands is not at all a pleasant sensation, and the growing pile of sloppy, limp shavings coming off the plane almost disgusted me. I had no idea that stuff like this could matter.

    Man! Talk about an old fart who's set in his ways!! So, I thought, "to hell with all this stuff!" (well, in real life, I would never use such language), and it's back to what I know, and what I like. (Bill Harms)

    After the posts on soaking I tried it for the first time last night. My experience was different than what Bill described. I had already sanded and filed the nodes before soaking so I didn't get the problem with the gooey slurry Bill described. The planing went very nicely and it was easy to hog off big shavings when doing my start angles. Overall, much faster from start to finishing with the rough taper. I heat straightened the strips before the planing. It did dry the nodes somewhat but it made it easier for me to straighten without getting any charring or overheating. I didn't have any problems with chipping, even so. Also, I found it made it pretty easy to straighten the long sweeps as well so the strip was very straight when I first started planing and the strips ended up straighter than I usually have seen. Since I used heat to straighten they have stayed straight, at least so far. I did manage to screw up one butt strip due to inattention to detail so I had to plane a dry strip to make up the 6. This gave me a direct comparison and for me I liked planing the wet strips better. I haven't worked them beyond the initial planing and rough taper so I don't know if I will encounter any problems further on in the process. We shall see. So far, though, I like it.

    Thanks for the tips, those of you that sent me info on this. (Jon McAnulty)

    I started soaking solely for the purpose of straightening the nodes. Any planing I do is rough, on the milling machine, to do the start taper, then I bind, and heat treat. I've never noticed any chipping at the nodes that wasn't due to my fault for taking too big a bite with the plane, or having the throat opened too wide. I recall Jon Bokstrom saying that he did not advocate soaking strips solely for the purpose of planing.

    In testing, it takes at least 3 days to get sufficient saturation in the strips to facilitate the straightening process. The water conducts the heat far better than does the raw bamboo, and takes me 45 sec - 1 minute of heat application per node. The nodes don't pop back when heat treating (though this has happened only slightly on rare occasion), and I've never had a strip break at a node. The strips dry quickly in the ambient atmosphere, but are still damp when I run them through the milling machine. There is a marked difference in the amount of energy required to push/pull the strips through the machine, and an audible difference, as well. I've hand planed them for roughing too, and there is a  substantial difference over dry strips. (Martin-Darrell)

      I think the secret is the soaking time. When I soaked for 24 hours I did have nodes pop out again. That was before I started "Displacing" nodes instead of "smashing" them in a vise.

      I find that I don't have any problems with nodes if I soak at least three days. I generally soak 4 days now. It does take very little time over the heat gun to soften the node, you can feel it almost immediately. Sweeps can be taken out without heat. Binding and drying wet strips really helps making straight strips after the 60* angle is planed. It does take extra time to do the soaking and drying but in the long run, it is a lot easier on my arthritic hands. Planing the 60 degrees on wet strips is a real snap.

      The beauty about all this is, do what works for you. The final outcome is the rod to use for fishing regardless of how we do it. I just sent out some strips that have been done "dry" and "wet" to be analyzed. Let's see what the outcome will be. (Tony Spezio)

      I am concerned about nodes that have been straightened while saturated with water. Because node fibers bend into a straight position so easily when thoroughly wet, I wonder if the straightening is "real."

      What I mean is that, because so very little heat is required (sometimes, almost none) to bend bamboo in this saturated state, it seems to me that the straightening is being caused merely by mechanically pushing (or pressing) the fibers where we want them.

      The potential problem, however, was suggested to me by observing what happens to my "straightened" strips after they have cooled down. The slightest reintroduction of either heat or water causes these straight strips to move back toward their previously bent shape. Some nodes bent again only partially; some, almost entirely; none remained straight.

      So, I have no confidence whatever in the strip that has been straightened by virtue of mechanically pushing soggy fibers into a new alignment.

      What I believe is that only heat (thermally induced "plasticizing") will cause fibers to become truly straightened, and to stay that way. The problem with heat-straightening wet fibers, however, is that the process requires so little (and probably, too little) heat. Consequently, I doubt that the necessary plasticizing actually takes place. Because the cane is both soggy AND warm, it becomes extremely pliable, but if you depend upon this process, you will never know whether it is the pushing or the plasticizing that has allowed the straightening to take place.

      If you do not reintroduce heat during the remainder of the building process (to strips that have been "straightened" in this manner), perhaps you will never notice the difference. But what about the finished rod when it begins to absorb moisture and/or high humidity? What about the rod that, inadvertently, is exposed both to high humidity and very warm temps? The fibers in the "straightened" sections will want to return to their original shape as their mechanically induced stresses are relieved, and I fear the rod will take a set. Or, if not a set, what about the likelihood of the rod developing a "spine" or a "jump?"

      Let's hear from some of the more scientifically minded members. (Bill Harms)

        The importance of soaking for 3 days is to allow the strips near saturation. I've posted in the past about the marked difference in the process of straightening/pressing between only a 24 hr. soak and 3 days. When I am straightening soaked strips I have the heat gun set on maximum. This means the temp output is around 1,000° F, probably higher.  The water helps to induce the heat into the bamboo. As you know, bamboo, being cellulose, is an excellent insulator. It only takes 45 sec. - 1 min. for me to have a pliable strip/node. I use the same test as I did on dry strips and that is to flex the strip until it feels plastic. I once pressed some nodes on a strip, then reintroduced them to the water bath overnight to see what would happen. Of course, the nodes swelled, but when I allowed the strip to dry out the nodes were near where I had them after pressing the first time. I've noticed only very little node popping after heat treating, certainly less than I did when I pressed dry nodes, and this is not a reversal of the entire pressing process, rather only a slight bump arising. To repeat the process employed: Soak, straighten/press, rough bevel, bind, heat treat, final plane. The straighten/press, rough bevel, bind, and heat treat usually occur in the same day.

        In the South we have the worst of both high temps and humidity, with the temps reaching over 100° F, while the humidity is simultaneously at 70%, or higher. I've yet to see even the remotest kind of node reversal on any rods, nor on raw blanks that were junked and merely lying about. Inner automobile temps, which go well over 130°, have had no effect, as well. Neither have I seen any rods develop a tendency to take a set that wasn't induced by the angler in flexing the rod to an extreme acute angle over a protracted period of time, such as when landing a large fish.

        You are correct that the heat is the key. I do believe that your fears are founded given that enough heat has not been applied, and only the suppleness of the strip is relied upon to facilitate the straightening process, but not warranted given the proper use of heat. The water merely serves to facilitate the heating process and , in and of itself, should not be relied upon to facilitate any straightening/pressing process. (Martin-Darrell)

        Yes, water greatly facilitates suppleness upon heating. But, yes, too, only sufficient heat will accomplish permanent straightening.

        But if saturated cane becomes sufficiently supple for straightening well before enough heat is applied to accomplish "plasticizing," how shall we know what additional temperatures shall be required?

        It is true that a heat gun set on "high" will product temps of 1000 degrees, and it is also true that water-saturated cane will conduct heat more quickly than would dry cane. But, still, if the suppleness of saturated cane is an unreliable guide, how shall we know if we have applied enough heat to plasticize?

        This issue runs the risk of becoming merely theoretical, but in purely practical terms, I still worry about not accomplishing what I had expected to be accomplishing. Certainly I wish no convey no disrespect, but your success with the process speaks, I think, more to your learned skills in managing these parameters, than perhaps it does to the advisability of the process itself.

        Certainly, heat-straightening saturated cane goes quickly and easily, but I continue to wonder if it is good practice -- especially for those lacking a great deal of experience. (Bill Harms)

          As you stated, perhaps this is simply an academic question... If the cane soaked for 4 days will stay straight, if no bumps return to the nodes during heat-treating, isn't the heat treating itself accomplishing the "plasticizing" results we are hoping for? Does it matter even a little bit whether or not the cane is "plasticized" if it stays straight? (Harry Boyd)

          Well, I'm thinking that if the strips remain straight, then you did it right (whatever that may be). Probably, if you're getting these results, it is because you DID cause the fibers to become plastic.

          My concerns were focused around my limited results, where I did not (and repeatedly) get strips that wanted to remain straight. I was thinking that there are probably a lot of guys out there, merrily wet-straightening

          their strips, and delighted just because those nasty nodes felt pliable.

          As to whether or not heat-treating causes plasticizing, I would think not. Others must correct me, but I think that considerably more heat would be required for plasticizing than you would want to have in your oven.

          But, you know, Harry, if you are actually getting the results that you are after, that is about all you would need to know. Right? (Bill Harms)

          Valid points. I think that my learning this process, and managing those parameters, goes to the very heart of any process used in the making of rods. I can easily see how someone with no prior experience could be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking they had pressed the nodes properly, only to be horrified at some point future that they had not. The same might be said for that same someone who was learning to do dry strips. The difficult part for me when doing dry strips was getting the bamboo to the point of plasticity without burning it. The heat required to transmit sufficient energy into the cane had to be balanced with a heat insufficient to burn the outside, which meant it took a great deal more time to accomplish the task.

          I guess this is just another one of the multitude of things we do in rodmaking, that while the manner may differ, accomplishes the same objective. We each try different things, find what works for us, discard the rest,  then develop the skills from there. Just the nature of the beast, I suppose. (Martin-Darrell)

          I wonder if there is any possibility that some of the differences between your experience and mine (albeit limited to 3 rod sections now done with soaked strips) could relate to underlying differences in the culms? I soaked my strips 4 days and they did appear saturated but they were still pretty robust and springy, not noodles or mushy in any way. I heat straightened on almost max. heat with my heat gun and had the treated area dry on the surface before I got the typical "melting" so that I could straighten it. The main advantage seemed to be that it "melted" and straightened well before I would get surface charring, thus reducing the risk of a burned strip. I was assuming the heat transfer through the water was better and that the production of steam acted a little like a heat buffer to prevent overheating. Is it possible that your culms absorbed more water or had a lower density of power fibers or mold damage or some other factor that would exacerbate the effects of soaking? My experience so far has been exactly like what Jojo described in his previous post. The straightening seems to be a "permanent" effect, or at least as permanent as it ever gets. I also used heat on the long sweeps which seemed to "melt" quicker than the nodes and straightened out incredibly well. I could not straighten the strip at all without heat at the nodes. (Jon McAnulty)

        I, for one, would like to hear more about what is believed to be occurring during "thermally induced plasticizing". Are we actually melting or liquefying a substance such as lignin that re-hardens as it cools, or are

        we merely softening fibers with heat. I know there are varying opinions on this and I, and perhaps others, would be interested in hearing them. (Wayne Kifer)

    Does wet or dry really matter at all?

    All of the old masters used to just file the nodes off. I would think pressing the nodes leaves more meat (wet or dry) than filing and that if the "prone to set" argument held water (no pun intended) all filed rods would take sets. Many do, but many do not.

    Also, if the water is conducting heat better, won't it turn to steam and damage the nodes' structure? (Steve Dunn)

      Does wet or dry really matter at all?

      Apparently only to those of us who do it one way, or the other.

      All of the old masters used to just file the nodes off. I would think pressing the nodes leaves more meat (wet or dry) than filing and that if the "prone to set" argument held water (no pun intended) all filed rods would take sets. Many do, but many do not.

      The pressing of nodes has as much to do with aesthetics as it does anything. There are basically two schools of thought on this. Press the node, leave more meat, and a smaller nodal area, but perhaps damaging the fibers, or file the nodes off smooth, but removing more of the cane in the process thus leaving a larger nodal area, perhaps weakening the structure. Your guess is as good as mine.

      Also, if the water is conducting heat better, won't it turn to steam and damage the nodes' structure?

      Apparently not. The heat treating process doesn't seem to cause any damage, and here we're talking about the whole strip being steam relieved simultaneously. (Martin-Darrell)

    I've only used the method for a couple of rods. My main reason for trying it was that it seemed to be a good way to straighten and flatten nodes without applying too much heat. My reasoning was that excessive heat, or moderate heat applied too often, would be detrimental. So I applied as little heat as possible to achieve pliability.

