Are bonsai wire cutters worth it?

Agriff

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I'm investing in some tools and about to buy some kaneshin concave cutters. Wondering if bonsai-specific wire cutters are worth the extra $$. I've read split opinions on here on the subject.

For those of you who are pro-bonsai wire cutters, what's the biggest difference you've noticed?

and for those of you who are anti, what big-box brands do you recommend? Fiscars?
 

Colorado

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I’ve got a pair of DeWalt brand, think they were $15 bucks or so from Home Depot. They have a blunt/flat nose that makes removing wire without damaging the bark pretty dang easy.

I’m a sucker for nice tools, but new wire cutters are very far down my wish list…
 

Tieball

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I am definitely not a pro. However, I have inexpensive bonsai wire cutters that work, and have worked very well for over 10 years. I think they were $12 plus tax. Expensive cutters are not worth the extra cost to me. What I like about the bonsai wire cutters is the rounded blunt tip. That tip doesn’t bite into the tree bark when I cut the wire. The cutter I have has never needed sharpening.…still cuts well like the first day of use.
 

ShadyStump

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For just wire cutting, any pair of dykes will do. Some find uses for needle nose pliers, and they tend to have a bladed portion at the base, but it's only practical up to a certain gauge.

When I finally drop some real money on bonsai, a pair of concave cutters is at the top of the list. Most of the rest you can do with a proper pair of kitchen shears, some small scissors and hand pruners/secateurs. Until you have something in refinement stage, there's really no need for anything else, except tradition and bragging.
 

Colorado

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I’ve you’ve got a hole burning in your pocket, I’d go with the concave cutters and then also a nice pair of root cutters. And I love my Joshua Roth shears.
 

Rivka

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For general wire work, a pair of linesman pliers cant be beat. Their broad flat tips are great at grabbing and twisting wire to secure a tree in a pot or tighten a zip tie, and getting a broad parallel grip on whatever you need to yank on.
the cutter section is not too far down and is thick and durable. They regularly are sold in a range of sizes from 6” to 9” and more so its great to look around for the smallest one that firsts your hand well and they become an extension of you quickly.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1238422-REG/platinum_tools_12206c_6_lineman_s_pliers.html
 

leatherback

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Cutting wires in a congested canopy almost requires wire cutters. The head is short and slimm made to fit in tight spots and operate without big changes in configuration. The blunt head helps not damage the bark
 

penumbra

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For general wire work, a pair of linesman pliers cant be beat. Their broad flat tips are great at grabbing and twisting wire to secure a tree in a pot or tighten a zip tie, and getting a broad parallel grip on whatever you need to yank on.
the cutter section is not too far down and is thick and durable. They regularly are sold in a range of sizes from 6” to 9” and more so its great to look around for the smallest one that firsts your hand well and they become an extension of you quickly.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1238422-REG/platinum_tools_12206c_6_lineman_s_pliers.html
They are very useful and are part of my kit, but they are a very poor, yeah crude way to remove wire from a tree.
 

Shibui

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There's a big difference between concave branch cutters (used for cutting twigs and branches) and wire cutters.
Bonsai branch cutters nave curved blades to cut real close to the base of a branch so there's no stub left and to leave a slight hollow after the cut. Normal garden pruning shears can't do either of those things no matter how good the quality.

Bonsai wire cutters are designed to cut right to the very tip so you can still cut wire which is tight against a branch. Normal pliers have the cutter part well back so can't be used for that. Side cutters as shown above can cut closer to the tips but all I have tried have slightly curved points and just can't cut as close to the branch as my specialist bonsai wire cutters. @leatherback has also mentioned the long, slim design that allows us to reach deep into a well developed tree where most other cutters won,t reach easily.

Initially you may be able to get away with side cutters and garden pruners for bonsai but proper tools will give better results and are definitely worth the extra cost.
 

Adair M

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For what it’s worth:

For the most part I don’t use wire cutters to remove wire from trees. I use Jin pliers. I grab the end of the wire, and reverse spin it off. Doing so lifts the wire straight out of the groove it made (if it has cut in). I try to remove wire before it has cut in significantly. Unspin one branch back to the “anchor point”, then find the other end, and unspin it to the anchor point, then remove the enitire wire as one, kinky, piece.

Here’s a picture of my box of removed wire:

image.jpg



The “flat tip” of bonsai wire cutters CAN be helpful if you must cut it off. Heavy copper, gauge 10 and larger, sometimes will be too stiff to unwind, and that wire can be safely cut off in chunks. Anything smaller than that is best removed by unspinning it.

ESPECIALLY wire that had been left in too long! If the wire is buried into the branch, how can any wire cutter cut it without also cutting into the branch on the sides? Can’t be done!

ALSO: those “general purpose” wire cutters? They aren’t symmetrical. If you cut with those, it’s very likely that the wire will twist as you cut it. And it damages the side of the groove the wire made in the wood. Even using the special bonsai cutters, you have to be careful to cut exactly perpendicular to the wire to avoid this twisting.

So, I repeat, learn to unspin the wire rather than cut it off.

I prefer to use stainless steel bonsai wire cutters. They stay sharp enough, and don’t rust.
 

Forsoothe!

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The utility of "bonsai" wire cutters is the flat leading edge that can be pressed against the branch, snip the wire and not cut the bark. But you're only cutting aluminum or copper, so a high quality, high carbon steel cutting edge is not necessary, so moderately priced "bonsai" wire cutters work just fine.
 

just.wing.it

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I've worked with standard toolbox cutters for several years but chose to pick up a pair just like (possibly identical to) the pic @just.wing.it posted a couple of weeks ago. They are worth it! You won't regret it.
Yeah....they are a superior tool for sure.
I was procrastinating for a while on them....glad I finally got them though.

Another thing that increases the likelihood of bark damage with electricians wire cutters is the edge geometry. Its a beveled edge, which causes the wire to be pushed or bulge out as the bevel passes through the wire. This is more obvious with thicker wire.
The Ryuga tool has a smooth blade on each side that meet in the center. Since there is no bevel on the edge, it cuts cleanly without bulging the wire out at all.
 

Hartinez

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I find I use my wire cutters on thicker gauge wire exclusively. If I’m doing detail wire my wire cutters do not come out. I have an old inexpensive pair of shears I use for that. It’s quicker for me to cut the wire with the shears. And when the wire comes off of the tree I almost exclusively uncoil the wire rather than cut it off. I will do that if the wire is to thick or the angle and spot demands it. Even with my bonsai wire cutters ive damaged branches. BUT, the bonsai wire cutters as @just.wing.it said are far superior for bonsai related purposes than standard wire cutters.
 

Paradox

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For what it’s worth:

For the most part I don’t use wire cutters to remove wire from trees. I use Jin pliers. I grab the end of the wire, and reverse spin it off. Doing so lifts the wire straight out of the groove it made (if it has cut in). I try to remove wire before it has cut in significantly. Unspin one branch back to the “anchor point”, then find the other end, and unspin it to the anchor point, then remove the enitire wire as one, kinky, piece.

So, I repeat, learn to unspin the wire rather than cut it off.

This works fine for thin gauge wire and I have unwound thing gauge wire. But if you dont have very strong hands and finger, heavier gauge wire can be a real bear to unwind to the point where I almost have to unwind the branch from the wire, not the other way around. I have concerns as to what that is doing or can do to the branch. I have broken branches trying to unwind them with heavy wire. Also on small trees where the branches are highly congested, it can be a problem.
 

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