Grafting knife?

Bonsai Nut

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What is the best source for a high-quality grafting knife?
 

Graydon

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Try www.japanwoodworker.com and look for woodworking knives. Keep in mind they are the same as a grafting knife at perhaps less cost. I discovered this by accident, I have used these type knives for a few years for layout in woodworking and thought to try them in a pinch to graft.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Found 'em. Thank you very much! Now my wet stones won't be so lonely. I like all of the different sizes - and I agree though they aren't cheap they seem to be cheaper than bonsai knives of similar quality. The Damascus steel ones look very nice.

 

rlist

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Just make sure you the ones you get come with a single bevel.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Just make sure you the ones you get come with a single bevel.
Yes. The ones I am shopping for are the right-handed versions - 1/2". They also sell left-handed as well as double-sided, but the double-sided ones are not good for grafting.
 

Graydon

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The double edge ones are fine if you use them correctly. The single sided ones are easier for sure and easier to sharpen. Heck, I've grafted using a cheap snap blade knife. It's the sharpness that matters as well as how strait you cut and how well you are at matching the angle cuts on the scion to the root stock cut.

Be aware that a left handed knife has the bevel on the left side as you are holding the knife pointing the tip outward. Does that make sense? Most right handed people would use a left handed knife to make the cut downward on the root stock. But it would be awkward for them to use the same knife to make the cuts on the scion stock. Buy a set of both.

A good one for grafting would be like I attached, the wooden handle makes it easier to hold and the cover would keep it from getting dinged in your bag or box, not to mention keeping your fingers cut free. $14.95 is a pretty good price.
 

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Brent

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Graydon

Actually, I use right handed knives for both understock and and scion cuts ( I am left handed). Both of these processes are done by pulling the knife toward me. I do use separate knives since the understock knife requires a thinner blade for easy cutting, but both are right handed. See the article at my blog on grafting for how I make these cuts. There is even a video on YouTube that you can click on at the end to see me actually making the cuts.

Brent
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see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

Bonsai Nut

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Actually, I use right handed knives for both understock and and scion cuts ( I am left handed).
I am also left-handed and use right-handed knives. I wonder if this is typical?
 

Gnome

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BonsaiNut,

If I am interpreting Graydon's and Brent's remarks correctly there seems to be a peculiarity in the nomenclature regarding the handedness of the knives. Right handed people use left handed knives and vice-versa.

Norm
 

Brent

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The discrepancy is because of how the knives are used. These are wood carving knives, and they are used by moving the blade edge AWAY from you (think whittling). Most of people that I know who graft pull the knife toward them, which reverses the designation. You have much control when pulling the knife toward you.

Brent
 

Graydon

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Or I could have the whole handed blade thing bass-ackwards too. It wouldn't be the first time. I'm a woodworker by trade and that is what I got the knives to do - cut layout lines. As a lefty I use the knife that has the bevel on the left to scribe a line while pushing against a strait edge held firmly with my right hand.

When grafting I use the same type knife (this one with the bevel on the right) in my left hand pulling downward towards the base of the tree to make the cut. Again as a lefty I have found it awkward to make the scion cut(s) with this same knife as I hold the "live" end in my right hand with the stem pointing more or less left. With a right bevel blade the goal is to keep the flat side of the blade to the keeper side of the cut and the bevel side pushes the waste away from the cut. With a right bevel I can't see what I am cutting as the blade blocks my view.

When in doubt refer to Brent's blog - he's the man as far as I can tell for grafting pines. I simply cobble along getting some right and watching others not do so well...

Nice to see you around Brent!
 

Brent

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Graydon

However you use the knife, the bevel pushes the waste away, and the flat side stays against the cut you want, exactly as you said. If you do it the opposite way, the bevel will tend to 'scoop' in the cut and you won't have a flat plane. I suspect that you and I make the scion cuts differently. If you watch the short video at the end of the grafting post at the blog you can watch me make understock and scion cuts.

Brent
 

Graydon

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Graydon

However you use the knife, the bevel pushes the waste away, and the flat side stays against the cut you want, exactly as you said. If you do it the opposite way, the bevel will tend to 'scoop' in the cut and you won't have a flat plane. I suspect that you and I make the scion cuts differently. If you watch the short video at the end of the grafting post at the blog you can watch me make understock and scion cuts.

Brent
If we meet at Jason's in January I'll show you my ill fitted technique. There's always room for improvement but some habits die hard. Mine comes from my experience with hand tools in carpentry and the #1 rule - never pull a sharp blade towards yourself. Sounds silly but many stitches and one missing finger later it's a habit.