    I don't really understand the concern that applying heat later would make the strip revert to it's original crookedness. My experience has always been that a second dose of heat will make the unplaned strip revert. That's why I press and straighten at the same time, straightening first and then displacing the node gently in a vise. Once it's planed to final dimension, all the strips seem to glue up straight. I've never had a rod take a set (but it's early days yet). (Bill Hoy)


With latest thread about soaking, etc., has anyone out there tried soaking strips for a day or two then boiling them for about 10-15 minutes then continuing on with node work, straightening, roughing out and heat treating? (John Long)

    According to the Northwestern Bamboo Society (I hope I've got that name right) part of curing bamboo culms is heating a rotating culm while wiping off the oils as they surface. I don't know if this is standard practice for the culms we receive but it would be interesting to know. It would appear that removal of the oils is a significant part of hardening bamboo as I'm led to understand. (Wayne Kifer)

      The volatile oils are to a large degree cooked out of the strips during the heat treating process, depending upon the time/temp used. Cross's tests demonstrated this. No one really seems to know exactly what is occurring with the volatile oils, or what their purpose is, except perhaps as some kind of insect deterrent. It is not clear that the volatile oils have any effect, one way or the other, on the strength, resilience, or deflective capabilities of bamboo.

      To touch on a previous post:

      When the bamboo is sufficiently heated, a plasticization of the lignins occur, the bound moisture is released, leaving hydroxyl groups, strong bonding agents, which then seek each other out, and leave a resulting cross linking. (Martin-Darrell)

        I am wondering if the bonded water also unbonds in very old cane. Perhaps because of even periodic dry, maybe hot conditions. I have this old cane (at least 20 years old) that has been heat treated to an unknown degree, and it is extremely hard. When soaked at length a lot of gunk dissolves out that is dark and malodorous. (Sean McSharry)

      Well, I learned a long time ago to say "I don't know", and you know what? I don't know, Sean. Bound water is usually so at the cellular level and requires some type of process to cause it to unbind, i.e., heat, or chemicals. So, I really don't know, nor do I have any idea of what it is that you are seeing so dark and malodorous. (Martin-Darrell)

      This brings to mind an experience I had while trying to make some strips from Louisiana bamboo -- not Arundinaria Amabilis. It grows wild around here, acres and acres of it. I cut some a few years ago and learned a couple of lessons. First, this bamboo has a waxy outer coating that must be removed to facilitate drying. If the waxy surface isn't cleaned, the bamboo will stay green for months, maybe even years. I've got a short piece in the shop that was cut 6 years ago, and is still green.

      If I remember Luis Marden's work correctly, part of the processing of Tonkin bamboo involves scrubbing with river sand and rinsing in river water to remove a similar coating. I used medium Scotch brite and a water hose.

      Second, the reason I gave up working with this bamboo had nothing to do with whether or not its suitable for making rods. I never got that far. When I split it and started heating to straighten nodes, a gooey ooze ran everywhere. The more I heated, the more it oozed. Right out through the enamel. Perhaps if I had slowly heated and wiped, and heated and wiped, I would have eventually removed much of the oils.

      I eventually cut some of this Louisiana bamboo into strips and made a frame for a bathroom mirror from it. There is no finish on the picture frame. I just heated it, and let the resulting ooze dry. Looks just like I sprayed it with a can of polyurethane...(Harry Boyd)


Finally got to go out to the workshop last night at about 9 PM. It was a tad warm yesterday.... The temperature had worked it's way down to 90 degrees by that time, so I figured it was time.

I soaked. I pressed nodes. I straightened. I rough planed. I intermediate planed.

That's the Hemingway version, appropriately titled, "The Old Man and the Cane." Not what you were expecting based on my previous tales of excitement and horror? All right, here's the long winded version.

After making my way out to the shop, I opened the garage door, and was immediately greeted with a wall of heat... One a 'dese days, gotta get AC installed in the shop! Seems the back wall of the shop is also the front wall of the crawl space, and the heating and cooling duct runs under the floor joist just inside of the crawl space. Note to self: Get ahold of an HVAC guy, and have him run a vent from the duct into the shop.... Anyway, back to the story. I turned on the fan to try and drive out some of the hot air (course it was displaced by more warm air, but hey, at least it felt like a breeze...), and in the mean time, I uncapped my soaking tube. Eeewwwwww! Tony S., you were so right! 'Boo soaking water does tend to take on some odors!!!! As Sir Charles Barkley once stated in a totally dignified commercial, "One must not be malodorous to ones chums." After determining that it was going to be at least another few minutes before the major part of the heat was going to be forced out of the shop, I went back in the house and grabbed a tall glass of ice cold water and pushed myself to get back to the shop. By now the heat in the shop was bearable, so I dumped the water from the soaking tube out into the lawn - hope it don't kill the grass. I pulled two strips out of the tube, laid them on the bench, and set up the work bench for the pressing and straightening portion of this session. Put Tony Spezio's nifty little node pressing vice attachment in the vice (I use a wood vice that's faced with maple, so I had to craft an opposing plate out of aluminum angle stock to ensure enough pressure went to the node that I was pressing. I felt that the wood face would compress more than I wanted and wouldn't give me the optimum compression. Set up the heat gun near the vice, and started heating the strip at the node. Gave it about 30 seconds or so (Thanks Bret for the time factor, it worked out very close to where the cane became plastic. It's an interesting feeling when the strip goes plastic, almost like holding on to a stiff wet noodle), and then cranked the strip down into the vice. I says to meself, "Self, if this works, it's too easy..." While the first strip was cooling in the vice, on the suggestion again from Tony Spezio, I started heating a nodal area on the second strip. Approximately 30 seconds later, I took the first strip out of the vice and clamped the second one in. I looked at the first strip, and lo and behold! The node was flat! The fibers were compressed! And it all smelled like some Asian stir fry ingredient!!! Oh, sorry about that, my wife musta been cooking something  odd for her brother and his friends.

Now, I'm thinking to myself, this is COOL! And so easy! So, I pressed on.... My daughter says my  sense of humor is pretty corny. She's 16 going on 29, and at that stage where Dad just aint cool no more. And she used to laugh at all my jokes. Ahem. Back to the saga. I finished pressing the nodes on the first two strips, and looked at what I had wrought. I was pretty pleased with my self at this point, and felt like a cane master. Uh oh, still have to straighten the strips.... So, I chucked the strips in to the vice again and filed all the nodes down, and that went pretty easily. Geez, a fella could get overconfident here real fast. Cranked up the heat gun again, and sighted down the first strip. OH. MY. GOD. Looked like what's that street in San Fran? Oh yeah, Lombard St. The crookedest street in the world? My Dad drove down that street when we were kids. In a motor home... Tight.... So our family's a little nuts, what can I say? Off track again, back to the 'boo. I pick one of the lesser curves, and put it over the gun, and heat it up, putting a little side pressure on the strip while it was over the heat element. All of a sudden, it turns into that stiff wet noodle. Pliable. Bendy. HOT! So, I hold the strip, bent the opposite direction, with a tad more bend to overcompensate for the original crook. It cools off enough to let the strip go, and I sight down the area where previously there had been a bend. Hallelujah! I have a straight section of cane, which previously had a nice little bend. Okay, lets tackle something with a higher degree of difficulty. I should mention something I previously forgot. I used the same technique for side straightening the nodes as I did for pressing the nodes, and that took about 95% of the jog out of the nodal area, but since I couldn't overcompensate for the bend, it sprung slightly back into a crook. This was the next step. I could handle simple bends, now it was time to work on a complex bend. So, I picked a node that had a slight "S" curve (more like an "S" joint..), and heated the first little bendy. When I felt the cane going "plastic", I bent the first curve, again with a bit of overcompensation and let it cool in my hands. Release the pressure, sight down where the previous crook existed, and now had been sent to the gates of Purgatory. Okay, pretty darned straight there. Now, for the other part of the compound crook, which was about an inch away from the first bend. I heated up that area to the requisite temp, and proceeded to straighten that one. Cool off, sight down the strip. Aw nuts. The heating and bending allowed the first crook to come back in a bit. So, back to the gun for a short bit at the first bend, and re-straighten the first bend. Cool off, sight the strip. You guessed it. Second crook creeped back in a bit. Repeat procedure. Okay, doesn't look bad this time.  Guess you  have to sneak up on it, bit by bit. Looks pretty straight now. Went through the rest of that strip and the other one, heating and straightening. Not knowing what it's like to straighten strips that haven't been soaked before, all-in-all, this way is pretty doggone easy, if you take your time and work the grass.

Okay, now the fun continues. Time to start the rough planing. I've been practice planing on cutoff strips and rejects over the last few days, and was a bit trepidatious. Always wanted to use that word in a sentence in one of my stories. My dictionary has two definitions for the word, 1) trembling movement, and 2) fearful uncertainty. Looks like I was covered by both. This was the real thing. The "rod" strips. Don't mess these ones up, boy. I chunked the roughing forms in the vice, and started planing that first 60 degree bevel in a real rod strip. Hyperventilate, slow the breathing down now, just take it slow and easy. Place the plane on the strip, as flat to the form as you can get it. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket. Wow, the planing soaked cane is like planing balsa! The keen edge of the Stanley 9 1/2 was going through the strip like a hot poker through a marshmallow. Nice and easy, and so smooth! Oooooh this is fun! Not quite the same aromatherapy as planing the cedar, but something more! I was actually in the first stages of creating something, the history flowed through my veins... Okay, maybe it was the caffeine from all the coffee I'd drank yesterday, but it was something! Eventually, after working the strip, I started clamping the strip into the form. Much easier on the hold down thumb. So, for a bit, it was snick, curl, snick, curl. Ahh, this is the way it oughta be. Uh oh, a node snuck in there. Okay, just work the plane through the node nice and easy. Hey, it works. Gotta like that "Scary Sharp" system. I was gonna shave with my plane blade this morning but my wife talked me out of it. Said she wasn't ready to collect my life insurance just yet. Got the first strip roughed out, and moved it to the intermediate forms. Same smooth action through the cane, and work the strip nice and slow. No need to hurry, this is supposed to be a learning experience, and it was. Tony Spezio, thank you for the soaking! What a difference between wet planing and dry planing the strips. It is so much easier to plane bamboo when it's soaked, versus the dry planing I had been practicing. Okay, get a semblance of a 60 degree side, flip the strip and take a couple of passes to get a true 60 degree bevel. Slide the strip up the form, clamp both ends and repeat the process. The first strip came out pretty darned good if I do say so myself. Course, damned near separated my shoulder patting myself on the back after completing the first strip. Okay, on to the second strip. Same methods, same procedures. This time though, about half way through the strip, the plane blade catches on one of the nodes and tears it a bit. Arrggghhh, gotta get me a Hock Blade. Only thing you gotta watch out for wet planing, is the sharpness, or lack of it doesn't show itself as readily as it does planing on a dry strip. There wasn't any of the increased "grabbiness" you can feel as the blade dulls planing dry cane. So, knock down the plane, strap the blade to the Veritas jig, and hit the sandpaper again. Start at 320 grit, go to 600, then 1000, then finish it up with 2000 grit. Hey, I can still see my nose hairs reflecting off the blade! Okay, reassemble the plane, check the blade alignment, and back to planing. Hmmppph, goes right through the node this time. Guess I'll just develop a feel as time goes on as to when the blade needs to be resharpened. Finished up that strip, and set the form aside.

I picked up the first strip and notice a couple of little "wows" over the length of the strip. Checked the second strip, and noticed the same. Fired up the heat gun, and worked the kinks out of the first strip. Ditto for the second strip. Straightening is much easier and quicker on thinner strips.... Took out the trusty caliper, and started taking dimensions at different points along the strip, and most were within 1 - 2 thou of the form setting. Do I like this technique? DO I LIKE THIS TECHNIQUE! Uh, yeah.

Well, by this time, it was almost 11:30.  So,  I figured what the heck. I don't have to get up tomorrow very early. Pulled two more strips out of the soaker, and repeated the process. I'd like to say things went perfectly, but, not exactly. In my short experience planing cane, I've come to find out that, much like wood, there's a definite grain to bamboo, and it likes to be planed one way more so than the other. Ahem. Thank goodness it happened on a thicker strip. I planed down this one strip, and all of a sudden this big peel came off. Ooops, lets get just a little less aggressive with the depth of cut here. Crank the blade back a tad, and try again. Okay, much better.

