Bamboo veneer vs Balsa

I am building a compsand using bamboo veneer. The more I work with it and read about balsa in the archieves, the more I am convinced this is the only way I will build compsands. (And thanks to Oneula for pointing me to the material about a year ago)

It is very tough stuff. Like warp bias glass, all the fibers run length wise. It curls nicely in the X direction, but is fairly stiff in the Y direction. Just what you need for a board. It is about 1/32 in thickness, or perhaps a little less.

One of the good things about it is you don’t have to assemble panels of the material from smaller pieces. It comes large enough for a deck or bottom. With the off cuts, I am going to make stomp pads for other plain EPS boards. Or maybe lay up a fin panel. Very tough stuff.

And good looking.

Where’d you get it? Oneula mentioned home depot or lowes or something, but our stores don’t carry it here.

I’ve done two boards with the 45* woven bamboo that Oneula sent me. Its tough as nails and very, very stiff when glassed. It’s good on something you want stiff, like a fish, but I wouldn’t want it on a noserider or a barrell-seeker. It sounds like you’re talking about something else, though. All the grain in one direction…can you post a photo?

If it was me, I’d probably only buy enough for one board, build it & surf it, before deciding its the way to go forever :wink:

Well J

if I can finally get organized and off the computer one of these days

I’ll get around to sending you the two 2’x8’ sheets of the stuff rolled up in a box sitting in the garage for the past 6 months.

For me it’s been regulated to deck patches (way better than extra glass)

as well as internal springers for our lowes glue ups (when epoxied keeps the bent in rocker forever)

and as full skins when I’m too lazy to tape up a bunch of balsa strips into a skin.

The stuff greg’s getting is the stuff that Coda uses as well as what Dave used and a much better look in my opinion than the woven. But at $30.00 for a 4’x8’x1mm sheet the Silompan woven ain’t too bad if you’re looking for nature’s steel…

doing my best Kaui Hill(bu laia) impression…

betta dan kaaben

betta dan steal

epoxied bamboo veneer

das da reel deal

look good 2

jus like Bu…

OK, here are a few photos compliments of PhotoBucket.

I got the stuff at I think it compares favorably with balsa costs without having to patch a sheet together. OK, I did tape a long strip on to give me the needed width of 20 inches that I needed,but really, one piece of tape. Easy.

It comes in light and medium dark as shown in the pics. Very impressive stuff. I think the max dimensions are 94X17 inches. It comes rolled length wise in a very small box.

OK, maybe I don’t know what I’m doing with Photobucket. But I think you can click the links.

Chip, How did you get the image here?

For you guys who might want longer lengths than 8 feet without butt seams, it (bamboo veneer) comes in rolls as edge banding. Unfortunately, the edge banding is only about 1" wide so you would have to tape it side by side to cover a board. A close look at those panels shows pieces that are about the same width as the edge banding material before it is laid up into a panel.

Here is a direct link to Greg’s pics on Photobucket… click on either image for a blow up.

Thanks John. Actually, the brown piece is just a strip I had from a sample. The material comes 17 inches wide, so for most boards, just one butt seam the length of the board will do.


How does it work as a horizontal stringer? Do you just use epoxy or do u sandwich it between FG? Most importantly, how does it “feel” when riding it compared to similar boards with out? Thx.

well if anyone’s adventureous enough and wants to try the silompan woven veneer shown below.

it costs $30+tax at homedepot here for a 48"x96"x1mm sheet which I can cut into two 24"x96"x1mm sheets roll it up and mail it out to you if you also cover the postage. Just PM me and we can work out the arrangements.

Benny1 and DanB know what’s it’s like so I don’t think they’ll be ordering any (fingers healed from the splitend cuts yet guys?)

CMP was the genius who clued me in on the stuff in place of balsa/obeche

Looks nice and has it’s place

needs a little sanding prep and careful placement.

Hahahahahaha! I left out the part about the splinters. The stuff I used is so good looking I couldn’t help but rub my hand over it. And get a major splinter in my thumb. THAT I CAN NOT GET OUT!!!

