Category Archives: Bamboo product reviews

Product reviews

Bamboo pegs – a review

bamboo peg

Simple as it gets

Have you ever really given much thought to those ubiquitous little helpmates, the common peg? Can’t say I have, even though I use pegs for many little clippy-kinda jobs besides hanging clothes out to dry. There are some who have given pegs a great deal of thought. Back in 2006 there was a special exhibition of nearly 300 different pegs.

Until I got my first box of bamboo clothes pegs, I never thought of pegs as a tool of beauty and charm. My first box of bamboo pegs came as a bonus with a customer loyalty programs at an organic grocer store in Townsville. I must confess to thinking of the pegs as a bit of a gimmick at first, but not anymore.

 The Mieco pegs I took home are packaged in rustic-looking recycled light cardboard packets. When new, the pegs have that delightful bamboo lustre to them.

As a lazy peg user, my preference is always to leave the pegs on the clothes line, to patiently await my next load of washing. This treatment of pegs turns the plastic ones brittle rather quickly. I tend not to buy plastic pegs. Alas, the cheap wooden pegs last only a little longer. The springs in the pegs acquire a propensity to fling half the peg into grass under the clothes line, never to be seen again.

bamboo pegs

Wooden pegs and bamboo pegs

So, imagine my surprise, when side by side with wooden pegs, the bamboo pegs I thought of as novelty, are out-pegging all forerunners. The bamboo pegs that I left on the clothes line are looking a bit weathered and mouldy, certainly. But, they are still strong. The bamboo pegs that still reside indoors, for use during inclement weather and all the other little jobs pegs are so handy for, are still looking gorgeous.

They are not cheap. They are slightly smaller than the average mass-produced wooden peg. They do look a bit mouldy after being left in the weather. Notwithstanding these minor drawbacks, I’m buying more. They last longer, they look better, and they’re made of bamboo.  eBay offers a selection of bamboo pegs. The brand I have are also available on ebay.

mini dustpan and broom with bamboo

bamboo, bamboo dustpan, bamboo brushFor some time now I’ve been looking for a dustpan and broom small enough to use and store in my Caddy van home. I was thrilled to find the perfect little set with, no less, a bamboo handle. Then I saw the price – over $30. No.

But I’m persistent.

A little more searching came up with the same product, shipped from the US to Australia for about $10 (it was on sale). Yes.

dustpanbroomApart from looking great, with its bamboo ring handle, it is a good size for me to keep in the van and it is made with recycled plastics. The brush just clips into the pan and stays there. Measuring 170 mm at the base, a tiny bit more in height, and only 45 mm wide, it can be hung up, or stood on its edge.

It’s cute and it works well. The bristles on the brush are the just the right length and thickness and the soft flexible edge on the pan helps with getting the sand/dust/dirt/whatever onto the pan. The whole unit has a quality feel to it. In summary, I love it!

Mine came from iHerb. You can use this link  to get $5 off your first iHerb order (search for Mini Brush & Dustpan). Or find one on Amazon or eBay.

Bamboo spectacle frames

bamboo, bamboo spectacle frames, bamboo glassesI was in Cairns for a short-term contract in September. One of the good things in Cairns is Rusty’s market. There is always a fine selection of fresh produce, and on a Saturday you will find more non-perishable, crafty-type goods as well. On this trip I fortunate enough to be pointed to a man selling bamboo glasses frames (thanks, Di!).  There were several different frame shapes, in a range of different colours. Some were ready-to-wear sunglasses and others were ready to receive prescription lenses. The frames are hand-crafted, beautifully finished, and extremely well-priced.

bamboo, bamboo glasses, bamboo spectaclesAfter much agonising and indecision over which frames to choose, Cameron solved the problem by producing a two-toned pair from under the counter. Just the thing for a librarian, he thought. The outer surface of the frames are a reddish brown colour and the inner is natural bamboo. The arms are attached with a springy hinge that keeps the spectacles comfortably on the bridge of my nose. The frames are very light-weight and very comfortable.

Cameron gave me the contact details of an optical wholesaler, also in Cairns, who fits prescription lenses in the bamboo frames. I’m very happy with the quality of the lenses fitted. When I return to Cairns next year for another short term contract, I plan to buy some more frames and have the optical wholesaler fit some high quality sunglass lenses.

Need inspiration? Have a look at Cameron’s facebook page.

Want to try your hand at making your own? This Instructables may help.

More on treating bamboo

During a recent visit to northern NSW I stayed at Bonza Bamboo and had the opportunity to cut some bamboo, and the time to treat it. There was also the opportunity to call in to Byron Bamboo, in nearby Tyagarah.

While Lance and Carolyn were away exhibiting at Strand Ephemera 2015, I was holding the fort at Bonza Bamboo and cutting and treating some of their bamboo to take away with me. Some poles were left standing with the solution inside for 3 weeks. For others, I availed myself to Lance’s simple and efficient PVC storm water pipe method. This is ideally suited for bamboo splits and very small diameter poles.

45 degree stormwater junction at one end

45 degree stormwater junction at one end

PVC storm water pipe of varying lengths, as seen in the photos, are fitted at one end with a 45 degree junction. Both ends are capped with a screw fitting. The lower part of the junction facilitates the loading of the bamboo. Once the bamboo is loaded the cap is screwed on. The upper facing part of the junction is where the preservation solution is poured in. The other end of the storm has an inline tap fitted into an end cap. In Lance’s system, this drains to a large drum that sits at a level below the PVC pipes to use gravity to empty the pipes after the treatment is complete.

bamboo treatment

… inline tap at the other end

All the parts to make this treatment system are readily available at your local hardware or plumbing suppliers. I couldn’t locate any 90mm fittings on eBay, but there are some  inline taps there.