So. In the period of about 3 1/2 hours, I managed to, a) press nodes, b) straighten, c) more straightening, d) even more straightening, e) file nodes, f) rough bevel g) intermediate plane, and h) more straightening on 4 strips of bamboo. Not a bad evening's work for the first time.

Lessons learned:

  • Press those nodes as hard as you can.
  • Wait until the bamboo feels like a stiff wet noodle before you try to straighten, but don't overheat.
  • Keep the plane blade sharp.
  • Take your time, no need to rush at this stage of the game.
  • Keep your plane blade sharp.
  • Overcompensate the bend a little when you're straightening, bamboo is like spring steel, it'll go back.
  • You can never have too straight a strip - Thanks Nunley-san (Mantra - straighten, straighten, straighten).
  • Keep your plane blade sharp.
  • Anal, I know, but try to get as precise intermediate planing as you would when final planing - it'll make the final planing much easier - you won't be chasing that 60 degrees.
  • Did I say keep your plane blade sharp? (Mark Wendt)

    Nice story, did a lot of laughing.

    You have given me too much credit for the soaking. I picked it up from a post on the list when I first got on it. I was real hesitant to soak till I had a hard time planing dry strips due to the arthritis in my hands. I really don't remember who mentioned it but Steve Trauthwein finally got me to try it. This also goes for the Drain Tube.

    Who posted it way back then might reply, they have my thanks. I don't want credit for something that I did not come up with. Glad it worked for you, I did tell you about the smell if you don't change water everyday when it is hot. Harry Boyd also mentioned this back some time ago. (Tony Spezio)

      I know, I know, you warned me about the, shall I say, perfume, of the soaked cane. But hoo boy... I grew up right next to a farm that raised cattle and pigs. Pigs really can work up a stink, but cracking open the soak tube was another story all together.....

      I just wanted to give you the credit for talking a rank beginner such as meself into a method that is easier than the old tried and true. If it wasn't for folks like you and the other extremely helpful folks on the list, like M-D, Joe Byrd, Bob Nunley, Bob Maulucci, and too many others, I'd still be reading the Garrison "Bible" and wondering if I could ever do this kind of thing. You may not have originally come up with the soaking idea, but your article in Power Fibers about the node press, and emails back and forth got me going down this "slippery slope"... All I can say to you and everyone else who has helped me to this point is a big "THANK YOU"! (Mark Wendt)

        I just noticed that in my last message I left out two extremely helpful people to me - Rev. Harry Boyd and Don Schneider. Harry for 'splainin' some of the simple to him, complex to me things, and Don, for helping me get my forms set up correctly and other advise. Thanks guys, from the bottom of my heart. (Mark Wendt)

    Sounds like you are going to do OK here with this travel in bamboo. Now don't get too over confident like I and others have and get in a hurry. Let me tell you it sucks when you have everything out of the glue and all sanded down with the first coat of tung oil on the rod sections and in your haste you break a section. When it happened to me I just put the rod down and went upstairs for a beer and a sandwich and came back a day later telling myself, "Over and over slow down!" (Bret Reiter)

      I know all about impatience and craftsmanship. I scratch build model airplanes too, and I'm always reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the ride. After all, what's the sense in doing this type of work if you're in a hurry (no offense intended to the professionals on the list, I only meant this to myself being a hobbyist at this, with no intention of ever trying to do it for a living.  You guys know what you have to do, where you can save time, and hurry slowly). Besides, it's 104 degrees here right now, how can I go fast? (Mark Wendt)

    I am very happy to get a thanks from you. I work really hard on rods, and I hope my info never screws anyone up. I will tell you what I have been doing lately for straighter blanks. (I will probably take some pics and publish this in Power Fibers.

    I make mostly all quads nowadays, and I will be the first one to say they are a pain to get straight, since they are all twice as thick across the flats as a hex rod would be. For example a normal quad butt is .320+ across the flats. That is a big strip to straighten. I got some great ideas from Chris Bogart and Max Satoh during their demonstrations at Grayrock. When I returned home, I wanted to have some time to put these ideas to work. I was looking on my bench, and I saw some square balsa wood dowels that I had lying around from a school science project I helped the kids on. We designed a bridge. I though, wouldn't it be nice to have perfect bamboo square strips before trying to plane a rod out of them? I went out and bought a thickness planer and some wood.


    • I spilt out 8 strips for the butts and 16 for tips using the 8 way Hida splitter I have. For the tips, I use a froe and Bob Nunley's hand held splitting technique. Could I get more strips, sure. But I have decided that it is easier for me to try to work with bigger strips than to hope my strips are big enough after the following procedure. Cane is cheaper than any part of my building process.
    • I sand off the nodes, and I run the strips through the thickness planer to get the pith side flat.
    • I made a 5' form with 4 adjustable screws. They are a 1.5 by 1.5" piece of maple cut into two pieces. Looks like a wooden form with no groove. Very much like Max's "Slash" jig, but with no angle, just a straight cut between the two sides. The screws are 1/4" #20 and fit into little metal inserts that fit in one side of the form. I ran the form through the thickness planer to get it so that there was about 3/8" from the screws to the top of the form.

      I slip a piece of cane between the two sides of the form so that the strip rests on the screws. I tighten the screws so the strip is rather flush to the sides. The strip protrudes out of the top just a bit. I then run the strips in the form through my thickness planer, but you could use a bench plane or block plane as well. After a few passes, you get a strip that is a nice 90 degrees to the enamel side all the way down the strip. You are not going to cut across many fibers, the strip is still pretty crooked because it pushes down into the form as it passes through the planer.
    • Then I run the strip through my JW Beveler (the same as Al Medved's wonderful design) using the squaring block. I cut the other side of the strip down closer towards final dimensions. I stop at about .040" over sized (from the butt end dimensions) just to have room for error.
    • Now, I have 8 or 16 perfectly square strips. Because I have taken passes over the node edges,  they straighten out a bit. I have hardly had to straighten the strips at the nodes since doing the above procedure. I heat the bends and twists and use Max's tamegi straightener to get the kinks out. It works super.
    • I bought some 4' long 1/2 by 1/2" steel angle stock from Home Depot. I bind the strips firmly to the angle stock and heat treat for 8 minutes at 375 degrees. The strips are now very straight, and I run them through the Medved beveler to put the rough angles in.  (If I  am doing  a hex rod,  I  use M-D's wonderful straightening fixture after the 60 degrees are in the strips.) I would like to build a Smithwick design binder to do the strips in the fixture or angle stock. I will make it with a big through hole to accommodate the fixture. This will eliminate having to do it by hand. So what does this do.

    I get straighter strips. I have perfectly squared strips before putting any angles into the strip. I am not throwing the apex around planing down the strips because they are pretty close to the right width when they are square. The strips sit better in the beveler when I am roughing them out. The nodes need little or no straightening. The strips are big enough and a workable size, so that I can use a fixture to help get them straighter. I am not killing myself trying to get more strips out of a culm than I need. (You can download an article here)

    Yes, there are some who will cry that there is some slight areas where run out occurs. See George Barnes upcoming new book to see what he says about this. Run out will happen no matter what you do to try to avoid it. It is really making better strips for me. To paraphrase Frost, "I choose the lesser traveled path, and it has made all the difference." (Bob Maulucci)


I normally soak my cane but I did now want to wait 4 days. This time I tried the Bob Nunley impregnation method only with water instead of varnish. The advantage is that if it blows up you do not have to stand naked in your garage and bath in paint thinner. After a few minutes the cane seemed to be soaked very deep. I don't know how much pressure my gauge is broken on my 12 volt pump. But when I pressed the nodes it worked well. I did put 2 valves on mine one large one to but the cane in and one small one that has the valve just past it so both can be shut and you should have pressure protection to 160 lbs or more. It sure speeds up the process. (David Ray)


After several recommendations I made an experiment by soaking some short test strips for 5 days and then planed them to hex shape. The planing was really as easy as expected. I measured several points of the strips and made a regular heat treating in the kitchen oven. The mean shrinkage of the diameter was 6.5%. Is this a constant value? Could you make a 6.5% wider taper from soaked cane and heat treat to final diameters with no planing of the hard cane? I did not measure the lengths of the test strips - is there measurements about the shrinking of the length? (Tapani Salmi)

    I believe most builders who are soaking strips leave them .025 to .030 larger then final dimension, then heat treat, then plane final dimensions on dry cane. (Steve Trauthwein)

    What I do is plane all the strips on the butt section side of the form while the strips are still wet. I feel if all the strips are about the same size they will heat treat the same. The butt side of the forms is set .025 oversize and all the strips are planed to that size.

    I do dry the strips in the oven before heat treating. Binding them with the pith side our seems to dry the strips real good. This also really helps to straighten the strips. The final planing goes real fast, since there is a lot less bamboo to plane off. (Tony Spezio)


I just rough planed my first soaked butt strips a couple of days ago and getting ready to work on the mids and trying to decide how to size them. I was wondering what shrinkage to really expect. I don't want to just overestimate. I know the the figure of 20% has been discussed. So far, with two days of drying, my butt strips are only down about 4%. What have you soakers experienced? (Jerry Madigan)

    I started soaking after much deliberating a while with my 4th. rod. I will never go back to dry planing. I am approaching rod 50 now.

    This what I do. If it works for you have at it. I Soak the sticks for about 4 days. Straighten, flatten and bevel the 60 degree all at one time. I have a home made 60 degree hand beveler that can take .030 on a pass. I straighten and bevel two strips then two more till I have all 18 done. This takes about 1:45. From the 60 degree beveler I go right to the planing form and hand plane to about .030 over size. I just eyeball the oversize. These strips are still wet. I then bind them with the pith side out and put them in the oven at about 190 to 200 degrees F. When I don't see any more water vapor coming out I remove the bundles, open and rebind with the enamel side out. Go right to heat treat, 375 degrees F for 12 minuets, six and six. These are blond rods. Come out with a nice honey color. From there, I scrape the enamel, finish the taper and glue. Can do this all in a 4 hour session. I pace myself so I can heat treat, plane the taper and glue in one session. That way, I don't need to worry about moisture entering. I live 50' from the river. If I don't do it all in one session I hang the wet bundles and dry them the next day and finish with gluing the blank.

    I know this may not answer your question on how much oversize to leave the strips but I have not had any go undersize. The final dry planning takes from five to seven minuets a strip. I plane till I start to scrape metal. Then finish off scraping with single edge razor blade. The longest time in this procedure is the four days of soaking. I have been able to start in the morning and have a blank glued up my mid afternoon. Crappy blanks, heck no, very seldom do I see a sign of a glue line and the blanks come out within .002. Heck, I'm not perfect Getting back to the oversize, I plane the wet strip in the form till I see a definite taper, I think if I would go about six or seven more passes on each side I would probably start to hit metal. I really don't think there is much shrinkage as you would expect. Did not intend to rave on this long, just was amazed at the difference in wet and dry planing. (Tony Spezio)

      Actually, the 20% shrinkage quoted by some sounded very large to me and the anecdotal evidence that I have seen so far says it is too big. I'll bet that when they said 20%, that was meant to include three things:

      1. The shrinkage caused by drying soaked, bloated strips (that looks like 5% to me now)

      2. The shrinkage you get anyway by heat-treating "dry" strips - the binding thread definitely loosens up

      3. The oversize you need to leave for final planing.

      Adding all of those up, the 20% sounds more reasonable - you just use a straight .030 for that. (Jerry Madigan)


I prep nodes/split and briefly straighten the major kinks in the strips before soaking (otherwise you'll have some problems fitting a lot of crooked strips in a 2" ABS pipe).

Rough planing goes quickly. If you let the strips sit out for a few hours, the 'oozing' of saturated cane disappears quite rapidly. In fact, if you take all six (or four) strips out of the water at the same time to plane, you'll find that by the fourth or fifth strip, the cane has dried somewhat.

