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Rule

Thought this might help someone that has not figured out how to split in thirds.

I was splitting a culm yesterday and found to get the most out of the culm I really needed to split in thirds. After splitting half, half and half, the strips would be too wide if I split in half and too narrow if I split those in half again.  That means splitting in thirds. In splitting thirds, the narrow strip will have a tendency to walk to the outside giving you a splinter spear about halfway through the split.

A way to counter this is real simple. Start the 1/3 rd split and work the fro or knife through the split for about a foot or so. Where the split starts, put the edge of "fat" end against a post, workbench or something solid. Grab the bamboo about half way down the length and hold it against your waist.  Now put the pressure you need against the bamboo bending the "fat" side away from you. The split will stay straight. If it does want to go to the outside of the narrow strip, put some more pressure on the "fat" end and the split will move to the "fat" side. Decrease pressure if it travels too much to the "fat" side Started doing this after I wasted a lot of the first culm I split.  (Tony Spezio)

    I use the "cheat" method from the " best of planning form" when splitting into thirds. This involves getting an old nail punch and filing the end into a wedge shape. The width of the culm at each node is measured and marked into thirds. The nail punch is used to punch a split in the strip at each of the nodes on the one third mark. It is then very easy to split the strip between these nodes using a knife in the vice method or a screwdriver. In many cases the split in the nodes will actually join up and any wondering is limited to a short distance.  (Ian Kearney)

      We do what works best for us. I have tried a couple of other ways and find using " bend the fat side" is the easiest and fastest way for me. I am sure there are other ways others are doing it. Thanks for posting your way.  (Tony Spezio)

        I just start both of the splits in the top of the strip and alternating from one side to the other, work them down by hand... seems to work just fine.  Doing it this way for ME it seems much easier to bend the cane with the hand splitting method to control the width of your splits, if you have all three strips coming apart at once.  (Bob Nunley)

      I just start both splits at the same time, and work one side then the other all the way down, using the Nunley-McKean method.  Almost never lose a strip.  Split three culms today, and though I'm getting blood all over the keyboard from cuts and scrapes, I didn't lose a strip.  Whether or not I'm going to lose my right middle finger is still debatable (just kidding) :-)  (Harry Boyd)

Rule

This past week I started getting some more culms split and ready for working. I went to the shop around 8:30 and got the wood stove going as the temp outside was about 10 degrees. The morning lows around here have been near zero for the past month. I got a culm from the garage and took it into the shop and started splitting. It was amazing how easy it went with the boo at that cold of a temp. All you guys should buy a walk in freezer and take the "work outta splitting"!!

Always wearing long johns ....(Chad Wigham)

Rule

I am just beginning my first bamboo Rod. I'd like to thank all of you for the wealth of information that you have shared on the internet to help neophyte  rodmakers like me. I know it must be a double edged Sword (or Iron) for you who do this as a profession, to share what really are trade secrets with those who potentially will compete against you in the marketplace of fine instruments, balanced against your desire to help. I have no ambition to pass myself as a serious vendor. I only want to build my own collection.

I have assembled most of the tools I will need, even found an old 9 1/2.  I haven't ordered my cane yet, But I have a bunch of backyard cane that I harvested about three years ago that has the right dimensions, so before I ruined a few culms of that precious Tonkin resource, I thought I would practice splitting on those. The first few culms were a complete disaster. the remnants of which will have to be destroyed or one of my kids are going to put someone's eye out with one of the splinters. Then I went back and reread an article by Harry Boyd about bending the fat part of a wayward split away from the split , and that it's hard to explain, but it will just come to you. Well it did, and that was my first moment of bamboo zen. I swear that when the first split started going well the only splinters I saw were splinters of brilliant blue light emanating from the crack, and I danced with that culm in that blue light. When it was over I was staring at a pile of sixteen totally useless 6' x 1/4" tomato stakes, but they were even. and I was thrilled.

Thank you Mr. Boyd.  (Shane Pinkston)

Rule

I’m in the process of trying to perfect my splitting techniques and rough forming before I start in on a good culm for my first rod.  In Wayne Cattanach’s book he does state that removing the diaphragm before splitting didn’t seem to make much difference in splitting ease.   I seem to be able to able to split more even strips if I leave the inside diaphragms intact and then remove them later.  On the section of bamboo that I did remove the diaphragm first I had the most horrible uneven splits that a beginner could have!  I know I probably should not worry about it and use the technique that works best for me, but just wondering if my techniques need more work?  The good news is that my 60's are coming out real good.  (John Freedy)

    I use an 8 way Hida splitter. I split to 8, remove the dams with a disc sander, and then split further down. Works fine for me. Very quick.  (Bob Maulucci)

    At the time I learned the craft - the technique that was preached was that of Mr. Garrison - that of using a gouge to remove the inner diaphragm - as I started using the vise to flatten nodes the gouge removal seemed wrong - it can underdig the inner pith that if you understand how vising works sometimes didn't allow for the flat planing that is done on the pith side to yield a flat surface that aids in the vising of nodes - Understand also that as more and more have shared - different ideas and tools have surfaced - For me hand splitting a culm with a froe or a heavy paint scraper is second nature now - but that is after some several hundred culms of practice - as a newcomer I would suggest trying the different methods that you feel fit with your ideas and budget and then stick with the one that fits well for you.  (Wayne Cattanach)

Rule

Any suggestions on splitting, I've tried the free handed way in Wayne's book, can't get the strips narrow without them splitting off before reaching the other end. One issue I have is a solid work bench I don't have one,  maybe I'll need to build to mount a vise to.  (Peter Van Schaack)

    Give the Nunley method a try for splitting.  I'm a convert.  Won't do it any other way now.  Nice thing about it, you don't need any special tools, other than your own two hands.  (Mark Wendt)

      I had the same problem splitting the first culm, runoff. On the second culm, someone on the list mentioned "Bend the fat side." Works like a charm. Have not had a run off in a long time. Things work different for different folks.

      I just can't seem to get the Nunley Method down pat, I find no problem with using the froe. I have a  five way splitter,

      only use it for the initial splits on a whole culm. If the "fat" side is too stiff to bend as you split, put the "fat" side against a post or workbench and a little body English to bend it away from the split. It will bend enough to have the split come back in line. It don't take much. I can split to 3/16 with no problems. Thanks to the list for "Bend the fat side."  (Tony Spezio)

      If you put the bamboo loosely in a vice while bending troublesome sections life is much easier as you can move the strip in and out of the vice applying pressure in isolated parts using the vise like another pair of hands as it were to get past these tricky bits.  (Tony Young)

Rule

Do you guys split many culms at once, or only right before you begin planing.  I was thinking that I might buy a bale from Demarest and become a splitting machine for the winter.  Then, I could have the strips for a number of rods down before hand.  Is this stupid?

