How's the quality of tools made by American Bonsai?

abqjoe

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So I've picked up a few tools but not all of them are the quality that I demand by nature. I've been eyeballing tools made by American Bonsai and would like to get some opinions on them by people who actually own them and have experience with them. How do they compare to a stellar brand like Masakuni? Thanks!
 

Paradox

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I bought a large concave cutter and a large branch cutter from them this year. So far they seem to be very good tools. I dont know how they compare with Masakuni. I dont own any Masakuni tools because I just cant justify the cost of those.
 

Eric Group

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I bought a large concave cutter and a large branch cutter from them this year. So far they seem to be very good tools. I dont know how they compare with Masakuni. I dont own any Masakuni tools because I just cant justify the cost of those.
I think this is where you will find most people.. Those who can easily afford the finest tools, and drop $300 on a pair of shears,mprobably have Masakuni.. Those who look for a cheaper option might consider American Bonsai. Not that many people with the experience needed to accurately explain the difference will have both. I like Kaneshin personally... Good mid- high price very high quality. Kiku (MUCH better than Kiku Classic) are very good as well... Both are cheaper than Masakuni but solid Japanese tools. Last time someone brought up American Bonsai I believe the determination was that some process of the steel production was actually outsourced to China. I do not own American Bonsai tools personally, and will let you fill in the blanks yourself but I do know this: typically the Chinese tools are not as good as Japanese... And it has a lot to do with the steel. So, while they are good looking and well made, my determination has always been you are better off spending just a bit more (or a bit less sometimes) and getting yourself some Kaneshin or Kiku... I have always broken down and bought one of those more reliable brands when tempted to buy an American Bonsai tool... If I saw them in person at a show and had a chance to compare them to other tools prior to purchase I would feel better about it. I just have enough crappy tools. If I am buying any more, they are going to be high quality.
 

JudyB

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I only use a few tools, so could afford to buy kaneshin. Knob cutters, branch cutters, pruning scissors, and wire cutters. That's really pretty much the basics of what you'll use all the time.
 

Adair M

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I've never used American Bonsai tools. My first tools were a starter set from Masakuni, 45 years ago. So I've been spoiled. Some of those tools I still use! So, that speaks to their quality.

Since that first starter set, I have added tools one at a time. If it's a tool that I think needs high precision I'd would go Masakuni. My two most recent Masakuni purchases were for a pair of spherical knob cutters, and for a pair of "root cutters". I actually don't use the root cutters for cutting roots! I use them pretty much exclusively for making flat cuts on azalea trunks. I wanted a tool that would cut clean and flat.

Actually, the scissors I use most are the inexpensive ARS grape pruners with the plastic handles! The blades are slender so I can get in tight spots. And they sharpen well!

I also use the ARS scissors that are bent. I use those when repotting so I can cut the bottoms of root balls flat without my fingers getting in the way.

I use medical tweezers (tissue forcepts) for pulling needles and general foliage cleanup.

Pretty much any pair of bonsai wire cutters will do the job. I use basic blunt nosed Kiku wire cutters. I do a lot of wiring, so I splurged and bought a Masakuni pair of the little wire scissors that are small enough to hold in your hand as your wiring. They have loops on the handles, so they can hang on a finger while your wiring, and be there when you need them.

Jin pliers are useful. But then again, they are not a precision tool, so most any would work. I use them a lot while wiring, so I use a pair of Kandeshin stainless ones.

Something like a grafting knife needs to be the very best. There are many excellent ones, but I went with Masakuni.
 

Paradox

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I dont own any Masakuni tools because I just cant justify the cost of those.
I am going to revise this statement, because I just realized that I did in fact recently purchase a some Masakuni needle pulling tweezers, mainly because I have been frustrated with everything else Ive tried for that task. The ones I have are awkward to use and they make my hands start to hurt using them. They were $60 which while not cheap, I felt was fine for a pair of good tweezers that wouldnt make my hands sore like the others I have.

I still cant justify $250 for their stainless steel large knob cutters. I broke a medium sized Kiku knob cutter on a branch bigger than I probably should have been using it for so I needed a pair of large ones. The American Bonsai ones, were $100, which to me is not a cheap tool. It seems like a very solid tool, the cutting edges meet properly and so far they have made clean cuts on everything Ive cut with them.
 

abqjoe

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Thank you for the opinions! I guess I have some head scratching to do:) All in all I want something quality that is going to last............
 

Adair M

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I am going to revise this statement, because I just realized that I did in fact recently purchase a some Masakuni needle pulling tweezers, mainly because I have been frustrated with everything else Ive tried for that task. The ones I have are awkward to use and they make my hands start to hurt using them. They were $60 which while not cheap, I felt was fine for a pair of good tweezers that wouldnt make my hands sore like the others I have.

I still cant justify $250 for their stainless steel large knob cutters. I broke a medium sized Kiku knob cutter on a branch bigger than I probably should have been using it for so I needed a pair of large ones. The American Bonsai ones, were $100, which to me is not a cheap tool. It seems like a very solid tool, the cutting edges meet properly and so far they have made clean cuts on everything Ive cut with them.
If you break a pair of concave cutters, or knob cutters trying to cut a branch, you're using the tool incorrectly. Branches that big should be cut off with a saw. Then, the stub can be nibbled away using the hand tools.
 

Paradox

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If you break a pair of concave cutters, or knob cutters trying to cut a branch, you're using the tool incorrectly. Branches that big should be cut off with a saw. Then, the stub can be nibbled away using the hand tools.
The branch was too big for the tool so yes in that respect, I wasnt using the proper sized tool. It was a medium sized cutter. The larger one does just fine on branches that size.
 

Vance Wood

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Returning to the subject of tools: I have a couple of American Bonsai tools. One is a pair of pliers that are very nice, solid and precise and a pair of long handles scissors that are very sharp and easy to use. Both were picked up this spring at the ABS convention in Grand Rapids Michigan.
 

abqjoe

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I've got most of the tools from AB. I have given heavy use for about a year (I have 300+ trees) on the ones I have and have held up well. They even stay outside undercover and have not rusted or dulled at all. Here is most of them here.
View attachment 115364
Nice! This is the kind of opinion I was really looking for:)
 

Guy Vitale

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I have had the same questions about AB tool, I've been wanting to upgrade without breaking the bank, but I hadn't seen any until recently. A few weeks ago Mark Fields was the guest master at our show and he had a massive tool roll filled with AB tools, so I picked his brain. He gave them his endorsement as quality tools, given that, I would not hesitate to buy some when the time comes.
 

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