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Splitting - Wandering

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When splitting, bending only the fat side and not putting any bend into the thin side moves the split back to the middle - splitting cane got enormously easier once I got the hang of this idea!  (Ralph MacKenzie)


I'm having problems splitting the culm. The splits keep walking off the bamboo before I get to the other end.  I've got the culm split into sixths just fine.  It's getting the sixths in half that's giving me a problem.  I do already have the nodal dams knocked out.  (Kris Fox)

    I split by hand. I put the strip, at the first node, in a vise. I start the split with a knife, about 3-4 inches, then pull the strips apart with equal pressure to the first nodal area. I reset the strip with the next node in the jaws of the vise, and repeat. it seems to me that the split wanders when we go through the nodal area, and having pressure at that point seems to help.

    Now your split will still wander when you use this method, but I don't think nearly as much as with other methods. if it wanders, just bend more on the side it is wandering towards (I think. I'm left handed and it's a little different for us.) you can use a pencil to mark in front and behind the nodes, if you need something to aim for. in no time you will find moving the strip so quickly thru the vise you'll run out of bamboo. and then go looking for more.

    When I first used this technique, I had so much fun doing it I didn't want to stop.  word of caution, use gloves.

    I believe this method was a gift from the old fart, McKean, and Nunley.  (Mike Canazon)

    Instead of using a knife to start the split, use a large pair of wire cutters. Place them where you want the split to start and squeeze "Presto" the split is started and you still have all of your fingers. I saw this from Chuck Irvine at the Bishop Gathering and it works like a charm.  (Adam Vigil)

    How are you splitting? Knife in the vise? Freehand? You could always buy a Wandishin Splitter, and never have to worry about such things.  (Martin-Darrell)

      Use the Nunley/McKean method and the whole job will be over in 15 minutes.  (Tony Young)

        I can attest to that.  After finally seeing a demo of it at the SRG this year, when I got home I tried it on my wife's rod project, and splitting the strips was almost too easy.  (Mark Wendt)

          It's like that isn't it? You find yourself just warming up when it's all finished and look for another culm just for the fun of it.  (Tony Young)

          I used to split with a knife mounted in a vise. Tom Smithwick showed me how to split by hand once the split was started and it was a pleasure.  (Marty DeSapio)

            I hold the culm in the vise then make the initial split with a chisel and a BGH (bloody great hammer). I prefer a mortise chisel but I'm a purist with these things [:-)]

            A mortise chisel widens more than a bench chisel so the split runs further, generally to the first node but it doesn't matter of course. That keeps my hands out of harms way and causes the split to run quite a long way down the culm in a straight line you can easily continue. From there on it's pure bliss.  (Tony Young)

              I had a lot of trouble getting good strips when splitting the cane, then I read in the Sept/Oct 2000 issue of  "The Planing Form" an article by Ted R Barnhart, Jr. about using  tile nipper pliers to split cane. I have tried his method and it does work.....I first split with a six-way splitter, then smooth the pith side of the strips, then use the nippers.  (Larry Fraysier)

                You might have missed the post I made a few months ago about using the Hida splitter. First split six ways to about 8" from the bottom. Remove the splitter and tape the six strips together about 3 inches from the top. Now start the splitter in the middle of six strips and split down to about 8". Again remove the splitter and re-tape the top end. Start the splitter in the middle of the next six strips. Now you have 12 strips. These 12 can be split in half again and it will give you 24 strips or the option of more if your strips are wide enough. You can get one more shot at it  and get 36 strips. If you are real brave, you can go for 42. My splitter is a five blade and I have done 30 strips by the above way. This also gives you the option to split narrow and wide strips from same part of the round section culm.  (Tony Spezio)

              I use a thin knife, eyeball the middle of the strip, give it a gentle whack to start the split, remove the knife and use my hands and rip the split in two with equal force. I support the end of the strip against the corner of the wall and floor. If the split wander to one side (rarely), I keep the fat side straight and pull only the thin side. A good alternative to the Wandishin star splitter I think. I don't have any lath or Hand Mill either.  (Danny Twang)

                Unless you are into production rod building why bother with the expense. After the symposium I came back home and used the thin knife method. It really works. I can split those babies 1/4 inch wide without any problem. After you start the split just put the knife in your vice and start pushing. It works great.  (Mark Dyba)

                  I used this method prior to the acquisition of the Wandishin Splitter, and had little trouble doing the same. It worked for me just fine. No complaints.  (Martin-Darrell)

                  I just recently watched the Degere video.  He splits like a wild man, but he uses the shaft of a screwdriver.  Works great for him.  (Ralph Moon)

                    Bret Reiter showed me how to split by putting a round shanked screwdriver in a piece of 2x4 and then securing it in a vise.  I had a horrible time figuring out splitting before he showed me this.   It works like a dream.