$370 delivered to my door in Brooklyn next day from Demarest is a very good deal for 20 pieces. I hate to pay $65/culm from Golden Witch if I can get them for less than 1/3rd of that from Demarest. But, will my wife allow me to have 20 culms of bamboo in our apartment? Gentlemen, any ideas?  (Joe West)

    Do you have a 12-foot long wall somewhere in the house? If so, perhaps consider a new tropical décor scheme.  (Richard Nantel)

      Reminds me of someone I know that use to make rods in his apartment building laundry room.  (Michel Lajoie)

    Some builders try to keep the relative positions of the strips - that is opposite strips in the rod actually come from opposite sides of the culm. Hard to do that if you split up a bunch and bundle them together. Or you could split and devise some kind of marking system to preserve their positions. I happen to be of the opinion that is being too picky, so yes I do split up a bunch at a time. I store them in a big piece of PVC pipe, I think it's 8 inches in diameter with the end caps just pressed on and a few mothballs inside to discourage chewing insects. A bunch of strips does take a lot less room than a bunch of culms.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      You could mark the strips with a "Sharpie" pen or similar, one slash on #1, 2 on #2 etc.  Do it near the end or on the pith so it won't show.  One color for butts, one for tips, then tie all the strips for one rod in a bundle.  (Neil Savage)

      That is a great idea Darryl.

      You might also take two big coffee cans. Cut the top and bottom off one, and just the top off the other. Nail both to a post a few feet apart, and you can stand your strips in it while you wait. Tape all the strips from the same culm together. It is cheaper than the PVC, and it may work if you aren't leaving the strips there for too long.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I have approximately 40 culms in my garage much to SWMBO annoyance.  (Paul Blakley)

      Is there anything about Rodmaking that doesn't annoy SWMBO? Especially if she doesn't fish?  (Dick Fuhrman)

    I do most of my rodmaking on the road, in small apartments and/or travel trailer so I split 5 or 6 rods worth of cane at one time. Each split is marked B1, B2, B3 etc for butts and TA1, TA2, TB1, TB2 etc for tips, all the splits are bundled per rod and stored in cardboard drawing tubes.  (Doug Losey)

    I split them as I need them but many production makers split hundreds of strips before hand. The main problem with splitting many is that you will end up miss matching strips (different strips from different culms in the same rod). It's a purely cosmetic thing (in my view anyway) but the finest of today’s rods are made from the same culm. The other thing is that splitting cane although one of the first tasks takes the longest to master (at least it did for me).  Buy your cane from Demarest.  (Marty DeSapio)

    One thing that everyone forgot to mention, build a rod or two to make sure it is something you really want to do. Having 20 12' culms split or unsplit could be a pain to get rid of, if you store unsplit you will have to check split or they will pop like a gun shot. Ask many who know, they arrive cold and warm up and will pop and split loud enough to scare the @#$%^ out you, your wife and the neighbors several doors down. I brought my first culms home in my pick up, left in the bed for a couple of hours, snuck them in the house and stashed in the closet, Clock radio read 2:07 AM when the first one popped. Scared the piss out of the dog, now we have a new mattress, never mind the beating I took from the SWMBO.  (Pete Van Schaack)

Rule

I just split a culm without filing the nodal lip.  My question is, why file/sand the nodal lip before splitting?  It seems to me that I will have more control if I do the filing/sanding on a per-strip basis.

Am I missing something terribly important?  (Joe West)

    I expect you have Joe, but I have been doing my splitting that way for over thirty years.  Works for me.  (Ralph Moon)

    It is something terribly important -

    Personal preference!

    I flame my rods and then file the nodes down after flaming.  I figure since bamboo has nodes and everyone expects to see them, I don't mind calling attention to them.  By using my process the nodes are lighter then the surrounding bamboo.

    Others want them to disappear, so they file, flame then split.  Nodes aren't as visible using this process.

    I don't know if there is a reason if you are building blond rods, but I suspect it all boils down to three things:

    - what is pleasing to your eye
    - the tools available to you and
    - your individual "skill set"

    I can't think of anything that is more terribly important.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    I file them before splitting because for me it seems to go faster.  You probably do have more control the other way.  (Brian Creek)

    I'm with Ralph.  I've never filed the nodes before splitting. Was I supposed to?  (Robert Kope)

    I flame my rods and leave the nodes very light. I think it looks good, myself.

    I don't like the looks of a nodeless rod. I think they look best with the nodes.  (Dave LeClair)

      I can tell you too his rods look awesome.  I have one and it is among my favorites and if you saw his color you would be impressed.  I wish I  could get that color on my rods.  (Bret Reiter)

Rule

This has been covered before, but hey. I also wanted to see if it could be explained without pictures.

1. Mark the circumference of your culm every inch.

2. Split it down with a froe, or machete, or big thick bladed knife. It will nearly always split pretty well. Take your froe and whack the nodal dams out. or use a hammer. you should have 6 or so one inch strips.

3. Take a one inch strip, and lay it on the bench enamel side up. Start the split at one end. I put a knife on center, and drive the blade straight down by whacking it with a hammer. Not the point, but the blade. The best blade to use is one with a squared end and no point. The cut you make is only 1/4 to 1/2 inch in from the end, and the initial split is about an inch long.

4. Put the strip in a vise, enamel side up. The strip is held so that the first node down is right at the edge of the vise jaws. Grab each split with your hands, and bend both of them out. The strip should split evenly down to the first node. Open the jaws, reposition at the next node, and do it again until you have two 1/2 inch strips.

5. Take your half inch strips and plane off whatever remains of the nodal dams to make the final splitting easier. Repeat once more for 1/4 inch strips.

6. If a split starts to wander, bend the fat side to even it back up.  You may have to really flex it to get things back on track. And be careful around nodes- that is where the split can really jump.

I think this works because your  hands tend to exert even pressure. I have split out about 6 rods using this technique, and have only had one split go bad. I split some 1/4 inch strips in half this way- it was fun but they were too small to use. I use a mill for roughing, so it doesn't bother me to start with 1/4 inch strips. Play around with node in the vise and node just ahead of the vise to see what works best for you.

I first heard about this from Nunley, but he does not claim to have invented it.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I haven't posted, only lurked on occasion for quite some time now, but I have to give this technique my vote. Not only is it incredibly easy to split accurately, but you can recover so easily from that rare instance when a split starts to go too far to one side that it is almost scary. Using your hands to pull the pieces apart is also incredibly rewarding in a strange sort of way...much more so than using a tool to force the split. It's almost zen-like. VERY little force is needed to continue the split and there is very little chance of accidental injury like you might have with some other methods. A friend tried it and couldn't stop until he did a half dozen culms! I only regret I don't make more rods so I can split more often.  (Andy Harsanyi)

      I'm sure the force of pushing a strip against a splitting driver is even far less, owing to the leverage comprised by the fixed cross-section of the driver. If less force were the object (and of course, it is one), the driver wins. But there is one further aspect of control you would lack (or suffer inferiority of) with your hands, and that is vertical wandering of the split: i.e. when the bottom of the split wanders one way or the other from the top. The driver naturally combats this, because it is vertical, and presses only against the wandering top or bottom.

