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Stéphane
16 / 04 / 2016
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Bamboo

Knots and connections

Bamboo poles can be used to build houses, furniture, bridges, rafts, towers, fences and thousands of other things. However, the challenge lies in how best to knot and connect bamboo.

Of course, traditional knots such as the mast throw, eight-shaped lashing, fork lashing, diagonal lashing and cross lashing are all applicable to bamboo canes, but there are also specific techniques with pins of which we would like to show you some examples.

Just to clarify: You will notice that we often talk about internodes and nodes in this article. An internode is the (hollow) part of the bamboo cane between two nodes. The nodes can be recognised by the ring-shaped thickening of the bamboo cane and are solid.

Bamboo poles can be used to build houses, furniture, bridges, rafts, towers, fences and thousands of other things. However, the challenge lies in how best to knot and connect bamboo.

Of course, traditional knots such as the mast throw, eight-shaped lashing, fork lashing, diagonal lashing and cross lashing are all applicable to bamboo canes, but there are also specific techniques with pins of which we would like to show you some examples.

Just to clarify: You will notice that we often talk about internodes and nodes in this article. An internode is the (hollow) part of the bamboo cane between two nodes. The nodes can be recognised by the ring-shaped thickening of the bamboo cane and are solid.


Corded lashing

1. One of the simplest bamboo connections is drilled lashing. Saw off the upright bamboo stick above the knot and drill a hole through the stick just below the knot. You can then lash another bamboo stick to the upright with twine. To prevent the sleeper from moving, again take into account the natural rings/thickenings of the bamboo stick. Fasten the transverse bamboo stick so that the thickening is just on top of the upright.

2. Use a piece of iron wire or a makeshift hook to thread the lashing rope through the drilled hole. This technique is particularly useful towards the end when there is already rope running through the bamboo and the hole has become smaller.

3. Above you can see the finished joint with the ring of the crossbeam just in the middle. This joint is made with a mast throw. An extra flat knot has been added below the hole to prevent the bamboo from tearing.

4. The drilled lashing technique can also be used to connect the end of a sleeper to an upright bamboo pole. Here the rope is lashed just above the bamboo knot/thickness. The downward force will strengthen the connection as the bamboo cane becomes thicker at that point. Taking into account the natural knots of a bamboo cane is an important basic principle of a strong bamboo construction.

5. The same technique can be applied to bamboo joints consisting of more than one crossbeam.

6. ... or for corner joints with an upright bamboo stick.

7. ... or a combination of cross joints with a corner joint.

8. This last example shows a drilled bamboo joint of 4 cross members with 1 upright bamboo pole. Once the connection has been made, you can add extra twine and tie it down for more strength.


Lashing with pen

1. A variation of drilled lashing is pin lashing, where the twine does not pass through a hole but is tied around the pin. The strength of this connection depends on the strength of the pin. Therefore, use solid bamboo rods, or a rod made of hardwood or metal.

2. Start by laying a mast throw under the pin.

3. Then tie the bamboo canes together and wind the rope horizontally around the joint one or more times to pull the rope tight. Finish with a flat knot.

4. If necessary, you can also make this connection with the upright bamboo stick turned a quarter turn so that the pin is crossed with regard to the crossbeam.


Lashing with sloping pin

1. For the slanted pin joint, drill a hole through the bamboo knot. Start drilling just above the knot and finish on the other side just below the knot. The angle can be adjusted a little if you like.

2. Then push a long pin through the slanting hole. This pin will function as the support for the bamboo sleeper.

3. Start with a mast throw under the pin, then knot the crossbar to the angled pin.

4. In this example, the connection is made with one long rope. Separate knots between the two bamboo poles and around each point where the pin passes through could also be used and would probably give a nicer result.


Pin and hole connection

1. For a bamboo peg and hole connection, drill a hole in the upright bamboo stick that has exactly the same diameter as the stick you are going to insert. Make sure that the bamboo stick is thinner than the upright. Use a speed drill or hole saw to drill the hole.

2. The thinner bamboo stick can then be pushed into the hole until it touches the back wall of the upright.

3. Now drill a hole through both bamboo sticks from the side so that you can insert a pin to secure the joint. This type of bamboo joint is very often used when building houses, furniture or ladders. If you want to make a bamboo ladder, make sure that you drill the hole in the upright bamboo stick just above a knot for extra strength. If required, the peg can then be sawn off.

4. To prevent tearing under heavy load, the joint can be finished with twine.


Keyhole connection

1. In a keyhole joint, a thinner piece of bamboo (the "key") is inserted into a thicker bamboo stick and then secured with a pin.

