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Splitting - Froe

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I'd like to voice my opinion on the splitting of strips. I think that splitting by hand with a knife or froe is the best method to produce the most quality strips. When I first split my strips, I look the culm over and split it into four pieces. This hand splitting with a knife allows me to make the splits in the place where I want them to be, based on the imperfections in the culm. If I were to use a multiple splitting device, the splitter would determine where the splits would take place. This may seem trivial to some, but I'd ask them, what do you do with 23 perfect strips and four or five bad ones? If you plan your splitting properly, you'll probably end up with enough strips to make two (24), two tip rods. It may look neat to watch Glenn Brackett use a splitter the way he does, but I can assure you of this, Glenn throws out more bamboo each year then the majority of us use. Time is important to a professional builder but not so important to the majority of us part timers. On the other hand, if you build nodeless or you use strips from different culms to produce your rods, a splitter may work very well for you.

As for a check split, I'll say this. I have several older culms of bamboo sitting up in my rafters. These culms had a check split put into them some years back and they now are in what I consider to be terrible condition, Some of the culms have developed five of six new splits, not my idea of the proper way to store bamboo. What I'd suggest, is to split all of your culms, shortly after getting them, into 3rd's or 4th's or whatever. You're going to have to do this anyway, as you proceed with building and it will stop the unwanted splits from taking place.  (Jim Bureau)

    As I said, I split my bales up pretty soon after getting them. I do not try to split around too much, but I do try my best to get the splits as close to leaf nodes and questionable dark spots as much as possible. There are major benefits to starting out with 8 or 10 nice equal strips before cutting down to smaller sections. If building a quad, I save two for each butt section giving me four butts. I split the tips end of the culm into 8 with the Hida and then into 3s giving me 24 strips, enough for 6 tip sections. With the splits I throw out (a lot), I get 2 rods out of a culm pretty easily. Then I have left overs for one tippers and demo "Frankenstein" things.

    The splitter is safer than check splitting and going the whole way by hand. When in 8s, I can take the nodal dams off very easy on my disc sander. No gouging or chisels needed. Also, as radical as it seems, I flame the sections after they are in 8s. I have a Craftsmen MAPP gas torch tip/hose that I use with propane and the width of the flame is exactly the width of my splits. It is so much easier to run the torch straight down the length of the strips than to try to rotate it over a curved section. I use saw horses to support the strips and can shift them to get the whole strip.

    The splitter is easier than trying to divide the culm in half or quarters by eye. The initial splits are all square to the culm. I can cut to length after I stagger my nodes. I never feel bad to throw out a culm or section. I see no advantage to wasting time splitting around stuff when bamboo is so cheap. Just like in fly tying, I found that the best lesson I learned was to throw out bad feathers instead of struggling to make them work. Even in small quantities, I figure that of the 4 bales I have in the shop, 20-30% of the cane is just bad. I can live with that.  (Bob Maulucci)


Any newbies or even seasoned rodmakers out there looking for a source for a froe for splitting their cane might look to Duluth Trading Company.

This looks like just what the doctor ordered.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    I wonder though if the width of the blade is too great.  I have always used with complete satisfaction a butchers cleaver.   Just wondering if I am missing something?  (Ralph Moon)

    In the UK we call them Putty knifes.  For taking out the old putty in window sashes.  (Gary Nicholson)

      That's not a putty knife ............

      I have several putty knives that belonged to me father and believe me a froe is a different animal.  Next time I see you I will bring along both for you to see the difference.   (Paul Blakley)


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