Tag Archives: tools

Drill bits for bamboo

Spur and screw point

Spur and screw point

Drilling holes in bamboo is not like drilling holes in wood. With the right drill bit a clean hole can be drilled. A drill bit with a spur, or wing, pre-cuts the bamboo, while the screw point keeps the drill bit where it is needed instead of sliding around on the smooth surface.

Messy exit wound

Messy exit wound

However, drilling right through a round piece of bamboo results in an messy, splintered exit wound where the smooth outer surface outer coating is cracked and split – no matter what drill bit is used. This is a problem discussed at length in a thread on Bamboo Forums if you’re interested in following the discourse.

Star-M packet

Bamboo is NOT kind to drill bits. Of the 2 drill bits I purchased – 4 & 6mm – the 6mm bit turned out to be one I used most, so it rapidly became blunt. The silica outer coating of bamboo blunts drill bits and knifes much faster than wood does.

At my request, some drill bits just arrived from Japan (Thanks Chris!) – I couldn’t find anything similar to replace the 6mm Star-M drill bit I purchased in a VERY large home improvement store on the outskirts of Tokyo this time last year. You can read about the Star-M drill bits in English here.

6mm peg, straight through

6mm bamboo peg, straight through

The freshly arrived drill bits were of two lengths – 16 cm, and the more standard 9cm. Left to my own devices, it would not have occurred to me to buy a 16cm long drill bit, but the long one was instantly handy for drilling straight through the rather scrappy and dry large bamboo that supports the seasonal shade cloth for the vege garden. Straight through. No more need to guess where that hole on the other side of the bamboo should be. (Thanks, Chris).

Have you got a friend in Japan who can dash off to the local hardware to pick up some drill bits for you? (Thanks again, Chris). No? I’m sure you can find them online.

Bamboo leads to…

While visiting Taiwan earlier in the year, I had the good fortune to spend some time with two different bamboo crafts practitioners. Following a lead from one of them, I visited a ‘tool shop’ situated in the lounge room of a small house down a narrow lane in LukangI was able to add to my small collection of bamboo tools with some hand-made ones from Taiwan.tools

From left to right: tool to make round holes; double-sided knife; twin set of blades to produce strips of bamboo for weaving. The small blades are extremely sharp. I don’t weave, but use them as trimming/shaving tools.

Longshan templeAfter the transaction (and the obligatory cup of green tea), the daughter of the house escorted me to an old Confucian temple. At the temple, I took the opportunity, under guided instruction, to bestow blessings upon a wedding that had occurred just the day before back in Australia. We did this by offering burning sticks of incense at several different alters within the temple.

bamboo paper moneyAs well as incense, paper money, made from bamboo, is available for purchase at the temple. There are special furnaces within the temple grounds for this purpose. The paper money is burned as offerings for the Gods and ancestors. Burning paper money is not confined to the temple though. Moving through just about any street in Taiwan during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday (when I was there) is to be enveloped in smoke, especially early in the mornings, as householders and business owners make their offerings in small braziers on the pavements.

You can read more about paper money in Taiwan here.