Here’s my first attempt at making Mirai-style bamboo chopsticks…as usual Ryan makes it look a lot easier than it really is but these have come out OK for a first attempt! Sourcing decent bamboo rounds/halves in the UK seems next to impossible so when i found some i, of course, bought an absolute tonne of them so will probably be making chopsticks for most of the winter to use it all up!
You should probably dress the grinding wheels to get any bamboo debris out of the pores. It can swell as it heats up and cause chunks of the wheel to fly off. That is why you should not use a grinding wheel for soft metals like aluminum and brass. Sanding wheels and belts are far better for that type of material.
Hey Marty, thanks for the tip! What do you mean when you say “dress the grinding wheels”? I tried to look for a wood grinder but couldn’t find one.
Chris - Dressing the wheel is done by grinding off the outer surface of the wheel. For a Silicon Carbide wheel (what it appears you have) the most common tool is set of hardened steel gears that spin freely on an axel. The impact the wheel and break off little chunks. They also make diamond wheel dressers. You can also dress the wheel by grinding some hardened steel, but you want to avoid overheating in this mode. For the finer grained, white alumina wheels they make a SiC stick that cleans up the surface. Do a google search for grinding wheel dressers and you should find something.
I took Mirai’s, Elongating Species 1 class, and the first class was all about repotting and part of that was making bamboo chopsticks. The thing he kept emphasizing was that most people make their chopsticks too big, and yours look pretty big. The goal of the chopstick is to get in between the roots and between the roots and the side of the container. I may be misjudging the size from the pictures, but from what I can tell, most of these could easily be cut in half.
Cheers buddy, top advice, i’ll check them out! Merry Christmas!!
Thanks for the advice mate, always good to get tips from people who’ve met and learnt under Ryan!!
They’re the ‘coarse’ chopsticks for the initial chopsticking of substrate into the container, i have some finer ones for detailed chopsticking and removing field soil prior to repotting.
Merry Christmas buddy!
Perfect. And it sounds like you have enough rounds to have every variation.
Honestly I probably have enough to start a reasonably sized chopstick exporting company
Bamboo stock for chopsticks… That kitchen utensil bamboo storage tube is a perfect size and legnth, with the flange / thumb nub at the bottom. Makes a dozen mixed size.
The wife never missed it…
Not really, second hand store. The wife HAS sharp instruments.
Do you mind telling me where you sourced the bamboo in the Uk.
quick search found one outlet… probably more available.
Split Moso Poles (Half Pole) - UK Bamboo Supplies Ltd
The link Bob has just put down is the one i used. Pretty decent quality although probably not quite as robust and not as big as the ones Mirai uses as they’re timber bamboo. I went for the 4x1m split poles, you have to but two lots as a minimum (so you’ll have plenty for the future) and with P&P it came to just under £60
After seeing them on Mirai Live all the time I found a couple places in state that had timber Bamboo and emailed to get info. Shipping was ridiculous but the Bamboo was a LOT cheaper than at mirai so drove to Portland and bought a 10’ pole 4 1/2"-5" diameter and asked them to cut it in sections for me for convenience carrying in my sports car. I sold 3 or 4 sections to club members and kept 2 sections for myself and have chopstick and planting sticks probably for a life time left over. I think I paid $30 for the 10 foot pole.
I just use a file and sandpaper to shape mine.
Chris, I found the toughest part on a grinder is getting the ends symmetrical. I rough it out and then fine sand by hand. Pic looks great. I ordered a section of bamboo via Mirai and your correct, it’s harder than it looks and you can get a lot of chopsticks out of a section…! Happy 2021 to all!
Yeh it took a little practice for sure!! The first batch was…pretty awful and needed a re-do!! I found the best was to grind in the lateral taper first and when i was happy with that grind the flat front edge. Once i got the hang of it it was fairly easy to correct any flaws or even start from scratch if i wasn’t happy!
You guys are quite lucky in the US, you seem to have many more options for construction material (and raw tree material) at quite affordable prices. It can be quite slim expensive pickings in the UK!!! And our weather sucks!!
Grass is always greener on the other side of the pond! We lost thousands of trees and had structural damage to homes and businesses and power lines. Now the temperatures are negative 9 C and twelve inches of snow on the ground. If you have half of a continent to choose from the weather will be good and bad at the same time. Mountains and coastline have their benefits and their draw backs. I have chosen to love where I am at the moment. Use your local clubs and local nurseries and bonsai outlets to make art out of the ordinary. The recent nursery stock stream by multiple professionals has made me watch for opportunities where I live. Envy is not productive. I envy your easy access to the sea. I live 1200 miles from the Atlantic. Just waxing philosophical in my old age for the new year! And… we have so much more information available that I cannot keep up with all the knowledge that is free for asking! Top 10 UK Bonsai Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2020 (feedspot.com)
I was …not aware… that… bonsai influencers… was a thing…
It’s funny that you mention that philosophical perspective…just a few interviews with some bonsai professionals from various countries (Peter Warren was asked about JBP’s and Japanese Maples in a UK climate) and the take home message from all of them was to adapt your approach to your trees to your climate rather than trying to fight it. I like that approach as its very similar to Ryan’s ethos that developing health in your trees as the priority rather than demanding they do what you want.
I only started bonsai in April 2020 so am very new to the practice. However the shear bulk of available resources now means that a lot can be learnt in a very short space of time (theory of course, the practice will take…forever), i cant imagine how people went about it in the old days. I suppose it is a natural frustration to want optimal conditions and outcomes when learning a new practice…but coming to terms with that being impossible and adapting is part of the learning process i guess. And it certainly helps to have forums like this to engage with other small tree lovers!! When this Covid misery is over i’m looking forward to joining one of my local clubs and meeting some new people with the experience of practicing bonsai in the UK.
All i want for 2021 is for everyone to be safe and have healthy trees!!