Black Bamboo
<< April, 2014 >>
Search Blog

100+1 Uses (1) RSS
Adam Davidson (10) RSS
admissions (1) RSS
Advertising (2) RSS
Alex Florov (5) RSS
Ardor (4) RSS
Art and Pipes (4) RSS
Ashton (1) RSS
Ashton (3) RSS
Behind-the-Scenes (11) RSS
blog (9) RSS
blog (38) RSS
bloopers (2) RSS
books (2) RSS
Brad Pohlmann (2) RSS
Brad Pohlmann (2) RSS
briar (8) RSS
Brick House Cigars (1) RSS
Brigham (2) RSS
Broken Pipe (2) RSS
Bruce Weaver (2) RSS
Capstan (6) RSS
Carlos Torano (1) RSS
Castello (6) RSS
Chacom (4) RSS
cigars (20) RSS
Claudio Albieri (1) RSS
Claudio Cavicchi (3) RSS
comic strips (2) RSS
Cornell & Diehl (9) RSS
Customer Service (6) RSS
Dunhill (12) RSS
Ernie Markle (1) RSS
Ernie Markle (2) RSS
Escudo (1) RSS
Esoterica (2) RSS
estate pipes (16) RSS
events (2) RSS
Famous Pipe Smokers (11) RSS
Fitness (1) RSS
Flor de Gonzalez (1) RSS
Food (12) RSS
Gabriele (1) RSS
Gamboni (2) RSS
Gawith Hoggarth & Co (1) RSS
gift cards (1) RSS
Giveaways (6) RSS
G. L. Pease (10) RSS
grain (1) RSS
Gran Habano (1) RSS
Grant Batson (1) RSS
Grechukhin (2) RSS
hemp wick (1) RSS
Hermit Tobacco (1) RSS
Hiroyuki Tokutomi (9) RSS
history (4) RSS
Humor (23) RSS
Ikebana (1) RSS
Il Duca (1) RSS
Interview (2) RSS
Italy (3) RSS
J.Alan (1) RSS
J. Alan (10) RSS
Japan (1) RSS
Jess Chonowitsch (1) RSS
J&J (2) RSS
Johs (2) RSS
Kaywoodie (1) RSS
Kei-ichi Gotoh (2) RSS
Kristoff (1) RSS
La Gloria Cubana (1) RSS
Lars Ivarsson (3) RSS
Lasse Skovgaard (4) RSS
Leo (1) RSS
Letter (1) RSS
lighters (1) RSS
Low Country Pipe and Cigar (3) RSS
Luciano (3) RSS
Mac Baren (16) RSS
Maigurs Knets (2) RSS
McClelland (5) RSS
Michael Lindner (2) RSS
Michael Parks (1) RSS
Michail Kyriazanos (1) RSS
Michal Novak (2) RSS
Nanna Ivarsson (2) RSS
nasal snuff (1) RSS
Nathan Armentrout (1) RSS
Neerup (1) RSS
Newminster (1) RSS
newsletter (264) RSS
Oliva (1) RSS
Orlik (5) RSS
Padron (1) RSS
People (22) RSS
Pesaro (1) RSS
Pete Prevost (1) RSS
Peter Heding (2) RSS
Peter Heeschen (2) RSS
Peterson (7) RSS
Peter Stokkebye (3) RSS
photography (18) RSS
pipe accessories (3) RSS
pipe basics (4) RSS
Pipe Clubs (2) RSS
Pipe Fiesta (1) RSS
pipe making (6) RSS
pipe making (55) RSS
pipes (42) RSS
pipes (7) RSS
Pipe Shows (23) RSS
Pipes in Film (4) RSS
pipe tobacco (74) RSS
poster (1) RSS
Press (7) RSS
Rad Davis (1) RSS
Radice (6) RSS
Ray Kurusu (1) RSS
Rocky Patel (1) RSS
Rocky Patel (2) RSS
Sales (3) RSS
Samuel Gawith (1) RSS
Samuel Gawith (1) RSS
Savinelli (3) RSS
scott thile (2) RSS
Sebastien Beo (4) RSS
Ser Jacopo (3) RSS
Simeon Turner (1) RSS
Sixten Ivarsson (2) RSS
Smio Satou (3) RSS (73) RSS
SPC Merchandise (1) RSS
SPC University (2) RSS
Stanwell (4) RSS
Storient (1) RSS
Summary (6) RSS
Takeo Arita (2) RSS
Tatuaje (2) RSS
technology (5) RSS
Thanksgiving (1) RSS
Three Nuns (4) RSS
tobacco (4) RSS
tobacco aging (1) RSS
tobacco blending (5) RSS
tobacco review (1) RSS
Tom Eltang (5) RSS
Tonni Nielsen (1) RSS
Torano (1) RSS
travel (69) RSS
Tsuge (3) RSS
Vauen (1) RSS
video (57) RSS
video (4) RSS
Viktor Yashtylov (1) RSS
virginia (1) RSS
YouTues (4) RSS
Photo Albums
florov (1)

07 June 2012

Black Bamboo
 Exploring Bamboo and Pipe Making

image courtesy of Ethan Brandt

I wanted to talk a little bit about pipe making in future blogs because, as Sykes points out, we each have something unique to contribute. And as the only pipemaker here at, I wager there’s at least a little bit of pipe making knowledge rattling around in my cranium like a moth in a mayonnaise jar, so here I’ll try to share some of what I've learned and observed over the years. When we had a blog meeting a number of weeks ago between John, Sykes, Eric, Ted, and me, a lot of great ideas were pitched about and a lot of them were geared around pipe making and/or materials. I figure the best place to start was with a material I love for both its working qualities and its overall appearance: bamboo.

