How to Make Lightweight Tent Poles

How to Make Lightweight Tent PolesFew people have the necessary equipment for casting aluminum or spinning carbon fiber at home, so it might seem that making a durable, lightweight homemade tent pole is impossible. But that's not true. Bamboo is one raw material that's stronger than steel or concrete, readily available, lightweight and easy to work with. Best of all, it already comes in a shape suitable for tent poles.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

What to do:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bamboo poles
  • Measuring tape
  • Hand saw
  • Hand sanding block
  • Power drill
  • Shock cord
Step 1
Measure the width and length of your tent's pole-sleeves, and then measure and select bamboo poles to match. Your bamboo raw materials need to be at least 6 inches longer than the sleeves and a little thinner so they can fit into the sleeve.
Step 2
Measure, cut and sand any bamboo poles that need to fit into a plastic bridging joint. If two poles must fit together in such a joint to form the triangular front of a pup-tent, for example, they must be the same height. Sand the ends down with a hand sanding block and medium-grit sandpaper until they fit into the plastic bridging joint.
Step 3
Cut the poles that are so long they will be awkward to carry into two or three sections, so as to create a multi-section, shock-corded tent pole. How many is up to you. Saw the pole across the joints in the bamboo.
Step 4
Place your two or three sections on the ground as if they were still together. Take the section you designate as the bottom pole and sand its top down with a hand sanding block and medium-grit sandpaper. This is done so its top will slide inside the next pole. If you have a three-section pole, repeat this on the middle section so all three sections fit together, one inside the next, just as in a regular multi-section tent pole.
Step 5
Drill open the interior cavities of the bamboo with a power drill. Bamboo is made of hollow cells, so drill down the middle of the pole to open the walls between these cells and create one continuous channel through the pole.
Step 6
Thread a shock cord through the two or three sections of the pole, then fit the sections together. Tie a knot in one end of the cord and pull that into the bamboo pole until it catches snugly. Then tie a knot flush with the top of the other end of the pole, disassemble the sections and use the resulting leeway to pull that knot into the other end of the pole until it too catches snugly. Your bamboo tent pole is now shock-corded like a regular tent pole.

Tips & Warnings

You can get bamboo from a variety of sources. Some lumber yards stock it, and both lumber yards and home improvement stores can special order bamboo through their lumber supply sources if asked. Bamboo is also available through online vendors.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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