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7 Amazing Facts About Bamboo

bamboo walls vary in thickness

1. Bamboo is not completely hollow.

Bamboo has plant fibres which form horizontal discs across sections of each cane as the bamboo grows. From the outside of the pole the clue to spotting these is the prominent bumps or ‘nodes’. If you want to run a wire, pipe or water through the centre of your pole, then these discs of fibre can easily be knocked through with a sharp spike or even a broom handle.



bamboo hollow nodes cut out

Bamboo isn’t hollow all the way through. From left to right: See part cut away on 4th pole; node is remove from the 5th pole; 6th half pole – the cavity inside the pole and two semi-circles of fibre at either end.

2. Bamboo doesn’t bend easily when dry

You may have seen fantastic architectural structures with arching bamboo beams in a tropical paradise. These buildings are usually made from locally harvested ‘green’ bamboo, which is bent soon after harvest using heat, wooden jigs and lots of hard work!

bending bamboo pole and slat

Left: Workshop staff hanging from a bamboo pole, shows it is strong and has very little bend. Right: A bamboo slat is being bent in the workshop by hand. Slivers of bamboo are easier to bend when dry.

3. Bamboo handles are not made from bamboo poles

Posh handbags with what appear to be bamboo canes curved into handles are actually made from bamboo roots dug up from beneath the ground.

bamboo root handbag handles

Above: Bamboo roots are bent into these elegant handles. High street retailers such as River Island and famous fashion houses such as Gucci, love using bamboo on their latest creations. 

4. Bamboo will naturally change colour if left outside.

Rather like timber, bamboo poles, fencing and bamboo boards will turn a silvery grey if left exposed to the elements. To stop this happening the bamboo will need treating with wood preservative, oil or varnish.

weathered bamboo turns grey

Above: Bamboo will slowly weather to a silvery-grey. Use wood preservative or varnish after a year to 18 months to keep the original colour.

5. Bamboo poles can split or crack at any time.

Even dried bamboo contains residual moisture and will continue to respond to changes in temperature and humidity. Direct sunlight on one side or heat from a radiator can make the bamboo ‘pop’ and soon after you may see a small split gradually emerge. Do not be alarmed, the bamboo itself will still maintain much of its strength. No two bamboo poles will behave the same!

Moso bamboo with cracks and splits

Above: Bamboo can split or crack at any time due various factors. Pierce through the nodes to alleviate pressure and temperature differences. Keep the bamboo moisturised with wood oil or a clear varnish.

6. Bamboo walls can vary in thickness.

Some types of bamboo such as Tonkin, have very thick walls and are not only heavier, but would be harder to make completely hollow, as the cell structure is very dense. Our Moso bamboo, Tali and Javan Bamboo can all easily be hollowed out.


bamboo walls vary in thickness

From left to right: ‘Tonkin’ Bamboo from China (1st two poles) has very thick walls, as does ‘Calcutta’ bamboo from India (2nd pair of poles), whereas ‘Moso’ bamboo from China has thinner walls.


bamboo joints

Left: Bamboo fish mouth joint with steel barrel bolts and bolt inserted inside bamboo using fire cement. Right: Timber plugs inserted into moso bamboo with 90 degree tube clamps.

7. Bamboo doesn’t like being joined together.

Bamboo poles are essentially cylinders and therefore trying to join them at right angles requires a bit of extra help from other materials. We have experimented with timber, fire cement, resins and fillers combined with bolts, hinges and twine.