I then bind the strips and put them in  the oven  (I use 350 degrees) x 12-16 minutes, flipped on end (air gun oven) at half time. They come out straight and crispy for me. You'll have to experiment with  what temperature  and duration will work for you. I've put a cut soaked scrap strip that was prepared as the others in an airtight jar, allowing equilibration with a hygrometer (like those in a humidor). I've been amazed with this experimentation on how quickly bamboo can be dried with my air gun oven. You can do the same with a weighing technique. (Mark Lee)


After soaking and node pressing and heat treating, does anyone resoak before final planning, or is that counterproductive as far as nodes popping back up. They sure do rough plane easy when wet. For those of you that use a no 2 bench plane for planing (Darryl?) what angle are you sharpening at. Lie-Nielson ships with a 25 degrees blade. (Mark Bolan)

    It really doesn't matter what angle you sharpen a bench plane blade as long as it's steeper than the angle the blade is held in the plane. A bench plane blade is held in the plane bevel down so the angle the blade meets the bamboo has nothing to do with the angle of the bevel. You do have to find the right adjustment for the chip breaker though. (Darryl Hayashida)


I was wondering how long some of you soak your strips for before straightening and planing.  Anything I should watch out for when doing this?  I remember Harry having written that he added a bit of bleach to his bath in his rodmaking series and that he did soaked them 24 hours in advance of straightening.  Also, is there an upper limit to soaking that I should not go beyond?  Can I leave strips in for a while if I cannot get to them right away?  (Carl DiNardo)

    3-4 days.  Cane is tough stuff and needs a little drowning to teach it a lesson. Hit it with heat for 1 minute and press.  (Adam Vigil)

    On the advice of Tony Spezio, I've been soaking my strips for about 5 days.  I have left them in the soak tube longer, up to three weeks.  The first time I soaked strips, I didn't quite follow "all" of Tony's advice - I forgot to add the cap of bleach to the solution.  When I went to open the soak tube, I was greeted with, well,  you could call it an overpowering stench...  Since then, I've added a capful of bleach to the water before sealing the tube, and it's worked just dandy.  No foul vapors, and it helps cut down on the mold and mildew growth if you happen to leave the strips in the water for an extended period of time.  (Mark Wendt)

    And that should be Chlorine Bleach.  If your laundry person uses one of the Oxygen bleaches, such as OxyClean, this will not work to keep your wet bamboo mildew-free.

    Another substance that will work equally well is tincture  of iodine - although this may stain the bamboo a bit.  As I remember, 8 drops per quart is the ratio to sterilize water.  Remember the brown stuff that doctors rinsed their hands with before surgery?  Betadine.  Again, use 8 drops per quart to sanitize the water.  Buy it at most any pharmacy.  (Claude Freaner)

    Just recently soaked up a bunch of strips (5 rods worth) in preparation for planing on the MHM.  I normally don't like to let them go more than 4-5 days, but had a family situation arise and they were in there for about 8-9 days.  The smell was horrible, but the strips planed beautifully.  Just a little mold on the ends of about 5 strips.  Wiped em off and went to town planing them.  They are glued up now and I see no noticeable differences in the rod sections.  (Joe Byrd)


I joined the rodmakers just a few days ago. So I’d like to introduce myself with a few words:  My name is Sascha Benninghoff and I’m living in a small village near Augsburg (Germany), about 30 miles from Munich. I’m 32 years old and I started fly fishing about 5 years ago. Last year I got my first bamboo rod and was fascinated by the natural material. From one day to another I knew, that I had to make a bamboo rod on my own. So I started with my first  rod in February.

Since I didn’t have much time, I started planing this week. I heard planing is much easier when the bamboo is wet. (put in water for some hours) Is there anybody who has experience with that. How do you plane the bamboo strips?  (Sascha Benninghoff)

    I soak the strips for about 2 days, then I straighten the strips and put a 60 degree triangle into them with no taper.   I then bind the strips and heat treat.  I have been using this method for about the last 6 rods I have made and it works great.  I place the rough bamboo strips in to a 5" of 6" wide PVC tube to soak.  I have noticed and that if you leave them in the tube for too long (5 days or more) the strips start to smell.  I have tried adding a small amount of household bleach to the water and it takes care of the smell.    (Mark Babiy)


Spaghetti is a food product which for me conjures up two distinct mental images: the first and most common is a a long cooked noodle which is extremely limp, and the other although less likely is a stick of pasta which is Uncooked and will snap if flexed.

In the course of my reading of the tips, and the lists, and in my communications with some members of the list, the practice of soaking strips of bamboo in water for a period of time is said to produce strips like spaghetti.  Now I know they don't mean that the strips will be covered with red sauce and taste good and the intention is not to snap the bamboo; so I therefore conclude they are suggesting the the strips will be  extremely flexible after a period of soaking and can therefor be easily pressed to straighten to straighten them. 

Well I have soaked my bamboo strips (five days now) and they do not seem any more flexible. I do find that they swell up considerably.  Using a heat gun on low setting I practiced pressing nodes (with a notch in my vise) and I have practiced straightening them as well. I worked with both wet and dry samples for several hours and have not yet seen any real advantage of the soaking, but I will not reach any definitive conclusions until I start the tapering process which of course is where the butter analogy comes in because the proponents of soaking say that the cutters or blades will perform like a "knife through butter".

Now for my questions... what is it that I am missing concerning the spaghetti analogy??  If I heat a dry strip I can press it in a vise and it is straight and cool enough to remove by the time the next one is ready. The same is true of the wet strip except that when I press it, moisture comes out (and that seems to be the only similarity I can see to the spaghetti). If I flex the wet strip in my hands it seems like wet spring steel same as the unsoaked, dry bamboo.  Tomorrow I will experiment with heating the wet bamboo and flexing it to compare it to the unheated wet although I think I did that and noticed no difference.

So what do you mean by spaghetti? What's the advantage?  I'm not trying to start  a debate about wet versus dry for I understand this is one of those hotly contested issues.  I'm not trying to be a wise guy either; I'm just another confused beginner with no one here to show me, trying to find out what works best for him.  (Dick Steinbach)

    Disclaimer first.... I no longer soak my strips before straightening and pressing.  Why?  Well, I've done a few thousand nodes and found that I can skip that step and not extend the process by adding one more step.

    That doesn't mean that soaking does not work.  Soaking the strips makes them much less likely to char when heated.  The moisture in the cane also "seems" to  allow them to heat up to the point of plasticity (is that a word?) more quickly.  Carpenters have been using wet heat to bend wood for lotsa years.

    A coupla things you mentioned gave me clues as to your problems.  First, you mentioned your heat gun is on the low setting.  With my Wagner heat gun on high, I found that it took 25-30 seconds of heating the strip from 1" to 1.5" above the nozzle the get the wet strip warm enough.  If your gun is on the lowest setting, it has to take you several minutes to get the strip warm enough.  Try this little test.  Split a strip of bamboo and keep it as a test strip.  No heat, no soaking.  Before heating each strip, bend the test strip.  Note the feel.  How much pressure does it take to bend towards the pith?  towards the enamel?  towards each side?  It really is a feel thing, but feel can be learned more quickly than we might imagine.    Now, heat the strip of bamboo you plan to use in your rod with the aforementioned test fresh in your mind.  Constantly flex the strip as it is being heated.  Never go more than 5 second without flexing it.  The  - instant -  it flexes more easily than the test strip, it's warm enough to straighten and displace nodes.  With your heat gun on high, that should be about 30 seconds for soaked strips, and about 45 seconds for a dry strip.

    Second, you say that moisture comes out of your soaked strips when pressed in the vice.  You just plain don't have them warm all the way through.  Solution?  You guessed it.  Higher heat.

    Finally, the "knife through butter" analogy refers to how easily the wet bamboo planes.  If you're roughing by hand, you really can take bigger shavings without damaging your bamboo or tearing out your shoulder muscles with wet bamboo.  Since I machine bevel to rough triangles, that's no longer an advantage for me.  (Harry Boyd)


For those of you who soak your cane prior to planing I have a couple questions, especially you Tony.

1. First, at what point in the process do you heat treat the cane?  Before planing or after planing to within about 10-20% of final values?

2. When you heat the cane to drive off the water after whatever is you last step at what temp do you do it? This is assuming that heat treating is not your last step.  (Larry Puckett)

    Here is what I do and get real good results.

    The cane is split, nodes staggered and strips cut to length. Using a small drum sander in the drill press, the inner nodes are sanded off leaving a half moon recess. This is for "displacing the nodes". I do nothing to the outer nodes at this time.

    The strips are placed in a PVC tube filled with water.

    I soak five days changing the water every day if in the summer and every other day in cooler weather.

    After five days, the strips are removed two at a time from the soaking tube and made ready for rough planing.  The nodes are displaced, the ridge filed off and the strip rough beveled in what ever method you use be it by hand or power. The strips have a tendency to dry pretty fast. I also start the taper in the metal forms at this time. Wet bamboo planes off like butter with a warm knife.

    When all strips are beveled, they are bound in MD's fixtures and oven dried. Before I had the fixtures the strips were bound together as you would do for heat treating, I bind my strips for drying with the pith side out. I may be wrong but doing this will release the moisture from the strips faster. The bound strips are placed in the oven at 125 degrees F till dry.  The door on the oven is cracked open so that the vapor can leave the inside of the oven.  This will take a while to dry the strips. A mirror is used at the oven opening to check for vapor. When no more vapor shows on the mirror, I assume the strips are dry. You will find the binding thread will be loose from the shrinkage of the strips. The strips are rebound and readied for heat treating. In my case, I reset the oven for 450 degrees F to allow for temp drop when putting the fixtures with strips back in the oven. When the temp is up to 450 degrees F the strips are put back in the oven and the thermostat is set to 375 degrees F and the timing is started. The temp will go down to 375 degrees F very fast. I heat treat 12 minutes @ 375 degrees F for unflamed rods and 8 minuets for flamed rods. All of this is done before the final planing

    I have been using this method for five years and am satisfied with the results.

    The extra time for soaking and drying to me is worth not having the hassle of node chipping and blade sharpening. I have found five days is about right for 1/4" strips to be soaked enough to plane most of the wet bamboo off for rough planing.

    Hope this answers your question. Feel free to ask of you are not sure about what is written.  (Tony Spezio)


Last week I split out some more strips for another rod and was having a devil of a time getting them straightened.  I kept charring the nodes and even breaking a few.  So before I screwed up the whole batch I decided to take the advice of some of the posts and soak my strips. 

How long is too long to soak them? 

I put them in tubes filled with water Friday morning, but it may not be until next weekend before I have enough time to straighten, rough bevel, bind, and heat treat them.  That would be 8 days in water.  Am I going to mess them up by leaving them that long.  My other option is to work on them tomorrow, but that would only be 2 days in water.  Which is safer?  (Aaron Gaffney)

    If your strips are in the water 8 days, it will not hurt a thing.  You might want to add a teaspoon or so of chlorine bleach to prevent the water from getting quite so disgusting.  (Harry Boyd)


If you soak some strips in a tube of water and forget you put them there for 14 days they don't smell very nice.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    Apparently you didn't get that far reading in the tips archive!  ;^)

    It's a...well....interesting odor, isn't it?  (Todd Talsma)

    Add a capful or two of bleach to the tube, and no stinky.  (Mark Wendt)

      Be sure to test the strips.  If you soak them too long, (like 2 months) the bacteria or whatever is growing will weaken them and they will loose strength.  But I don't think 2 weeks is anything to worry about.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

        To that point - I lost a whole culm of strips that soaked in water with a little bleach for almost two weeks - got busy with other stuff.  I noticed a grayish color to them when I was running them through the beveler.  Picked one up the next evening after they had dried, bent it and it failed without much of a load.  Picked up a few more and they all failed.  Chunked the whole batch and started over.  Not sure if it was excessive soaking or just a bad stick but I won't be soaking more than 24 hours again.  (David Bolin)

          Probably bad cane.  I've inadvertently left cane in the soak tube a couple of times for longer than 2 weeks, and I do use a couple of capfuls of bleach when I soak.  Took the cane out of the soak tube, and didn't have any problems with it.  I normally soak for 5 days.  (Mark Wendt)


Years ago Tony Spezio talked me into trying soaking, been doing it ever since. Due to laziness I have discovered that leaving the splits in the water for a fortnight will have no influence on the final product. A tablespoon of some form of chlorine bleach into the water will reduce the possibility of fungi (rotten water) without doing any harm to the splits.

