Essential Bonsai Tools

cockroach

Shohin
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I am looking at getting some proper bonsai tools. Now I am not a brand conscious person I am just looking for a decent enough tool to work with. I know bonsai tools are not essential and I have been coping just fine (very subjective) without them. I have been into bonsai for over 6 years now and think it may be time to test of the merits of purpose built tools.

With this in mind, and forgive me if this has been done before, list your top three (3) tools you consider/feel/think are essential for working on bonsai. By tools I mean tools built for bonsai not pruners or sheers or kitchen scissors, lol.
 

Dav4

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I use shears, jin pliers and wire cutters 3-4 times more often then any other tools. With that said, some of the tools we use are so specific for a given task that NOT having them when you might need them every once in a great while can be very frustrating. For instance, root cutters is a tool you might not use for 3-4 years...but when you need it, it's a life saver. It's the same thing with long tweezers...ever try cleaning up a pine for a show without one? My suggestion is to get a good pair of shears, knob cutters, pliers and wire cutters, then gradually add to the collection as your experience and collection expands. Have fun.

As an aside, I've purchased more shears then any other tool...when you drop your pair of shears while standing on a concrete floor, you'll know why. I just bought my first few Kaneshin tools (2 different shears, a concave cutter and a few hand carvers) and have found them to be of high quality and worth the cash outlay.
 

sorce

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This....like everything Else.....

Has a lot to do with your stage, style, material.

I say that because I can't believe Dav4 uses root cutters so little.
I could use em every year.
I have to figure a collector of deciduous material would need em even more.

I use my wire cutters a lot. But I also need to strip my wire....I found the head on these blunt enough.20160316_070714.jpg
Especially since I unwind wire now.
I never even have to touch them to a branch, and only use em in the tree a little.

I think knob cutters, concave cutters, and a nice pair of long shears are The ONLY "Bonsai" tools that can't be had of something else.

Sorce
 

Adair M

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Special built bonsai tools: Concave cutters, knob cutters, wire cutters.

Tools I use the most: ARS scissors, long tweezers.

Repotting requires a whole separate set: sicle, root hook, bent tip tweezers, root rake, scissors, soil sifter.

Another "tool" that's extremely helpful is a turntable. You can get a special built one for bonsai or make your own.
 

Waltron

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this shovel has been the best purchase for me in a while, works like a dream, dont even need saws when collecting. sharp, all steel heavy spade. I made a sling out of para cord to carry it hands free when hauling trees out the woods. I'm thinking about putting a rifle sling on it. thing is friggin awesome.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DES2BM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s02

I bought a turn table at ikea the other day for 12 bucks, haven't used it yet but its pretty sweet.

knob cutters have been getting a lot of use. 18 bucks, work as good as I could imagine.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HAYZ4BY?keywords=tian bonsai tools&qid=1458135402&ref_=sr_1_15&sr=8-15
 

M. Frary

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3 tools I use most are:
Bypass cutters from the hardware.
Wire cutters also from the hardware.
Concave cutters from Stone Lantern.
Besides those a good saw is essential.
The only "bonsai" tools that you really need are concave cutters and knob cutters. Everything else you need can be bought locally. Pliers,wire cutters,saws,shovels,rakes,shears etc.
Don't get caught up in all of the big name bonsai tool game either. Tools will last if you take care of them. And you will find you won't use the specialty bonsai tools as much as you think you will.
 

Cypress187

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If you don't have much money then i would go for a knobcutter or a concave cutter first, the rest is improvisable in my opinion.
 

M. Frary

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I got the black and decker 20v for like 60 bucks. works real well, plus I have the weed wacker drill and impact driver ,blower so I can interchange all the batteries.
Got me some wood and steel combination blades to try in the dirt.
 

Cypress187

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If you don't have much money then i would go for a knobcutter or a concave cutter first, the rest is improvisable in my opinion.
Sorry I had no time to read the entire first post of yours, a wirecutter is also in my top 3 because all the other cutters just don't reach that deep and don't really cut, but 'rip'/bend the wires. So, 1) Concave cutter (for good wounds), 2) Knobcutter (also for good wounds), 3) Wirecutter (for clean cutting wire and go deep in the foilage).
 

