Tools and what to get?

Kevster

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Hey everyone. I am new to Bonsai and help would be appreciated. I started to get into bonsai about 2 years ago after a motorcycle accident left me unable to walk temporarily (9 months). So being stuck in bed I did a lot of reading and a few friends ended up buying me a few plants from a local nursery to play around with. My only tools were typical garden tools and some other things since my income was what disability sent me. Now I have been back to work for a short time got all caught up on my bills I want to start buying the proper tools needed and am very excited to get them. But google tools or even search for them on ebay and the list is endless. If I could get some pointers on what I should get and what type (Stainless or Carbon) I would be very happy.

I just don't want to get sucked into buying some 20 piece kit that I don't really need made of high quality garbage that will dull or break after a few snips.
What really bothers me is I am a hands on person able to build almost anything and have all sorts of tools. But all my tools I have held physically in my hands before purchasing them so I had a general idea of their quality. I do not have a bonsai or garden center even close to me where I could see these items in person so I have to order online.

Thank you in advance of any help I may get,
Kevin
 

John Ruger

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Kevin, I think that'll depend on the size of material you plan to work with. For example, I use two pair of branch cutters, spherical knob cutters, trunk splitters, and trimmers (small and medium). I also keep fiskar snips and wire snips. You don't need to go overboard and if you keep the tools well maintained, then carbon works fine. Try to get a decent brand though simply because I've had handles break in two by going cheap. Buying online, I've used Stone Lantern and the tools have been fine for years.
 

tnaz71

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I got hooked on bonsai about 20yrs ago & I was on a strick budget so I purchased a "cheap" Chinese made kit about it has done me good for all these years. Over the last few years I have bought 1-2 better quality Japanese tools per year & the difference between the Chinese & Japanese tools is quite noticeable to me.

If you want to start with the better quality tools, I would look into the Joshua Roth tools. That is what I have been purchasing and they are very well made. I don't have any experience with the other Japanese tool makers but I am sure they are fairly equal.

Like they say the most important tool is the concave cutter, then a nice pair of sissors. I would start out with those 2 for sure unless you have an extra $500 or so laying around for a kit :)

I don't regret ever buying the Chinese tools, they have lasted me countless years. I still use them a great deal they just have been demoted to root pruning duties or I use them for roughing in stock then use the better tools for end work.

If you take care of the tools even the cheaper tools will last you a long long time.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Some resources:

Fujiyama is good, Masakuni is better, both are at Dallas Bonsai: http://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/concave_cutters.html Fred has good pricing.

Monastery also has very good tools: http://secure.trappist.net/estore/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=BM&Category_Code=tools

To start, you should have these:

Decent wire cutters

Decent Shears


Concave Cutters These are spherical, so they serve the purpose of knob cutters as well as concave cutters...good enough for now.

Get a pair of pliers from Lowe's for now, and some chopsticks. As you go, you may begin to want to add some knives, gouges, and better pliers.
 

Kevster

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Wow thanks for the advice. It's exactly what I was looking for everyone. There is just so much to choose from I wasn't sure which way to go. And I will definitely take care of the tools as well as keep them sharp as I would with any of my tools.
 

mrchips1952

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Tools?

I bought all mine off of eBay. As long as you know what you are looking for eBay is great PLUS the prices are less than the "Bonsai Nursery's". Just my opinion. Dave in Colorful Colorado;)
 

Kevster

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John Ruger
I won't be working on anything that large. I assume when you talk about the size of a knob cutter you go by handle length. So I am not sure what size I would need. All of my cuts for the most part would be under 3/4 of an inch in diameter.
 

John Ruger

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Probably an 8" will work, the blade size on that is around 3/8"...other than that, you'd have to go to a 10" (1" blade)...I don't know of one in between an 8 and a 10. The closest guy to you if you wanted to actually check the tool out is Chase Rosade at Rosade Bonsai Studio in New Hope, PA (check out his website).
 

Kevster

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Thanks John and everyone for their help. I have looked into everyones opinions and am going with the Japanese black carbon steel tools. Although a little more than I wanted to spend a few web sites have some nice starter kits to choose from.

But I am a little confused. I understand what both the spherical concave knob cutter and spherical concave "side" cutter do and they do look different but aren't they both capable of doing the same things?

Wont the spherical concave side cutter work as a branch or knob cutter and vise versa?
 
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