      Certainly however the methods are neither equal or equivalent. I see no advantage, and have mentioned several disadvantages for those interested in the most useful technique. I only hope that helps, and in fact I bet in a few minutes I can train a 10 year old to split out 20 rods so much faster, with so much less difficulty, and to such higher quality, that in his/her first 15 minutes of splitting you would be incontrovertibly impressed which is the better method -- particularly given the minimized waste, minimized material to remove, and the greater reserve material left to recover a matching strip to replace one where for instance an unperceived worm hole wandered into what you first thought was good wood. After all, you can split a strip, controlling the split to within a few thousandths, almost as fast as you can push it down the driver. My strips were only 0.025" wider on each side than I needed in the finished rod, and I never once lost a strip to a wandering split, and probably spent less than 10 minutes a rod to split all my strips. Five minutes might be more accurate, or even overstate the overhead of the splitting process. But even now, I'd race anybody with any other method, particularly if the object is to achieve minimal waste and optimal utilization of a superb culm. You only have to save 0.050" four times to get an extra tip strip out of a culm -- and you can do that many times over by paying attention to the width you need. The saved work of subsequent removal should also be a deciding factor (even if it is mechanized, in most methods, you will pay for cutter life and suffer cut quality over a longer duration by asking your equipment to remove all that extra wood). So why even think about splitting any wider than you truly need?

      In any case, the prescription was a product of refining the halving principle to minimal waste and minimal taxation of further processes. I just don't understand there's anything to be gained by deviating from that.

      Furthermore, I can tell you that after reducing the math to a spreadsheet (for instance), where you input the width of the two culm halves and the desired base width of your tip strips and   butt   strips   (and/or  midsections,  if  you're   building 3-piece)... that all you have to do is set your vernier caliper to the indicated spitting widths, mark, and hit your driver on the marks, to which you can easily adhere to better than +- 0.005". It only takes a few seconds per split after that. Performing the process cannot be more routine. My rod design program not only prescribed all the layout/setup of mechanizations, but calculated the splitting widths and culm segmentation lengths as well. So do the math once, right, and you have it for every further application, without adieu.

      Also, I might add, that my understanding of the concept of splitting to more generic widths and suffering the waste and further costs of removal in subsequent processes largely descends from less evolved processes in more mass produced rods... where strips from other culms even were mixed in together. Just for instance, this might impose terribly impractical situations on hand planing. After all, you'll get tip widths for instance that will hardly want to stay in a planing form -- and you'll be planing or replacing your beveller's cutters long after the other guy is finished, and while they are working with the additional peace of mind he/she has spare wood to back them up, while getting two rods out of a culm, instead of maybe one.

      The math alone should be very convincing. I attribute no advantage whatsoever to the alternative process, and substantial advantages in very desirable respects, to paying attention to what we have  to do to render the strips we need.

      To see those advantages, and that the many such advantages can be reflected in our work and productivity, is what I'm trying to get across. Except for qualifying the evolution of the process, the chapter on splitting a "right" way (which is the way most conducive to the desirable objects) should be a very short one.

      I'd do it this way: Itemize what you most want to do; and then develop into one prescription every best way to achieve that object without sacrificing the others. I think you'll come up with the same method.  (Mike Montagne)

        I have just as much, if not more control of a wandering split using the hand splitting method as any other.  I demonstrated just that this past weekend at the Catskill Rodmakers Gathering to a few beginners and experienced pros during the beginners seminar.  (Mark Wendt)

          So you say.

          The additional leverage of the driver method would be superior in the beginning of the split, and expressed by the distance between the splitting driver and the forward progress causing the split.

          If you think holding the initial ends of the strip and pulling them apart imposes the forces you can exert against the splitting tool, then I'm sure your pupils remember you explaining and demonstrating just that when they witnessed that; and I'm sure the experience "pros" will use your method for ever after.  (Mike Montagne)

            I wasn't trying to be impolite.  You called the hand splitting method inferior, and I was rebutting.  I begin the split with a knife, and grab the two strips with my thumbs, pressing the sides of the strips into my palms.  I don't just grab the two ends and pull apart.  It's as controlled a split, with plenty of leverage on the strips.  Once a split is started, how much force do you need to exert?  As to the pro's using it, you'll have to ask Bob Nunley.  He's made a few rods, and he's the one that showed me how to do it.

            Never said your method was slower or more ridiculous.  If you look at my reply, I didn't denigrate your method or any other.  What works for you works for you, what works for others works for others.  (Mark Wendt)

              Your answer implies both methods exert the same physics. "Work" is a literal term, and, in respect to the presented arguments, that means it performs all of the objectives equally. Equal is also a term which literally means equally in every respect. Even the most basic students of physics would be amused anyone could think the methods "work" equally; and particularly, that your method provides the same degree and aspects of control, because it doesn't even have the means to, and because there are obvious needs for those aspects of control. But most noticeable is the fact you don't explain how the methods "work" equally; and that tells me and others like me one thing: You hardly understand the inequality... and so little so, that you dare assert equality, and expect that mere assertion to stand. Frankly, that's quite hilarious.

              Before you get that strip in your vice and drive your knife point, I'll have it split perfectly. You haven't qualified how you have all the control you claim, and frankly, if you want me to respond in detail to that, I warn it will be quite embarrassing, because another thing you evidently don't understand is that long ago I have laboriously pondered over all these issues so as, even in distant memory the answers and processes are clear from the first detail that comes to mind.

              What you evidently don't realize is there are better methods, covering [and qualified by] the respects of control, safety, accuracy, quality, and productivity which are instrumental to anyone who makes things "well." NO two DIFFERENT methods are "equal," or why would the second method even exist? Qualitatively DISTINGUISHING the difference itself is what makes given work excel.

              If it is not your interest to identify, understand, and practice better methods, then why even have a forum but to pass about all the ridiculous methods we can conjure?

              Nippers to split strips? Whatever for, unless we have never even mastered long perfected and easily mastered ways, and/or never intend to?

              In any case, you can test me for being a fool as long as you want. But there are finite possibilities of that process as well... and just one of them is the possibility you'll find publicly that there are better methods, and a man gets them by very carefully understanding everything involved.