Hurts like a whatever. May just cut my thumb off. And be done with it. Ape, eh?

But the bamboo is so nice. I’m back on the job with the board again and will post pic’s…soon…one day.


what we do is take two sheets of lowes .75lb insulfoam

usually 1" for the bottom and a 2" for the top

cutout the rough shape via saw or hotknife

cut either a 12" wide strip of the veneer tapering at the nose and tail or

a outline of the veneer at least 2" inset from the edge of the foam

we then mark the shape of the veneer and plane/sand a 1/32"-1/64" deep rout to hold the veneer

now either using gorilla glue or epoxy we coat the foam and both sides of the sanded bamboo

and lightly green tape the two sheets of foam together

we place the foam bamboo foam sandwich on the bottom of our rocker template (Board with fins removed)

and bag it for a day

if you are using 5 minute epoxy and hour or two would do…

if you don’t have a bag set up industrial saran wrap will do too…

although the foam is super light and still flexible the rocker will hold for a long time but the board will bend and spring back

I gave CMP a flyer blank like this and he had it over a year before shaping it and it still maintained it’s rocker.

If you just use glue or epoxy and no bamboo the rocker won’t retain as long in the blank

As far as feel, I don’t know since we have been until just recently putting the balsa skins on the outside wrapped around the rails (CMP style) so we get the stiffy and light syndrome. On one early version I even cutout 3/4" tabs sticking out of the rail which I used to fasten my balsa rails( I thought it would help hold them in place) onto which was a different concept. Kind of like a horizontal 1mm stringer attached to the wood rails forming an H bracket with foam on the top and bottom of the stringer sandwiched between the rails and skins. That board’s kind of flexy…

Someone asked me to invert the horizontal stringer between the two sheets in a curve opposite of the rocker to “pre-load” the bamboo stringer with a built in camber like a snow ski. I haven’t tried that one yet but will attempt it on a future project. You can also cut the bamboo into different curves along the length to produce different flex response throughout the blank. It can get as complicated as you want to make it.

A Mr.Young advised us to lay our wood skins out of thin layers that have the grain overlapping in three directions for the maximum effect. We need to try that one as well…

CMP had some other wild ideas last year from his windsurfing and tow board building experiences

which included boring out a channel along the rail outline before gluing up the two sheets of EPS and doing a couple crazy things…

The first was to glass it and then insert these medical air bladders which he could pump up like a dee brown nike commercial to change the flex charcteristics of the board on the fly.

The second was to glass the channel and slide in from the tail stiffener rods into them like you do with a windsurf sail to change the stiffness of the board. The rods could be made of fiberglass carbon or wood like bamboo, guava or obeche.

He said he was gonna patent it but you never know…

Sorry CMP if I just blew it…

Sorry Greg…

yea, I remember talking to Charlie about using air bladders when i met you guys in hawaii lol…

Funny, I had a similar idea with the bracketed H-stringers, never acted on it thought. I think with the right combination it could work well, then you have to tie in those unique properties with the skins to tune the flex right. Lately I’ve been trying “flex points” The rail is actually broken in the center and then fiberglass wrapped around the top of the rails to stiffen and add strength. This creates sort of a trampoline effect. The fiberglass is wrapped over the top of the board, aorund the rails, and a few inches on the bottom. I add another later of fiberglass just around the rails to stiffen/strengthen a bit more too. Seems like actually stronger then rest of rails, welll see what happens when it’s being surfed and abused.

I can see how having that bamboo around is useful. Putting balsa wood in the middle for a horizontal stringer is a bit of a pain in the ass…

i tried a few test panels of the woven stuff

it was imo a bit too stiff

but most imortantly the peel strength was pathetic

i could tear cured glass off really easy

and there was no resin penetration into the wood

id suggest rough sanding to improve mechanical bonding

those boards are looking very nice. i use that mat on cabinets all the time for that beachy look that people love here… perhaps i could pass your name onto them for a matching board to really complete the look. i just did a really nice bar with that mat for an amazing backyard pool house. i could picture your boards above the bar… god knows you could get about 10x what a surfer would pay…

but for real my questions is how much resin does it take to fill all the valleys in the weave? i seems to me it would take a ton. do you do a few cheater coats over it, sand it smooth and then glass???

again very nice boards…

Thanks John

but we’re not looking at making boards for anyone other than ourselves or family at this point.

