Bending Bamboo

An important property of bamboo is that it softens at a correspondingly high temperature and can then be bent very easily. When it has cooled down again, it retains its curved shape and largely its elastic capabilities.

You may use this property of bamboo to make various crooked and intricate parts. Chinese kites are so elaborate and delicate because for any kind of trickling piece, you may use a specialized bamboo part

1. The heat source

Various heat sources can be used to process the bamboo. In traditional Chinese kite making, candles and kerosene lamps are used. With the latter you can regulate the size of the flame and thus the heat output. With better designs you can focus the heat source with the glass lampshade. To bend large bamboo, even an alcohol soldering lamp or gasoline soldering lamp may be used to generate heat. Electric soldering irons can also be used to shape small bamboo rods. Electric soldering irons are very effective for thin bamboo sticks. In addition, there is no open flame in its operation, it only radiates heat, and at the same time you can bend the bamboo stick directly on it. (see picture 6-6).

2. Bending method

(1) Preheating: The bamboo rod is evenly preheated to the correct temperature via the heat source. The bamboo workpiece should not be heated up too quickly. It must be taken into account that the inner parts of the bamboo pole must also be heated, and that the outer parts of the bamboo pole are not destroyed by fire. That is why you should always turn the bamboo pole when hot bending it, and move it back and forth so that all parts of the bamboo rod are gradually heated. The process depends on the size of the bamboo. The heating-up time is short for thin rods, and the time is longer for thick rods.

(2) Pre-bending: After the correct heating of the bamboo work piece is reached, the bamboo rod is soft and you can now bend it. The hot bending of bamboo needs to be learned: if the bending process is too fast, the bamboo will be broken. If bending is too slow, the rod will get cold and the bending result will be poor. Therefore you should find out the right time when heating up the workpiece, and work accurately and with a firm grip. It is best to finish and bend the bamboo rod correctly in one go.

With the help of soldering irons, you can bend the bamboo rod stretch for stretch when bending large workpieces. In the end, a large arch will be created. Small arcs can also be bent in one go.

Attention: Bending the bamboo bark from the inside is easy, but bending the bamboo bark inward is difficult. There is also a greater risk of breakage. Therefore, you should take a good look at the workpiece before processing.

(3) Fixing the shape: After bending, the processed bamboo pole is placed in cold water, where it is cooled and further shaped. After shaping, the bamboo pole has the tendency to bend back again. Therefore you should bend the workpiece a little more than the construction plan dictates. After fixing, the workpiece is ready for further processing.


Copyright 2002 ff: Hans P. Boehme