                    Another key to splitting in my book is to always try to split halves after the initial splits to 6 pieces.  It's a lot easier to keep the splits under control.  (Todd Talsma)


I have some bamboo (purchased in '99) that I've been going to use on my first rod. Well, I finally got around to trying to split it into 1/4" strips. I used up a whole butt section and didn't get a usable strip due to not splitting straight.  As a beginner I have no idea why this is happening.  (Wil Gatliff)

    See "Selecting and Splitting Cane" at my web site.  (Ron Grantham)

    Tough break! I think everyone has had a similar experience in the beginning stages. I can remember splitting a whole culm to get a single rod at first. Strips tapering from 3/4" down the 6' length (sometimes not even that far) and disappearing into strands of bamboo at the other.

    Many culms later, I find that the technique that works best for me is to mark the strip widths I want on the end of the culm, I then half  the culm and half them again. Once the strips are small enough to fit in my little 4" vise I clamp the strip about 1' from the end and start my split, then I move the strip along about 2 feet grabbing the two strips like a set of reins putting pressure in either direction to keep the split going straight. Sounds kind of strange, but once you get the hang of it you can split down to very tiny strips straight.  (Shawn Pineo)

    I am puzzled, and I suspect that the problem might be even more complex than I thought.  First off let me say that you should eagerly embrace all the help offered to you by rodmakers near you.  That sort of help is priceless, particularly because there are a number of terrific builders near you.

    You wrote however, that you have had no luck with the archives, and that makes me wonder how many more of you that are not aware of what an extraordinary resources the archives are.  In my opinion, every rod maker embarking on a shady area should read the archives first.  ANY RODMAKER, not just neophytes.  I found 675 messages relating to splitting and attendant problems.  I am sure that your problem was covered.  For those who do not know how to access the archives, go here.  Type in a search entry into Frank Stetzer’s search engine and there you are.  Thanks again to all who are or have been part of the archives.  (Ralph Moon)

      I can't agree more.  First of all, the archives give you 90% of the information you need to build a rod (or tool, etc.).  The information in the archives is a bit cumbersome to get through, but it augments most bamboo rod making books very nicely with alternative methods to completing a step (the books do a great job of which step first, second, third).

      Second, the archives are just plain fun to read.  When I first started rod making (not too long ago mind you), I spent hours reading threads on techniques that seemed difficult or complicated and learned a lot about why one might do things a certain way. 

      Third, the archives are a great refresh reference for steps you are having problems with or to solve problems.  Most of the time when I encounter a problem, I pursue the following steps:

      1. Panic

      2. Look at my library of rod making books

      3. Look in the archives

      4. Call or e-mail my nearby friends

      5. Ask the list for help

      There are times that my library isn't available when I have the question or I might skip to the chase and ask the list (but normally, I'm familiar with what topics are in the archive).   There are also times I want a fresh perspective on a technique in the archive (an interactive dialogue).  This list is an amazing resource and I'm proud to be a member.  (Scott Turner)


Well I finally got out to my shop tonight to take a crack at splitting some bamboo for my first rod.  Earlier in the week I got some "practice cane strips" from a local rodmaker and have been messing around with those for the last few nights. 

So tonight I selected my taper, after reading the archives, when out to the shop and selected what I considered to be the worst culm I had and proceeded to start splitting.  It split in half just fine, then each half split into thirds okay, then everything went to h$*!. 

I tried splitting each third in two and ruined half a culm trying to keep the split from walking off the edge.  Finally I gave up and split everything down to half an inch and figured I'd just plane more off in the roughing stage.  I tried this on one piece in my first rough planing form and half an hour later I realized that it would take me all winter just to rough plane one rod - bad idea.

