I made these for my kids, then aged six and eight, but they are strong enough to hold a 206 pound, six-foot adult (with some creaking). There is nothing critical about any of the measurements--feel free to adjust to your preferences. But I will give the measurements of the items I used. I am not Japanese, by the way. I learned how to make these from a youtube video of a Japanese man making them, but I modified the design not to use any screws.
- Two bamboo poles, approximately six feet long, approximately 1.3" wide (1.4" near bottom, 1.2" near top); best if without splits
- Four pieces of wood, 10" x 1.5" x 3/4"; I used some unidentified softwood
- Jute twine
- Optional: wood glue (I use Titebond II)
- Optional: duct tape (I will discuss alternatives at a later step)
- Saw that can cut bamboo (e.g., a fine-tooth hacksaw)
- Optional: woodworking clamps
Notes on bamboo:
Here in central Texas bamboo just grows like a weed. I acquired a bunch of nice poles ("culms" is the technical name) from an ad in the free section of Craigslist, and then they sat and dried in my garage for about a year while I was figuring out what to do with them. You can make the stilts out of green bamboo, too, I think, but the optional Step 6 probably will need some replacement, since I expect glue won't stick to green bamboo no matter how much you scrape. If you live in an area where there is lots of bamboo, you might advertise on Craigslist (or your local equivalent) that you want some. You can also order poles online.
Bamboo is an excellent building material, but it presents two challenges, the first minor and the second major.
First, few glues will stick to the outside of bamboo as it stands, since it is covered with a wax that prevents sticking. If you want to glue anything (exception: duct tape--it just sticks) to bamboo, you need to scrape the surface to get past the wax.
Second, bamboo is liable to split. This means that you should not use nails or screws in bamboo. I cringe when I see an otherwise nice bamboo fence made with wood screws. You want to tie bamboo, not nail or screw it.
Step 1: Cutting the poles
I had to clamp the poles down to cut them comfortably, and unfortunately did have some splitting. I think a finer-toothed saw would have helped.