I heat treat the whole bamboo before splitting, consequently after planing and node treating "a la" Tony, I dry the strips i my lacquer drying closet for 4-5 days. This seems to dry out all moisture from the splits.

Just a few changes due to my slightly different way of preparing the strips for final planing.

Moral: Heating, soaking and planing works as well.  (Carsten Jorgensen)

    My routine is currently more like Tony's than Carsten's.

    I started out soaking strips for a week or so, but Don Schneider soaks for only 24 hr, and he convinced me to try shorter soaking times.  I've found that you get nearly all of the benefits with just a 24 hr soaking time, and you don't have to worry about stuff growing in your soaking tube (or in your strips).  When you think about it, our "power fibers" are vascular bundles, and contain tubes that wick the water the length of the strips in very little time.  That was one of their primary functions when the plant was alive.

    This also serves to dry the strips out.  I have weighed strips as they air dry and found that they stop losing weight after 2-4 days in the shop, depending on the temperature and humidity.  If it's a warm sunny day and you set them out in the sun, they can dry out in a day.

    I use a slightly different order.  I split and prep nodes for straightening, soak, straighten and rough plane while the strips are wet, air dry the strips for a couple of days, bind and heat treat, then final plane.

    I use a heat gun oven, bind with nylon to keep tension on the nodes as the strips shrink, and slowly raise the temperature up to 300 degrees,  then hold the temp at 200-325 for 15-20 minutes.  (Robert Kope)

      I find that the strips are not soaked all the way through with just one day of soaking. About two passes with the plane and I am down to dry bamboo. I will give 24 hours a try again on the next rod and see how it goes.  (Tony Spezio)

        I agree.  When I tried soaking even for 48 hours the strip were not thoroughly saturated.  (Al Baldauski)

          I am going to try the hot water and see if that will do it. If not, I will go back to five days. If I split tip strips down the 3/16" I can get by with three days. For 1/4" or larger, I find five days to be about the best time.

          We do what works for us, that's what counts.  (Tony Spezio)

        Try hot water. For me, the hotter the water the faster the bamboo soaks it up. Try putting the strips in a tube and fill with boiling water.  The strips are ready to plane in a few hours. You'll be surprised how much the water level drops in a short period of time compared to using cold water.  (Don Schneider)

          Will give it a try, no reason not to. I would like to cut down the soaking time. If it works for you there should be no reason for it not to work for me.  (Tony Spezio)

            The April 05 Power Fibers has an article on steambox use to quickly soak strips. I put mine through a power beveler and then steam them for a half hour or less and they are ready to go. 

            I know the article is rambling in the first few paragraphs (which might put the reader off) but the concept is sound and the pictures tell the story.  The machine works quickly and effectively, save time and allows you to do as many strips as you want when you want.  Put the water on to boil, put in a few strips and plane or mill as you prefer.  (Dick Steinbach)

              Lee Valley sells a steam generator for steam boxes for bending wood.  It consists of an electric teapot with a piece of aluminum pipe that fits snugly in the spout.  I bought one about a year ago, but haven't tried it out yet.  (Robert Kope)

              Be sure to allow for the shrinkage that occurs when the strips dry!  I was planing, wet, close to finish size (0.015) That was not enough slop! I now have a 7' instead of a 7'6" strips to glue. I suggest (0.025) minimum! Other than that planing wet is great. I soak my strips in a PVC tube with a cap and add a little of bleach. You can soak for months with a little bleach.  (Olaf Borge)

                After reading all of the testimonials on planing wet, I was almost convinced to try it until Olaf Borge's last missive got to me.  Do you mean that all have to be  planed .025 larger than spec?  Just pick a figure out of the air, or wait until all have dried and replane?  I don't think so much of the idea now.  (Ralph Moon)

                  Silly question, probably, but do the wet strips promote rust in the form groove?  This sounds like a great idea, but living in humid Florida I'm always working to keep rust off my tools.    (Bill Benham)

                    I have not had any rust problems and I live on the White River. Lots of fog in the summer mornings and evenings. Pretty humid during those times too. By the time you do the nodes, straighten and get ready to plane, the outer part of the strips are pretty dry. Normal care has to be taken with the metal forms to prevent rust, no more than you would need when storing them.

                    I rough plane then go to the metal forms for the partial taper before drying the strips.  It works for me.  (Tony Spezio)

                    I guess I should 'fess up here. Most of my wet planing is done on a Morgan Hand Mill. I have no problem with the rail, but the planing unit does rust up fairly quickly. A little steel wool and everything looks perfect again if I forget to spritz it with WD-40.  (Darryl Hayashida)

                  I forget which book I read that suggested you plane in  three steps, rough, intermediate and then final. I plane wet to the intermediate step then let the strips DRY and then final plane. My form has no rust and I soak in cold water!  (Olaf Borge)

                  I only do the hot water dunk for all of the steps up to heat treating. I wouldn't recommend the process for planning the taper because all bamboo is different and you have no idea how much shrinkage you will have. Just my .02 cents worth.  (Don Schneider)

                    Same here Don, I only rough plane wet strips.

                    After heat treating I try to keep the strips dry as I can. I had a hard time convincing myself to soak the first time. The plane cut so smooth that I never went back to dry rough  planing. I start taper on the soaked strips, then finish the taper dry after heat treating.  (Tony Spezio)

                  We have talked about wet planing off list some time ago. You have strong feelings about it. That is no problem at all. All I can say is give it a try on a scrap strip, then judge for yourself. I set my forms for the finished size. Rough plane and then start the taper in the forms. Dry, heat treat then finish planing the taper. The time I save and the hassle of planing hardened nodes makes up for the time it takes to soak and dry. One of the best things about soaking is the ease of doing the nodes and straightening.  (Tony Spezio)

                  There are a lot of factors in play here, like how long the strips were soaked, what temperature water (boils down to how much water was absorbed by the bamboo I guess). Personally I wet plane until close to final dimensions, dry overnight or longer in a drying cabinet, then final plane dry. The final planing is usually only two or three passes per side.  (Darryl Hayashida)


After years of reading how everyone soaks their strips and for how long, I discovered for myself, that even 48 hours doesn't quite do it. I'd leave them soaking, in warm water, in the tub for three days or more. The result: the strips planed like butter, but we're talking about first planing here, so once beveled and heat treated, it's back to basics.

The other benefit was that of heating and pressing nodes. After this soaking, that process became a joy rather than a chore, and I rarely had any significant nodes raising back up after heat treating in the oven.

Yes, I went through several culms before I got it down and then some. Anyway, that's just my two cents. Give it a try. You've got nothing to lose - the strips will dry up anyway.  (Frank Olivieri)

    Unless a person has tried soaking strips, it is hard to believe the difference.

    One advantage is blade sharpening. I only sharpen the blade before I start a rod, no need to sharpen again till the next rod. That is not using a power beveler, all hand planing. Nodes are a snap on soaked strips. The disadvantage is the soaking and drying time.

    Again, it is not the way it is done in books but new ways are always found.  (Tony Spezio)


I mentioned I soak for five days. I said I would check on the hot water soak for a shorter period of time on the next rod. Here is my report. I just glued up the 101 today.

I started out with hot water when I filled the tube. It stayed hot for a while and then like hot water does, it cooled off after a night of soaking. I let the strips soak for two and a half days.  I noticed the nodes took more heat than I normally use to "displace" them. I happen to be one of those "small node" freaks, LOL.

The strips were fairly straight splits, so no problem with straightening.

I thought, not too bad I might go with hot water and less soaking time. The difference came when rough planing the soaked strips. A few passes of the plane and it was evident that the nodes were not as soft as they are when soaking for a longer period of time and using less heat on the nodes. I think having to use more heat on the nodes hardens them. Had a bit if a problem with nodes chipping. I had to resharpen the iron before finishing the 18 strips. Normally I can rough plane a whole set of soaked strips with just the initial  sharpening. Other than the hardening of the nodes, soaking for less time will be no problem.

Don S. when you soak for 24 hours, are you doing nodeless.

Mike, I did not use the "rig" on these strips, was showing a "newbie" how to rough plane strips using the metal forms as a starting form.

My findings are that I still will soak five days.  (Tony Spezio)

    Again, I agree. Soaking makes for so much easier planing.  I believe that one of the primary problems with straightening nodes comes from the application of too much heat, resulting in a weak area of the cane. Soaking alleviates that to a great degree.  That's my opinion. I believe John Bokstrom was the radical who came up with that idea, and I love people who think outside the box.   (Mike Canazon)

      There are a lot of myths in rodmaking. many of these myths kept me scared about getting started. One of the big ones was the nodes. I had decided long ago that nodes are not weak unless they are mistreated like overheating. My take on "displacing" verses "Flattening", without a place for the bump to go, will weaken the node some. It is like crushing a piece of wood, it will break where it is crushed. When the node is "displaced, you will note the jumbled up power fibers are straightened. The power fibers are in a straight line. By soaking the node all the way through, it takes about 30 to 45 seconds over the heat gun to soften the node, no overheating.  I came up with that idea of displacing, but the soaking came from the list. After reading about keeping the strips as dry as you can, I found it hard to get myself to soak the strips. It only took one time and I was a believer.

      Sanding off the nodes is no problem and is the easiest way to deal with them, I did this on rod #1. I really did not like the results as it showed large nodal areas that bothered me. This rod is over six years old and has seen a lot of use, sanding off the nodes did not seem to hurt anything. As I have said many times, the beauty of this whole thing about rodmaking, you do what you want to do . If it satisfies you, that is all that counts. I just try to share my ideas to who might want to use them. I have only been making rods going on seven years so I still consider myself a "newbie", I do think a bit outside of the box..

      If you don't want problems with nodes, sand them off, cut them out or SOAK them.  (Tony Spezio)

    I only soak strips with nodes. I don't find any reason to soak nodeless. The chopsticks are straight before splicing and strips are straight after splicing.

    With nodeless I make all of the chopsticks the same size regardless of where they will be in the rod. Heat treat all at the same time in my kitchen oven and go on from there.

    With nodes, I prep, soak and straighten with Robert Kope's node press. In my opinion Robert's press happens to be the best tool I've seen for the job.  All you have to do is heat up the node area, put it in the press and pull the handle. By the time you heat up the next node the first one is done. After straightening the nodes, rough plane all the strips to the same size regardless of where they will be in the rod and heat treat in MD's fixture and go on from there.

    Using the above methods I use more bamboo and I do have to sharpen more than you.  (Don Schneider)


I have been soaking my strips after splitting, followed by straightening and rough planing.  Next, I dry and temper the strips followed by final planing.

My question is: does anyone soak the strips after tempering?  It certainly would ease the work in final planing.  Does the strip "swell" as it absorbs water?  Anyone have any experience in this matter?  (Bob McElvain)

    I flame my culms as one of the first things I do, before splitting into strips, so I do soak the strips after heat treating. The strips do swell a bit from soaking, I rough plane fairly close to final dimensions when they are wet, let them dry out in a drying cabinet, then final plane dry.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      How close do you plane before drying?  I know 0.015 isn't enough.  (Olaf Borge)

        You have to do it by percentages since rough planing close to final dimensions involves varying thicknesses. I stop at 15 to 20 percent oversized. Some strips seem like they soften more from soaking. With them I leave at 20% over. Other strips are harder after soaking, on them I might stop at 10 or 15% over before drying. It depends on how much water they absorb. So far I haven't had any strips go undersized after drying, although a few times all I needed was a couple passes and they were at finished dimensions.  (Darryl Hayashida)


Putting the strips for the first rod to soak today and I was wondering about adding bleach. I seem to remember reading that bleaching can increase brittleness. Feedback appreciated. Splitting actually went pretty well. Especially considering the crookedness of the grain in the culm. I split by hand and didn't have much problem getting the split to walk back to where I needed it.  (Wayne Kifer)

    I have been adding a capful of bleach to my soak tubes.  I didn't the first time and the smell after a few days was not very nice.  (Aaron Gaffney)

      I think bleach is a good idea, as well.  Also, make sure the water level covers the strips, and check after a day.  The strips will soak up the water and there will be about 3 or 4 inches of strips above the water line.  It only takes a day or so for those strips to start to get moldy.  (Jason Swan)

        It just occurred to me, when talking about bleach in soaking water which might be better, oxygen or chlorine bleach? It seems that oxygen bleach is less corrosive to organic matter than chlorine, though I may be wrong.  (Rich Jezioro)

          A capful of regular bleach in a tube full of water is diluted quite a bit.  The effects, if any, are pretty minimal.  (Mark Wendt)

        Since I have never soaked my strips, I was wondering if you ever get rust on your planing forms after planing the wet strips.  (Tom Peters)

          I don't because I have a rough beveler that is similar to a MHM.  It is wood.  After soaking I press the nodes (thanks for the tip, Tony) and then bevel.  Then I put the strips in the oven at 130 for a coupla hours before the real heat treating.  However, if you press the nodes first, and only work a couple of strips at a time, they are not really dripping with water.  I don't think it would damage your forms too much, especially if you wipe them down after using them.  Perhaps a bit o' WD-40 in the pin/screw holes before rough planing wouldn't hurt, either.