I came inside and told my wife that this whole bamboo rod building idea was stupid.  Eventually I went to the site and read the splitting tips.  I read about the "put it in the vise and pull the wider side of the cut (which by the way the local rodmaker I visited had shown me and I must not have gotten it) while holding the thinner side."

Then I went back outside and tried it.  WOW!!!  AMAZING!!!  Whoever first posted that method should get a medal or something.  I was able to split right down the middle a whole lot smaller than I ever thought I'd be able to.  In fact I turned my pile of strips into enough to make two rods.  I probably split some of them too small, but I just couldn't help myself.  I kept thinking "I can split that."  (Aaron Gaffney)

    I think we have all done that. I tried to split single strips off the half culm on my first try. Did not want a lot of loose strips to keep up with. No need to tell you it was a disaster.

    A rodmaker from Maine mentioned, "bend the fat side away from the split if the split is running off."  That is all it took to get me splitting like a pro. When splitting thirds, I put the end of the "Fat" side against a post in the shop. A bit of body English against the "Fat" side bending it away from the split and a perfect split every time.

    Do what works for you.  (Tony Spezio)


I am almost too embarrassed to post this, but today was my first attempt at splitting with pathetic results.  I split two 6' sections and ended up with roughly 12 decent butts and 14 tip pieces with a few extras that should be usable.  My understanding is that you should be able to get roughly 24 strips per section.  The two methods utilized involving splitting with the hands only, and using a dull knife in a vise.  The knife/vise approach seemed to offer more control, but the wandering from the middle was still difficult to control as well as getting straight pieces.  (Ron Delesky)

    Another reason to make nodeless.  (Geert Poorteman)

    That's about right for your first splitting experience. Did you flame the culm first?  I've found that a light-moderate flamed culm is a lot easier to  control your splits with. You will get better.  So you ended up with enough to make 2 one tip rods on your first try.   I think that's better than I did.  I think my culm was still a little green and I got terrible runout.  It wasn't until about rod #3 that I discovered the flaming first trick.  (Larry Swearingen)

    When I split, I generally start by hand.  First split in half by starting the split with a froe/knife and pulling each side apart with equal force.  Should give you a nice even split.  I then take each half and split it into thirds using the same method..

    I have a nail driven into a piece of wood that I use to split further.  I split the "third" piece in half with a nail driven into the end of my workbench.  The head of the nail helps keep the bamboo strip level so that the split stays nice and straight.  If it starts to wander to one side or the other, put pressure in the direction opposite of where the split is wandering.  This too takes a little getting used to, but I find is much easier to control.

    Hope this helps. (Brian Morrow)

      I don't know if you have seen this but I think it would help.  (Joe Arguello)

    Well, Ron, as you said, this is your first attempt. You have enough strips for 2 2 piecers or a rod with two tips.  You said you had a few more strips that you could use. Since you have never done it or seen it done, i say "Good job, man!" Contrary to what you might think, not everyone gets 24 usable strips. In part it will depend on the size of the culm. i have seen some little ones lately that no one can get 24 strips from. Now, forward, upward. Watch the fingers! (Timothy Troester)

    Splitting out strips is one of the many  small steps in making a bamboo fly rod that does get a lot better with a little practice. Fortunately, when I first got the rod making bug I did not have any good bamboo on hand and so I practiced with what I could find at the garden centers. The bamboo was cheap and good practice, especially for splitting, but also for planing.

    I found that a little practice really helps, and having cheap bamboo to practice with enabled me to try different methods to see what worked best for me. I am now on rod #7 and on the last splitting session only lost two butt strips and two tip strips to splitting mishaps.

    Getting over half your strips to survive the splitting process is a lot better than I did the first time I split bamboo. You may want to get some practice cane from a local garden center to split out for extra strips to practice on for straightening bends, flatting nodes, as well rough and final planing, especially if you are making a two tip rod with only 14 good tip strips left after splitting.  (Joe Hudock)

      While most instructional rodmaking books talk about removing the inner nodal dams, I don't hear much about when you all are doing this during the splitting process. From my experience these must be removed using a half round wood gouge after halving the culm. Remove as much of the dam as possible so the inner dam area is level with the area on either side of the dam. After this, splitting into smaller strips is much easier and the splits at nodes aren't influenced as much by the material at the dams.  (Winston Binney)

