Bamboo furniture is a beautiful addition to any home. Also, bamboo woodworking is enjoyable, and there are many types of furniture you can build with it.
Bamboo is a type of grass, not wood. However, it is firm and durable, though it is essential to treat it before using it to build furniture. Bamboo can be made with virtually any finish. Since there are so many species, there are so many looks and designs.
In this article, we will explore bamboo woodworking. If you would like to learn more about creating furniture with bamboo, continue reading.
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What Is Bamboo?
Bamboo is a type of grass, not wood. There is no wood to be found anywhere in bamboo. However, that does not mean you can not create furniture with bamboo. There are a lot of things you can build with bamboo.
It is important to remember that there are more than a thousand different bamboo species. As such, not all furniture made with bamboo will look alike. Also, some bamboo species are better than others for woodworking.
Benefits of Working With Bamboo
One of the main advantages of building with bamboo is that it grows quickly, which means there will always be a decent bamboo supply. On the other hand, trees take a lot longer to grow back after being felled. Environmental enthusiasts may choose to use bamboo instead of wood.
However, bamboo furniture has many benefits of its own, not only regarding the environment. For example, bamboo is very durable and can withstand more impact and blows than regular wood, so it is often used for cutting boards. Also, bamboo is very strong. Its tensile strength is stronger than steel, according to Overstock. The reason for this is that bamboo grows entirely straight.
Finally, as we mentioned before, there are so many species of bamboo. When working with bamboo, you can enjoy a wide variety of looks and styles, based on the species you are using.
Bamboo is also very versatile. You can use almost any kind of finish with bamboo, so there are so many options available.
However, keep in mind that due to the vast range of species out there, not all bamboo species will be as strong as others. Also, some may shrink and swell, while others may not.
Types of Bamboo Furniture
It is important to realize that there are two types of bamboo you can work with. One is engineered bamboo lumber, and the other is intact bamboo canes that were dried and treated with a pesticide. If you are new to working with bamboo, it is recommended to use engineered bamboo lumber. Plywood-like bamboo strips that are laminated are strong, easier to work with, and versatile.
Tips for Working With Bamboo
Since bamboo is very different from wood, it requires different woodworking techniques. Things that have worked for you your entire life with wood may not work with bamboo.
One thing to keep in mind is that bamboo will dull your blades. Remember that bamboo is a lot stronger than wood. The sharp blades you use for wood will get dull quickly when working on bamboo, so try to search for even sharper blades.
It is important not to work with bamboo that has flourished. Bamboo will only flourish once after more than 60 years, so this should not be a big concern if you are working with new bamboo. At the same time, it is also important not to work with bamboo that has not dried or bamboo that has been infested with insects.
When installing screws, make sure to pre-drill a small hole first. Otherwise, you will end up cracking the bamboo cane.
Here is a great video that will instruct you on how to work with bamboo:
How to Split Bamboo
You can use many things to split bamboo, whether you are making furniture or building a fence for your garden. This section will explain how to split a bamboo cane in half (we want the bamboo stick’s length to remain the same but to split it in half down its length), based on this guide from Guadua Bamboo.
- First, position the bamboo stick against a wall.
- Then, put a hatchet in the center of the bamboo stick on the thin side.
- The next step is using a mallet to hit the hatchet until the bamboo stick starts to crack and split in half.
How to Bend Bamboo
Another technique that will be very useful when working with bamboo canes is bending bamboo. You should know how to bend not just fresh bamboo but even dry bamboo, as bamboo can sometimes be crooked — it just grows that way.
If the bamboo is fresh, you can dry it and mold it. However, if it is already dry, you will need to correct the crooked part by cutting it. By making a small cut under the node in the shape of a V, you will be able to bend the bamboo by up to 90 degrees. This is shown in the video on this page.
When working with bamboo plywood, there are a lot of finishes you can apply. Oil finish is often used, as it makes a beautiful end product. You can use a water-based stain before finishing your bamboo with oil.
You can also use varnish or beeswax. Varnish will provide more protection than oil, but beeswax will provide less protection. That is why it is best used for utensils that will not undergo a lot of wear and tear.
Why You Need to Treat Bamboo
If bamboo has not been treated, it will be susceptible to mold and insect infestation. Unfortunately, since bamboo has a lot of starch and only a small amount of resins and other natural toxins, it is extremely susceptible to mold and insect infestation. That is why it is important to only work with bamboo that has been treated for insect infestation after it was harvested.
Maintenance Tips for Bamboo Furniture and Fences
Now that you know to only work with bamboo that has been treated, we will be sharing some tips on how to properly care for your bamboo furniture so that it lasts for a long time.
One way to help your bamboo last longer is to keep it away from the ground. If you are using bamboo to create indoor furniture, this is not a problem. However, if you are using it for outside furniture, be aware that bamboo that comes into contact with the soil may degrade quicker. You can still create a fence from bamboo, but keep it a couple of centimeters above the ground.
It would be best if you also used a sealer that is designed for bamboo. This will help protect your fence or outdoor furniture from the weather. This is especially important if you live in an area that sees rain frequently.
For your cutting boards and utensils, you can use this Bayes High-Performance Food Grade Mineral Oil Wood & Bamboo Conditioner and Protectant for cleaning and protection.
- Bayes high-performance bamboo & wood conditioner and protectant uses the highest quality food grade mineral oil for cutting board maintenance formula to nourish and beautifully preserve all wood cutting boards, utensils, and accessories for years
- Protect your wood and bamboo kitchen items with this wood oil for cutting board preservation. Without mineral oil food grade formula treatments, ordinary washing can dry out and crack your prized possessions leaving them lacking their normal luster
- Directions: Wash wood with mild soap and water and allow to dry thoroughly. Apply this cutting board oil food grade formula with a clean cloth. Allow to soak in for 2-3 minutes and wipe away with a clean dry cloth. Recommended treatment with wood cutting board oil at minimum once a month
Last update on 2023-06-19 at 05:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Working with bamboo is not for beginners. However, if you are an experienced woodworker and would like to try something new, bamboo is a great option. You will enjoy the learning process while creating beautiful finishes and designs. You can expect some trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if your first work does not come out as expected.