          Give it a shot.  Roughing them out is really easy when the strips have been soaked for a couple of days.  Pressing nodes is easier, but I have more raise back after heat treating.  I'm going to have to work on that.  I'm sure it is my technique and not the process.  (Jason Swan)

    I  too use bleach to keep the water from getting to stinky, but I wonder what effect it has on the power fibers? We know what it does to your clothes if you add just a little too much.  (Mark Dyba)

    A capful or two won't hurt the cane at all.  If you don't add at least a capful to the soaking tube, and let it sit for more than a couple of days, you will notice a certain "parfum" when you open the tube.  (Mark Wendt)


Do you plane wet strips on your metal forms or do you use a beveler? I am wondering about rusting?  (Timothy Troester)

    I take two strips out of the soaking tube. Displace the nodes and straighten. By this time the outside of the strips are getting pretty dry. Those two strips are then rough planed on the metal forms. No rust problems at all. I plane all strips close to the same size using the butt side of the form. All strips will have a partial taper started. The strips are done two at a time. I don't find doing them this way any hassle at all.  (Tony Spezio)


I know this subject has been beaten to death, but I have a couple of questions regarding soaking, planing, and pressing strips.

I've become a big fan of soaking strips because the rough planing and straightening of nodes is sooooooo much easier.  A couple of questions though...

(1)  I've been heating the nodes over a heat gun and then pressing them to displace/flatten, and then quickly flipping the strip to enamel side up to straighten.  However, after I heat treat my nodes are popping back up and I'm having to file, scrape, sand to get them flat again.  Kind of defeating the purpose of pressing in the first place.  What do you think I might be doing wrong?  Not enough heat?  Not held in the vice long enough?

(2)  This one is kind of for Tony Spezio, but others feel free to chime in.  Tony, you mention starting the taper using the butt side of the form for both butts and tips.  How close to the final butt dimensions to you shoot for in starting the taper on a wet strip?  .020?  .030? .040?  I'd like to try starting the taper wet on my next rod.

That's about all for now...

One other thing.  Does anyone have a source for prefitted 15/64 ferrules?  The prefitted ones on the Golden Witch site are only listed as 13/64.  I don't like lapping ferrules and it would be worth an extra $25-30 to me to not have to screw it up next time.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    Keeping in mind that my opinion and $1.29 plus tax will get you a cup of coffee, I'd leave the nodes in the vise until they are cool then reheat to straighten.  (Neil Savage)

    I took the idea from Tony Spezio to start the taper with wet strips.  I didn't final plane to finished dimensions (or even close).  I set my forms to .060 over final dimensions and started the taper to that point.  I found that after heat treating my strips shrunk by about .020, so I still had .040 to play with and even more on the tips (since I planed both tips and butts to the same rough dimension).  Sorry if my post  wasn't clear.   (Aaron Gaffney)

    p.s.  I Soaked for 5 days.


What is the maximum amount of time that one should soak strips?  I had great intentions to rough out two 2 tip rods this weekend but got side tracked on other things. They have been soaking for about six days and I only have six butt strips roughed out.   (Matt Baun)

    No maximum time that I know of.  I've left strips for 2 - 3 weeks in the soak tube with no adverse reactions.  The cane can only soak up so much water.  (Mark Wendt)

    The only thing to worry about is the smell. LOL  (Tony Spezio)

    I went two weeks once accidentally. No bleach, lovely fragrance! Everything came out fine.  (Mike Shay)

      And, if you open the doors like Mike Canazon does, you end up with a mouse resort, and a private swimming pool for the meeces.  Yeah, it do get stinky without the bleach, don't it?  I learned my lesson the first time.  Forgot to put the bleach in the tube, opened it up, and durn near had to be peeled off the floor.  Quite malodorous.  (Mark Wendt)

      No big problem to change the water every other day. That is what I do instead of using bleach. Whatever works to keep from being knocked out. LOL (Tony Spezio)

      Oh! That fragrance!!

      A little Clorox goes a long, long way!!  (John Dotson)


As threatened, I tried soaking strips.

As some of you know I'm something of a simpleton so instead of constructing yet another piece of plant I chucked the bound strips straight out of the oven into a nearby unsuspecting fishpond. The first lot came out in a couple of days and were not particularly well soaked, but they planed up just noticeably better than normal, hard to say because they had been baked a little darker than I normally do them.

The second lot had been there a week and were easier at first, but even they were not wet all through.  So far, if I didn't have pondage I am still not certain whether I should bother. As it is the things have to be stored somewhere and a pond is as good as anywhere.  This will not last long, very soon the proprietrix of the ponds will start rooting about in the garden.

Lots three and four have been in there for about ten days and as I am currently farting about with bits of plant for nodeless, phase 57 of the Medved development, and sundry trivial things like lighting improvements, ferrule pullers.  They are likely to be there for about three weeks more.  (Robin Haywood)

    I've found bamboo takes up water a lot faster if I use hot water. I have a 1 1/2 inch diameter PVC pipe, put my strips in, and put in hot water from the tap. If I want to plane the next day I switch the cooled water out for hot water about 3 times in an evening. The next day the strips are mostly soaked through. Definitely will be soaked through in 2 days.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I think most people soak before rough planing, which would mean that the bamboo hasn't been heat treated, unless the bamboo has been flamed.  Give it a try on just split strips, not strips that have been heat treated.  You may find them a little easier to soak completely.  (Todd Talsma)


I have gotten some messages about soaking strips. I just want to say, I did not come up with the idea though I have promoted it.

Some years ago (eight) Darryl Hayashida made a mention on the list about soaking strips. I was real hesitant about doing this because of all the info I read about keeping the strips dry. I finally gave it a try and never went back to roughing dry strips. After the fixtures came along, about 7 years ago, drying the strips on the fixtures gave me the straightest strips I have worked with and hardly any node problems. For me, soaking is the only way to go.  (Tony Spezio)

    I wasn't the one that started it either. I can't recall who it was that first mentioned it, but I gave it a try after exchanging emails about it with Tom Morgan. Apparently when he owned Winston they used to prepare bamboo strips by putting them in a high humidity cabinet, which is almost like soaking in water. Tom recommended soaking in water for a few days, so I gave it a try, and like almost everything that I try and find useful I wrote in to this list about it.

    On that note (trying things and having it work out), more people should try planing the enamel side of strips. I don't get limp, soft rods because I touched the sacred Power Fibers....

    And inside flaming really does work. (Darryl Hayashida)

      The first I ever heard about soaking strips prior to planing was from John Bokstrom, at the Corbett Lake NW rodmakers meeting back in 2000.  (Chris Obuchowski)

    Another question occurs to me - Can the strips be bound in a M-D fixture and the whole thing soaked in water? The fixture won't corrode? How about when bleach is in the water?  (Darryl Hayashida)

      I see no reason why that procedure would create problems.  The fixtures are heat-treated and hard anodized.  I don't think the bleach would cause any problems.

      Knowing your creativity I suspect you have something in mind.  Wanna share with the rest of us?   (Harry Boyd)

        I was thinking that since strips swell as they take up water, and they get very pliant when they  are wet,  if they were tightly bound in a M-D fixture the kinks at the nodes might straighten out. Perhaps the straightening happens when it dries out. In any case it would make an interesting experiment.  (Darryl Hayashida)

          How about a way to CLAMP the strips into the fixture/c-clamps - little vice grips - etc - via something like metal strips of some kind to press the strips onto the fixtures?  (John Silveira)

            Awful long clamps.  Using short or small clamps would put pressure points on the strips, and you may end up with a strip kinked worse than you started.  Fortunately, we already have a wonderful clamping system.  It's called a "binder."  (Mark Wendt)

              Yea I know, and I'm really no one to talk about methods,  but I was thinking more along the lines of having a long strip metal about 3/4 inch wide x say 1/8th thick to clamp over the cane full length.  (John Silveira)

          You are correct, they do straighten out. I found drying them in the oven rather than at room temp works a lot better. About the only thing I do is displace the nodes before drying.  (Tony Spezio)

      I have not tried that, it never occurred to me. I would not have any problems as I quit using bleach a long time ago. I just change the water each day.  (Tony Spezio)

    When your dry the strips in the fixtures, is that done in the oven or at room temperature prior to heat treating?  (David Bolin)

      I dry them in the oven set @ 125F.  (Tony Spezio)

        Do you then just raise the temperature to your heat treating temp?  That would help with the drop from putting cold strips and fixtures in the hot oven.  (Neil Savage)

          To answer your question, No I remove them. In one reply I mentioned I put the strips in the fixtures with the pith side out. Reason is that the tight string will leave marks in the soaked strips. By doing this the marks are on the pith side. When the strips are removed from the oven and they are dry, they shrink, the binding is loose. I reset the oven temp for heat treating.  While I am rebinding, the oven temp comes up and the fixtures are put back in the oven. The oven temp is set for 425 degrees F, I get a 50 degree drop when I put the fixtures back in. As soon as I get back down to 375 degrees I start timing.

          BTW, I bind the strips on the fixtures with a slightly modified Garrison binder.  (Tony Spezio)

        I should add, I set the oven cap cocked so that I can check the opening with a mirror. When no more moisture vapor appears on the mirror, I consider the strips dry.  (Tony Spezio)


Last year at the end of summer I put a set of 24 strips (two tip rod plus a few extras in case I had to replace a few) in a pvc pipe to soak. I got side tracked on different projects and just got back to making the rod last week. I was considering tossing out the strips and starting over, but I planed out a strip to see if it was adversely affected. It looked fine, so I went ahead and used them. I just got the glue sanded off the blank, and everything looks good. It isn't ferruled yet (I'm going to put a bamboo sleeve ferrule on it), but when whipping the sections around in the air, they seem just as stiff as other blanks that I have made with only a few days soak.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Bamboo can absorb only so much water.  I left a set of strips in the water for over a month once due to things going on, and they dried out just fine, and made a wonderful rod.  (Mark Wendt)

    Do I understand you make a bamboo sleeve, not an integrated ferrule, but a piece of built cane added on the rod, like a normal ferrule? This interests me very much. Can you describe briefly how you do it?

    Second thing, I made the 5 foot rod you described earlier, and it’s a wonderful rod. I do understand it was made for short casts, but it competently handles longer line without problems. I love it and recommend people who are interested in a short rod to give it a try.  (Geert Poorteman)

      I'm glad you like the taper, it took about five tries before I got a taper I liked. I use it all the time on the small local streams. Some of them are only a few feet across, and any fish over six inches is big.