        I tried using a gouge (likely a bit dull in hindsight) for maybe one or two nodal dams on my first culm--didn't like the fact I had to clamp the half culm or butt it up against something then start whacking away while it's rocking or sliding around.  Seemed  I never knew just what exactly the outcome would be from one whack to the next --- i.e. would the dam split-off below the desired level, would the gouge bounce back at me, or would I slice the gouge-holding hand on the section edges, etc. I figured there had to be a more 'refined' technique, and there it was right in front of me -- a flex shaft rotary tool (like a Foredom) with a coarse carbide rotary burr. MUCH more repeatable control and precision. One can neatly feather the dam down to the surrounding pith surface. Takes me about 10 seconds at most per dam. Yeah, it generates some dirt, but it works very well for me.  (Jim Sency)

        I don't remove it until after I actually cut the strips to length.  Call it the "Tony Spezio Don't Work On It Unless You Have To" approach.  If I'm not going to have a node in the blank, I don't want to work on it.  (Todd Talsma)

        I usually save dam removal for after the beavers have abandoned the lodge  AND/OR  I'm down to sixths on the culm, at which point I put the end of the sixth against something sturdy, turn it pith side up, and make a quick chop with the trusty K-Bar!  I'm actually approaching the dam as you would a pile of bricks if you were taking your 5th dan black belt test.  The knife is slid over the pith surface, accelerating rapidly into the base of the dam and removing most or all of it in one swell foop, so to speak.  Screams of  "Keee-YAH!" and bowing are both optional.  Simple, fast, expeditious!  All learned, of course, after I shelled out for the gouge!  (Steve Yasgur)

          I also learned to not mess with the dams before splitting using Tony's approach but only after I bought the gouge. Oh well.  I guess I am accumulating a number of items for the silent auction at the SRG.  (George Wood)

            I have one collecting dust too along with several other tools that were needed for making rods.  (Tony Spezio)

              No gouge here, that's what the crappy Stanley blade in the crappy Stanley plane is for.

              Set it to take an aggressive cut, dam comes off, then a pass or to two to remove the pith.

              Flip the strips on edge and square them up.  (Pete Van Schaack)

            I've been watching this splitting thread with interest.  Although a gouge sounds like an efficient means of removing nodal dams, I use what is, to me, a great method. I take my Dremel with a 1/2" sanding drum, and after I have split to sixths, use that to remove them in a flash. I use the 80 grit ones. You can find them cheap on eBay.  Just make sure you use proper ventilation and respiratory protection (I do it outside, wearing a paper filter mask). The dust can be a little thick.  (David Spangler)

          I remove nodal dams just after I've split the culm into 2 pieces. But I just smack 'em with  a hammer.  First smack knocks most of it out then a few more little taps and most of the rest is out.  Don't see any reason to dull, or buy, a perfectly good gouge.  I remove all the rest when I have all  the strips split in prep for straightening nodes.

          Another lesson learned from Tony Spezio.  I don't straighten any nodes that will not be in the final rod.  I layout strips with offsets and cut to rough length before I do any straightening.  Who wants to screw around with nodes that don't matter?  (Larry Swearingen)

            Someone once told me that all node work built character.

            And since you thought the squirrel trapped in my wife's car was humorous---- he did $1428.00 worth of damage. Try explaining that to an insurance adjuster.  (Larry Tucker)

            Let me add that for those new folks who might not know Tony. Tony Spezio makes an excellent rod bar none so if anyone thinks that his KISS or shortcut ways of doing things take away from quality, all you have to do is look at his rods. They are excellent from culm to finish. I would advise anyone to try his methods, I haven't found any fault with anything he has shared with me and it has made rod making more enjoyable with less wasted time on what didn't matter to start with. He is a perfectionist and does great work with his hands and tools.

            I knock my dams out with 9" lineman pliers.

            I've also seen Tony hand split  culms and run 1/8" strips one after another. He really isn't hurrying but it sure happens fast from splitting to roughing. To this day I can't duplicate it by a long shot, but what I do is easier than when I started and didn't have his advise.  (Jerry Woods)

              Just a thought- Has anyone tried soaking a culm before splitting? I haven't but I know most of us soak our strips before planning, so what would the results be if we tried it before splitting?  (Mark Dyba)

                I have split a few soaked strips that were wider than I needed, They don't split as well as dry strips. (Tony Spezio)

          An electric planer is pretty good too, and not quite so bloodthirsty!  (Sean McSharry)

            I split to 1/4 or 1/6 or even 1/8 and then I cut them with a hatchet. It works just fine and like someone said I like to see things fly across the shop.   (Hal Manas)

        I don't touch the nodal dams until after all my splitting is said and done.  Then, I just whack 'em off with a sanding drum mounted on a drill press.  Nodes are your friend...   Dennis?  Dennis?  Beuller?  (Mark Wendt)

    Fear not, most of us went through the same anguish.  Plus it all depends on the diameter of the culm.  Don't try to split a 1/4" wide strip off the whole culm.  Work at it in equal chunks.

