The right tool for cutting bamboo is essential in keeping your maintenance work easy, as well as keeping your bamboo healthy.
So how do you go about picking the best one? Luckily, we’re here to help.
We’ve had a look at the top hand-powered tools available on the market and, based on our own experience as well as unbiased customer reviews, we’ve picked the 5 best tools to cut bamboo.
Here’s what we’ve found.
|Product||PocketBoy||BIGBOY 2000||TABOR TOOLS GG12A||Razorsaw Ryoba Saw||Village Parang Machete|
|Material||Carbon steel||Carbon steel||Carbon steel||Carbon steel||High carbon steel|
|Teeth per inch (TPI)||17||5.5||N/A||19 / 9||N/A|
|Weight||0.45 lbs||1 lbs||3.68 lbs||0.3 lbs||1 lbs|
- Compact, lightweight and foldable
- Replaceable rust-resistant, taper-ground, hard chrome-plated blade
- Carrying case with belt clip included
- Shorter blade might struggle with thicker culm
- Blade can snap easily if bent
Silky’s PocketBoy may be the smallest on our list of bamboo cutting tools, but don’t judge it on looks alone. The 6.7” (170 mm) blade is rust resistant, easy to clean, and razor sharp, giving you the edge you need when working on your bamboo plot. Meanwhile, the non-slip rubberized handle provides a comfortable grip, perfect for long use.
The fine teeth on the blade produce little splintering, making it a useful tool if you need to cut bamboo canes. It works just as well on stalks and cutting through mature bamboo culm, while its small size makes it handy if you need to get inside dense clumps to remove dead wood.
The PocketBoy is not only great for landscaping, but it’s also a useful tool for general outdoor work. The lightweight design and carrying case, with a belt clip included, also make it easy to carry in a backpack or tool box. Weighing only 0.45 lbs (210 grams), it’s remarkably easy to take it anywhere with you.
Overview: Silky’s PocketBoy is a great pick if you’re looking for a bamboo cutting tool that packs a keen edge and is easy to work with. It’s sleek yet compact design also makes it a must-have for any landscaping pro’s tool box.
- Carbon-steel lightweight curved blade
- Durable, impulse-hardened teeth
- Foldable and replaceable blade
- Sheath sold separately
- Locking mechanism can get stuck
PocketBoy’s bigger brother, the Silky Professional BigBoy takes folding saws to the next level. Its carbon-steel blade may look a bit thin at first, but the Japanese technology used for the impulse-hardened teeth makes cutting down bamboo as smooth as cutting through warm butter. This pull saw can take on stalks as thick as 10”, yet it’s light and sleek enough to not take up too much space in your tool box.
BigBoy’s curved blade is definitely a big selling point, and coupled with its size (14.2”), it makes it an ergonomic and easy to use tool. Its serrated edge is sharp enough to cut through logs if you need it to, and can easily cut through canes even at ground level. Depending on whether you need it for in line or flush cutting, the blade has two locking positions, making it a versatile tool that you can use for both indoor and outdoor bamboo cutting.
The handle is almost as long as the blade itself, and due to its grippy, rubberized cushioned cover, it can comfortably be used two-handed if you need more stability when cutting through thicker stalks. Also, the length can give you some extra reach when trying to get inside those thick bamboo clusters.
Overview: If you’re looking for a bamboo cutting saw that’s both light and packs a bit more muscle, the Silky Professional BigBoy is just what you’ll need. It’s sturdy, ergonomic, razor sharp, and easy to store.
A note on SILKY saws: Both the PocketBoy and BigBoy have color-coded handles, indicating the tpi (teeth-per-inch). For bamboo cutting, you’re going to want a finer saw, so go for the yellow handle (17 tpi) in the case of PocketBoy, and blue handle (11 tpi) for the BigBoy.
- Hardened carbon steel blade
- 30” model with extra strength and leverage
- Compound action system
- Best for cutting smaller stalks and branches
- Handles can bend
If you’re looking for an alternative to bamboo saws, the GG12A Anvil Lopper from Tabor Tools is a great pick. The 2” blades on this heavy lopper will cut right through canes as well as thin to medium culms, gliding through the hard green wood with very little effort. Coated in a non-stick layer, the blades are also handy if you’re trimming leaves and limbing the bamboo for a better view of the shoots.
Thanks to its long handles, the GG12A Anvil Lopper makes it easy to reach the upper sections of your bamboo plants and prune them to the desired height. Not only that, but the length will also help you cut through denser sections, making keeping your bamboo neat and tidy one quick snip away.
The rubberized grip is easy on the hands if you need to use it over extended periods of time, and its ergonomic design makes it easy to use even if you’re an elderly gardener. Another plus is the compound lever system, which gives you that extra force you need for a satisfying clean cut.
Overview: Tabor Tools’ GG12A Anvil Lopper is a great tool if you need to limb or leg up your bamboo, or just cut through sections no wider than 2”. Its long handles also give you an advantage in reaching higher areas of the bamboo.
