THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ALL BONSAI TOOLS
Comprehensive guide by SENJUBONSAI
When getting started at training your bonsai, you will have to invest in a few basic bonsai tools.
There are many specialized tools that a bonsai master uses to keep his bonsai trees in great shape.
But for the beginner, the basic tools are often sufficient.
As you become better at raising your bonsai (and as your bonsai tree matures), you will gradually grow your tool kit with other specialised tools that you will need.
When buying bonsai tools, it's important to look at the quality and not just the price.
You will find many different types of tools, and as a beginner, you may be tempted to purchase the cheapest ones.
But beware, cheap tools are usually made of lower grade materials and have poor craftsmanship.
You may discover that low-quality tools tend to break down much faster.
These tools will need to be replaced frequently, which can turn out to be costlier.
Striking a good balance is important to find tools that are both economical and functional.
Here are the bonsai tools recommended for beginners:A basic collection of bonsai tools would include those needed for shaping and pruning tasks.
Probably an essential tool to have is a pair of concave cutters.
This tool is used to cut branches flush to the trunk.
Which will result in a faster healing wound that leaves very little if any scarring?For trimming leaves, buds and small branches, you will also need a pair of bonsai shears or bud scissors.
These shortly bladed shears have a wide opening between the handles to prevent injury to other buds while pruning.
One or two sizes of these tools should be in your collection to enable you to perform any pruning tasks necessary.
Bonsai tweezers are also a tool that should be included in your basic tool kit.
This very useful tool is used to remove weeds, dead foliage and any debris that may accumulate around your plant.
A soil rake is also a very handy tool to have.
Use the rake to remove soil from the plant's roots when repotting and also to loosen the soil when it becomes compacted during normal care.
The wire cutter is one of the basic items in your arsenal for tree shaping.
Its curved head prevents injury to the tree branches and trunk when you remove wires.
For beginners purchase a 7-3/4 overall wire cutter.
Bonsai wire cutters are very short headed and are specifically designed to cut bonsai wire.
They, like the concave cutters, have a rounded head to enable you to cut very close to a branch or the truck without damaging the bark.
Do not use standard hardware store wire cutters when removing a wire from your tree.
The large size will inevitably damage the delicate branches.
These shears help prune your Bonsai Tree.
Their purpose is to trim the roots, twigs, and branches.
The grip on the handle is made for all hand sizes.
Because they are so easy to hold and manipulate you can pick off your trimmings without putting the shears down.
Before purchasing these shears test their operation.
They should close and open quite easily.
Never use dull shears.
Always keep the blades sharp to prevent crushing stems.
Concave Branch Cutter
This cutter is shaped to produce an even and clean cut when you remove a branch.
The shape of the cutter produces a cut that is flush against the trunk.
The concave shape of the cut also promotes quick healing.
This tool will never need to be sharpened if properly cared for.
This tool is probably the most important tool in your inventory.
There is no replacement or alternate tool that can be used.
Purchase the 8-inch cutter first as that is the average size.
Spherical Knob Cutter
This tool will remove knobs from roots and the tree trunk.
The circular head of this cutter is put over the knob and removed using round cuts.
The shape of the cuts facilitates little scarring and quick healing.
This tool is also called a nipper as it can be used to remove larger stubs that need more than one cut.
Bud Trimming Shears
As the name implies, this tool is used to remove buds.
The body of the shears is narrow and long.
This unique shape makes it easy to reach deep into the Bonsai to remove buds without destroying the surrounding foliage.
The finger rings also make it possible for small hands to use.
The best shears to initially invest in are 3/4 inch blades, 7 inches total length.
Do not use these shears for general trimming.
Such misuse will cause the blade to dull.
Root Rake/Root Hook
The round end of the hook can be used to untangle the root ball of larger Bonsai without causing too much harm to the roots.
For a smaller Bonsai try using a chopstick to smooth out the roots.
Use anodized copper or aluminium wire, as this is most effective.
It can be bent easily and will hold its shape well.
A root saw, as its name suggests is used to prune the bonsai's larger roots.
Do not use shears for this purpose for although you would successfully be able to trim the roots, the soil would dull the sharp edges of the shears.
Soil is incredibly important for your bonsai tree.
After all, it's where all the nutrient and water absorbtion occurs.
Bonsai soil is an incredibly detailed topic, which you can learn more about here.
The adage "you get what you pay for" is very true regarding bonsai tools.
Do not skimp on the quality of your tools.
If cost is an issue, start out with just a concave pruner and a good pair of bud scissors.
As your expertise improves, you can add more to your tool kit.
Be sure to keep your tools clean.
Wash them with hot soap and water after each use and dry them thoroughly.
From time to time, you will want to lubricate them with a lubricant such as WD40.
Make sure to remove any pieces of dirt that may be clinging to branches before trimming them as these dirt particles can cause nicks in your shears.
Do not attempt to sharpen your tools unless you know what you are doing.
These tools often have bevelled edges.
This level must be maintained for the tool to perform correctly.
Finally remember, shaping a Bonsai is a very creative art form.
It is easier to craft this art with the proper tools.
If you invest in well-made Bonsai tools and take good care of them they will last for years and years.