    Personally, I mark the end of the culm where I want to split. Most guys split the culm in half, split the half in thirds and split each third in half.  Now you should have 12 strips. Then you will split the 12 strips in half. That is when it will start to get a little hairy.  When you go to split the final time,  is when the strips really seem to roam all over the place.  As the strip starts to wander in one direction you will need to apply more pressure (for lack of a better word) to one of the strips to pull it back on line.  Practice and you will eventually get the hang of it.

    Mike St. Clair showed me a trick and I won't split any other way now.  When I got down to the final splits, Mike had me clamp the strip, behind the first node, in a vise. Clamp to the edges, not to the pith and enamel side. Give the bamboo a split with a knife.  Then dump the knife and start splitting by hand.  If the split starts to wander adjust your pressure to bring it back to the middle.  After you split to the first node, re-position the bamboo in the vise at the next node and split .  Continue to each node until you finish the strip.  Great thing about this method is: you can only split so far at a time.  Really helps me keep control of splitting the smaller strips.  I have split down to 1/8" using what Mike taught me.

    Hopefully my rambling made some sense.  Sure is easier to show somebody that explain it.  This is only one way to skin a cat, there are plenty more techniques out there.  Find a method that works for you and go for it. (Pete Emmel)

      Excellent Pete!

      I split using the vise method also and it works like a charm.

      I'm just going to add that,  as the split travels up towards the vise jaws and the split is  going one way or another, take note which is the fatter side (the side with the most material on it); grab that side and pull (or push) towards that side, and the split will go towards that side and give you what you're looking for.  (Ren Monllor)

        I use the vice method as well and it helps you control the split because it  cannot run too far at anytime. It also means you are not pushing it into a knife blade with your hands. Did that for a while and thought it was a good way to really get hurt.  (Gordon Koppin)

    Based on the results of my first splitting I think you should be bragging. I had more spears than usable strips.

    With Harry Boyd's help I started using much the same method as below. Difference being that I start with 6 split pie splitter. From there to the vise. Clamp above the node and split to there, clamp just below the node and split thru the node. and then repeat process. The node is the best place to move the split one direction or the other. This is not a fast way to split but it works well for me.  (Larry Tucker)

    In THEORY, he could get two 2 piece, 1 tip rods out of it.  But realistically, I would be aiming for one rod.  There are sooo many things you can screw up (As Chris Raine taught me, "Ask me how I know.") from planing the wrong edge during the initial bevel to catching the tip when final planing in the form, that is it more than likely, actually I would say expected, that one would need a couple of back up strips to replace mistakes before glue up.  After glue up, the mistakes are pretty much fatal: start over.

    I keep a log of my rodmaking.  In only fifteen rods, I can't tell you how many times I have written "Arrrgh!!" in my log  I keep inventing new (to me) ways to screw up.  But I am very proud of my end results, since I am willing to scrap any piece I am not happy with. (My standards aren't THAT high, but I do the best work I can.) I am just glad I am not trying to make a living...

    And besides, cane is pretty cheap.  If you get one good rod out of a culm, you got something very valuable.  No shame at all.  (Dan Zimmerlin)

      One of the little tricks I learned to keep myself from catching a tip while cleaning out the form groove between flips, is to hold the tip strip with your left hand below the strip, palm up, tip end high.  You can then do whatever you need to do with your right hand, and the delicate tip end of the strip is out of the way of harm.

      Those of you working in basements or dungeons with low ceilings are SOL.

      Oh yeah, and never install a ceiling fan over the work bench.  (Mark Wendt)

        And why would you not install a ceiling fan above your workbench?  I assume so that your tongue does not get caught?