- Double edge serrated blade
- Handle can be tilted
- No sheath or case
- Blade can become loose at the handle
The Gyokucho Ryoba Saw combines the aesthetics of traditional Japanese bamboo cutting tools with modern functionality. What makes this pull saw stand out is its double edge, instantly turning it into a multifunctional tool. The finer, cross-cut side has 19 tpi for clean and precise cuts, while the 9 tpi on the rip side is perfect if you need longer pulls to cut fast when going against the grain.
Thanks to the narrow kerf, the Ryoba Saw is perfect for fast, straight cuts. The individually impulse hardened teeth will work their way through thicker stalks, while tackling the trimming needed to limb up your bamboo with ease. Replacing the blade once it dulls is also easily done.
One key feature is the fact that the blade can be tilted at the handle, and although this doesn’t exactly make the Ryoba a folding saw, it’s perfect if you need to get inside narrow, awkward places in your bamboo plot. Its light weight also adds welcome comfort over long periods of time. Another plus is the fact that it’s compact enough to neatly pack away in any tool box.
Overview: Gyokucho Razorsaw Ryoba Saw stands out among other bamboo saws due to its double-edged blade that can tilt at the handle. Compact, ultralight and versatile, it can deliver a fast cut through stalks, thicker culm and bamboo canes.
- Full tang blade
- Heavy-duty use
- Leather belt sheath included
- Non-replaceable blade
- Rather heavy
Cutting down bamboo is always more fun when using a machete, and this is where Condor’s Village Parang Machete comes into play. The full tang 1075 carbon steel blade is razor sharp upon delivery, while the 12” blade and the 5mm (2/16th”) kerf give it a sleek yet stout design. This sturdy tool is perfect for heavy-duty work, such as cutting through thicker culm, splitting stalks, and even trimming bamboo suckers.
Depending on how you look at it, the full tang blade is both a pro and a con. On one side, it’s not replaceable, however it’s fairly easy to sharpen and align once the edge dulls. The full tang also adds to the weight, but it’s precisely the feel and balance you get from it that makes this machete ideal for clearing out bamboo in a clean swing.
The curved hardwood handle is ergonomic, with the weight adding to its stability. True, it may be a bit heavy and not the best pick if you have weak wrists, but otherwise, it’s immensely satisfying to use. The leather sheath with the belt loop is another great touch, perfect for carrying around as you work.
Overview: Condor’s Village Parang Machete is a great alternative to using a hatchet for cutting bamboo, and it also works faster through thicker stalks and culm compared to a saw. Also, it looks pretty badass.
Buying Guide for the Best Tools to Cut Bamboo
Finding the right tool for the job is a must because cutting bamboo is not the same as cutting fruit trees, for example. Bamboo is essentially a type of grass, and with some species, the culm is hollow. Technically, this should make bamboo easier to cut, but as well see in a bit, that’s not exactly the case.
Why Does Picking the Right Bamboo Cutter Matter?
Unless you plan on eradicating bamboo from your garden, the kind of cutter you use will help you give it the right shape while ensuring that it also grows back in good health. You need to cut through the culm at the right angle and avoid rough, splintered cuts, which can damage the bamboo and cause it to wilt.
It’s also important to determine the type of maintenance work you need to do early on, as you’ll need different tools for cutting bamboo stalks, leaves, canes, or the thick culm at the base.
With that in mind, let’s consider the key features of a perfect bamboo cutter.
Here are five main features to keep in mind when picking the right tool for the job.
– Blade length
When shopping for the best bamboo cutter, the length of the blade is one of the main features to keep in mind. The average mature bamboo can have a culm diameter of 6 to 10 inches, depending on the species. Shorter blade tools such as loppers are great for general maintenance such as trimming and legging up your bamboo. But for a thicker culm, you’re going to need a blade at least 8 inches long.
– Blade material
You’ve probably noticed that all the bamboo cutting tools we’ve recommended are made from carbon steel. There’s a good reason for that.
The outer skin of the bamboo contains corrosive silica particles, which can dull even the sharpest blades after long use. Carbon steel is the best material for the job because it’s stronger and more durable, with high carbon steel, in particular, having excellent edge retention. There’s just one catch: unlike stainless steel, it’s more likely to rust, so extra care is needed in order to keep these valuable tools in top shape.
– Replaceable blade
This can come down to practicality, but also personal preference. It certainly helps to have a saw with a replaceable blade in case it snaps halfway through the job. Plus, saw teeth are notoriously difficult to sharpen and it’s often far easier to simply replace a dull blade. However, it’s best to have a replacement blade handy, otherwise, be prepared to put your work on hold until the spare is delivered.
– Teeth per inch (TPI)
If you need to cut through thick culm, you’re going to need a tool that can really sink its teeth into the job. Not only that, but you’re going to want to avoid splintering your bamboo as you cut, as this can cause permanent damage to the plant.
Bamboo is usually classed as a hardwood, so if you’re looking for a bamboo saw, check the manufacturing specifications regarding the TPI. Medium TPI of 8.5 will work on green stalks and softer stems but can result in a rough, splintered cut. For a fine cut, and especially if you need to cut through dried bamboo, aim for something between 12 and 15 TPI, or even higher.
