Bamboo as Raw Material
American Bamboo Society Logo
Promoting the Beauty and Utility of Bamboo

The American Bamboo Society is primarily a horticultural organization, but our members have a general interest in promoting all of the uses of bamboo. This page highlights some places bamboo is used as a raw material in another process.


Animal Forage

http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/agap/frg/AFRIS/tree/Common.htm presents information about the food value of many crops, including bamboo. When you make a selection from the drop-down box, you'll notice that there are many entries for bamboo. They are for different varieties so you'll just have to look at each one. I noticed one of the "bamboo grass" entries was not actually a bamboo, though.


Arts and Crafts

Fly Rods

Pens

Furniture

Baskets, Vases, Woven Items

Sculptures

Steven Glassman’s Bridge in Bali

Steven Glassman builds bridges out of bamboo.

Stephen Glassman
703 Palms Blvd.
Venice, California 90291
Tel: 310 305 1696
fax: 310 578 5189

Stephen’s Bridge in Bali

Artifacts of a One-man Tribe Omer Kursat is an artist working with bamboo and reeds to create unique pieces which he calls “Artifacts of a One-man Tribe.”

Japan


Bicycles & trailers

Yes, people are making bicycles out of bamboo. Here’s the story from Denmark. Unfortunately, the contact information we had for these people who made bamboo bicycles leads nowhere anymore. If you are interested in purchasing a bamboo bike, Calfee Designs of Santa Cruz, California now produces them. Calfee has been building bicycles of bamboo for several years and has gained quite a reputation for these bikes. There are photos on Calfee's site. These are expensive, good-looking, high-tech bicycles. Have a look. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times about Calfee, and it might still be available.

2009-08-01 - Flavio Deslandes, "a Brazilian industrial designer based in Denmark," has a Web site promoting the bicycles he makes of bamboo. He currently handmakes two different models and they look quite conventional and sturdy.

2009-04-20 - If you fancy yourself a very handy person, you might try building a bike with a bamboo frame.

2008-11-28 - Evolve Bamboo Bicycles has a nice Web site about their hand-made bamboo bikes. Each frame they make is taylored to the individual customer and can be extensively customized.

2007-09-16 - I’ve heard about skateboards and surfboards made of bamboo and here are some links to companies that make them.

2007-08-21 - Bruce Wilson, a Reference Librarian at W.Va. State Law Library, brought a Web site called Carry Freedom to my attention last week. They have free plans for making a bamboo bicycle trailer out of cheap, relatively easy-to-find parts. The site has loads of interesting and helpful information about using a bicycle to carry all kinds of things.

2007-07-05 - I came across another mention of Craig Calfee in the context of producing cheap, bamboo-based bicycles for the developing world. The project is called the Bamboo Bike Project (clever, eh?) and is a collaboration with The Earth Institute at Columbia University. The project has lots of photos of the bikes on their Web pages.

bamboo bicycle

And, Austrian bamboo bicycles.

Back in the "good old days" bicycle wheels were sometimes made of laminated bamboo.


Boat building

Kayaks, sailing rafts, sailing boats, surfboards and the Proa

Craig’s Cheap Pages feature three other bamboo boats -- Fridtjof Nansen’s 1894 bamboo-and-fabric Arctic exploring kayak, the Vietnamese basket-boat with a hull of woven bamboo, and the Chinese Tray Boat, or bamboo ocean sailing raft.

Seagoing Rafts

A seagoing bamboo raft of Taiwan

A seagoing bamboo raft of Taiwan, somewhere around 40 feet long.

Two bamboo kayaks lashed together as a Catamaran

The man: Fridtjof Nansen. The year: 1895. The place: the Arctic. Two bamboo kayaks lashed together as a Catamaran. The mast and the yard of the sail are bamboo poles.

 


Construction

INBAR in Beijing has published an annotated bibliography, “Bamboo as an Engineering Material” covering:

For information about INBAR’s publications see their Information Portal page and click on “Products and Applications.”


Bamboo fibers are used to strengthen composite materials.


The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has a number of publications about bamboo construction and furniture building.


The University Aachen in Germany has a project researching the use of bamboo construction. They have produced some samples of construction techniques and documentation of bamboo's mechanical properties, kinds of connectors and techniques.