        I ask only for my own edumakation purposes...  (Greg Dawson)

          I'm not so sure we would have all those fabulous small rods (ie. Paul Young Midge) were it not for such devices!  (Joe Arguello)

    Being a rank beginner myself, I have been enjoying this thread on splitting and thought I would toss in my 2 cents worth of experience.  When I decided to plunge headlong into this rod making thing I ordered a bundle of culms from Andy Royer and when the time came to split that first culm I picked what I thought was the worst looking candidate out of the 10 on hand thinking it would be a good practice piece.  If I screwed it up at least it wasn't one of the good ones.  This culm was crooked, slightly egg shaped, and the nodes  were pretty prominent.  Well considering I had no experience and was going only by the descriptions in a couple of books I wasn't optimistic.  My froe was an old pry bar with one edge roughly sharpened on the bench grinder.  Splitting in half was easy.  At that point I clamped the froe upright in the bench vise and split the halves into thirds. Again this went pretty well, just a couple of strips that wandered a little and ended up narrower on the tip end.  Then came splitting in half again and then again.  The worst problem I had was  that I couldn't seem to keep the split edges going perpendicular to the enamel surface and thus ended up with a bunch of funny edge angles to deal with.

    At this point I was a pretty happy camper.  Since the splitting went better than expected I proceeded on to straightening and pressing nodes.  My nice mild mannered culm became a nightmare.  These strips were an advanced course in the process.  they had kinks, S bends, sunken nodes, and longitudinal twists.  If I got the kinks out, the nodes popped back up.  If I straightened first then pressed, the kinks came back.  The funny edge angles raised havoc during pressing and I had to spend a lot of time rough planing them almost square.  I think I spent a week heating and beating those strips into submission and probably overcooked a couple of spots along the way.

    In the end, I managed to build two rods out of that culm, one a two tip two piece and the other a single tip two piece.  My second culm was an entirely different story.  it looked nice, straight, round, smooth, no leaf nodes and only a couple of small surface marks .  This beast just would not split straight no matter what I did.  Even the initial split into halves resulted in kind of a spiral half shell.  I fought it all the way and ended up with a pile of spears with barely enough good strips to make a single one tip rod.

    I have learned that no two culms are the same and first attempts may not be indicative of future success (or failure).  I split my third culm last week and it went much better.  maybe I have learned something (or not).  I will have to give the vise method a try.  It sounds promising.  (Rick Hodges)

      The worst problem I had was  that I couldn't seem to keep the split edges going perpendicular to the enamel surface and thus ended up with a bunch of funny edge angles to deal with

      Rick, the secret to avoiding this is to make sure your splitter is perpendicular to the enamel before starting the split and thereafter not to deviate too far from perpendicular as you run the split.

      I start with the culm cut to length and stand it vertically on the floor. The first split into halves is easy as you can line the splitter through the center of the culm. For further splits, I stand the pieces vertically resting against a bench and draw in my mind an imaginary line through what would have been the center of the culm. I line the splitter (a hunting knife or froe) with this imaginary line, rest it on the section and when I am sure all is aligned I then give the splitter a short sharp tap with a hammer to start the split. To run the split I twist the knife and then move it down the split - DON'T FORCE/DRIVE THE KNIFE down the split. The twisting action should be just enough to open the split a little further and you simply move the knife down the split. At the nodes some more force is required in the twist to break through the node. If you over twist the splitter, the side of the split may move off perpendicular. Use just enough force to open the split and keep the splitter running through the imaginary line passing through the center of the culm

      Once the strips start getting to the point where they are narrow enough to be able to bend them, and you can then control ('walk') the split down the centre, I mount a splitter (knife or old screwdriver with sharpened side) in a vice and feed the strips into the splitter rather than the splitter into the strips. Instead of twisting the knife I now push and pull the strips laterally against the knife which is effectively the same thing as twisting the knife. Again DON'T DRIVE/FORCE THE STRIPS into the knife. Only feed them in as far as the split easily allows before pushing and pulling again to open the split further. Doing this there is no chance of slipping and mashing your hand into the splitter as the force you are applying is at 90 deg to the strip and knife not in the same line.

      The big trick is, when the split starts to go off centre, to bend the strip as you work it against the knife and to work gently/slowly i.e. making short further splits until it is back on track. Thinking about it I can't tell you for sure which way to bend it, it is just something I now automatically do. I think I bend the fat piece 'around' the splitter - trial and error will quickly show you which way to do it.