I see you make the scion mating cut flat (knife paralel to the ground), flip it over and then finish the back cut again flat. I treat the knife as a chisel and pare down to my block standing above and sighting down. Same body stance and motion as if I was paring out a mortice with a chisel. I then flip it over as you do but make the final cut away from me.

It's tomatoes either way. You must have nearly a million cuts on me and I am still adapting to doing this. I'll keep working on it.
 

Brent

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Graydon

Well, whatever floats your boat. I was taught that you have more control pulling the knife toward you. Something about how the muscles work, you can stop the knife very quickly and simultaneously exert an enormous amount of force on the knife. Cutting the scions using doesn't take a lot of force, but making the cut in some older understock can often be a challenge. I always do it in such a way that if the knife does go straight through, it ends up in the block or the pot and not my fingers. I always check to make sure where my fingers are. These knives are extremely sharp. It's my goal each season to get through the entire batch without cutting myself. I usually end up with one or two minor cuts, but almost never from cutting scions or understock, it is usually from sticking myself with the point of the knife while not paying attention.

Brent
 
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I have only used the ones with the wooden sheath but do get good results with them. I have some new in-the-package righties and lefties and a couple of folding grafting knives (all from Joshua Roth). Should I keep them for posterity or let them go? Hmmmmm
 

John Hill

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A grafting knife is a grafting knife? Is a bonsai grafting knife different? Am I missing something here? Besides the price.

A Friend in bonsai
John
 
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Graydon

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A grafting knife is a grafting knife? Is a bonsai grafting knife different? Am I missing something here? Besides the price.

A Friend in bonsai
John
No John, you're missing nothing here. Keep moving...

Just kidding. A knife is a knife as long as it's scary sharp and you can use it. Preference comes from usage. I opted for the japanese style knife as I use them for woodworking as well - multitaskers are good. I also prefer japanese steel as it takes an edge faster and can keep it fairly well. Down side is it's a pure carbon steel so it will rust in a minute without oil.

Use what works.
 

John Hill

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Hi Graydon,
I'm sorry it did sound a bit sarcastic, but what I was meaning is the knifes made by Japanese better then the ones you can get from around the USA? I know you said they had better steel. The Japanese knifes seem a bit pricey but I guess you get what you pay for. I myself have not done much grafting besides approach and thread grafting. I would like however to try my hand at bud grafting though. Lord knows I have many a trees that could use a branch here and ther.
Sorry again for coming off rude sounding.

Once I was looking for a large trunk splitter and the Bonsai splitters made by the Japanese were like $169.00 for a large one. So I went to a tractor supply store and found some large hoof nipers for $20.00 and I sharpened it up and they work fantastic. Maybe I am just a tight wad ;-)

A Friend in bonsai
John
 

Graydon

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John - I didn't take it as sarcasm. Nor did I mean to imply that in my response.

Japanese blades in general are completely different than American or European blades. The steel used here in the US and Europe is a good quality but it seems people are turned off by rusting of blades. What manufacturers seem to do is add nickel and chromium to the carbon steel to impart rust inhibiting qualities. You wind up with a good rust resistant tool but it does not take an edge as well. In an effort to keep metallurgy out of the equation let's just say it's tougher to hone and refine a blade with those materials.

In Japan they seem to be tolerant of rust and I can assume this is from generations of people understanding the care of such items, understanding to clean them after use, oil them and put them up. Most knives, chisels, saws and other cutting tools from Japan need to have special care to keep them rust free - a simple wipe down with an oil will do.

How Japanese blades are quite different as well. They use a forge welding process to make blanks that are laminated steel. The actual cutting edge is a very brittle but almost pure virgin "white" or "blue" steel. It is backed up with a softer malleable iron. Its' a cool process and the best blades are still done by hand by blacksmiths and blade-makers. (See the attached photo - no wonder it's more expensive!) The softer steel sharpens easier than the harder steel but the harder steel takes a much keener edge. Be aware this edge is indeed very brittle and can chip off if misused (a keen look at my Japanese bench chisels will show you that chipping effect if I go hog wild chopping things).

The last but most important point on Japanese cutting tools is that are almost always single bevel edges. This allows for a flatter cut and in grafting that is what counts. The backs are always hollowed out to allow for faster sharpening as well. You sharpen and hone both sides of the blade to get a perfectly sharp edge.

But again - use what works. I like your idea of making a trunk splitter from a hoof nipper - very resourceful.
 

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Tachigi

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Hey Graydon, Mamasan looks like she's getting the raw end of the deal in that photo, That guy better hope she doesn't get tired or better yet, mad.

Nice essay on Japanese metals and techniques, I learned something.
 
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