Christoph Tönges, one of the members of the project, has a nicely-done Web site with interesting close-up images of bamboo construction techniques. There are also photos of interesting bamboo buildings designed by Jörg Stamm, and a church by Simón Vélez.


Tang Y. Yang, a student in the Architecture Department at the University of Utah has some general information promoting bamboo as a building material. In particular, there are some nice photos. This is part of a larger set of pages called a Toolkit for Sustainable Development.


Michael McDonough an architect, with Linda Garland of the Environment Bamboo Foundation, started the Bamboo Research Initiative at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. He has some Web pages about using laminated bamboo in architecture, bridge building and furniture.


Bamutec of Germany apparently sells specialized tools they've developed for bamboo joinery.


Books by Dr. Jules Janssen

Building with Bamboo by Jules J.A. Janssen
London: Intermediate Technology Publications
2nd ed. 1995. ISBN 1853392030
Mechanical Properties of Bamboo by JA Janssen
Kluwer Academic Pub., 1991. ISBN 0792312600
Dr. Janssen also has a Web site at the Eindhoven University of Technology. The research described at this site is aimed at developing, improving, and analyzing bamboo structures for lower income groups in developing countries.

Bamboo Architecture and Construction with Oscar Hidalgo

Sr. Hidalgo has published an overview of the things that must be taken into consideration when building with bamboo. This is provided by the Natural Building Colloquium Southwest.

Geodesic domes


Bamboo Fencing

David Flanagan, The Bamboo Fencer, now has a Web page full of information about bamboo fencing.

Bamboo as Reinforcing Bar

This page has some information about the strength of bamboo rebar.

It was a surprise to find this report by the U.S. Navy, Bamboo Reinforced Concrete Construction (February 1966, U. S. Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory, Port Hueneme, California).


General

Bamboo Architecture: A Selected Bibliography
ISBN: 0792005740
Publish Date: July 1990
Author: Anthony G. White
Binding: Hardcover
List Price: USD 8.00

According to Amazon Books it’s hard to find.


Erosion Control and Water Treatment

The US Department of Agriculture apparently studied bamboo as an erosion control plant and found it very successful. Unfortunately the original papers from USDA bamboo research are very hard to find. The bibliographies on the ABS pages contain titles. The Bookstore has some of these titles available. Maybe some of the more obscure studies can find their way online some day.

Ecological Engineering gray water treatment.


Traditional Chinese Medicine

Melanie Arcudi serves on the board of the International Bamboo Foundation on Maui.

She is a professor of Oriental Medicine, a licensed acupuncturist and uses bamboo in many formulas of traditional Chinese medicine. She also has information on the Indonesian uses for bamboo. Visit the web page.


Musical Instruments

Way-Out

Richard Waters designs, makes, plays and markets musical instruments, sound devices, and sonic sculptures. His web page is: http://www.waterphone.com/

Flutes

ShakuhachiShakuhachi

Other Instruments

In the church St. Joseph at Las Piñas on the island on Luzon in the Philippines there is an organ constructed mostly from bamboo. It was built by a Spanish priest in 1819 and is still played today. There is a book about this organ and its story and some pictures on the Asian Culture Web site.

Lark in the Morning: is also the place to buy an angklung, an Indonesian percussion instrument consisting of tuned bamboo tubes hung from a frame.

Black Swamp Percussion makes bamboo timpani mallets.

Jason Kelley, a bambusero from Oregon, sells digiridoos and flutes from locally harvested bamboo at a local craft cooperative. Contact him at 541-512-2056 for more information.


Toys

I was in a local toy store, looking for something to amuse my granddaughter, when I came across toys made, at least in part, with bamboo. The company's name is HaPe International and they described themselves as a Swiss company based on the east coast of China. The fact that the toys are made of bamboo figures prominently on the packaging.


Paper

Bamboo paper making has a long history. The economics of bamboo pulp is somewhat doubtful in today’s world, however.

The ABS has quite a bit of information about bamboo paper. Most of it comes from Milo Clark. He presents a compelling argument that bamboo paper production today comes with unacceptable ecological costs.


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