Bamboo building techniques and pricing.

The price of a given project depends on the materials used, the number and type of joints, and any special preparations or reinforcements. The following guide can be used to estimate costs.

Anchoring Techniques:

Unless you have an existing fence or structure to attach to, we'll need to use one of these to support what we build.

Sharped Stakes: $5 each

If the ground is soft, driving in  these sharpened bamboo poles is the fastest way to get started. Untreated, these usually last at least three years before the ground contact ares become overly brittle.

Rebar Stakes: $10 each

Inserting a piece of rebar into the bamboo pole with shims and epoxy provides a harder point. Coating it with enamel paint will help prevent rust, and if a tube is mounted in the ground, this can be the base for interchangeable structures.

Filled Concrete Block: $15 each

This provides a movable base for repositioning structures.

Concreted Footing: $30 each

Digging in around a foot and cementing it in with masonry cement, bamboo fiber, and some of the local soil provides a permanent stable base.

Joining Techniques:

The price and stability of the structure is directly related to the number and type of joints used.

Lashed Joints: $5 each

Lashed joints resist splitting and can support considerable weight.

Pegged Lashed Joint: $10 each

Drilling holes and connecting the poles to be lashed with a peg prevents the lashes from slipping off the smooth bamboo as it ages and contracts.

Table Lashing: $35/foot

In order to save time and reduce the price of intricate structures, an abbreviated lashing technique called table lashing or floor lashing is used.

Insertion Joint: $5 each

For poles with sufficiently different diameters, the smaller one can be inserted into a hole that's drilled or carved in the larger bamboo pole. Secured with a peg and some (preferably foaming) glue can make for a stable joint. Somewhat prone to splitting.

Pass-through Joint: $10 each

For poles with sufficiently different diameters, the smaller one can be passed all the way through holes drilled or carved in the larger bamboo pole. Secured with a peg and some (preferably foaming) glue can make for a stable joint. Somewhat prone to splitting.

Mortised Joint: $25 each

Carving tabs out of one pole and slot holes in the other makes a very secure and stable joint. Somewhat prone to splitting.

Axle/Rotary Joint: $25 each

Using a small diameter pole for an axle, and reinforced larger diameter pieces for a rotary shaft and terminal connections, allows for knobs and latches to be made from bamboo.

Hinge Joint: $55/pair

With a larger chamber above, lubricating the lower chamber, using a smaller diameter shaft that fits the upper chamber, we can make sturdy and functional hinges out of bamboo.

Material Prices:

Retail vs wholesale prices, and processing options.

Wood Posts: $10-20 each

Based on the current market price, wood posts of almost any given size are $10 each. Charring or Staining them to preserve them doubles the price.

Bamboo Poles: $12-24/fence foot

The retail price for individual poles is equal to the length (feet) x width (inches), So a 2" diameter pole cut to 6' long would be $12. As discounted wholesale price for big jobs, it's $12 per foot of fence, irrespective of pole lengths. 

If you want these to be heat treated and polished to preserve them, that doubles the price. Exposure to rain, wind, and sun will eventually degrade these, but after the first year, oil based stain or varnish can be applied on an annual seasonal basis to maintain them.

Note: These are real bamboo poles of reasonable quality, grown in the USA. Many garden centers carry grass reeds that have been sewn together by machine or forced labor, and/or old poles with degraded texture and strength. 

Bamboo Bundles: $25 - 50 each

Not every fence is a solid length of vertical poles, so we can also do 6" bundles for $25 each. 

If you want these to be heat treated and polished to preserve them, that doubles the price. Exposure to rain, wind, and sun will eventually degrade these, but after the first year, oil based stain or varnish can be applied on an annual seasonal basis to maintain them.

Note: These are real bamboo poles of reasonable quality, grown in the USA. Many garden centers carry rolls grass reeds and/or old poles with degraded texture and strength. 

Curved Splits: $7-14 each
Planed Flats: $5-10 each

Thicker bamboo poles can be split to use as cover pieces for $7 each.

Those can be cut thinner so they're almost flat and have the backs and sides planed smooth for more intricate reinforcements for $5 each.

Coating with stain, varnish, or other preservative, doubles the price.

Thatch Bundles: $3.50-45 each

These tight bundles of bamboo branches can be used as is or broken open for roofing, insulation, building blocks, fence filler, or materials for art and craft projects.

Retail prices: Small (6" x 18"): $8.50, Large (1' x 3'): $21.50, X-Large (2' x 6'): $59.50

Wholesale prices (10+): Small (6" x 18"): $3.50, Large (1' x 3'): $11.50, X-Large (2' x 6'): $45

Bamboo Frames & Panels:

Some sample frames and panels out of bamboo to give you ideas and an example of how to calculate prices. Some of these can be prefabricated and delivered. 

Basic Lashed Panel: $125.00-195+

The corners at least should be pegged and lashed. If the rest of the edge pieces and one of the middle joints are connected with simple lashes, that comes to: 4 x $10 + 17 x $5 = $125.

If all of the joints are lashed, that's: 4 x $10 + 31 x $5 = $195.

There's enough labor and few enough poles that we can afford to leave out the materials cost, unless you want the poles polished....

Basic Swinging Gate: $240-445+

The vertical posts are driven into the ground ($5x2). The top beam is lashed to the verticals with pegs ($10x2) and stabilized by the branch stub from the tree. If the tree were not there, this design would need some diagonals across the corners to stabilize it.

The swinging gate panel has pegged lashes at the corners, and at the corners of the diagonals. ($10x12) The rest of the edges, at least half of the interior joints, and the midpoints of the diagonals where they cross are simple lashes. ($5x16)

While a proper hinge joint would be more secure, the gate can be secured to the frame with a pair of lashes. ($5x2) This brings the minimum total for this type of swinging gate to: $10x14+$5x20=$240.

Adding the top diagonals, securing the rest of the interior joints, hinge joints and pegged joints to connect them would add: $10 x 12 + $5 x 6 + $55 = $205. That would bring the total project to $445 without polishing the poles. Even without initial polishing, you can stain/varnish this after the first year.

Mortised Panel: $330 - $410+

Using tongue and groove mortise joints ($25 x 6), insertion joints ($5 x 18), and pass through joints ($10 x 9), although it's more prone to splitting, we get a more refined look that doesn't shift much for $330.

With flat planed splits and another insertion and pass-through joint at each corner, it can be subtly reinforced with diagonals to prevent getting out of shape when used as a gate for: 4 x ($5 + $5 + $10) = $80, bringing the total to $410.

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