Tool kit recommendations

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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Does anyone have any recommendations for an affordable tool kit for beginners? Ideally, I am looking for a 6 or 7 piece set. I was originally thinking stainless steel, but am open to carbon steel, too. Admittedly, while I am experienced with growing plants, I am quite the novice at bonsai and could use any advice you would be willing to provide. I would prefer to buy a set that will last me at least a few years while I dive deeper and learn more. Thank you all in advance. :)
 

San Franpsycho

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No, in my opinion this is not an especially practical expectation. If you are a true novice who truly intends to explore this realm actively, your learning curve will be such that what you want a year from now (or even 6 months from now) is going to be so different and the likelihood of outgrowing some or all of your first tools is such that you probably should not invest in high quality durable tools upfront.
There are popular basic tools but everyone sooner or later has their own style and their own physicality and its good to listen to these developing directions. ("gosh, if i only had a thing like this but a little longer and with a curve to it ...")

For this reason I suggest finding a cheap small set like 3 or 4 pieces online, supplemented w/some basic stuff like chopsticks, plain old garden shears, any handyman tools you have in the house.
... get your hands dirty with what you have a bit, and before long you'll know exactly what you need next..

...then comes the sticker shock. ;) but thats another story.
 

19Mateo83

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Does anyone have any recommendations for an affordable tool kit for beginners? Ideally, I am looking for a 6 or 7 piece set. I was originally thinking stainless steel, but am open to carbon steel, too. Admittedly, while I am experienced with growing plants, I am quite the novice at bonsai and could use any advice you would be willing to provide. I would prefer to buy a set that will last me at least a few years while I dive deeper and learn more. Thank you all in advance. :)
I’m new-ish to bonsai and I have been getting along pretty good with a pair of bypass shears, a smaller set of micro shears and a radius knob cutter a small corona brand pocket saw and a pair of electricians pliers. I use a cheap chopstick, good quality cut paste and whatever copper wire I can anneal. It’s a simple kit, fairly inexpensive and works pretty well so far. I am starting to figure out the things I would like to get next as I find myself needing a specific tool for specific purpose.
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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No, in my opinion this is not an especially practical expectation. If you are a true novice who truly intends to explore this realm actively, your learning curve will be such that what you want a year from now (or even 6 months from now) is going to be so different and the likelihood of outgrowing some or all of your first tools is such that you probably should not invest in high quality durable tools upfront.
There are popular basic tools but everyone sooner or later has their own style and their own physicality and its good to listen to these developing directions. ("gosh, if i only had a thing like this but a little longer and with a curve to it ...")

For this reason I suggest finding a cheap small set like 3 or 4 pieces online, supplemented w/some basic stuff like chopsticks, plain old garden shears, any handyman tools you have in the house.
... get your hands dirty with what you have a bit, and before long you'll know exactly what you need next..

...then comes the sticker shock. ;) but thats another story.
Thanks for the insights! I see your point and probably will find myself wanting some different items once I get a better feel for it all. I was just looking at those $100-200 stonelantern sets and convincing myself that those might get me by enough for a short while. Happen to have any insights on those or have any other suppliers you might recommend for a small set? I suppose there is always Amazon, too...

thanks again
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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I’m new-ish to bonsai and I have been getting along pretty good with a pair of bypass shears, a smaller set of micro shears and a radius knob cutter a small corona brand pocket saw and a pair of electricians pliers. I use a cheap chopstick, good quality cut paste and whatever copper wire I can anneal. It’s a simple kit, fairly inexpensive and works pretty well so far. I am starting to figure out the things I would like to get next as I find myself needing a specific tool for specific purpose.
Good call, thanks! I appreciate you also pointing out what items are worth spending the little extra on.
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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Have Amazon? Look for SOLIGT. https://www.amazon.com/Trimming-Scissor-Concave-Gardening-Pruning/dp/B09CZF9VPM
They have a fairly decent kit that’s economically comfortable. While not my Kaneshin, they work and do so reasonably well.
I bought a set for the neighbor a bit back when he held an interest in bonsai, and I was impressed with them. He’s still using them months later no issue.
Not advertising you asked I gave my though
Have Amazon? Look for SOLIGT. https://www.amazon.com/Trimming-Scissor-Concave-Gardening-Pruning/dp/B09CZF9VPM
They have a fairly decent kit that’s economically comfortable. While not my Kaneshin, they work and do so reasonably well.
I bought a set for the neighbor a bit back when he held an interest in bonsai, and I was impressed with them. He’s still using them months later no issue.
Not advertising you asked I gave my thought.
Reasonably well and comfortable is a big step up from my current setup, haha. Thanks!
 

