Bamboo

Discussion in 'Materials' started by Detailman, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Detailman
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    Detailman New Member

    I see this question raised time and time again. Being one of the most renewable sources of wood, is bamboo a viable boat building material? I hear it is not very rot resistant. Any thoughts on this?

    Wow! I see this has come up in discussion a few times...sorry...
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  2. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    I love bamboo but it is not a boat building material it is a grass. So put it out of your mind except for interior decor
     
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  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yep, great stuff if used a laminate flooring on the wheelhouse sole, but don't get too excited about a new cheap planking or structural element material.
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I've seen it used for spars with success.
     
  5. timo
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    timo Junior Member

    It has very high tensile and compressive strength. It supposedly has a higher strength to weight ratio than graphite. I don't think its strength is very uniform though - so it will probly fail in dealing with multi-directional forces. Im sure the material has been intensivley explored - processing methods and so on to deal with issues such as rot and increasing structural strength. But you never really hear about the formal, fact based outcomes of engineering or scientific studies. Why is this? It appers like a potential super material.
     
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It has been tested and it's not a super material. There are several sources for its physical properties.

    You may find what you need in these texts:

    "Building with Bamboo"; Jules J.A. Janssen, London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 2nd ed. 1995

    "Mechanical Properties of Bamboo" by JA Janssen, Kluwer Academic Pub., 1991

    "European Journal of Wood and Wood Products"; Physical and Mechanical Properties of Oriented Strand Lumber Made from an Asian Bamboo; Pannipa Malanit et. al.; 2011

    "Forest Products Journal"; Effect of Moisture Content and Density on the Mechanical Properties of Veneer-Bamboo Zephyr Composites; Jeang-Kwan Roh et. al.; March, 2009

    "Modern Bamboo Structures"; Status and Future of the Wood-Bamboo Composite Panel Industry in China; H. Q. Ren et. al.; 2008

    "Journal of Wood Science"; Effect of Board Density and Layer Structure on the Mechanical Properties of Bamboo Oriented Strandboard; Ihak Sumardi et. al.; 2007

    "Challenges for Science and Engineering in the 21st Century"; How Does It Work, Bamboo-Based Waferboard; Hong-Jian Zhang; 2000

    Naturally, these aren't the only references on the subject, but will offer an overview and physical properties assessment. You may also wish to refine the sub species of bamboo as there are several.
     
  7. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    As gonzo says, it is great for light weight spars on small boats for small sails(I grow Oldhami species). This book tells how to preserve it with copper sulfate.:
     

    Attached Files:

  8. sailingharry
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    sailingharry Junior Member

    PAR,

    Your comment hits directly on my current project. I have a 34' sailboat with a plywood cabin sole, that is rotted out. I'm seriosly considering replacing the sole with bamboo flooring. The manufacturers all scream "NO, IT'S A WOOD PRODUCT!" --- but so is plywood. Some of the bamboo flooring, especially the strand type, seems to be exceedingly appropriate for the high moisture of the inside of a boat (not outside, of course). This randomly selected product:
    http://floorsbybluewater.com/hardwo...nergy-strand-woven-java.html?___store=default
    is the kind of thing I'm referring to. From what I can tell, it is essentially a fiber/adhesive composite, not unilike a fiberglass boat. There is no ply, core, laminate, or any other element that can absorb moisure. And from what I understand, it is much more dimensionally stable than hardwoods.

    Can you comment on the use of a product like this as a cabin sole material? And does anyone have any experience with how slippery those pre-applied finishses are?

    Thanks

    Harry
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I have no experience with the BlueWater product and they didn't seem to list an MDS or other detailed physical properties sheet, so commenting is difficult. They use marketing words, like syngery and teragren, but don't bother to describe what these terms mean, even if the site is searched for the terms. What I saw was advertising fluff and precious little substance, such as the adhesive certification or tests passed, let alone composition. I suspect it's a polyester or polyurethane composite, though it could be a low emission phenol (who knows), but this is a guess no thanks to their site. Also there was no mention of outdoor use or the marine environment, which suggests it might not be the best choice here. I suspect it's also quite heavy too.
     
  10. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    I agree with Par. I have personally contacked 6 suppliers of bamboo products and not one could tell me if water proof adhesive was used nor could they give me a name of the adhesive. All stuff was made in China so run away from it--it may be toxic.........
     
  11. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Bamboo fishing rods have been around for about 130 years or so. They were laminated.
     
  12. sailingharry
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    sailingharry Junior Member

    PAR,

    I'm sorry, I wasn't clear on why I linked in that product -- it was only a quickly grabbed link to a representative product. There are a very large number of purveyors of substantially similar bamboo flooring products, and I was trying to convey a typical product.

    As I conveyed in my original post, they not only don't suggest marine or outdoor use, when asked they universally recommended against it. The reason, however, does not sit well. The general idea is that bamboo flooring is a wood-like product and therefore not acceptable. However, any other product, such as teak and holly plywood, is also a wood product.

    My gut feeling is that the objection is a corporate reaction to something other than their normal market. I suspect the glue the flooring is manufactured from is moisture proof (I didn't say "waterproof" but I'm not looking to immerse my floor, be it teak and holly or bamboo), as most glues these days are moisture or water proof. The strand woven product that I linked to is less a strip type flooring (like the vertical cut bamboo), and more like a fiber reinforced plastic, making it appear more moisture resistant.

    The reason I asked the question, is that you had specifically commented on the use of bamboo flooring in a pilothouse. This is very similar to the application on the cabin sole that I want to do. I was hoping you had real-world experience on how a laminated bamboo product would hold up in a non-structural, semi-cosmetic application such as a flooring product, and could comment on the pros and cons of how that worked out.

    I've heard a lot of negatives from a lot of folks, and perhaps I'm being stubborn for pursuing this. However, I've also not heard a single person in my searches who has said they have tried it to their regret. I'm also frustrated by the options available -- there is teak and holly plywood with it's notoriously thin veneers and questionable glues, there are various vinyl or plastic imitations, or there is real teak and holly at a phenomenal price tag, both labor and material. I am trying to find a product that is at least as good as teak and holly plywood, that looks as good and perhaps "different" than the norm, and is not more than double the price tag. Bamboo strikes me as a possible alternative.

    Thanks,

    Harry
     
  13. sailingharry
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    sailingharry Junior Member

    Bingo! I wouldn't leave my fine bamboo fishing rod strapped to my car roof rack for the summer, but I also wouldn't mind using it on a rainy day. And it was ancient when I inherited it in the 70's, so I suspect glues have improved since then.

    Harry
     
  14. sailingharry
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    sailingharry Junior Member

    Your experience with the vendors is similar to mine. I'm not terribly worried about the material being possibly toxic, since this stuff is being installed in houses and offices all over the country, and on a boat there is less product and more ventilation.

    It sure would be nice to find someone who has actually used bamboo flooring in a marine environment. I'd even settle for someone who's used it on a screen porch or similar semi-outdoor environment (an application the vendor's are equally opposed to).

    Harry
     

  15. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Chinese sheetrock and milk were toxic. I do not trust them.

    A beautiful hard wood is Ironbark known as Eucalyptus and being grown in many places now such as central and south america. I've bought it for $ 3.00 a board foot. iT IS NOT AS HEAVY AS PEOPLE SAY AND WITH STAIN (sorry about that ) I can make it look like mahogony or teak. Does not rot, glues well, holds screws well and is a wonderful wood.
    Very strong, more so than mahogony, and is a delight to work with. Research it and you will be very pleased with what you read.
     
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