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Bamboo is Versatile Bamboo truly is a remarkable renewable resource. It is a centuries old material that has been and continues to be used by over half the world's population for applications as varied as food, shelter, fuel and clothing. These applications make bamboo a vital non-timber, non-petroleum resource. With a tensile strength superior to steel, it is one of the most versatile and durable natural resources in the world.


Bamboo is Sustainable Bamboo plays an important role in the reduction of timber consumption, environmental and forest protection, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development of rural economies. It is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded lands and releases 35% more oxygen than equivalent timber stands.


Bamboo is Renewable Bamboo is a highly renewable material. It is one of the earth's fastest growing plants. Bamboo needs no replanting, grows without fertilizers or pesticides and is harvested from controlled stands with an astounding growth cycle of three to five years. Bamboo is not a wood, but a species of grass. There are more than 1200 species of bamboo in the world. Moso (Phyllostachys pubescens) is our preferred species for its versatility, renewability and beauty. Importantly, Moso bamboo is not a species consumed by the panda. Bamboo offers vital economic and ecological benefits to the lives of millions of people worldwide; providing food, fuel, housing, furniture, artisan products, and soil and water conservation.


Bamboo at a Glance


An enduring, fast growing and truly renewable resource, it needs no replanting.
A high-yielding, viable replacement for wood and petroleum based products.
Important economic and ecological benefits including soil and water conservation, jobs, numerous product applications and food- more then 1000 documented uses.
Amazingly short growth cycle, it can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 15-20, typical for many hardwoods.
The fastest growing plant on the planet, some species can grow up to 1 meter or 3 feet per day.
A critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A renewable alternative resource for agro-forestry production.
Bamboo shoots provide a nutritional source of food which can be made into bread, cakes scones and cookies.
Environmentally friendly reduction of pressure on forests through wood substitution.
Products can be made in rural environments, reducing industrial and urbanization impacts.
Bamboo is durable, sturdy and strong - harder than Red Oak and Maple.

About Tonkin Bamboo


Tonkin cane, also known as "Teastick Bamboo" and "Tsinglee Canes", was peculiarly only growing in a small village named Aozai, a rather remote geographic area along the Sui River in the northwest corner of the Guangdong province, which now is home to this special species of bamboo in the world.
This small village is along the Sui River , It's here that this very special cane is grown. The river is bound by steep hillsides,which provides the perfect rainy climate for this species. The workers plant, tend and harvest the bamboo along these hills.
It was two American who did great job to introduce the Tonkin bamboo to the world. The first one is Dr. Floyd McClure, who was an instructor and professor at Lingan University in Guangdong, China from 1919-1941 . 'Tonkin' bamboo was assigned the scientific name of Arundinaria amabilis by Dr. Floyd McClure. Upon a visit to China in 1925, McClure was the first to scientifically describe the plant and recognized that it was a distinct and previously unreported species. At the time , this bamboo had already been in use for building fly rods and was known by a variety of different common names. The name was amended to Arundinaria amabilis McClure in the doctor's honor and translated, means 'The Lovely Bamboo.

The Culm

The culm is the term for the long straight section of cane that is of use. This comes from the lower section of the stalk cut just above the butt curve. Typically the cane doesn't branch out till it's high in the air. After harvesting these culms are formed into rafts, floated down a river and hand scoured on a beach with wet sand. Next the culms are again bundled , secured only at the mid point and stood upright, teepee style, This allows the cane to dry and bleach in the sun. Usually a week of good weather is sufficient for this requirement.Having been cut to length sorted for size it is then sent by boat down the Sui River to the factory. The cane is given one final treatment, one of straightening. Where necessary they are warmed up gradually and then heated intensely for a few seconds over a hot coal fire just prior to manual straightening with a notched wooden lever designed for that purpose.
Appearance & Characteristics
Now dried and bleached in the sun, the colour changes from a pale green to the familiar pale yellow. Leaf nodes showing through the enamel (the hard dense coating on the outer surface of the cane) are weak places and must be avoided. Likewise identification marks burned into the cane by the shipper usually go down through the enamel fibres and effectively spoil that part of the culm. Other exterior marking, such as watermarks, brown spots, and incidental scratches usually disappear with a light sanding of the enamel. The colour of the cane is critical as far as appearance is concerned. However, it is important to understand that this can change with the heat treating or torching processes during the actual rod construction and that the resultant product may be straw yellow or even brown toned.
A most noticeable feature of the cane is the series of spaced rings, known as nodes, along the outside of the canes. Where each node appears on the outside of the culm a diaphragm will be found on the inside. The node spacing varies from 10 ¨C 20 inches and is the smallest at the butt end of the culm, gradually increasing towards the upper or small end of the culm. The wall thickness of the individual culms varies between 3/16 and 3/8 of an inch. The outer surface of the cane has a hard dense coating called the enamel, whereas the inside surface is soft and pithy. A cross section of culm reveals that the fibre density is highest just under the enamel, closest to the outer edge. Consequently the bamboo for rods is made by cutting longitudinal strips from the culm using the fibres on the outer part of the culm at, and adjacent to £¬the enamel.


We are often asked many questions about cane. Some commonly asked questions, and my opinions:

Is cane difficult to acquire?

No. All one needs to do to acquire bamboo for rodbuilding is pick up the phone and call a supplier. There are presently a number of people importing cane for rodbuilding. Part of the perceived scarcity of cane goes back to an embargo placed on Chinese goods from 1950 to 1971.

During this time cane could not be imported into the U.S. and those that had good supplies of the material guarded it jealously because without an adequate stock of material, they simply could not continue building bamboo rods.

It is also often asked if there is something magical about this so-called 'pre-embargo' cane. The answer is, no. I wish I had a dollar for every time I was offered to buy (at very high prices) someone's precious 'pre-embargo' bamboo. Remember that the trade embargo was nothing more then a political act. If the government today slapped an embargo on another natural product, say rosewood, and the embargo ended tomorrow and importation resumed, you would still get the same rosewood.

I know of rodbuilders that have offered to sell supposed pre-embargo cane yet they purchase new cane every year. As a matter of fact, I'd venture to guess that there is more 'pre-embargo' cane available now then there was in 1950! So if there is anything magical about pre-embargo cane, it's all in how well some people can make an old (maybe) piece of grass worth a lot of money.

Is the cane expensive?

No. Currently a twelve-foot culm of bamboo may sell, depending on the source, from about thirteen dollars to the low twenty- dollar range. A rodbuilder can get a minimum of one rod from a culm, and sometimes more. This makes the material cost of the cane in a rod very inexpensive.

How dry (or old) does the cane need be to build a rod?

I remember reading someone stating that the drier the cane, the better. This is hogwash. In fact, some types of glue used to assemble rods will not function correctly below a minimum moisture content in the cane. If a rod is glued up with ultra-dry cane, it may just fall apart. Some makers will tell you that their cane is aged x-number of years. Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. But you sure as hell can't tell by looking at it! This sort of hype in regards to a rodbuilding material is as old as the hills and continues to this day. Nowadays, instead of rodbuilders bragging about how old their cane is, graphite builders brag that their material is x-million modulus or is fortified with secret submarine technology. The more things change, the more they are the same!


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