How Is Bamboo Furniture Made?

A step-by-step look at the latest eco-furniture craze

Bamboo furniture is no longer relegated to beach décor and rustic living. While you can still find unrefined natural bamboo furniture, milled and laminated bamboo with a darker stained finish is leading the way as the new look of eco-furniture. Sturdier than oak, water-resistant and as aesthetically pleasing as the most coveted hardwoods, bamboo is a sustainable natural resource and a pioneer material in the movement for eco-friendly furniture. Bamboo grows exceptionally fast and can be harvested for a few years without damage, so you can buy bamboo furniture with an eco-clear conscience.

Boiling

Raw bamboo is always treated and checked for flaws before the furniture-making process begins. The bamboo stalks are cut into uniform thin sections and then either boiled or steamed at a temperature of approximately 1,000 C for 24 hours to increase moisture content. Typically a copper sulfate solution is added in order to defend against fungal and insect attacks. Once the bamboo is colored to the desired effect, it is then either air-dried or kiln-dried.

Coloring

When most people think of bamboo, they picture the light, natural color, similar to the color of maple wood. The steaming process, however, produces a dark amber hue without affecting the durability of the bamboo. You can adjust the color levels according to preference. The higher the temperature and the longer the steam, the deeper the hue. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends steaming at a pressure of 3-5 kg/sq. cm. for 90-105 minutes in order to produce a chestnut shade. This carbonized bamboo is the new trend hitting the eco-furniture market.

Assembling

The pliable steamed bamboo poles are stripped smooth, laminated and then either screwed together or glued together using roller spreaders, spraylines, curtain coaters or brushes to form vertical grain bamboo panels. These panels are then used to assemble bamboo furniture such as chairs, tables, sofas, bookshelves and cabinets.

One method of assembling bamboo furniture is to entwine the vertical grain bamboo panels with a pre-molded frame of bamboo or wood. Many bamboo furniture makers fasten strips of bamboo around important joints to reinforce them. In the Philippines, bamboo furniture makers support the joints with leather strips. Other bamboo furniture makers choose to use hemp or rope.

Cost

Bamboo furniture is expensive due to the high cost of importation, but damaging Mother Earth comes at a far greater price. Consider purchasing bamboo furniture as an eco-friendly option to wood furniture. Live green, purely and simply.

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