Introduction: Bambong: Make a Bong Out of Bamboo

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I wanted to make a bong from scratch, but didn't want to go the usual routes. An apple wouldn't last long enough. A plastic bottle would potentially introduce more toxins into the smoke. And a glass liquor bottle wouldn't be as EASY a project. So I went with the tried and true method of converting a bamboo stalk into a water bong. A bambong!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

I began with a piece of black bamboo that cost about $5 for 5 feet (1.5 inch diameter) at a local bamboo garden.

If you plan to make your downstem out of bamboo, too, you'll want to buy a much thinner stalk in addition to your main piece.

Next, you'll need the following:
- A drill
- A small drill bit for pilot holes
- Larger spade drill bits for down stem holes (and for breaking through bamboo nodes)
- A wood saw*
- Painter's tape
- A vice grip*
- Beeswax (or whichever internal coating you prefer)
- Sugru (you can also use beeswax or any sealant of your choice - sugru is foodsafe)
- Rough grit sandpaper*

*not pictured

Step 2: Shorten Bamboo to Preferred Length

Make sure to use painter's tape to cover any spaces you plan to cut. This prevents splintering.

The nodes on my bamboo were about eight inches apart. I wanted to the bambong to be about a foot, so I ended up with a piece that included two nodes.

Nodes in a bamboo completely separate each section of the bamboo. This is good, because a node can be used as the water tight bottom of the bong - just cut beneath the node.

I chose to cut two inches below the last node - just for aesthetics.

Step 3: Drill Node Holes

If you cut a piece of bamboo that includes multiple nodes, you'll want to drill a hole through any that separate the mouth of the bong from the bottom where you'll store the water.

For this, I actually used a Morse 15/16 inch hole saw bit. But a spade bit would work just as well and the ones I own are 12 inches long - perfect for deep nodes. I DID NOT use painter's tape on the inside of the bamboo.

You'll notice in the photo that there is a lip left around the walls of the bamboo. I was fine with this, figuring the lip would help prevent water from splashing into my mouth.

Step 4: Drill Downstem Hole

Next, I determined where I wanted to insert the downstem.*.

I eyeballed the future location of the downstem hole by laying my glass stem on top of the cut bamboo and placing it so that the stem ran about an inch or two from the bottom of the last bamboo node.

I then wrapped tape around the chosen spot and drilled a small pilot hole. This not only helps prevent cracking, but also gives my spade bit a hole to bite into.

Then, I placed the bamboo stalk into the vice (wrapped in a towel to prevent scratching) and used the spade bit to drill the final downstem hole. Make sure to angle the hole down towards the floor of the bamboo. This helps the stem to sit inside the hole at an angle.

*I bought a glass stem and bowl specifically for this project and they were the most expensive materials at $40. You can make your downstem and (according to the internet) bowl from the bamboo. I personally prefer any pieces that receive direct heat to be glass.

Step 5: Sand All the Rough Edges

Using a rough grit piece of sandpaper, sand down any rough edges. I sanded the lip of the bong to prevent the bamboo skin from stripping/splintering of during use and to make it smoothly fit to my mouth.

I also sanded the inside node lip to remove any splintered pieces.

Finally, I sanded the downstem hole. This was to enlarge the hole as my stem didn't yet fit. I figured that sanding the hole bigger would create a tighter fit than moving up to a larger spade bit.

To make this step easier, roll the sandpaper up before slipping it into the hole. You could also wrap the sandpaper around a pencil to make it hold its shape better.

Step 6: Seal the Downstem

I decided to seal my glass stem in place with Sugru. This way, once I shaped and dried the Sugru, I could remove the stem whenever I needed to clean it. It's food-safe and comes in lots of colors, including black which would blend well with the black bamboo.

Cut open the Sugru packet and roll the sticky putty around in your fingers for a few seconds. This makes it more pliable. Place it between the stem and bamboo until they fit tightly together. Smooth down the edges so that the Sugru is less likely to peal off.

Carefully remove the stem and let the Sugru cure for at least 12 hours.

Step 7: Seal the Inside of the Bong

For some, this step can be optional. I chose to seal the inside of my bong with beeswax to prevent any bamboo fibers from splintering off and being sucked into my mouth. I also chose to seal the bong to extend its life. I don't plan to store it with water inside, but I still thought this was a good step.

You can buy liquid beeswax coating that's meant for butcher blocks. That would probably be the easiest route. I went with beeswax pellets, which meant I had to melt the wax in a double boiler (or a metal bowl inside a pot) before use.

Once you have liquid wax, pour it into your bamboo stalk and roll the bamboo around to coat the insides. Be careful, hot wax will pour out of the downstem hole and the mouth of the bong.

Pour out any excess and let the whole project cool down for about an hour. I had a little excess wax drying in rivulets inside the mouth of the bong. I removed that with the flat end of a spoon.

Optionally, you can pour hot water inside and roll it around to smooth out any bumps. I'm actually not 100% sure this step works, but did it anyway.

Step 8: Add Your Downstem

Once everything is dry, place your downstem and bowl into the side of your bong. At this point, you can decorate the outside of the bamboo however you wish. I left it as-is.

Your Bambong is complete!

I know, I know, stop trying to make "bambong" happen. Never!!!

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