              Meanwhile, if you are elevated by the nipper method and so forth, that's fine with me. But remember that each of us have a reputation at stake, and if you want to build one of the casual assessor that such disparate methods are equal, or even so equally desirable that whatever "works" for one person is as good as whatever different* method "works" for another, that's fine too.

              Lets be clear: that's ONLY a foundation for controversy. The methods described, and the arguments as well, do NOT "work" equally.  (Mike Montagne)

          Just remember, when splitting this way, don't stick you fingers in the split and slide them down to continue the split.  (Pete Van Schaack)

            Not unless you reaaaally enjoy bamboo splinters.  As long as you keep the two pieces you are splitting even with each other, you won't get a vertical wander.  The moment you start to pull the two strips one above the other, you will get a vertical wander.  However, just like when correcting a lengthwise wander, if you force the strips the other way, you will get back to even strips.  (Mark Wendt)

            I heavily second this, even with gloves on, you are in for a rare, crimson treat if you do!  (Joe West)

        Perhaps you haven't tried the vice method. If you have and you like your way better, that's great. If not I think you're missing out on an easier way (I used to hate splitting). However, I understand it's all in priorities too. Using various tools and practicing various techniques there probably is a better way to get everything to the exact width with no waste. I think I do pretty well with this method.  It was like a revelation when I tried it compared to other approaches.

        By the way I in fact do find it to be much easier than pushing against a driver (and safer - no splinters or flying drivers). I think the physics is more complicated than you say. When you pull apart the cane it splits naturally and easily. When you force it against a driver there are different forces at work and you are going against the nature of the material causing more friction. But I remember very little from high school physics so I will leave that to others. I will just go by my experiences. I find it takes less effort and feel like I have more control. Perhaps if i perfected the splitting driver technique it would ultimately be better, but I don't make enough rods to make that worth my while.

        I have seen experts split at various gatherings and at my relatively novice level I definitely prefer the vice method. When it was shown to others, they too were amazed. That's why rodmaking is so much fun. There really isn't one right way for everything and everybody and every need.  (Andy Harsanyi)

    Splitting is just not a big deal to me.  Wayne showed me how he did it a couple of times, I messed around with some variations and now am happy with my cbe method.  Heck, it's just bamboo!   (Brian Creek)

Rule

I appreciate the great amount of time it must have taken to describe the splitting methods, but I can't quite visualize all the descriptions. Where can I go, online or in print, to see pictures?  (Henry Mitchell)

    Basically, the splitting itself is as in the Carmichael/Garrison book. The method of subdividing the culm halves is as I described it. You're basically looking to turn things into halves, but don't need to sweat that much when you are working with wider sectors comprising groups of strips, if you work from a node at the but of each culm section, because wider strips, which won't bend around your splitting driver, naturally split very straight if the cane is treated. It's the narrower, ultimate strips which will bend, and allow any tendency of a spit to wander (though, if you heat treat first as I described, there will be almost no tendency to wander). So here really, is the only place where we have to be terribly concerned with actual halves.

    So as said in my first post, with a few additional recommendations:

    1.  When I took in a shipment of cane, I unwrapped and separated it. I washed the dust off it with water and a weak chlorine solution, carefully examining each culm as I did so. I color-coded the culms with a band of felt pen marking the butt end, circled in pencil any defects, and furthermore made any necessary notes in pencil. One to three bands of felt pen signified grade of the culm. Color signified thickness. Larger diameter and greater thickness were used for steelhead rods.

    2.  If there was an existing split in the culm, I extended it the length the culm by pounding my shortened machete along with the wooden mallet, knocking out the majority of every damn along the way -- the purpose of this being to allow the culm to open as it shrunk, without creating transverse tension in the outer fibers (which would stress them, and even cause further cracking/splitting as the culm aged further).

    3.  Culms were then stored in the rafters of my shop according to what purpose they were suited for.

    Some time later, we go to build a rod. My rod building program output the culm segments and circumferences I needed to look for, for every design I built -- and perhaps you might build a spreadsheet to do this, accounting for whatever node staggering scheme you are building for, as well as required excess strip length.

    The next step was preparation for heat treating:

    1.  I selected appropriate culms for the design prescription (providing the necessary circumferences and node positions). Your rod design application should calculate all this for you, so you don't have to do that all the time, and you don't even have to worry about a mistake.

    2.  I cut the culm into the necessary segments. These were measured from a central node, which was eliminated -- and this respect of the process therefore resulted in a rod with not only a minimal number of nodes, but no node anywhere near a ferrule or tip, because culm segments were generally selected in which the upper end of the tip segment fell just short of a node. As the culm would usually have 16 to 18 inches between nodes in this region, and because I concentrated bending in the upper portion of the rod, and because I deployed a purposely minimalized node stagger of 1 inch (x4)... the most delicate, flexible parts of my rods had no nodes in them. (Just a few principles to observe.)

    3.  Now, we rasp and file down this uniformly minimal number of nodes. The whole round segment is easier to do this with on your workbench.

    4.  Next we halve the culm segment with our shortened machete. Maybe I should describe a good workbench. My main bench was 4' x 12'. On one side of the 12' length, I'd C-clamp a 12-ft pine 1x10 -- to the end of which I glued and screwed the 4-inch face of a 2x4, as a stop. You simply place the tipward end of the culm segment against the stop, and drive a flat/straight-backed, shortened machete (w about 10 inches of blade) into the opposite side of the first split.

    5.  After halving, we knock out the damns with a gouge and your big wooden mallet. The gouge should be sharp, to avoid stressing material within the damn; and you should avoid taking too large a chunk from the damn at the same time, to observe the same purpose.

    6.  Now, I heat treated for 24 hours at less than 150 degrees. Why? Burn a vegetable, and it may be somewhat stiff -- but it will be very brittle. Cook it a long time at low heat, and it will be tough. High heat destroys what holds the fibers together. Resilience is obligatory. Lots of testing I did told me this was the toughest you could make your cane. Do it however you want (though you'd have a tough time convincing me there is a better process); but observe that a principal object here is rendering a material which will endure and which will provide for controllable splitting.

    From here on, the cane is always stored in a drying closet; and now we're ready to split strips:

    1.  Your butts come from the butt culm segment. Look for the best wood, and set your vernier caliper for your base strip width plus a minimal excess of material. The math is easy... and I decided on 0.050 of excess material... so my math algorithms calculated splitting widths of strip base width plus 0.050. Lay that out with your vernier and a sharp pencil, on the bottom node of each segment.

    2.  Now you can simply visualize how to divide the culm segment into relatively equal sectors; and you drive the splitter into a mark demarking that sector from other such sectors. Each sector you split into after the first split should result in all further splitting into halves. The number of strips in resultant sectors therefore must be 16 or.. which splits into 8, or 8 which splits into 4, or 4 which splits into 2.

