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Splitting - Knife-In-Vise


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Do you use the "knife in vise" technique that I've read about?

Please give us a short treatise on your technique. I have enough trouble splitting to 24 strips! 

No, I don't use a knife at all, except for the first three splits, where I use a meat cleaver and rubber mallet. It's one of those things that's hard to write down, but easy to see if you watch.

For the smaller splits I start the split with a pair of end nippers and propagate the split along the length by grasping the strips, one in each hand, close to the split and levering my thumbs against each other, I slowly move the split down the middle. When the split starts to wander, I bend the unsplit portion of the strip in the  appropriate direction. If the split has wandered to the left, the strip has to be bent to the left, so that the split will go to the right. In other words the split will go towards the side that is stretched, away from the side that is compressed. Like I said before, all it takes is practice, and with a sacrificial culm or two anyone can split a culm to 32.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    Basically what I did was split in halves, then halves into thirds.  Once in thirds, affix two C-clamps upside down to work bench.  To split the thirds into sixths, measure carefully 1/2 the width of the strip and mark at approximately 5 points.  Using these marks as targets, split carefully and slowly by wedging your thumbs against each other.  If the split starts to wander, brace the against the two clamps, and bend before splitting any further.  Let's see if I can illustrate:

    Boyd, Harry Splitting

    Sorry for poor artwork.  Sir D explained it this way, "For the smaller splits I start the split with a pair of end nippers and propagate the split along the length by grasping the strips, one in each hand, close to the split and levering my thumbs against each other, I slowly move the split down the middle.  When the split starts to  wander, I bend the unsplit portion of the strip in the appropriate direction.  If the split has wandered to the left, the strip has to be bent to the left, so that the split will go to the right.  In other words, the split will go towards the side that is stretched, away from the side that is compressed..."

    This is my first time to try it, and it's a vast improvement over hacking the cane to shreds the way I did earlier.  I, too, would really like to watch someone who is good at splitting do it.  I think seeing this must be a lot easier than describing it.  (Harry Boyd)

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For those of you using the Ron Grantham method of splitting - paring knife held in the vice:

To improve safety and to keep the culm from riding up and off of the blade, I have epoxied another hard wood handle over the point of the blade.  (Dennis Bertram)

    I've always used a thin blade steak knife clamped "handle up".  Splitting cane with the point up scares the "H" out of me.

    I also run the file along the edge to dull it, since we want the knife to "split", not cut, the bamboo.  (Ted Knott)

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One of the practices for splitting which has been recommended by several on the list, that of ramming a culm into a secured knife blade, is very dangerous. surly this practice should not be recommended to beginners, or anyone else, for that matter. It's another one of those tips which should be disregarded or ignored. there are many other ways to prepare strips.  (Jerry Foster)

    The Knife-in-the-vice method is usually used with a deliberately DULL knife.  You don't want a sharp edge on this, as it's more of a prying/wedging tool than a cutting tool.  (Rick Funcik)

      Generally speaking, every time I manage to cut myself it is with a dull knife. The only way I would even consider this would be to turn the froe backwards. All of the other methods work so well, though, that I just don't see the need to do it at all.  (Larry Blan)

    Instead of a knife blade just stick a thin shafted screwdriver in something secure and push your bamboo onto that.   Works great, just ask anyone who has seen me do it or has taken up this splitting method when I showed them.  (Bret Reiter)

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