I love the look of bamboo as a material, so I tracked down a supplier here in Melbourne and they sent me some samples to play with.
Leto Bamboo sent me the samples, and they were significantly larger than I expected. At nearly A4 size, I was able to make four A6 notebooks out of them, giving me plenty of practice working with the material.
There was some narrow grained, natural finish (the lighter ones). And there was some wide grained, carbonised finish (the darker ones). They also sent me one piece of wide grained, natural finish, but it was too small to do anything with. (but it makes a neat drinks coaster)
Notes on my experience:
Narrow grain is a lint magnet.
When applying the finish, lots of lint from the cloth got stuck on the bamboo and it took a fair bit of prep work before the second coat went on to get all the lint off. This didn’t happen with either of the other wide grained samples they sent me.
Bamboo is strong.
Part of this test was to check out different thicknesses of bamboo. I was sent 4.3mm, 6.5mm, and 7.75mm samples. I was expecting the 4.3mm to be too thin for a book cover, but I was amazed at just how strong it was. For an A6 size (105mm wide), there wasn’t any noticeable give. I might want to use the 6.5mm stock if I went up to an A5 notebook (148mm wide). Also, the end grain of this stuff is lovely, so I don’t mind having a slightly thicker cover if just to better show off the end grain on the edges.
I also took on board some feedback about my books not having enough pages in them, so I made the signatures bigger, but in retrospect, I should have just added more signatures. The thickness of each signature is about as big as I’d want to make them. This series of books all consist of 8 signatures of 9 sheets per signature. The paper I’m using is about 80gsm. Next time I think I’ll go more like 9 signatures @ 8 sheets per signature.
I can’t wait to play with this stuff some more, but I’ve used up my samples, and now I have to buy a whole sheet of the stuff if I want to make any more books out of it. As a hobby maker, I can’t justify buying multiple sheets, so I have to decide…
- Narrow grain? Or wide grain?
- Natural finish? Or carbonised finish?
- 4.3mm? or 6.5mm?