    How do you do that? Well, to do a butt of my rectangular section for instance, I could usually just split on the mark indicating the far side of the 4th butt strip, even though that wasn't half the total sector, and the sector which resulted involved two strips wider than the two adjacent strips. Why? Because, across the wider sector, you don't get flexing around your splitting driver, and your treated cane will split straight. Easy.

    Now I have a sector with 2 wider strips and 2 narrower strips -- only slightly different, but which, because they are still so wide you won't get lateral bending around your splitting tool, will split straight. So I split this 4-strip sector into two, on the mark I've laid out between the wider strips and narrower pair of strips. Still no problem, because there is negligible lateral bending in the strip pairs around the splitting driver.

    On the final split, we are heading straight down these resultant sectors,  into  two  equal  strips.  Here,  there  might  be  an ever-so-small tendency to wander, but we can readily control that, even at high speed of our left hand driving the sector against the splitting tool.

    In each case, your screw driver, sharpened as I prescribed (with a rounded curvature to the original flat face [so it drives into the culm on a curved point], and with all this sharpened, right up the sides of the blade), is simply driven into the mark at the node, clean and solidly into the pine board; and is held by your right hand (if you are right-handed), while a gloved hand pushes the strip against the splitting driver, causing the split to progress ahead of the driver. You can pull the strip away from the driver to pop the split out the butt of the sector; and then you push it from left to right toward the driver to finish the split. The tipward end of the culm segment being to your left (and reverse all this for lefties).

    Every strip should be identified in pencil, at the node, before you do this.

    3.  I'd then rasp the interior of the node flat, flip the strip, run a hand scraper down the apex of the strip's enamel side (clamping it with spring clamps to an overhanging edge of the pine splitting board), and hand sand with a sanding block to finished exterior surfaces which will not have material removed from them further.

    Now, with 6 strips you have a somewhat different situation; and to deal with that, as I recommended, when you do the tips you might need, to get equal initial sectors, to do a dummy split in excess wood, which gives you an adjacent, used sector, which is equal.

    But I think in most cases you probably won't even have to do this, particularly as you're usually going to want to try to build two tips -- you should have equal sectors (populated with a necessary "halving" multiple, which can readily be taken from each culm half).

    In any case, as my upper tip sections were comprised of more dramatically differentiated work-performing and side flat widths, the task was more challenging than the 6-strip situation (because the split of the final sectors preceding the splits into final strips could not be equal [if I adhered to minimal waste]). How did I account for this here? Take the four wider strips together as one sector, and the narrower ones as another. Nevertheless, observing all this, the job was so embarrassingly easy, I think it overly complimentary that "hand split" strips be perceived to be confront us with issues which are intensive or challenging. It's just a matter of observing simple principles.

    If the split wanders at all from center, you forcefully push the wider side laterally against the driver so as the lateral bending causing the split is dispersed to the wider strip. More of that strip will then tend to split away... as the narrowing strip will be inert or more inert in bending... and therefore... by simply watching the centering of the split, you can keep it at center at high speed, with a very automated effort. Moreover, as you're splitting from the buttward end toward the tip, it is not critical that you lose material toward the tipward ends.

    Now we have a set of strips  (even if they require different widths, as in my rectangular section) which only require 0.025 removed from each side (while no less could be provided for toward the tips, unless we could split out tapered strips, and that corresponding waste -- which of course is impractical).

    Hope that helps. The splitting process itself is well enough illustrated in the Carmichael/Garrison book.  (Mike Montagne)

    If at all possible, go to one of the gatherings. There is usually at least one demonstration at them or a newbies workshop.  If not, ask someone there and you will have several people willing to show you different methods.

    Short of that, there are the videos of Wayne's and Russ'. I haven't seen Russ' so I don't know if splitting is demonstrated. If anyone seen that one help out here.  (Rich Jezioro)

      The Golden Witch videos are quite good. I have only seen one and two, but I liked them so far. Learned a bit. They saw out the strips, so I don't think it will help with splitting.

      The Garrison and Digger videos show the Garrison splitting technique.  (Bob Maulucci)

        I know warping is a problem with wood when you relieve pressure on a board by sawing. Is it the same with bamboo? Will the bamboo warp or twist when you saw it?   (Shawn Hawkins)

          They saw parallel to the grain. It is sort of like splitting with a saw blade.

          Maybe Mike knows how this would affect the cane.   (Bob Maulucci)

          I don't know about sawing, but the bamboo does warp when planing under certain conditions, for example, if you plane after heat treating.  My usual practice is to plane the strips down to approximately .015" - .020" oversize to allow for the shrinkage that will occur when heat treating, then bind and heat treat, then plane to final dimension.  My guess is that the shrinkage that occurs creates tension within the strips.  When you plane the inner two surfaces, the tension in these two surfaces is released.  The tension remaining in the upper or outside surface causes the strip to curve (warp) in an outward direction.  (Ted Knott)

    Not to throw another monkey wrench it to the game here, but I saw a very easy splitting method demonstrated at the Catskills Gathering I think by Ron Barch. It involved tile cutter pliers, the ones with the squared end. He simply started at one end and nipped his way down the piece of bamboo making a nice 1/4" split.   (Pete Van Schaack)

      I've heard talk of that method before.  Sure would love to see someone demo that.  (Harry Boyd)

        Buy yerself a pair of tile nippers, and I'll show ya how he did it when we meet at the SRG.  (Mark Wendt)

          Way slow... and better steer far away from that 1/4" edge if the material in your strips is to have structural integrity.

          I wouldn't recommend this for those who, when they change things, do so for the better.

          You can split a strip with firecrackers too.  (Mike Montagne)

          After meeting Mark, don't know if anyone would be safe around him with a pair of nippers!!  ;)  g

          Pretty simple, after the initial split in half, start at one end and snip, the split travels, where it stops snip again, keep going until your done. Might be a little time consuming, but you start with a 1/4" and keep on going. Looks easy enough.  (Pete Van Schaack)

          The tile nippers work for me.  (Larry Puckett)

          Since I have done a lot of ceramic work in my early days, I naturally had a set of nippers out in my tool drawer. All you've got to do is take aim and squeeze and they work great!  I know that because I just ran out to the shop (through the rain) and tried them.  I've had those darned things knocking around my shop for over twenty years and finally found a use for them besides making mosaics. Thanks a bunch!  (Dick Steinbach)

        I saw Bob Maulucci's Bellinger saw and from what I saw that saw would make all of our lives easier. Straight strips right from the saw!

        Now if they'd just lower the price from $2-3K to $500!