      I'm still experimenting on the bamboo sleeve ferrule, when (if) I get something that works I will take pictures and post a step by step instruction on how it is done.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    You were lucky nothing untoward started growing on the strips. That will weaken them and they will break like pretzels. I also get sidetracked so I always use a little bleach in the water. Perhaps your pre-split flaming  helps prevent prevent the problem, as well.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      I put a couple tablespoons of bleach in the water when I start soaking, so it wasn't bad. The water was brown, looked a little like weak tea.  (Darryl Hayashida)


When I first started making rods about 5 years ago, I tried soaking my strips and agree that it makes rough planing a lot easier.  Then I made a Medved beveler and have used it with dry strips ever since. On occasion, I've considered using soaked strips in it but I've been concerned about using wet strips in a power tool.  Something about water and electricity makes me uncomfortable.  Do any of you Medved beveler users use wet strips?  (Mark Lenarz)

    The effect is interesting. You get sort of a sludge that builds up around the bit, and there is less dust. But it is perfectly safe and there is not enough moisture to short anything out. You will need to dry off the router bit after use or the sludge will dry and adhere to the bit. No problem with doing them wet.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    Yes Mark, I think many of us soak and use powered roughers. Just  throw the strips on the floor for a day after you press and  straighten and they dry out. Then you can rough without the sludgies.  (Jerry Foster)

      I agree. The only reason I soak strips is to press and straighten nodes so the strips don't get scorched. I only soak strips over night. All I need is enough moisture to help the heated moisture penetrate the strip. Planing mush strips is not my cup of tea. To me, heating strips is accumulative destruction of the bamboo and the less the better. Biggest reason I build nodeless. Heat treat once and forget it.  (Don Schneider)


Do any of you guys wet plane to finished sizes? Got me thinking is there a way to work this out. Wet planing to finished sizes (then heat treating). Without making your strips undersize.  (Gary Nicholson)

    Using a Morgan Handmill, cutting soaked strips has become a popular method for roughing and final cuts down to about .015" above final size. I tried it and it is very easy to cut... you can pull .006 to .010 per pass... HOWEVER... Strips need to be flat and straight to use on the mill bed. The strips were straightened and pressed prior to planing. Once they were soaked, the bends and twists returned to a fair extent, making it harder to keep them aligned with the bed. Larry Tusoni brought that up at the last gathering... and I thought I'd give it a try anyway. I don't think I want to soak them again before cutting. They are much harder to straighten AFTER they've been roughed and cut.  (Mike St. Clair)

      Yes, you're right, the nodes pop back and also the bends for some strange reason tend to reappear. But for anyone out the not tried it its a lot less work and you don't have to sharpen to the extent you do on the dry strips. Looks like we will just have to finish the strips dry to final sizes. One last thing is don't press your nodes when you wet plane.  Sand, plane or file them off to start with.  (Gary Nicholson)

        I have been soaking for nine years and find it so much easier to get good strips. On the nodes, The pith side is sanded out like a half moon on a small drum sander mounted in a drill press. This leaves space for the node bump to be displaced instead of crushed in the vise. With the pith removed and the strip soaked, very little heat needs to be applied to soften the node. Displacing the node seems to keep it from popping up. Check out my article in Power Fibers January 2002.

        Will post the procedure I use to plane the wet strips in another message a bit later. I have the Sowbug show this week and have little time right now.  (Tony Spezio)

          I was kind of like the virtuous dame who said "Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine."  Except I applied the saying to soaking bamboo strips.  I thought that wet bamboo was a no-no.  However, I am getting old and it has been increasingly difficult for me to plane for more than a few minutes.  So  I tried soaking strips for about two days.  I cannot believe how simple it is to go from rough strip to semifinished when planning wet.  It is still sort of hard to do because my shop stays around 50 degrees and my hands get cold.  But... So what the hell   I don't believe however in displacing nodes.  I would rather file them flat and remove some of the pith before soaking.  I find that I can rough plane a strip in about 10 minutes. Although it takes me 60 minutes to get down to the shop.  Thanks to all you guys who soak   I appreciate learning new tricks.  (Ralph Moon)

            Are you wet planing close to the taper, then drying and dry planing the final passes?

            Or do you just make an allowance for drying, finish wet, and then "find" the correct dimensions by moving up or down the blank when glued up?

            Or is there another way?  (Jeff Schaeffer)

            I have been soaking for about 2 days I can honestly say I can rough 6 strips out in about 20 minutes with one sharpened blade. After that I soak again for 2 days and plan down to slightly over size then heat treat and finish the strips dry. It's so easy.

            If you need to (in a hurry) soaking for just 1 hour makes a difference.  (Gary Nicholson)

            Does this mean yer gonna start hollow building soon?  (Mark Wendt)

              One thing at a time Mark!!!!!  (Ralph Moon)

    After splitting to 1/4" strips, the pit side of the nodes are recessed. The strips are then soaked for three to five days. The nodes are then displaced, two strips at a time and rough planed  to the 60 degree straight bevel. The strips are then dried in the fixtures with the pith side out. I use a small inspection mirror to check at the cocked lid opening of the oven. It is checked till there is no moisture showing on the mirror.

    The strips are then heat treated in the fixtures. All strips are the same size. After planing the butt strips to finished size, I soak the heat treated tip strips overnight and wet plane them to a bit oversize. This just seems to soak the outer part of the strip and does not penetrate all the way through. They are put back in the fixtures and dried as before, drying time is a lot less.  After drying, the tip strips are planed to final size.

    This has worked for me for a long time. It may take a few more steps but it is easier on my hands and in the long run, it cuts a lot of time off planing. To rough the six soaked strips, it only takes about a half hour or less. Doing the nodes "wet" keeps from hardening the node and eliminates a lot of the "chipping". Final planing on the dried strips is cut down to a minimum. I do make it a point to "dry" the strips before final planing.

    I know there is a stigma about soaking, those that do and are happy with it, that is fine, those that have never tried it, might give it a try and see what you think.  (Tony Spezio)


I would like to share the following information

Split the sections out of the culm

Soak the strips for up to 3 days even half a day makes a big difference

You can straighten the nodes in the classic Garrison way or simply plane them off its up to you.

If you apply heat to the nodes soak again as the strips will now be dry around the nodes.

Try to displace the nodes rather than trying to compress them.

Wet strips do not burn but instead steam

Soak for half a day up to 3 days max

Next rough the strips out.

Bind up the sections and heat treat.

Next soak again.

Yes you are soaking again after your final heat-treating.

Don’t be put off by doing this.

Set your forms to 3% more than the finished target dimensions

And plane to these settings

Leave the strips to dry for more than 3 days

And glue.

Next measure your rod and be totally amazed.

Give it a try.  (Gary Nicholson)

    You realize this sounds insane…..but I’m going to give it a shot and see what happens.  (Ren Monllor)

      Should work good but maybe a tad unpredictable.  I did this once and found with final planing wet, the strips shrank about ~.005 - .006 in drying depending on the thickness.

      You're right, Gary.  Resoaking after tempering has no effect on the tempering.  Tempered is tempered, once the lignin is fused.  I sometimes soak longer than 3 days, and the heck with bleach.  I've always liked fermented stuff.

      A good tip from "my other brother" Daryl H. for short soaks (i.e. a day or less) is to soak in hot water.  This indeed speeds the process.  Hope everybody has a good w/e.  Batten down the hatches, here even in N. Tx.  (Darrol Groth)

        I have run though the shrinkage test twice just to make sure and my working indicate 3% added to your target dimensions comes out almost to perfection. If anyone else would care to do the same I would be interested to here your results. taking into account individuals heat treating methods and relative humidity. It should be easy to work to a standard %.  (Gary Nicholson)

          Thanks for bringing this to our attention............I am going to try it!  (Paul Blakley)

    Before anyone else says I am insane you do all realize that the late  Darryl Hayashida used to do a very similar thing.  (Gary Nicholson)


Since I have never tried soaking, I have some questions.

For those of you who soak:

  • Do you have less tears outs on your final planing? 
  • Do wet strips mess up your rough planing forms? 
  • Do your metal forms or planes rust?

Please enlighten me to soaking.  (Pete Emmel)

    I can't comment on the question of tear outs.  But, I have had no bad effects on my roughing form (made from uhhh, can't remember - a short offcut of something from the Big Box - hemlock?).

    I soak for a couple/three days (sometimes longer if the other bits and pieces of life get busy (I drain and add fresh water after 4 or so days if that happens - with a bit of bleach), drain when ready, remove a strip at a time and rough plane and bind into the MD fixtures and heat treat at that point.

    I plane on my steel forms with dry bamboo, so no impact there.  (Greg Dawson)

    None of the above, since the only reasons I soak is for straightening and flattening nodes.  I like the idea of not being able to overcook the cane during straightening and pressing because the water content will keep the majority of the area being straightened from going above 212º F.  My strips are then rough beveled by machine,  then heat treated before final planing.  (Mark Wendt)

      Just so you know, the internal temperature of a soaked strip can easily exceed 212F.  The capillaries in the bamboo don't allow the water to escape very fast so when you locally heat a strip the water turns to steam which is then superheated to some value above 212F depending on how much heat you apply.  (Al Baldauski)

        Couple of things.  I don't think you can superheat the steam in the cane under atmospheric conditions.  While superheat is important and desirable in boiler systems on ships (high pressure, higher heat, more energy) , rod makers that soak strips are dealing with "wet" steam.  In order to have superheat, the cane would have to be in some kind of pressure vessel that would contain the pressure.  The ingress used by water to soak the strips would be the egress for the wet steam, thereby eliminating any chance for superheat.

        Here is the concern that I have.  Rod makers that do not soak are plasticizing the cane at the points they heat.  It takes little experience to realize that you only have one, maybe two chances of getting it right while heating before the strip is heat set.

        What about soaking?  Are you heat setting at a low temperature?  Is that possible?  Or are you just drying out the cane at the the heat point, without heat setting the cane?  Similar to drying out a sponge while compressed.  So what happens when if moisture is reintroduced to the cane?  Seems like the MD fixture and a high heat treat would almost have to be a necessity in the soak process.  (Chris Raine)

          The water in the interior of the bamboo is trapped within the capillaries and cells.  It cannot FREELY escape so you can build up a localized  pressure and superheat the steam. inside.  (Al Baldauski)

            Your answers generate more questions for me!  If you say that there is a superheat condition, then the latent heat of vaporization takes place.  This increases the volume of the water (now steam) tremendously.  The cells contain this extra volume?  With no damage to the cells?  The cells have allowed water to get in, but won't allow the vapor out?  Seems backwards to me.

            Again, if I recall your purpose of soaking before straightening is to?  Decrease damage to the cane?  Make the job of straightening and pressing easier?  Faster?

            Someone else brought up the paper cup in the fire analogy.  Again a question?  If you do not get the bamboo too hot when straightening, do you in fact stabilize/plasticize the bamboo or not?  It takes a 1000 more btus to turn water to steam than it does to raise water below boiling point 1 degree Fahrenheit.  I would seem the surrounding area would be a huge heat sink for the heated area.  (Chris Raine)

              Not that I know anything about what really happens in steamed cane, but I do know that a material's permeability to a gas is normally much higher than its permeability to a liquid.  In other words, as soon as the water turns into steam, it can pass through the cane's pores (to the outside) much more readily than liquid water will.  (Tim Anderson)

              Isn't it 100 BTUs to change the state of 1 lb of water?  (David Diadosz)

              We're all speculating here, right?  I don't know the behavior of bamboo cell walls under temperature and pressure but speculate that they allow diffusion of water vapor IN and OUT.  But that is a slow process that might not keep up with the steam generation while locally heating bamboo with a flame or heat gun.  So pressure will build up and force the steam to diffuse through the walls at some rate.  The higher the temperature, the higher the pressure, and the higher the diffusion rate.  If the heat input rate exceeds the diffusion rate then the pressure builds.  Do cells explode.  I doubt it. Maybe one of our biologist Rodmakers will pipe up.  Maybe they will crack and let the steam escape.  Maybe the diffusion process just speeds up to handle the flow rate.  The escaping stream will be channeled into the capillaries that normally conduct fluids in the plant.  The steam formed at the point of heating will force the water in the capillaries to flow out to the ends just like you see when flaming a culm with a weed burner.  So eventually the pressure is relieved.  Until all the water is "blown" out of the capillaries there is a back pressure created that causes the steam to locally become superheated.  The amount of pressure generated and therefore the temperature of the steam is dependent upon how much energy you can get into the system.  The fact that water and then steam comes out the end of the culm is proof that there is internal pressure.  If there is pressure there will be a temperature above 212F.  (Al Baldauski)

                ;-)  Don't look at me, I'm just axing the questions...  ;-)  I was just wondering what temperature and what pressure, or combination of the two make the requirements for superheated steam.  I suppose one could see the cells as pressure vessels, but can they really contain the pressure required to make superheated steam. (Mark Wendt)

                  I do understand what you are saying about the superheat of the steam.  But rather than pressure causing the steam to travel out the end of the strip, what about just the differential in temperature causing this.  The steam is traveling from hot to cold, as it should.  That we can see the steam makes it wet or saturated.  This implies a low temperature.  Does straightening a wet strip actually straighten it?  Or is it more like pressing a flower in a book while it dries out?

