Bamboo is an increasingly popular building material because of its durability, versatility and eco-friendliness. Bamboo is an easily replenished plant resource, growing much faster than typical lumber. Unfortunately, bamboo poles are difficult to work with. Bamboo poles are rounder than the usual modular building supplies on the market, and dried bamboo poles are hollow in the center, making them more susceptible to external cracking. However, with the right tools and know-how, you can effectively build with bamboo poles.
Measure the diameter of both ends of your bamboo poles when procuring your supplies; don't assume each end of the pole will have the same measurements. According to Bamboo Habitat, a bamboo and tropical products supplier, "depending on the starting diameter a bamboo pole can taper anywhere from a 1/4 inch to a full inch over a 12 inch long bamboo pole." You don't want to begin building only to find out that this tapering effect throws off your measurements.
Dig at least 1 foot down using a common spade, as recommended by Gardner's Supply Co., if you plan on doing outdoor building, anchoring your bamboo poles in soil.
Nail bamboo pieces together with the smallest nails possible for your project. Dried bamboo poles can split if large nails are used. For most bamboo building, simple finishing nails and a tack hammer will work best. By downsizing your nails, you will prevent damage to your bamboo.
Tie bamboo poles together with twine for additional support during and after construction. With traditional bamboo building, bamboo structures were tied or thatched, and this method still works well to augment the thin, small finishing nails. A traditional Ibo knot is ideal for tied together bamboo pieces; visit the Gardner's Supply Co.'s article on bamboo fences (see Resources) to see a step-by-step diagram of Ibo knotting.
Paint your bamboo or apply a layer of polyurethane to seal the finished building project.