        I know that there was discussion in the past of grain runout, but I'd thought that the idea that the power fibers are more than an inch or so long was debunked empirically and quantitatively???  (Joe West)

          No way can you saw those strips as fast as the splitting method I described; and moreover, the culm has taper in it: each successive cut will be progressively transverse to the path of the grain -- even if you start with a split, to follow the grain.

          Anyone who spent $15 on a saw that would have less speed, require maintenance, and inherently will deviate from the intended purpose...wasted their money because they couldn't understand a simple process, nor follow simple directions.  (Mike Montagne)

            I believe part of the problem with this thread is that the vocabulary used is of such a high order that the vast majority of the readers here are thinking, "I wonder what he means when he says that?"   Basal half dimensions and transverse paths to the grain aside,  we are talking about making a STICK.  With a string.  To chase trout.  I am having fun with my online dictionary.  (Chris Raine)

              It's still English. But the gist of the matter is, what we do and how we do it "matters." If all sticks were JUST sticks, we'd take the even shorter shortcut, pull a stick out of the mud, and club fish to death before gentlemen released them. In the later stage of that evolutionary process, assumably, sticks might not be mere sticks any more -- and we might even require a specialized vocabulary useful to understanding what others might describe as an equal art, with the word, "duh."  (Mike Montagne)

      You know, this process of splitting bamboo is essentially a simple one; most of the difficulties come when we try to complicate the task.

      We do tend to be gear freaks, we rodmakers, and often we would sooner use some Heath-Robinsonian apparatus than a simple method. That's fine if what you want to do is spend some time playing with your apparatus while splitting strips.  Very satisfying, all those tools to play with!

      But if all you want to do is split your culm into usable strips with a minimum of waste and a minimum wastage of time and effort, just use a wood vice to hold the piece of bamboo, mainly to prevent the split from running away from you, start the split using some kind of froe, progress it along by pulling it apart with your hands, and ease the split through the more stubborn nodes by gently twisting it with the froe.

      Nothing could be more simple, more direct, more economical, or quicker.

      Occasionally, no matter what method you employ, you will stuff up a strip.  Big deal.  You will stuff up fewer using your hands, of that I am certain.

      There are several descriptions of the process on Todd's tip site.  I know that I put one on there a couple of years ago, and I know that there are more.  (Peter McKean)

      I don't get all the fuss. Every week I split nearly 130 strips in about an hour using an old paring knife and my two hands. I split consistent strips down to 0.18" and I've shown many others this simple method. I know Channer does the same thing with a carpet knife. Maybe we are just to dumb to figure out anything more complex! (of course I'm only speaking for myself, John)  (Jeff Fultz)

    People take things to the extreme too many times to bypass the natural way of dealing with wood or in this case grass. For this explanation I will refer to bamboo as a wood even though it is technically a grass because it behaves and performs more like a wood than a grass. Bamboo has the straightest grain of any of the woods. Even ash or spruce can't compare with the cohesiveness of the fibers. Sure you could saw the strips, but why. There is a quote by George Nakashima that is going to be my signature from now on, because of it's eloquence and pertinence in the art of building anything out of a natural material. It explains the purpose of the maker; not to form a piece of wood into an object but to chose the object according to the piece of wood. It is paramount to the maker that he/she find the form in the wood and create the object accordingly. It is the Zen way of doing things. You must see the form in the wood and act in a way to benefit you and the object you are making. No matter what you do,  you will have runout in the fibers of bamboo, why saw a culm to get strips when you could split and reduce the runout from the very start and save that 1/8th of an inch that you will loose due to kerf. If you saw, for every three strips you make you will loose the equivalent of one 1/4 inch strip give or take.   (Shawn Hawkins)

Rule

I was going to ask about splitting bamboo, and like so many things in rod building, the task can be accomplish a number of ways.   (I expect a lot of guys to jump in here and help the new guys....)

Here are my steps.

* Split the bamboo culm in two.

I have a cheap machete that I cut down to abut 16in for the original splitting.

* Take out the dams.

I got the idea of using Iron pipe nipples of 1",  1 1/4" and 1 1/2'.  I cut them off at an angle and sharpened them a bit.   They are a hell of a lot cheaper than tools from Woodcrafters.

* Split each half into threes.

I do most of my splitting on the floor of my car port.   I have a 1x2 hardwood scrap about 6 in long.  I place one end of the bamboo, face down, on the block and split with an old screw driver and a small mallet.   I usually start the split at the first node.   It will split up and down the culm.    Then I straddle the 1/2 culm and use my (gloved) hands to split.   I find doing this allows me to look directly down at the work and seems to give me more control.  It's like riding a bike,  I kind of "lean" into the direction I want the split to go, pulling with the inside hand.

* Splitting thirds into half and half again.

I do the same with the six strips I end up with.  First split in half and then half again.   Start at the first node and work my way down, straddling the bamboo.  (I do this on my knees).  If the node is too far down, you may have to use a screwdriver or other tool to split to the top of the bamboo.  No big deal. 

Most bamboo has a tendency to "Creep" or "Jump" at nodes.  I go through nodes very slowly.

I try to divide the bamboo equally.  I don't worry about width of the strip as long as it's wide enough.  It's better to be to wide than to thin.  You can always take it off, but it's hard to put it back on.

Sometimes I get a strip that simply has a mind of it's own.  No matter what I do, it goes to one side or the other.  I set these aside and if there's enough bamboo (say 4 feet or more) I'll stick it in a pile of spares.   (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I would like to share this amendment to the method with all. I sand the nodes before splitting with an orbital Dewalt sander 100 grit sometimes 80 to work faster. Then split and remove nodal dams. then I sand those flush with some kind of abrasive 6" disk I found @ Home Depot. it is very very stiff and like 50 grit. but when you bend it it takes like the perfect arc for 2.5" diameter bamboo. now with a culm smoothed I find one good edge and score with a little device I made using a razor blade, small clamp, and block of wood(kind of a stop block effect). Set for exactly like 3/8th I think. run that twice down the pith side on my one good edge. then take a box cutter and run in same scored cut a few times to deepen cut.(you got it) you can cut clean thru, BUT I stop and then break the new strip off with pliers, sometimes with bare hands. There are a few strings to clean and/or separate, small potatoes to me because each strip is exactly the same and very little waste, absolutely no creep or wandering of the split.

