Carving/hollowing??

the3rdon

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Ok, I have no experience with carving or hollowing bonsai.. LOL!! I have a fairly old imported korean hornbeam that I have had for a while, but really only eliminated branches simply because there were too many.. At the base of this HB there is a bulge and a lot of craggy nodes for lack of a better term.. I have this vision of hollowing some of this out and creating some dead wood.. I will post pics tomorrow.. I guess my biggest question is, how far can I hollow into the bottom of the trunk and do I need to buy anything to treat the interior wood?? Fire away nuts.. Pics will be up tomorrow if u need a better idea..

Thank's
~Don Hanson
 

the3rdon

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here is the HB... Notice the bulgy base.. Some might like it that way and i don't exactly hate it, but I just have this vision of a cool deadwood or hollow..
 

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The knot at the base is a very natural place to start... You can hollow into the trunk pretty much as far as you would like to go. Often times your biggest limitation will be the length the shaft of your carving tool will reach. So using things like a die grinder with a shogun master bit (which can be purchased from Dale Cochoy of Wild Things Bonsai - among other great carving items) will help you get the depth you want.

We (at Elandan Gardens) don't treat the inside of the trunk with anything except lime sulfur, but even then its usually only if the tree is going into a show. But we always do our carving in such a way as to allow water to drain out of a hollow space... so when you do it, make sure there's a way for water to make it's way out. You only have a problem if the water just sits in a hollow... so if you do one higher up (which I recommend of course because it trees look better with an element echoed in more than one place), make sure there's a drain spot. Sometimes when carving say a subtrunk or large branch, we'll make sure a small area underneath the area is also carved out so that the water will flow out that port hole.

Eric and I use a shogun master bit for deep hollows, a ninja master for hogging out large amounts of wood, and a 3/8 core box router bit for most work. A dremel with a multitude of smaller bits is used to taper out the lines of the larger bits.

I would recommend that you cut your teeth on something less nice than this tree if you are doing it unsupervised though. Even just carving on drift wood is a better place to start. You can't put it back when you carve it out... and knowing how to handle your tools is always the hardest part. Maintaining contact with the tree when carving is often key to controlling these powerful carvers.

I'm not at home... so I'll have to post pictures later today to show you what I mean.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

JasonG

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Hey Don,

I would hollow out the 2 old chop locations, but not bore them out deep at all. As for carving on the base....not so sure it would really do anything but hurt the tree visually. But that is said with only seeing photos from above and random angles.

Can you post a nice level picture of what you see as the front?

Thanks, Jason
 

the3rdon

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thank you victrinia for the very informative reply.. I am definately not going to do it yet because I am definately not ready or equipped for such a job.. With your reply I will now study up, start getting some of the tools I need, and I look forward to seeing some great example pictures to lead me in the right direction.. Once again, Thank's a bunch

~Don Hanson
 

grouper52

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We (at Elandan Gardens) don't treat the inside of the trunk with anything except lime sulfur,

We (a little farther north of Elandan Gardens :D ) have been known to use Miniwax epoxy resin wood hardener to preserve non-conifer deadwood features, which lack the natural pitch that preserves the deadwood so well on conifers. The lime sulfur is a strong anti-fungal (and done for visual effect) and fungus are the main source of rot, but it won't hold a non-conifer for long.

The Chinese, OTOH, have traditionally allowed the tree to simply take it's natural course, with the deadwood gradually rotting away as it would in nature, and the effects there can be pleasing as well.

I use a 1/4" core box router bit almost exclusively - a bit harder to handle than the 3/8" bit, but then I like the "happy accidents" when it catches and rips the wood a new one, or flies off somewhere I wasn't planning to carve. :D:eek::D When age and the elements start the process on a tree in nature, it does not often look too neat or overly planned, and yet, to me, is beautiful for that very reason - so that's an OK image for me often times. But start out trying to do a thoughtful, neat job - otherwise, as Dan says, you'll simply end up with a bunch of kindling and sawdust. :(

I don't refine the work with a Dremmel too often, preferring a rougher look most times, but to do so, or to hide the toolings of the core box work, or simply to do smaller work, it works OK. The RPMs and torque are not in the league of the die grinder, and the non-carbide bits don't last worth a lick, but it's OK. Someone, however, is now making a smaller tapered bit that will fit in the die grinder, and Dan uses one to good effect for the finer work.

I recommend you get a die grinder with a deadman's paddle. :D

And yes, as Vic says, do practice on something less precious than that gorgeous hornbeam base first!

Welcome to the thrill and beauty of power tools!
 

rockm

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I agree with Jason.

I would not carve out the base for a couple of reasons. The first is health related. Korean Hornbeam is slow to heal wounds and you may get die back around the carving sites, as well as further up the trunk. Hollowed trunks may sound great in theory, but here in the humid east, hollowed trunks on deciduous trees rot very quickly--even hornbeam wood. You will find that in practice, hollow areas set you up for all kinds of bad stuff--from fungus, to insect (primarily borer, termite or ant) infestations. Carved wood that low down on the trunk will always remain wet, no matter if you carve drainage pathways. Constantly wet wood is not a good thing.

Artistically, I'd question the removal of the lumps and irregularities. They are the marks of a collected specimen. Older KH trunks tend to be warty things. If you're after relatively unblemished trunks with predictable root spreads and symmetrical trunks, KH won't fit the bill. If you're after warthog-like gnarled trunks (in a good way :D) the species can fill the order. Look at it this way, those lumps are marks of age and origin and not easily replicated in lesser material...
 

JasonG

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I agree with Jason.

I would not carve out the base for a couple of reasons. The first is health related. Korean Hornbeam is slow to heal wounds and you may get die back around the carving sites, as well as further up the trunk. Hollowed trunks may sound great in theory, but here in the humid east, hollowed trunks on deciduous trees rot very quickly--even hornbeam wood. You will find that in practice, hollow areas set you up for all kinds of bad stuff--from fungus, to insect (primarily borer, termite or ant) infestations. Carved wood that low down on the trunk will always remain wet, no matter if you carve drainage pathways. Constantly wet wood is not a good thing.

Artistically, I'd question the removal of the lumps and irregularities. They are the marks of a collected specimen. Older KH trunks tend to be warty things. If you're after relatively unblemished trunks with predictable root spreads and symmetrical trunks, KH won't fit the bill. If you're after warthog-like gnarled trunks (in a good way :D) the species can fill the order. Look at it this way, those lumps are marks of age and origin and not easily replicated in lesser material...

Good points..... I know you will get die back from carving into the live parts of the trunk on KHB. They are notorious for die back and personally I would only clean up the old chop marks and call it good. Rock has some good points about the lumps........leave'er lumpy!! :)

As for bits, you don't want to use anything radical just something that works nice and smooth while still removing a fair amount of wood. I will post pictures of what I am talking about tonight.... best bit in the world!!
 

the3rdon

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Thank's everybody.. I have a lot to consider and I will just keep looking at it til I really figure out what it needs.. After all, I have Japanese Maples to beat and cut on.. :D I think I need a Yuengling.. ;)
 

the3rdon

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Awesome tree with a great story Groupers.. So, is it in the ground?
 

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