How to Bend Bamboo
Bamboo poles aren't always straight, and when working on a particular project, bends may cause technical difficulties or are just unwanted for aesthetic reasons.
Bending bamboo, isn't that difficult. In case of freshly cut, green bamboo you could even dry bamboo in a mold to adjust the shape, or by applying heat (see video near the bottom of this page). However, once dry, bamboo cannot be bend anymore (in a permanent lasting shape that is).
In bamboo furniture construction, fencing, artisan works, bends are often corrected with a cut, and this technique works for either round bamboo canes or split bamboo.
Make a V-shaped cut just below the node, try to make the cut as close as possible towards the node, this will make the correction less visible! Make the cut relatively narrow, when the bamboo is not that heavily bended. When the bend is more dramatic you will need to make the cut a little wider to have enough space to make the correction. Make the cut as deep as two-thirds of the total diameter so that the bend can be corrected appropriately.
This technique not only works for correcting bends it is also suited to make arc shapes or round edges, as in this bamboo chair example.
Watch this video for instruction on how to bend bamboo in a 90 degree angle.
Bending Bamboo by Applying Heat
The next video demonstrates how to bend bamboo by applying heat on freshly cut, green bamboo. This technique is also used to stain bamboo furniture and to give it a caramel or dark brown finish.
There are a few tricks to prevent the bamboo canes from splitting when applying such high temperatures to the bamboo.
- Drill small holes closely to the nodes so excessive vapor from inside the bamboo internodes can escape easily.
- Always try to move the flame torch in the direction to which the bamboo grows. In other words move from the thickest end towards the narrower end.
- Perforate the nodes with a rod and fill the bamboo with sand (to prevent it from breaking).
Bending Dry Bamboo Poles
Bending dried bamboo poles requires another approach than green bamboos. Dry bamboo will flex back into it original shape, therefore, once under tension the nodes should be heated with a butane torch.