    Clean edge of culm with plane and repeat.  (Geremy Hebert)

      You guys ought to try sawing your strips.  No creep or wandering there either...(Mark Wendt)

        It all sounds good, but how well do they plane? You know, those nasty nodes?  (Bob Norwood)

          They plane just dandy.  I've not had a problem planing sawn strips, though I do my rough beveling with a machine.  (Mark Wendt)

            My question is how do you saw the strips so they come out as trapezoids, ie: slightly wider at the butt than the tip in order to keep the sawn line as close as possible to the centerline of this ever-tapering cylinder section?? Do you have a fixture that you clamp, say the quarter culm, to and make an offset for each strip cut or do you mark the nominal centerline of the quarter section and halve, and then mark and halve again?  Any insight and/or drawings, pictures of such a setup would be appreciated.  (Al Baldauski)

              I don't really think you need to worry about that.  The amount of waste that you'd encounter wouldn't be that high to cause alarm.  When I'm splitting, I'm normally splitting in halves, but the difference from the bottom of the strip to the top isn't that much of a big deal.  If I had a choice, I'd rather have strips that are nice & square on the sides.  I usually do a little cleanup planing on the sides of the strips so that I can clamp them in the vise better when working on nodes.  (Todd Talsma)

              I don't worry about them coming out trapezoidal.  Since I use a power rough beveler, I try to get the strips as close to rectangular as possible.  I cut my strips 3/8" wide, using a homebrew resaw fence.  I had made one up of metal, but it kinda broke apart at the silver solder joint where the steel pin is held in place on the aluminum bracket that mounts to the bandsaw fence.  While it stayed together, it worked great.  Needs a little reengineering to make it stay together.  For the time being, I've gone back to a homebrew wooden resaw fence, a la Bob Maulucci.   (Mark Wendt)

          Could you enlighten us on your sawing techniques. I sawed strips on the band saw but getting them to run straight  seemed difficult because there's no  straight edge to guide the strip on a fence. I used a pin like the one you use to "free hand" on a router table.  (Doug Easton)

            Yep, I use the pin too.  It's just careful manipulation of the strip to keep the cut running straight.  Make sure your saw blade is nice and tight, and move the top blade guide down as close as you can comfortably get to the top of the cane to keep the blade from wandering.  The hardest part about resawing, which is what this is really doing, is making sure your blade tracks straight, and when it looks like it's starting to wander, make a small correction on the strip to bring the cut back in line.  That's why the "pin" is used rather than a straight fence.  The straight fence doesn't allow you any movement of the strip to compensate for blade wander.  And, no matter how tight you get your bandsaw blade, or how close you get the top guide, and bandsaw blade will wander, even the tiniest bit.  The trick is to stay ahead of the cut, and watch what it's doing and make small compensations, rather than waiting until the cut has wandered a lot, and have to make a big compensation.  The other thing to remember, is that whatever wanders happen on the cut will be passed on to the next strip you cut.  Sometimes, it helps to switch sides on the piece that you are cutting from.   (Mark Wendt)

    If you guys really want to split culms quickly, efficiently, have uniform strips (from one end to the other), and be able to split out a whole culm or just a single strip, then read below:

    Cut the culm sections to length, flame if you're gonna, then split the culm in half (I use a small garden machete as my froe, but any heavy bladed knife will work).

    Next, find a paring knife with the thinnest blade you can, and clamp it in your bench vise.

    Put a piece of masking tape around the tip (thin) end of each half culm. Take a pair of dividers/compass, and set the gape to the appropriate strip width using your dial calipers (the width you select will depend on the finished width of the strips you are trying to achieve.  Make sure you give yourself say 20% over to start, but when you get good at this you can split really close and save yourself a whole lot of planing.  I've gotten as many as 33 strips out of a tip section of a culm before).

    Mark off your tape along the circumference  (if you want to make your life easy adjust the width of each mark to get a total divisible by four; but again once you get up to speed odd numbers work out just fine).  Score the tape at the marks.

    Now find the mark nearest to the centerline of the half culm, place it against the knife in the vise (the blade perpendicular to the wall of the culm), and tap the end of the culm with a mallet to get the split started.  Run the split the full length of the culm.

    Now do it again dividing the halves into halves (you should be down to quarter with strips).

    Find the half-width mark of one of the strips, and get a split started toward the first node. From this point, we're gonna leave the vise except for problem strips.

    Make sure you're wearing good/tough leather gloves, and pick up a screw driver (preferably one with a chromed shaft). place the shaft into the started split.  Holding the screwdriver handle in the 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers of one hand, the strip between the 2nd & 3rd fingers, hook your index finger (2nd finger) over the shaft by the working end.  Keeping the shaft perpendicular to the enamel of the strip, pull the screwdriver toward the ground (where the butt of the strip is resting).  The round shaft will exert the same amount of pressure on each side of the split and should divide the strip evenly into two sections.  If the split starts to walk to one side, use your other hand to pull the fat side away from the screwdriver and the split should walk back to center.

    Using this method yo can split strips into 3 equal sections (by always pulling the fat side).

    If you get a stubborn node, or a strip with crazy grain that really wants to walk out, you can put the strip you're splitting back into the vise at a node.  This let's you have both hands to work with, the strip securely clamped, and really lets yo work the screwdriver and pull the fat side of the split at the same time.  With the clamp pressure at a node (or anywhere for that matter), the split can't run thru the vise, which lets you control the split over any length you want (it can't run away from you).

    I hope my description is clear enough - if not shoot me some questions and i'll try to clarify things.  (Chris Obuchowski)

    I posted this some time ago, with all there posts on splitting, I thought I would post it again. It might help some of the newcomers. I split in halves but always end up having to split in thirds. When splitting in thirds you always have a "fat" side. That will cause the split to walk away from the "fat" side and give you a spear on the end of a strip.

    What works for me is this:

    I have a 4X4 post in my shop. The split is started and brought down a few inches. The edge of the "fat" side is put against the post and some body English against the "fat" side to bow it away from the split. You can control the direction of the split by the pressure you use against the "fat" side. It takes me longer to type this than it takes to make the split. The corner of a workbench can be used in place of the 4X4, I just happen to have the post in the shop and it is convenient for me to use.  (Tony Spezio)

Rule

This has been posted before, but it is so cool that it is worth repeating.

1. Split 1 inch strips out of the culm. This should work by tapping in the froe and twisting it.

2. Start an even split at the end of your 1 inch wide strip by tapping it with an old knife to start two half inch strips. Work the split open a just a few inches with a knife.

3. Put the strip in a vise enamel side up. The vise should clamp the strip just past the first node below your split. The long part of the strip is sticking out the other end of the vise.

4. Use your hands to bend the two strips open. It will split down to the node just in front of the vise. Loosen the jaws and advance the strip to just past the next node.

5. If it starts to wander, bend the fat strip to get it back on track. Loosen the vise, advance the cane to "just past the next node" and retighten. split again - keep going until you have two 1/2 inch strips.

6. Repeat again, this time taking your 1/2 inch strips and splitting them into 1/4 inch strips.

I think that bending by hand makes you apply even pressure, and bending the fat side keeps the split right down the middle. I rarely lose a strip since I have been doing it this way. I first saw this done by Bob Nunley.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I forgot something. After you get to 1 inch strips, whack off the nodal dams with the froe. I just wield it like a machete and knock them off.

