Bamboo Pipes

Suman Roddam is a director, with Parameswaran K Iyer, at Bamboopecker and has a passion for bamboo, sustainable lifestyle, traditional crafts and rural economy. Bamboopecker at its core is to uplift traditional crafts with strong branding, utilitarian designs and provide stable livelihood to its artisans. Being an engineer by formal education, he sees product design with a different viewpoint, drawing inspiration from nature, culture and arts. He has travelled his native India, spending time with the rural artisans to understand their culture, their skills and materials; this helps him visualize the form and function of an upcoming creation. His idea is to restore the traditional skills and crafts to the modern context with new techniques and design philosophy.

Questions and Answers

Q: I am about to embark on a project in Indonesia, as an Australian Business Volunteer. My task is to help with improvements to the water supply to a poor village. I gather that the water supply is 8klms away up a hill and the only way they have to pipe it is through cheap Bamboo pipes...poles harvested and hollowed out on site. They have no money but plenty of free labour. I will be there for 8 weeks and I am wondering if you have any advise on an easy way to hollow out the 80/100mms X 6mts poles, joining the poles, preserving the poles.

A: (Jo Scheer) Big project. I always have used a long piece of rebar. Something with heft, and durable- a long metal pipe perhaps. Connections between the lengths of bamboo is a tough one also- easiest to off-set succeeding poles, one beneath the other- if there is enough slope. Preservation is tough too, as any preservation application must also not leach into the water. I have no solution for that, other than periodic inspection and replacement of bamboo lengths. A dug out, terrestrial watercourse would be more permanent and less maintenance.

Q: I have been making bamboo pipes for a short while now. I saw somewhere that someone had used beeswax to coat the inside. But I have no experience with beeswax as of yet. My question to you is how do I go about using the beeswax to coat the inside of the bamboo? My guess is that it's just heated up and poured inside the bamboo; swished around until even and then whatever is left you discard of. But before I experiment with it, I want to know exactly how it's done so as not to waste money and or time.

A: (Jo Scheer) Whoa, this is a bit outside of my experience. A woodworker friend of mine mixes 1/2 beeswax with 1/2 tung oil or other woodworking oil finish- for outside applications. Makes it a little more fluid upon application (possibly heated), coats nice and evenly, and thin. The oil will evaporate off leaving the beeswax coat. I've never tried this on inside applications, but works nicely on outside. It may be worth an experiment. Sorry I cannot give a more definitive strategy.

Q: I'm looking for split bamboo to use for guttering/creating a rainwater collection system across the back of my Houston house - over the patio. Goal is to have water I can use outdoors, and keep it from pooling at back door!

A: (Jo Scheer) I have tried split bamboo gutters- very nice, but did not last. The reason being that the slope was not steep enough. Some water pools at the nodes, and eventually rotted. Make sure your nodes are cut out adequately, and the slope is enough. It might be a good idea to coat the inside of the bamboo with elastomeric. It stretches and bends - made to prevent leaks (roof coating).     As for sources, go to the American Bamboo Society webpage, look under chapters or sources in your area (the Texas bamboo society) Plenty of bamboophiles with extra bamboo.


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