Bamboo is a pipe making ingredient that that gets talked about a lot. Just like the piece of briar the bamboo is attached to, some people either can be drawn to a pipe with bamboo and some might wish it wasn't there at all. In future posts, I'll talk more about techniques related to working with bamboo and other types of bamboo, but in this first installment I’ll focus on black bamboo.

There’s over 1,000 species of bamboo in the world, most of which have been used to produce everyday items for thousands of years. However, it wasn't until the early 20th-century rolled around that pipes began to feature the exotic material. Without a doubt, there were pipes made from bamboo well before this, but our focus here is using the roots as an accent for modern briar pipes.

I can’t say for sure which varieties of bamboo I use in my craft because I really have no idea. It’s harvested for me so I get specifically what I want: thin pieces of bamboo with close "knuckles" and a surface that is either chocolate brown or mottled. The mottled pieces are especially beautiful, I think. Some of my favorite bamboo is no larger in diameter than a pencil, but this isn't practical for most pipe shapes outside of Cuttys or other designs that have small bowls or shanks that would be equally lovely if made from briar.

Many people seem to think that bamboo used for pipe is what grows above ground, but 99% of the bamboo used in this focus is actually its root. When one sees how bamboo grows, it's easy to understand how it can quickly become such a pest if not desired in a garden. I was at an undisclosed location a year ago (not trespassing) and stumbled into a small bamboo patch. The plants towered above my head and the ground was covered with partially-exposed pieces of the root. As bamboo grows, these roots shoot out in all directions like trees do, but they are all relatively close to the surface. It's these roots that absorb water and sprout to make new plants. I cut a small piece out with a key to use on a pipe for myself. It needed to be boiled and dried before use, but will end up being pretty much the same color it is in the ground. Black bamboo comes from a different species than this one, but it should be noted that many people think pipe makers stain bamboo this color. They don't. Stain simply won't take to the root like it will briar. Experiments have been done and they usually look ugly, if I do say so myself. It's best to leave it how nature makes it. Bamboo is the only material pipe makers use in pure form and try their darndest not to even scratch it. Often times, a pipe and stem are designed around the piece of bamboo.

The root is thoroughly dried before it gets to the pipemaker. It’s cut, drilled to 3/16" on both sides for a double-mortise, and then drilled through the middle with a 5/32" drill bit. Further facing, capping, fitting a stem with 3/16" stainless steel tubing (as well as the bowl itself) can make for a rather time-consuming process. (a process I’ll share in another blog post). While "white" bamboo is the most common (indeed, I've only seen the "black" variety in use for the last decade), "white" bamboo will absorb moisture for a drier smoke and color over the years like a meerschaum, but usually ends up a warm yellow-orange with possible darker spots around its knuckles. Black bamboo will not color noticeably on the outside, but still does absorb moisture internally. While this darker variety is often harder than the lighter, the brown skin is very thin. Brushing it with a file or coarse sandpaper will leave a patch of cream-colored material below.

Some pipe makers decide to leave the little bumps (which sprout to absorb water) simply sanded, while others like to drill them out and put little dots of epoxy. The epoxy dots can look like beautiful little light-catching jewels, but further serve a purpose to seal the bamboo so moisture will not leak out. I do it both ways, depending on the piece or the customer’s desires.

If care is taken while working with this dark variety, the results can be beautiful. I love working with this stuff!


Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector

Posted by adam at 1:45 PM | Link | 2 comments

Re: Black Bamboo
Wow that Black Bamboo sounds and looks gorgeous! Last summer I purchased a Bamboo Tsuge bent billard and thought that was fantstic. I sure do hope that some black bamboo is in my future!

Posted by vinnie799 on June 7, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Re: Black Bamboo
What material do you use to go under the bamboo and does it exstend the length of the stem ? Is it a dryer and less hot of a smoke ? Thank you

Posted by mike on November 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Name:   Required
Email:   Required your email address will not be publicly displayed.

Want to receive notifications when new comments are added? Login/Register for an account.

Anti-spam key

Type in the text that you see in the above image:

Your comment:

Sorry, no HTML allowed!

Subscription Options

You are not logged in, so your subscription status for this entry is unknown. You can login or register here.



New Pipes

Fresh Items


   Mystery Toba...
   Spot the Pip...
   Torano Event...
   Pipes in Day...
   In the Shop ...

Click to verify BBB accreditation and to see a BBB report for

View in English View in Japanese