JoeR

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This year I have used the following the most:
-Concave cutters
-Bonsai Shears
-'sawzall' and keyhole saw
-root hook/ rake
-chopstick
-pliers
-wire cutters
-box cutter (fresh xacto blades)


I have tons of other tools but I have found them to be mostly useless. If I were you, I would buy everything I have listed (or a similar product) to get started.
 

Adair M

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Bonsai is a hobby. You don't need much to get started. But, if you do it a lot, it's nice to have decent tools. You don't have to have every tool, but it's nice to have "just the tool you need" when you need it.

Over the years, I've added to my tools one at a time, so I have a pretty good collection. Back in the day, I did buy a "Starter set". They were Masakuni! In those days, 40 years ago, Masakuni was about the only manufacturer of bonsai tools. I still have those tools, and use them.

Some tools, like Jin pliers, have multiple uses. Yes, they were designed to crush the bark on junipers to create jins, hence the name, but they're used for all sorts of things in addition to crushing juniper bark: removing wire, shaping the wire to hold the screens for drain holes, tightening wires holding trees in pots, and manipulating wired branches. The narrow, long profile is really nice for all those jobs.
 

Dav4

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Bonsai is a hobby. You don't need much to get started. But, if you do it a lot, it's nice to have decent tools. You don't have to have every tool, but it's nice to have "just the tool you need" when you need it.

Over the years, I've added to my tools one at a time, so I have a pretty good collection. Back in the day, I did buy a "Starter set". They were Masakuni! In those days, 40 years ago, Masakuni was about the only manufacturer of bonsai tools. I still have those tools, and use them.

Some tools, like Jin pliers, have multiple uses. Yes, they were designed to crush the bark on junipers to create jins, hence the name, but they're used for all sorts of things in addition to crushing juniper bark: removing wire, shaping the wire to hold the screens for drain holes, tightening wires holding trees in pots, and manipulating wired branches. The narrow, long profile is really nice for all those jobs.
I use my jin pliers more then anything else...totally lost without them.
 

base797

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image.jpeg These are the best wire cutters I know of. They work like little bolt cutters (pivot on the blades, where the nuts are, not where handles cross) and will go through the heaviest wire. Also has a stripper, though I haven't needed it.

Patrik
 

cockroach

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Thanks for all the informative replies and links. I have all the tools for these jobs just not "bonsai" tools. I am now looking at buying my first proper bonsai tools as I see the investment worthwhile. As for buying label brands or expensive, not really into that. I have been using a set of shears produced locally for 4 years and they cost me a grand total of $1.20.

After reading this and some other info I think I have land on the first three tools I will look for. It may take a day to find them all at the right price or 3 months. I will have to see.
1. Wire cutters - I grow mainly tropicals and do a lot of wiring.
2. Knob cutters - they will be more than enough for the jobs I do currently
3. Pliers - I like the longer profile of bonsai pliers but can still do with the long nose and square nose pliers I have.
 

Adair M

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So... For wire cutting, there are several options: the "traditional" bonsai blunt nose wire cutters and by pass cutters which look like stubby short bladed shears.

The traditional bonsai wire cutters have a relatively long handle, which makes it easier to reach inside the canopy when cutting off heavy wire wrapped around the trunk.

For doing small wire, they're overkill.

I have s pair of small wire cutters, that look like stubby scissors. They're only 3.5 to 4 inches long, and will cut the smaller gauge wires. 14 and smaller. Maybe 12. But when doing detail wiring, I use s lot of 16, and these are perfect. They're small enough that I can "palm" them. That is, I can have one finger looped thru the hole in one handle, and the tool will rest in my palm when I'm not actively using it, but it's right "there" when I need it. The blades are short and stubby, and strong. You can use them as a lever when bending and positioning wired branches.

Using them as a lever is difficult to describe. Using Jin pliers, or sturdy tweezers, or these scissors as levers is a great help when positioning branches. The idea is once the branch is properly wired, you position it by bending the wire into position. The branch comes along with it. It's not "bend the branch and hope the wire holds it". Different mindset. This is for the smaller branches, not the big ones that take a lot of force to bend.

Anyway: these are the ones I like for detail wiring. They're kinda expensive so definately a luxury item. But, if you do a LOT of wiring, these may enhance your experience:

image.jpeg
 

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