How to Weave Bamboo Mats

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Make your mats out of renewable bamboo!
Make your mats out of renewable bamboo! (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Bamboo grows around the world, and has been used as a natural resource by Eastern cultures for centuries. A hardy plant that grows quickly, bamboo requires little in the way of oversight. Bamboo is also popular in the West as a strong, durable and renewable resource. If you'd like to make your own bamboo mats, all you need is some fresh bamboo, a few tools and a little time.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Knife
  • Ruler
  • Jig
  • Steel rod
  • Scissors
  • Torch
  • Lacquer

Preparing the Bamboo

Saw off a length of bamboo.

Run your knife down the length of the bamboo and then carefully scrape the blade upward, pulling off the green skin. Repeat until the skin is completely stripped from the entire shaft.

Cut the sawed edge until it is smooth and flat. Both the top and the bottom of your bamboo shaft should be flat.

Cut the shaft into equally sized slivers with the knife. Each sliver should be as flat as possible and of equal length. Once the slivers are cut, compare them to each other and cut them down if necessary until they are of equal width.

Hold a sliver 1 inch away from its tip.

On the tip, cut one third of the way down, and then twist the knife to separate a strip from the sliver.

Peel away the strip carefully and repeat, keeping the strips the same thickness.

Sort the strips by color and allow them to dry for at least one week.

Weaving the Mat

Take nine strips and lay them out vertically. Place the steel rod on the end closest to you to weigh them down.

Weave additional strips of bamboo into the vertical strips horizontally. Use an under/over weave, with each horizontal strip going under the first vertical strip, then over the next. As you weave, pull each additional strip tightly against its neighbor; leave as little space in the weave as possible. Alternate the pattern for each strip; if your first horizontal strip is begun under the first vertical strip, then your second strip should start by going over the first vertical strip.

Weave more vertical strips into the mat to expand it, if necessary. As you weave, you will see that the horizontal strips form the basis of the rest of the mat. Repeat the under/over pattern to form the mat's body.

Set the torch to a low, hot flame and run it quickly over the mat several times, covering the complete area. This will remove any splinters or rough patches.

Trim away any excess bamboo around the mat's perimeter with the scissors.

Apply a coat of lacquer to the mat; layer on several coats for protection. Allow the lacquer to dry for a few hours between coats.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pre-cut bamboo strips are widely available if you don't wish to treat your own.
  • Use the torch in a safe work area only, as it is extremely dangerous. Move all flammable material safely away and have a fire extinguisher ready.

References

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