      Doing the above I regularly split a culm into 32 or even 36 pieces (for light weight rods as the strips get quite narrow).  (Steve Dugmore)

        The big trick is, when the split starts to go off center, to bend the strip as you work it against the knife and to work gently/slowly i.e. making short further splits until it is back on track. Thinking about it I can't tell you for sure which way to bend it, it is just something I now automatically do. I think I bend the fat piece 'around' the splitter - trial and error will quickly show you which way to do it.

        Doing the above I regularly split a culm into 32 or even 36 pieces (for light weight rods as the strips get quite narrow).

        Bend the "Fat" side away from the split that is going off the line to bring the split back in line. If the split is moving to the right, bend the left side away from the split or put pressure on the left side with the back of the fro and the split will come back in line. I hold the section in my hand with the long end under my arm. My left hand is just below the splitting fro. I use my hand to apply pressure against the fro on the side that needs it to keep the split in line. If I find I need more pressure when splitting in thirds, I use a post or the end of the workbench to help bend the "Fat" side away from the split. Bending the fat side away from the split came from a list member from Maine some years ago. His name slips my mind right now.

        Maybe he will pop in.

        See Power Fibers article issue #35 for photos on bending away from the split.  (Tony Spezio)

    I enjoy splitting culms.

    After filing the outside node and removing that black stuff, I quarter the culm and then use my 1-1/4" gouge and with mallet and take out all inside nodes.  I do this because I think it helps the hand splitting process because there is less material to pull apart and I'm going to have to get rid of those nodes sometime so why not take that quarted piece with nodes to a good solid whack of the mallet with gouge.

    I take that quartered piece that now has less nodal material and line up my knife for width and perpindicular, smack it with my hammer and this starts the split that I continue by hand guiding it down the culm.

    I've split the last 20 or so culms this way and waste very little if any material.  Anyway it works for me.  (Doug Alexander)

    Some years ago I wrote quite a lengthy description of this process which Todd put on the Tips site.  It was as full and detailed as I could make it, and  believe me, the process DOES work.  On a previous discussion of the topic one of our members rather patronisingly (I thought, at any rate) questioned why anybody would need to use the vise; but the simple answer to that one is that the vise tends to control over-splitting and limits the length of the split. and careful application of the principle of holding one piece firm and straight while pulling on only one will surely allow you to walk the split pretty well anywhere you need to walk it.

    Everybody's first attempt at splitting yields pathetic results.  Twelve and fourteen is not too bad, really.  And remember that not everybody is able to split 24 strips from every culm, every time.

    Hang in there.  You'll be on top of it in no time!  (Peter McKean)

    Practice, practice, and practice. If that doesnt work, band saw.. Read Cattanach's and Maurer's books as well. By the way, if garden stakes are available from your local garden center are available, practice on those.  (Jon Holland)

    Please do not be embarrassed to discuss any need for rod building you encounter. I have already asked most of the dumb questions and find that this list is very patient and will generally guide you in the right direction. Through this list I met Tony Spezio who I had the great honor to meet when I was at the SRG last year. He sent me a video of how he splits cane and it really works well. If he is amenable, I will make a copy and send it to you. But, I think someone has already said it best, practice!  (George Wood)

      I heartily second what George says here about Tony Spezio.  That guy has gone out of his way to help me and no one should ever feel they have to do that!  (Well, there is the wife...never mind that.)  Hear that Tony? If it wasn't for sliced bread, I'd have to say you're the best thing out there!  (Did I just call you a thing?  Well, I was raised by wolves...what do you expect?{:^))  (Bob Brockett)

    Thanks for everyone's input.  I tried again today utilizing the knife/vise method, and the tips provided started to click in terms of being able to control the wandering, produce straighter strips, etc.  It started to be an enjoyable experience instead of an arduous task.  However, my splitting endeavors resulted in enough strips for at least 6 rods.  It ultimately is going to be awhile until that many rods will be completed.  Are there any considerations concerning storing the strips beyond not being in a damp environment?  (Ron Delesky)

      Well it doesn't hurt to keep them dry obviously.  It also doesn't hurt to have them absorb some moisture as that will get driven off during heat treating.  I wouldn't let them sit in water for 2 years though!   :>)  (Larry Swearingen)


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