The weight of your bamboo cutting tool may be the last on our list of key features, but it’s not to be taken lightly. Trimming and maintaining your bamboo plot can be hard manual work, so you’re going to need a comfortable tool to work with.
Light and ultralight saws, weighing less than 0.5 lbs, are easy to carry and are better suited if you need to work for long periods of time on pruning and trimming, or if you have arthritis.
For heavy-duty work, you’re going to need something stronger and sturdier, with a blade that’s not going to bend, snap or catch when cutting through the thicker portions of the culm.
Now that you know how to pick the best tool for cutting bamboo, you should be all set. But what if you need to do more than just maintenance on your bamboo plot? The tools we recommend can be used for several jobs, such as controlling its spread.
Here’s a quick guide on how to stop bamboo from taking over your garden, or worse, your neighbor’s.
How to Stop Bamboo From Spreading
You can keep your bamboo under control using these four simple tips:
1. Create a rhizome barrier
Bamboo uses a network of thick underground roots called rhizomes to spread, so the first step to prevent it from encroaching your yard is to cut and remove them. Using a shovel, dig a trench around the bamboo plot, about 2 feet from the main cluster and around 28” deep. Make sure to sever any rhizomes you come across, using a lopper or even a saw for the thicker ones. Fill the trench with either a tarp cut to size, or plastic root barriers made especially for bamboo.
2. Manual removal
This technique works best if you only have a few stray bamboo stalks and suckers that you need to control. Using a bamboo saw, such as the Silky Professional BigBoy or the Gyokucho Ryoba Saw, cut the bamboo stalk at ground level. For thinner stalks, you can even use loppers. After cutting the stalks, you will need to dig around the main plant, and manually remove any rhizomes, to prevent the plant from spreading underground.
3. Plant clumping bamboo species
Prevention is often the best cure, and luckily, there are ways in which you can still enjoy a bamboo privacy fence without the hassle of keeping it from taking over. One easy way to limit the spread of bamboo is buying species of clumping bamboo. They are perfect for fences, screens, and hedges, and they’re also lower maintenance. Clumping bamboo does spread, but not as fast as running types, which makes it less invasive. You also don’t need to worry about installing a bamboo barrier to keep it in check.
4. Herbicide control
When all else fails, you will have to call in the big guns and rely on chemical control to prevent your bamboo from taking over. Using a hand saw, cut the stalk down to the ground, and apply a herbicide solution to the stump once a month. Glyphosate is your main ally in this case, getting rid of both stalks as well as rhizomes. You may want to be careful though: glyphosate does not discriminate between plants, and will kill your lawn as surely as it will kill bamboo.
Of course, if eradicating bamboo is your main goal, herbicides will help you see the job done. But if you’re worried about damaging the rest of your yard in the process, there are several other ways to ensure it never makes a comeback.
How to Get Rid of Bamboo From Your Garden
If you want to get rid of bamboo permanently, herbicides are one way to do so. This can, however, cause damage to the rest of the plants in your yard. To eliminate such risks, we have compiled a list of several eco-friendly ways to remove bamboo.
Let’s take a look:
1. Cut and water technique
Using one of our recommended bamboo saws, cut the stalk down to ground level, and use a lawnmower for the suckers and smaller stalks. Then thoroughly soak the area with water, using either a garden hose or a sprinkler for the job.
The underground stems or rhizomes can be left in the moist soil to rot. You will need to repeat this process several times whenever you see new shoots popping up.
This method essentially stresses the bamboo, forcing it to spend all its energy on creating new shoots. In the end, the plant will wilt and die, and all the roots will rot away due to the soil being waterlogged.
2. Dig it up technique
Digging up bamboo can be used to both control its spread as well as permanently remove it. It’s a bit more labor intensive, and it may take several months before you finally start seeing results.
To make work easier, start by soaking the soil around the bamboo, using a garden hose. Give it about 30 minutes to ensure that the water has seeped all the way through to the roots. Using a saw, cut the larger stalks down to the ground.
Then, use a shovel to loosen up the soil, and pull out any small plants, paying close attention to breaking up and removing the rhizomes as well. Dig up any new shoots and repeat the process until your garden is completely bamboo free.
3. Smother with tarps
This final bamboo eliminating method can be used to speed up the process, following-up on the cut-and-water and dig-it-up techniques mentioned above. Start off by cutting the stalks and mowing the small green growth, as per the previous instructions.
Once this step is done, cover the plot with thick plastic tarps. You can also use garbage bags, just make sure to weigh them down to the ground. This way, any new growth will be starved of essential sunlight and air, and it will simply wilt.
Keep an eye on any new shoots that might be popping up at the edges of the tarps, and use the methods mentioned above to control them.
So what is the best tool for outdoor bamboo cutting?
Loppers are a great pick if you need a tool for pruning, trimming, or lighter work, such as legging up your bamboo.
A machete is ideal if you need to clear out undergrowth or large clumps, slice through suckers, and even clean, splinter-free cuts through the culm.
Meanwhile, hand saws are your go-to if you need to work on individual stalks, especially if you need to cut them close to the ground.
Ultimately, picking the best bamboo cutter comes down to both personal preferences, as well as the type of work you need to do in order to keep your bamboo plot neat and healthy.