Shibui

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My choice would be:
#1 Branch cutter. You'll use this regularly right through bonsai so quality is worth investing in.
#2 Trimming scissors. Lots of use and all growers use them regularly so worth spending on quality.
#3 Wire cutters. Bonsai design works better than any other wire cutters when you need to cut wires close to the bark. I still use the wire cutters from 30 years ago. They don't wear out.

I now have lots of other specialist tools but those above are the big 3 I use all the time and still use regularly after 30 years of bonsai.

After that tools depend what trees you grow and what techniques you use so purchase as and when you need them.
IMHO the little rakes, brush and tweezers included in the tool kits are useless waste of space. If you can get the kit for the same price as buying the big 3 separately then go for the kit (maybe you'll find a use for the other tools included), otherwise just buy those 3 for a start.
Many other tools can be improvised or adapted.

Stainless is harder than carbon steel. Tools retain a sharp edge for longer but very difficult to sharpen when they do get blunt. Stays clean better than carbon tools.
Quality carbon steel will get rusty if you leave tools out. Can be sharpened even sharper than stainless and much easier to re sharpen when edges get dull.
For most users there's not much difference between stainless and carbon tools.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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My choice would be:
#1 Branch cutter. You'll use this regularly right through bonsai so quality is worth investing in.
#2 Trimming scissors. Lots of use and all growers use them regularly so worth spending on quality.
#3 Wire cutters. Bonsai design works better than any other wire cutters when you need to cut wires close to the bark. I still use the wire cutters from 30 years ago. They don't wear out.

I now have lots of other specialist tools but those above are the big 3 I use all the time and still use regularly after 30 years of bonsai.

After that tools depend what trees you grow and what techniques you use so purchase as and when you need them.
IMHO the little rakes, brush and tweezers included in the tool kits are useless waste of space. If you can get the kit for the same price as buying the big 3 separately then go for the kit (maybe you'll find a use for the other tools included), otherwise just buy those 3 for a start.
Many other tools can be improvised or adapted.

Stainless is harder than carbon steel. Tools retain a sharp edge for longer but very difficult to sharpen when they do get blunt. Stays clean better than carbon tools.
Quality carbon steel will get rusty if you leave tools out. Can be sharpened even sharper than stainless and much easier to re sharpen when edges get dull.
For most users there's not much difference between stainless and carbon tools.
+1
 

rockm

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Branch cutter/concave cutter is really the only specialized tool you need to begin. Tools in cheaper tool sets ($100-$200 is cheap) tend to be what you pay for. They can be a pain to work with (loose joints, blades chip easily, etc.) They can also mangle your trees--blades on a cheap side cutter that don't meet well won't cut all the way through a branch, leaving ragged edges or worse.

Most bonsai people who have been at it for a while accumulate good tools, they don't buy them all at once.

If you want to be effective and cost-efficient, spend that money on a good branch cutter and pair of trimming scissors.
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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My choice would be:
#1 Branch cutter. You'll use this regularly right through bonsai so quality is worth investing in.
#2 Trimming scissors. Lots of use and all growers use them regularly so worth spending on quality.
#3 Wire cutters. Bonsai design works better than any other wire cutters when you need to cut wires close to the bark. I still use the wire cutters from 30 years ago. They don't wear out.

I now have lots of other specialist tools but those above are the big 3 I use all the time and still use regularly after 30 years of bonsai.

After that tools depend what trees you grow and what techniques you use so purchase as and when you need them.
IMHO the little rakes, brush and tweezers included in the tool kits are useless waste of space. If you can get the kit for the same price as buying the big 3 separately then go for the kit (maybe you'll find a use for the other tools included), otherwise just buy those 3 for a start.
Many other tools can be improvised or adapted.