Once treatment was underway I was keen to visit Byron Bamboo to follow up on the experiments they were undertaking with Freemite after the workshop in January this year. The product showed such promise as an effective and natural method to treat bamboo. Kaye is still awaiting test results for Freemite from UTS, but she did have some comments after trying the product. There were some major concerns:

  • The cost: It is an expensive product and, once diluted for use, is only effective for a month.
  • It’s very strong chilli content makes it dangerous to skin and eyes. It has a real burning effect, so from a WHS point of view here in oz it wouldn’t be deemed safe.

Ultimately, she has returned to using soluble boron, Dissolvabor, like Lance.

 

Bamboo on the Internet for February, 2015

The Georgio Armani Privé Paris Haute Couture collection spring/summer 2015 features bamboo motifs. There is a short video clip here.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see ‘The Tale of The Princess Kaguya’ yet. There are lots of very good reviews (and I haven’t seen anything from Studio Ghibli I didn’t like). DVDs of the movie are available on Amazon.

placematjpg placematsAlso on Amazon, these lovely looking bamboo placemats average 4 and half star reviews. Easy to clean and stain resistant, they say. What more could you want in a placemat?

 

CompositeBikeMaterials to compliment bamboo for bikes: A UK-based bicycle designer and manufacturer has fused flax with bamboo to produce a composite material that is as strong or stronger than carbon, aluminium or steel bike frames.  And the frame weighs in at just 3.3 kg. More interesting details here.

WoodPuckBamboo Qi wireless charger. It looks gorgeous. I want one. Amazon customer reviews are very favorable. You can read a Tech Aeris here, and buy one on Amazon here.

To finish off this month of Bamboo on the Internet I leave you with a lovely way to while away a half hour: The Intricate Process Of Making Arrows From Bamboo.

Drill bits for bamboo, part 2

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bit, triple cutterOn a recent trip to Japan I purchased a few more tools for working bamboo. Visiting yet another large home improvement store on the outskirts of Tokyo, the Star-M triple cutter was spotted. Not by me though: one of my kind and generous Tokyo hosts drew my attention to it. (Thanks Koh). I was too focused on locating more spurred drill bits to even notice the picture of a clean hole in bamboo on the packet.

drill bits for bamboo, forstner bitsWith a little online research it was identified, in English, as the Star-M triple cutter. It is listed in the special use category of the Star-M catalogue.  The drill bit is made in the style of a Forstner bit rather than the more common auger bit.

As a Forstner bit, the triple cutter requires more pressure than an auger bit, so it’s better suited to a drill press than a portable drill. In the absence of a drill press, I did, however, manage to drill a very neat, clean 10 mm hole in a section of dry bamboo using my portable drill without too much trouble. The small diameter probably helped here. And a measure of patience. I had to stop from time to time to clear the shavings from the hole that started to smoulder slightly. Overall though, I’m very pleased with the end result.

Amazon have a selection of Forstner bits. Although I couldn’t see any from Star-M, there are some with similar tips to the triple cutter. The situation is similar on eBay au. If you have your own drill press you probably already have a selection of Forstner bits. Do you have recommendations on the best Forstner bits for bamboo? Please leave a comment.

drill bits for bamboo, Star-M, forstner bitsThe Star-M catalogue makes for fascinating browsing (if you like drill bits). It also offers some tips on sharpening the bits. On the Star-M website you will also find this:

The skilled workers grind the spur and cutting lip by hand one by one and confirm the sharpness”

Confidence inspiring.

Activated Bamboo Carbon

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal, or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption.” 

activated carbon, activated bamboo charcoalHmmm, so? Bamboo is just one material used to make activated carbon. Activated carbon has special qualities over plain old charcoal. Adsorption is the key here. Adsorption is the binding of molecules or particles to a surface, as distinguished from absorption, the filling of pores in a solid. Activating carbon gives it high degree of microporosity, increasing the surface area so just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area in excess of 500 m2.

Activated carbon has many industrial applications, but probably the best known use is medical. The adsorptive qualities can treat some poisonings and overdoses. It’s so important that it appears on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. For everyday personal use the list of activated bamboo charcoal is extensive: odours, soap, humidity, water filtration, baking, face masks, indigestion, toothpaste, insoles for shoes….

The list of products on Amazon goes on for pages, (but not every item will ship to Australia). Ebay au has a smaller but still diverse range of activated bamboo charcoal products. The most popular products seem to be the air freshening/odour absorbing ones. There is range that comes wrapped in hemp bags – much more attractive than the plain black bag I picked up at the Bamboo Festival. There are some pretty ones on eBay au though, as well as some disguised as dogs. Maybe stuffed dogs in the back windows of cars are really there for a purpose?

The most interesting looking product, I think, is the food-grade powder. Or maybe the tooth and gum powder. With the powder on hand, you could make your bamboo charcoal soap, use it to make bamboo charcoal bread, treat indigestion and certain poisoning events, or whatever you can think of.

In case you are wondering, activated carbon is usually made from charcoal and, increasingly, high-porosity biochar, both of which can be produced with mature bamboo. Two different processes may be used: physical reactivation and chemical activation. There is a Wikipedia entry that explains the processes.

Reference list:
Activated carbon
Adsorption