                  Many of the techniques of today's rodmakers have been rediscovered.  Is this one of them?  Did Payne, Powell, Leonard, Orvis, or Young soak their strips?  Or is this actually a new discovery?  (Chris Raine)

                    I think, initially, when you heat a localized area the steam that you create condenses on nearby colder bamboo surfaces and liquid water within the capillaries.  As the heating process continues, the temperature of everything in the neighborhood continues to rise and the pressure increases driving the liquid water and steam out.   What you see coming out the end of the culm IS low temperature and zero pressure (gauge) because it has escaped its container, but in the middle the pressure is high because it cannot EASILY escape because the capillaries are so restrictive.

                    I believe the combination of heat and moisture more effectively plasticizes the bamboo so that it's easier to bend the area in question and when it cools, the straightening persists.

                    I'm not much of an historian so I haven't read a lot about the "old guys" so I can't comment on what they may have done.  (Al Baldauski)

                    It's my guess, but steam boxes were and are used to make wood flexible so it can be shaped.  In days when electricity was not available I'd guess all these old boys used steam boxes to straighten their rods. But superheating was not possible, since the steam was at atmospheric pressure.  (Dave Burley)

                      And from 'atmospheric pressure,' should I infer that the wood is not being exposed to the steam in a closed vessel?  (Steve Yasgur)

                        That is correct, although the vessel is closed in the sense that the contents are surrounded by a chamber (say a plywood box), just not air/pressure tight, which could get dangerous in a hurry. Most boxes have an exit port on the bottom for the steam and pressure, opposite to the steam inlet, to remove water and spent steam.

                        An experiment you should try (and you may have already done this) is to warm a piece of scrap bamboo on a hot pipe or in front of a heat gun and try to flex it as you do so.  You will find a temperature at which the bamboo ( as you will also with hardwood) can be bent easily.  This is the temperature  at which you need to get the wood/bamboo to do a permanent straightening, as you have melted some of the bamboo structural components. On cooling, the bamboo will largely retain this shape if held this way as these bamboo biopolymers harden up again.  Binding the strips together or in Harry Boyd's binding form with a string which will not stretch in the heat or moisture should do the trick. One advantage of the steam box is that you do the whole strip instead of a short piece. If you do it in short areas, when you straighten the next area this may bring this just straightened area out of whack. Ever happened to you?.

                        So, if your goal is to bend the strip until it is straight, get it to this temperature and then hold it there. Cooling it now will fix this shape. .. This temperature is below the boiling point of water at atmospheric pressure ( 212F), so no need to pressurize a vessel. IIRC, about 180F is sufficient for hickory to make those Bent wood chairs and rockers  - popular long before electric heating was available and steam was the method of choice. Interestingly, hardwoods are easier to bend than softwoods.

                        Reading some of the old timey literature, makers heated the bamboo until the juice stopped oozing out the ends and then a little longer.

                        Here is but one example of a simple steam bender that will handle strips.

                        Searching for "wood steam bending" and "bamboo steam bending" will produce a plethora of examples with all sorts of materials of construction.  Just never seal it up tight.  A comment in the above article says it takes less than 5 minutes to heat 1/4 inch thick piece of wood ( once the steam box is at temperature)  This is the case, since water vapor has a much higher heat capacity than air..  In the case of bamboo, this will take longer, as the bamboo juices need more time to ooze out.

                        I have never done this with bamboo, but there are plenty of examples ( bamboo furniture for example and, of course, old time rod makers) to convince me it is very doable.  Oh, and no toast/burning problems with this method and leave it as long as you want in the steam chamber. This will give maximum protection to the power fibers.  You can also do many pieces at the same time, so no need to fire up the steam box very often. 

                        Do it outside if you can, as it does drip water. A catch pan may be necessary if you choose to do it inside. As always, be careful with steam as it can produce some deep (remember that high heat capacity) nasty burns. Wear insulating gloves when removing the bamboo.  (Dave Burley)

                          Tim Abbott did a wonderful demo on heating and pressing nodes with steam at the Merritt, BC gathering about six years ago. His vise is a work of art. Robert Kope makes vises which function somewhat similarly but from a completely different design.

                          With Tim's advice, I made a non-pressurized steam chamber for heating nodes. Even after several revisions I found the steam never got the bamboo quite hot enough to straighten and press nodes TO MY SATISFACTION. Later I learned that those who use steam sometimes also heat the jaws of the vise, and I wasn't willing to go that direction. (Harry Boyd)

                            In the meantime, I realized that soaking the strips ( as I think you do) and then heating them to above 212F would produce internal steam.  Not the same, but similar.  (Dave Burley)

                              Seems like soaking  and heating  would produce steam, doesn't it? I haven't soaked strips in 6-7 years, though that method is still detailed in my articles. Soaking for 3-4 days works quite well, but I never know I'm going to be heating and pressing or displacing nodes 3-4 days in advance. Besides, with a little practice I find that heating dry allows me to be more consistent in hitting the "sweet spot" temperature so no nodes pop back out in the oven. (Harry Boyd)

                                I think as long as the bamboo is wet its temperature is 212F independent of the oven temperature, until the bamboo is dry. This will make it more complicated to control.  Steam from an exterior source can only be 212F.  (Dave Burley)

                                In my first shop the bamboo was stored in very dry conditions. My storage area now has much more moisture/humidity. The first time I heated/pressed nodes there was an amazing difference. Storage can make a big difference!! If you store your cane in a very dry area, soaking WILL make a difference and you probably NEED to soak! If you store your cane in an area where the humidity is high, you probably won't need to soak. That's my scientific testing! LOL or BS, whatever you want to call it!  (David Dziadosz)

                                  You know where I live, 52' from the river. The humidity is high and my bamboo is stored in a room about the same distance from the river.

                                  I still find soaking will help a whole lot when Displacing nodes and drying in the oven with MD's Fixtures. Soaking prevents burning of the nodal area and I find it does not harden the nodes as dry heating does.

                                  As I said many times, the beauty of all of this is, you can do as you like and it still ends up as a bamboo rod that will catch fish.  (Tony Spezio)

                                    In no way was I trying to say soak/don't soak! LOL I was commenting on what someone said about not soaking now. And that maybe it didn't have to be soaked if the area where the cane had been stored had a higher moisture level. And the distinct difference between the two different places I have had cane stored.

                                    Noticed I didn't say if I soak or don't soak!

                                    Now, I think I'll go soak my head! Been out picking Blackberries! And the Misses baked a pie and having a scoop of ice cream on top!  (David Dziadosz)

              I think that the thing we are trying to determine if soaking strips and then heating is efficacious.  I think not,  since the cell walls will act like containers, but like a steam boiler without safety gauges will inevitably explode damaging the cane.  Maybe I am right and maybe not, but I for one suggest that is more desirable to avoid any problems not necessary.  Why look for trouble?  (Ralph Moon)

                An analogous situation here is popcorn.  The cell walls break when the moisture content is raised above the boiling point of water.  (Ralph Moon)

                  I like your popcorn analogy but don't know if it applies here.  When you heat the kernels in oil the outside husk gets up to somewhere between 400-500 degrees, keeping it dry and brittle until the water inside has turned to steam and created enough pressure to burst it.

                  In soaked bamboo everything stays pretty moist inside and therefore flexible.  All the cells are confined by other adjacent cells, preventing catastrophic failure.  If enough pressure built up inside a cell, MAYBE you'd get a small split to relieve the pressure but not enough to damage the structural integrity.  I think the water trapped in cells diffuses through the cell walls fast enough to not be a problem as Larry suggested.

                  A lot of guys are soaking and I haven't heard anyone say "my rod turned out like crap!"  Mine haven't.  (Al Baldauski)

                I would have thought that the steam that escapes when we heat cane, like the fluid that drips from the ends, represented mainly EXTRACELLULAR water, and that under normal conditions we probably do not cause enough cell wall damage to liberate the INTRACELLULAR water component.

                Surely the cell wall does not rupture, either, immediately the boiling point of the intracellular solution is reached.  That rupture would also be a function of the strength and elasticity of the cell walls and of the support structures.  And remember that intracellular fluid, like all biological entities, is a solution of various things; and the BP of a solution is higher than the BP of pure water.  (Peter McKean)

                  Water can pass through cell walls, at least in the animal kingdom. Not only water, but electrolytes as well as more complex chemicals such as sugars. And we don't have to be boiled for that to happen. I suspect something similar can happen in the vegetable kingdom. I've not studied vegetables as much, mostly learned by osmosis across my brain's cellular membranes from my more learned bamboo peers.  (Henry Mitchell)

            Just curious.  How does it escape when we heat treat?  Do the cell walls explode and allow the high pressure steam to escape?  Most of us heat treat at temps well above 212º F (100º C for you metrical fellers).  (Mark Wendt)

              I think you both have  points to make. If we believe there is some change in the bamboo when we heat treat, then there is in my opinion some form of molecular change going on within the bamboo. I am not sure the cells explode, but there is probably a breakdown in the molecular chain/bonding structure (remember this stuff is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements molecularly linked/bonded together somehow). The result is that water molecules are released in some form we know as a vapor/steam because we can see them - one can not see 100% superheated steam - but what we do see is probably a mixture of a little superheated steam and lots of water vapor.  So, I believe there is a breaking of the existing molecular structure and new relinking of chemical elements into different molecular structures that create the stiffening effect we seem to agree happens when we heat treat bamboo. This maybe a little stretch, but I think it does make sense to this old "f--t". Just another opinion.  (Frank Paul)

        Yeah, but it's still kinda like the water in the newspaper cup trick.  The water keeps the paper from burning while it's being heated up.  (Mark Wendt)

          No question, the trapped water serves to distribute the heat better keeping the internal temperature lower but not necessarily AT the boiling point water.  (Al Baldauski)

            Good point.  You are entirely correct.  That's what I get for typing without thinking... (Mark Wendt)

              So, maybe steam is better...   (Henry Mitchell)

                I prefer both water and steam.  At the  same  time.  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

            I am dumb enough to question your analysis.  Water boiled in a closed container can greatly exceed the temperature of unconfined boiling water.  i.e.: superheated steam.  The interior of bamboo cells is a closed container so that the potential of temperatures exceed 212 Fahrenheit are to be expected,  See W. Schott's Bamboo under the Microscope, figure 12.  (Ralph Moon)

              I think you just said what I said.  There are closed cells which hold some of the water, and some of the water will be in the capillary tubes.  In either case, since the water cannot escape freely or quickly, the local temperature will rise above the boiling point of water creating steam at who-knows-what temperature depending on the local pressure. (Al Baldauski)

              Here's a link to a temperature/pressure chart for water. (David Dziadosz)


I decided to try soaking because I have had some bad experiences straightening nodes and I have to say that I am very pleased.  It is so much easier to straighten and get the strips to fit into the roughing form.  Roughing is much easier.  I put the strips into a PVC pipe and when they no longer floated up out of the tube when I took the top off, I figured they were soaked enough.  Thanks to David B and his poll and those who shared this info.   (Dave Kemp)


I've finally crossed over and now soak strips. It takes me a full shop day to straighten and rough mill a set of 12 wet strips  How long should I wait before heat treating?. Can I heat treat strips that are a little wet?  (Dave Wallace)

    If you have the MD fixtures, bind the wet strips in the fixtures with the pith side out. Set your oven for 125 degrees F. With the pith side out, the moisture will escape quicker.

    Put the sections in the oven and crack the door open a bit for the moisture to escape. From time to time, check the opening with a small mirror. When no more moisture appears on the mirror, the strips are dry. Remove the fixtures with the strips from the oven. The binding string will be a bit loose. I just rebind over the top of thread and set my oven to  about 15 degrees over the temp I will be heat treating. When up to temp, the fixtures with the strips are put in the oven and the temp is turned down to what I will use for heat treating. The fixtures will absorb the additional temp. My indicator light will come on and I start my timing.

    If you do not have the fixtures, you cam bind the strips with the pith side out and follow the above except raising the pre temp 15 degrees.  (Tony Spezio)


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