Stainless is harder than carbon steel. Tools retain a sharp edge for longer but very difficult to sharpen when they do get blunt. Stays clean better than carbon tools.
Quality carbon steel will get rusty if you leave tools out. Can be sharpened even sharper than stainless and much easier to re sharpen when edges get dull.
For most users there's not much difference between stainless and carbon tools.
Wonderfully helpful all around, thank you!!! I will invest in a decent starter for each of those, recognizing that I will likely ultimately end up with more in my collection over time anyways. And agreed, the rakes, brushes, tweezers and such are things that I have around for my cacti and euphorb collection as it is, so those items are not really needed from a special bonsai set. Thanks again.
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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Branch cutter/concave cutter is really the only specialized tool you need to begin. Tools in cheaper tool sets ($100-$200 is cheap) tend to be what you pay for. They can be a pain to work with (loose joints, blades chip easily, etc.) They can also mangle your trees--blades on a cheap side cutter that don't meet well won't cut all the way through a branch, leaving ragged edges or worse.

Most bonsai people who have been at it for a while accumulate good tools, they don't buy them all at once.

If you want to be effective and cost-efficient, spend that money on a good branch cutter and pair of trimming scissors.
Thanks! And yeah, the 100-200 was me thinking about a cheap starter set, not yet diving in on the expensive tools while I get a feel for it. I have seen that they can get very pricey once one knows what they are doing. But, based on your and everyone else's feedback, which has been invaluable, it is likely better to avoid the pre-sets and instead just get a few nice-ish (or at least decent) pieces.

I appreciate the links to the stone lantern Roshi tools. I was gravitating towards that brand due to the entry price point. It is when I start looking at the next price point up from those that the options get a bit overwhelming given my limited experience with these specialized tools so far and so many options available.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Some really good ideas from the best here.

The only item of interest I have to add of value to help you out is learn how to keep your cutting tools sharp, oiled and disinfect all tools often, including secateurs. (don’t sharpen the wire cutters, they usually don’t need it)

There are plenty of forums and articles out there about keeping tools.

The difference can be amazing.

Also, starting your work out with sharp, well oiled, clean tools is a pleasure!

cheers
DSD sends
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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Some really good ideas from the best here.

The only item of interest I have to add of value to help you out is learn how to keep your cutting tools sharp, oiled and disinfect all tools often, including secateurs. (don’t sharpen the wire cutters, they usually don’t need it)

There are plenty of forums and articles out there about keeping tools.

The difference can be amazing.

Also, starting your work out with sharp, well oiled, clean tools is a pleasure!

cheers
DSD sends
Appreciate the advice, best to develop those habits right away and care for them like with my other tools. Cheers!
 

crea7or

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Found this set on Amazon, ordered it on Thursday night and got it this afternoon. It was roughly $63.00 usd
 

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Deep Sea Diver

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Nice! These look like an older gen tool set, just clean, sharpen, oil and these look good to go..

All you and @crea7or both will need is a pair of decent scissors and you are set to get to most all work. 😎

cheers
DSD sends
 

Dr.Plant.Daddy

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sorce

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Too Many TKR threads!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

crea7or

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Nice! These look like an older gen tool set, just clean, sharpen, oil and these look good to go..

All you and @crea7or both will need is a pair of decent scissors and you are set to get to most all work. 😎

cheers
DSD sends
I already have a pair of scissors as you saw in the picture: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001162316931.html? . Isn't it enough? Are you referring that I need a scissor for root pruning? or a different brand, since these Tian bonsai tools are not top tier grade? Thanks!
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Hmm…. Everyone has their own preference of supplier here. Personally I don’t care as long as my scissors are sharp, oiled, not sloppy at the pivot, can get to where I need to cut and fit my hand properly.

The scissors shown in your image look just like a pair root pruning scissors we have. These Tian are ok for general trimming, harder to use in normal, inside and in close trimming. We usually the sleeker scissors design in these cases..

Here’s a photo of some of the scissors we use for everyday work (4 on the left) and root pruning (2 on the right). Top pair shown is for delicate tight in work.

Tian does have models similar, if that‘s your choice of supplier. You may prefer longer depending on hand size. Ours are 180mm to 210mm

cheers
DSD sends

btw, it looks like @bonsaiboy60077 actually has a pair of these type scissors in his kit that I missed.

image.jpg
 

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