I’m actually ordering more state of the art personal boards from guys struggling on the northshore and maybe helping them transition into some of the new tech that’s available or hooking them up with CMP for raw goods.

CMP should get any board business not us as he showed us how to use this stuff in the first place. Thanks anyway


but for real my questions is how much resin does it take to fill all the valleys in the weave? i seems to me it would take a ton. do you do a few cheater coats over it, sand it smooth and then glass???

again very nice boards…

Yes we bag on the veneer using GG or glass so that process smooths some of it then we lightly sand to further smooth it then use a cheater with a light dab of microballons during lam before a thick hotcoat that is sanded down smooth before we shoot it with spray acrylic/lacquer sealer in a can or have CMP spray it with 2pac.

the stuff is super stiff once lammed with epoxy almost like carbonfiber so I only use it now for deck strips or patches like the boards below. These full deck/bottom skins is just a sign of laziness on our part and the fact that we didn’t overlap the rails on these models we put the rails on after the skins… The Lowes foam is so light the extra weight of the bamboo and resin doesn’t hurt it too much. Kind of nice buying all you supplies anytime on the weekend at the hardware store than trying to match Fiberglass Hawaii’s schedule…But the best EPS is either Marko or maybe CMP’s new stuff just more expensive.

here’s how i normally do it now

That 6’8" minigun (I still need to finish) is an APS3000 shaped PU Midget blank I got from Chris at Akubird. The Gem is a beast 6’6"x23.5"x4.5" for a friend who wanted to try one for years. I can’t believe that an EPS board even at that size still is a bit small for him and he’s shorter than me…



My first one with it, I did a normal sandwich and it did take a lot of resin & sanding to get the outside layer to stick.

Second one, I bagged it to the blank with foaming PU glue & no glass underneath. Not really a sandwich skin. The PU glue did a great job filling in the cracks and is the same color as the 'boo. And stuck so well that I could then sand the outside with great confidence & aplomb before glassing over…


That 6’8" minigun (I still need to finish) is an APS3000 shaped PU Midget blank I got from Chris at Akubird. The Gem is a beast 6’6"x23.5"x4.5" for a friend who wanted to try one for years. I can’t believe that an EPS board even at that size still is a bit small for him and he’s shorter than me…

Brother Bernie:

You peaked my interest. A 6’6" x 23.5" x 4.5" board? How does it ride? Sounds like something I would like to try.

I have a few 6-9A blanks that I am going to make into big boy fish boards. I was going to widen the blanks with two 3/4" high density foam stringers. I am shoting to yield a 6’9" x 17" x 24" x 18" x 3.25" fish. I want to skin one of those fish boards and may come over to take another close up look at your pump set up for the details.



Has anyone ever tried “Banig” mats?

Banig is a mat from the Philippines. I’m not entirely sure what it’s made from but from what I can assume it seems to be made from woven palm leaves.

I have enough to cover the bottoms of a couple of boards so I’m sure these will find its way to a fish or shortboard one day.

The texture is like thick canvas so it shouldn’t be that stiff once sandwiched. The only thing I’m worried about is resin adhesion to the mat.

The nice thing about these mats is you can easily get them in different dyed colors as well as custom ones with lettering on them.



OK, forgive me, trying to post the images again of the straight fiber bamboo per Chip’s instructions. The first image is the light bamboo. The second shows a strip of the darker stuff. I think this could make killer stringer material by glueing two sheets together. I’m about to make some more fish shaped stringer blanks and will probably use this material.

IMHO, the woven bamboo material is going to be a much bigger pain to work with. Although, Oneula’s use with a strip down the middle was very nice looking.

Looks promising! Now from that sheet shown there, it looks like (and correct me if wrong) your 17x80-something sheet has the grains going across the short dimension, not the long dimension?

If so, that would make more of a hassle to make it work.