How to Split Bamboo
Splitting bamboo, is another basic technique when working with bamboo. Split bamboo is often used in bamboo fences, wall decoration, furniture, etc. The applications are endless and it basically all depends on your own creativity. Below we have set up a very easy step by step DIY action guide on how to split bamboo poles.
1. Press the bamboo cane firmly against a wall or any other unmovable object.
2. Be sure to split the bamboo cane beginning from the thinner end with the cutting edge of a bamboo hatchet (or machete) positioned in the exact center of the cane. Strike the blade on the back with a mallet (using a regular hammer may damage the blade).
3. After the hatchet has cut into the bamboo, strike the blade on the back gently with a mallet until the cane is split through two or three joints.
4. As the bamboo cane is split further, the splitting line will often go off center.
5. To correct this, hold the un-split part of the cane, by stepping on it, with the smaller portion facing down and pull the bigger portion upward by hand. This way, the difference in thickness will be corrected.
6. During this process, be sure to always check the thickness of the upper and lower portions. Make sure the thinner portion always faces down.
7. Continue this process, changing the vertical direction of the cane as required, until the split reaches the other end. Be sure not to hurry this process.
Watch how we split a bamboo pole in half in less than 20 seconds!
Important: Bamboo has 2 sides!
Remember that bamboo has actually 2 different sides; a straight side and a bent side. A bamboo cane will look straight or nearly straight when viewed from the branched side. When viewed at an angle of ninety degrees, however, the bamboo cane looks bent at each node. So, depending on the project you might want to split bamboo with a straight front or with a straight cut surface.
1. Straight Front:
When splitting bamboo canes with the branched side facing upward, the half-split cane will look straight from the front. When viewed from the side, the cut surface will have bents at the joints.
2. Straight Cut Surface:
When splitting bamboo canes with the branched side positioned vertically to the horizontal plane, the cut surface will look straight. When viewed from the front, the half-split cane has bents at the joints.
Just want to say thanks for all the information you have posted on your site. I grow various species of bamboo and have constructed several projects from them with success. Key to that have been pieces of information gleaned from the articles and videos you have been kind enough to post. Working on black bamboo picture frames right now and they look great!
I'm trying to build a dome from bamboo. It looks like I will have to split the pieces in order to gain the flexibility I need. If I do split them, over time will the pieces become damaged and cracked from being bent? Also, is there a way to join split bamboo that can be taken apart easily? I need the bamboo dome to be portable and easy enough to set up.
Anne Marie wrote:
I have some (very) green bamboo, and I am planning to use it for paths on my garden. So my question is, should I dry it first? Will it be much harder to split when it is dry? Also will splitting help cutting it in little "tiles"? Thank so much, the how-to's are well done.
When you split bamboo like this how strong will it be for use in construction?
Stephane from Guadua Bamboo replied:
Bamboo slats are very flexible. They can be used as ceiling or wall cover, but also as structural beams, pillars, rafters, etc. if you stack lose slats together contained by straps (this technique is called Bamilam).