2. The hole in the upright bamboo stick should be just big enough to insert a thinner piece of bamboo. The swelling of the knot at the end of that piece of bamboo ensures that the "key" gets stuck.

3. Note again that the thicker stick ends with a knot for extra strength. You will also have to pierce the inside of that knot first so that the thinner piece fits into it.

4. Then slide the slightly thicker bamboo stick over the key until it reaches the upright bamboo stick.

5. Drill a hole through the thicker bamboo stick and the key so that the whole thing can be secured with a pin.

6. For a nice end result, you can saw off the pin and finish the joint with twine.


Knotted sleeper support

1. With the knotted sleeper support, a piece of bamboo is lashed against an upright bamboo pole.

2. The sleeper is then placed on the piece of bamboo and knotted.

3. The knotted sleeper support can also be combined with drilled lashing. Play with the length of the supporting piece of bamboo so that it can rest on the nearest node of the upright bamboo stick.


Diagonal corner supports

1. Diagonal corner supports can be added to almost any bamboo joint for extra stability. Try to secure the support just before or above the knots for maximum strength. If desired, the joints can be finished with twine.

2. Two diagonal corner supports can also be used, but note that several holes may weaken the upright bamboo stick if they are drilled at the same height. So put one support slightly higher than the other.

3. If the support does not end above a knot, it is crucial to tie it off. Lay a mast throw just below and above the support to prevent tearing.

4. Diagonal braces can be used for all connections with right angles and secured with pins or twine.


How to extend bamboo canes?

Bamboo poles of different diameters can be connected by sliding a thinner stick into a thicker one. The end of the thicker pole must then be tied off to avoid tearing it. This type of joint is often used to make long fishing rods or flagpoles.

clamped bamboo socket joint 1
Bamboo Knotting and Jointing 47

There are various techniques for extending bamboo canes, for example, the thinner cane can be secured with a pin, or grooves can be made in the thicker bamboo cane to better clamp the thinner cane.

Two bamboo poles of the same diameter can be connected using a slightly thinner internal bamboo stick. This thinner stick can either remain visible or be hidden by pushing the two thicker poles together.

1. To make a clamped joint, saw two notches up to the knot of the thickest bamboo stick. This ensures that you have four equal and flexible parts.

2. Make the notches wide enough to create enough wiggle room for the thinner bamboo stick.

extend 1
Bamboo Nodes and Connections 48

3. Slide the thinner stick into the thicker stick up to the knot.

4. Check whether the bamboo sticks fit together nicely. If the thick stick is too far open or the thin stick has too much space, choose another bamboo stick that fits better.

5. Start lashing from the knot and wind the rope over a long loop.

6. After laying a few turns, pull at the end of the loop to secure the rope.

7. Keep lashing the rope around the loop until the end is reached and put the end of the rope through the loop.

8. Pull at the beginning of the rope to pull the loop firmly against the lashed area.

9. Keep pulling and the loop will disappear under the lashed part.

10. Finish the connection by cutting off the ends of the rope, or leave a bit of rope so that the knot can be undone later.

extend 2
Bamboo Knotting and Jointing 49

Cross-connection

1. The cross joint is a common and simple bamboo joint where a thinner stick is inserted through a thicker stick. The whole can be finished with twine to strengthen the joint and prevent tearing.

Cross-links are often used to build bamboo screens or rafts. The technique involves mounting a bamboo skewer through a row of bamboo poles.

2. The holes in the upright bamboo stick should be large enough for the knots of the crossbeam to fit through the holes (unless the knots are sanded smooth first). To prevent the crossbeam from sliding, you can put a peg through the joint and/or secure it with string.


Repairing bamboo cracks

If bamboo canes are cracked, or if they tear when a hole is drilled, you can reseal the cracks by applying this simple technique.

1. Take a short piece of string and make a loop at both ends.

2. Wrap the rope 2 to 3 times around the cracked bamboo stick and put a stick through each loop. The exact length of the rope can be adjusted by loosening one of the loops and tying it again at the desired distance.

3. Now twist one of the sticks around the bamboo pole so that the rope tightens and the crack begins to close.

4. Once the crack has been closed, you can use an extra piece of string to tie the sticks together so that you can continue to apply pressure to the bamboo pole.

5. You can now tie rope to the place where the crack is so that the crack will not come back when you remove the clamp. Instead of rope, you could also use strong transparent tape or hose clamps.


Source: Buckon Beach

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