Properly Carving and Treating Your Bamboo Water Fountain

What You'll Need
220-grit sandpaper
400-grit sandpaper
Tung oil
Straight knife
Epoxy adhesive

A bamboo water fountain is a beautiful addition to any home regardless if it is an outside water treatment or a small countertop addition. Many people think that bamboo is wood when, in fact, it is grass. Bamboo is naturally watertight, resistant to the elements and resilient against mold, mildew and insects. Bamboo is also harder than most wood. All of these elements make a bamboo water fountain a perfect choice for your home. You can make your own bamboo water fountain by carving it and then treating the material.

Step 1 - Understanding What's Possible

The idea that you can carve a container or bowl from one piece of bamboo simply is not possible. Bamboo grows very straight and is hollow. Bowls and other items made from bamboo are constructed out of strips of cut squares of bamboo that have been steamed, bent to form and then glued together. Even a bamboo water fountain is made of many pieces of carved bamboo. Most small fountains will use another type of wood or bowl that is painted to simulate bamboo and then real bamboo is used as the spout. Start with a design in mind and formulate a plan on how to make it work as a sort of puzzle. You will need forms, water and vices in order get the needed shapes.

If you wish to create a bamboo bowl for a reservoir then use an existing bowl as a form. Cut pieces of bamboo and assemble them on the outside of the bowl. Glue together with epoxy adhesive. Continue until the bowl is covered with strips of bamboo and repeat the same inside the bowl to finish the form.

Step 2 - Carving Bamboo

Bamboo is incredibly strong but it can splinter. To properly carve bamboo you need to be slow and use tools with a straight edge. You can trim large pieces of bamboo using a machete or an axe. Smaller pieces can be trimmed by using a straight knife held with the blade across the bamboo and then struck with a mallet. Always carve pieces of bamboo away from the body. Always start at a cut section where the pulp is located as this is the softest part of the bamboo. You will need to use slight angles to achieve your goal.

Step 3 - Treating the Bamboo Water Fountain

Treating bamboo is easy because it already is fairly waterproof. This is more or less to remove blemishes and to give it a shine. Lightly sand the surface of the bamboo with 220-grit sandpaper and then 400-grit sandpaper. Wipe away the dust and then apply a coat of Tung oil using a rag to spread it out over the bamboo. Add another coat of Tung oil using the rag. Once the oil is soaked into the bamboo, buff it with a clean rag. The Tung oil seals the bamboo. You can now add a layer or two of polyurethane. This is only for decorative reasons.