    When you get to 1/2 inch strips, plane any remaining nodal dam material off. I think this helps prevent bad things as the split is worked through the node area. I have no proof of this whatsoever, I just do it that way.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

Rule

Has anyone tried wet splitting?  I looked through the archives and Todd's site and didn't see any mention of it.  If you've tried it, how'd it go?  (Ron Larsen)

    I just split a couple of wet strips. When I took them out of the soaking tube I decided to get them thinner. I don't think that it was any easier to control them, but it was easier to split them and the splinters weren't as sharp. That being said, it wasn't a double-blind controlled study...I may try again with even more strips to see if there is an improvement in control or not.  (Henry Mitchell)

Rule

I'm following Wayne Cattanach's book on my splitting, as well reading through the archives on the list, but still have a question on leaf nodes... My tip culm has leaf nodes close to 2 of the nodes, I guess first is that normal on most culms? It was  rated an A- culm

So would you modify your splitting from the halves, thirds, halves method...in order to split around a leaf node? or just split as normal and discard a strip(s) with a leaf node?  (Chuck Smith)

    I don't pay much attention to leaf nodes when splitting.  Discard the strips, or if you can, work them into your node stagger so they get cut out and discarded.  (Robert Kope)

    I always insure that I can work splits around the sprouts! What I do is split right down the middle of those if I can, then split just enough off of the edge to get rid of them... Those splits go in the burn pile.

    I think if you'll check Harry Boyd's web site, Harry's Web Page on Rodmaking, there is a video on the page I linked to, of him demonstrating a method that was derived years ago from things Peter McKean and I wrote on splitting, using hand pressure instead of a froe or knife... this was back in the days that Pterodactyls ruled the skies and T-Rex walked the earth... early days of the listserv! In any case, using that method, you can control that "edge split" and get rid of that nasty node sprout and go on with splitting out the rest of your pole.  (Bob Nunley)

Rule

FWIW, I split a little different way. Instead of clamping the knife in the vise I clamp the end of the culm outside of the bamboo that will be used and hold onto the other end. I find this gives me the control that I need with the knife. Instead of pushing the culm into the knife I twist the knife to advance the split. It also lets me sneak up on the nodes to within an inch and then split through under complete control. I use the conventional method of splitting halves and then halves etc. whenever possible. My tips and butt strips are made roughly the same size on my homemade beveller and go into the oven bound up like that. A little problem though, which I haven't exactly decided on how to deal with is when you need an extra strip for a section because you find a flaw in one of the cooked ones. How would you guys cook that one? With five other waste strips kept aside for that purpose?

Anybody else use this splitting method?  (Don Ginter)

    Maybe I'm mistaken, but this sounds a bit like the methods Peter McKean has described in the archives, whereby you clamp the culm in a vise at the node and split up to the node, then clamp at the next node, etc.  I totally messed up a culm first time out by trying other methods.  Stumbled on to this, emailed Peter to clarify a detail, and then proceeded to successfully split my second culm. (Alan Boehm)

      Actually I don't grip the culm at the nodes, I grip it in the vise at the end of the culm and walk up the culm to the vise, then release the culm and give the knife a final twist. (Don Ginter)

    I split butts and mids to 20 pieces per culm, and tips to 28. As someone suggested earlier, that allows for a two tipped rod plus a few extras for leaf bumps, etc. And it gives plenty of room on the butt strips to compensate for strips with skewed angles.  (Harry Boyd)

    The 'problem' you cite is two(or more)- fold. First it's necessary to find a spare piece with the proper node spacing and adequate length to match the inferior strip. When (if) that's accomplished, my method is to repeat the steps up to the point of heat-treat, bind the new strip into a narrow grooved board with the enamel side exposed, and then repeat the heat-treat regimen. I have some narrow boards with multiple grooves, and some with grooves on both sides. Time consuming and a real pain, but one does what one must do. Ha?  (Vince Brannick)

      I started with binding all strips together and like the method because of the added straightness it gives the strips. I do however see how your method gets by the need for extra strips. The extra strips I always have because I don't build two tips for a two piece. I get two rods out of a good clean Culm with a few left over usually.  (Don Ginter)

    It's happened enough times to me that a problem turns up with one or sometimes two of the six strips, so my practice is to try to always have at least one and preferably two spares go through the heat treat process. For heat treating I bind the spares to the outside of the bundle of six, pith sides out.  (Mike McGuire)

    Sorry, confusing!  I don't clamp the knife in the vice; I do exactly what you do.

    The vice is used only to limit the distance the split can run when you pull on the strips, and the knife is to (1) start the split and (2) twist through the nodes.  (Peter McKean)

    As to heat treat the extra strip, with a convection oven and M-D's fixtures, you just bind the extra strip(s) to the fixtures, and heat treat as per normal.  (Mark Wendt)

    I simply try to have leftover strips. I have three M-D fixtures, but heat treat butts and tips separately. I heat treat 18 tip strips and 12 butt strips. If all goes well I have enough for a one-tip rod in addition to the planned rod. Sometimes I get two two-tip rods out of a culm, usually not. Surplus Franken-strips are used for experimentation. (Henry Mitchell)

      Yes, I've heard that the MD fixtures put an end to the problem of needing another strip or two cooked. Apparently you can just cook one on the fixture if needed. Definitely a step up in the right direction for us. Gotta have a look at one of those things some day.  (Don Ginter)

        If I happen to need a replacement strip I slip one in the fixture and cook it. I find it cooks well. (Tony Spezio)

        Yes, they work wonderfully  for less than a full loading of strips. I was one of M-D's guinea pigs before he brought them to market, and I've been using them ever since. There have been plenty of times where I've cooked less than a full load of strips on the forms, and I've never had a problem with them. Get thee hie to Harry Boyd's Ye Olde Rodde Shoppe and get yerself a set. You'll never regret that purchase.  (Mark Wendt)

    Regarding the extra strip this problem goes away if you bake right off the bat, either whole culms or split strips. I do not bind my strips, I throw them right in the oven loose, then soak, straighten, rough, bevel rough, bevel prelim, hand plane to final. This process is not a new idea or an idea unique to me. I never liked the bind to heat treat ritual it really seems to slow the rodmaking process. Has lost of other advantages including heat treating single strips with same results.

    On my last 2 rods I have gotten into the habit of making 2 extra butt and 2 extra tip strips off the bat and then just take the 2 spares to the rough bevel stage. They are there if you need them (which for me is more often than not). After 3 rods you have enough spares to make a 2 by 2 by 2 stagger frankenrod section with strips from different culms,  good for experimental tapers etc.  (John Rupp)

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