Flattening bamboo



New member
I am in the middle of a bow build, it's based on a Turkish flight bow, and I intend to make it from all the right stuff (buffalo horn, and sinew glued to a core).
My first attempt at a core was made from a strip of wood I bought from Homebase, it was just labelled as 'Hardwood' so I have no idea what it is. It's about 50mm wide by 6mm thick, I have planed it down to about 3mm thick. I chose the sample with the best grain and steam bent it to an appropriate curve.

Having got this far I now have changed my mind and want to make the core out of bamboo. I've got a couple of 7ft poles about 3" diameter, and I've split slats out of them, the slats are around 40-50mm wide, but are obviously quite curved. I could sand the inside till it's flat, but I would end up with a slat thats only 20mm or so wide, no good. I want to get a slat flat in order to be able to glue the flat horn strips to it, while retaining around 3-4mm thickness. What is the best way to do this? I've read that steaming doesn't work on bamboo, but dry heat does? I had a go on a small section, about 15" long, I put it under the grill for about 10mins, turning it over often until it began to change colour, with little wisps of smoke coming off. My plan was to slowly clamp it to a board to flatten it, but when I put some pressure on it, it split right down the centre. The heat just seemed to make to bamboo more brittle.

Are there any other ways that would work, or was I doing it completely wrong?
Also, I plan on buying the Bowyers Bible series soon, are there any chapters in there that deal with this problem?



Hi Doofus,

Usually when Bamboo Cores/Backings are used they're cut from wider bamboo poles: 4, 5, 6 or more inches diameter. This is to avoid the problem you-re having of them being too narrow at the correct thickness, or too thin at the correct width.

Perhaps you could could bond two thin (2mm) laminates of Bamboo together. You could even introduce the curvature at this point (if you bend the laminates around a form and let it cure in this position) and do away with the steaming/heating altogether.

Hope this helps.