Tools: What to get / where to get them

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Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  slowly but surely on Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:40 pm

Hi All,

My first summer in the hobby has come to a close. So far I have made due with the standard gardening tools I already had on hand, but this winter I want to acquire some specialty bonsai tools before I start in working on my trees come next spring.

If you have a moment, I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the following:

For someone who is just starting out, what would you consider to be the essential tools of the trade?

Would you suggest getting one of the 30 piece sets of Amazon and making due with lower cost tools for the first couple years while I learn more about my needs and interests, or jumping in with a more limited selection of higher quality tools?

Are there any brands you would recommend / recommend against?

Are there any websites selling tools and supplies that you would recommend?

Thanks in advance for your time and comments!

slowly but surely
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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  JimLewis on Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:27 pm

Some folks will tell you that you need a whole stable of tools, all of them with the word "bonsai" in front of them -- bonsai tweezers, bonsai whisk brooms, bonsai root hooks, bonsai this and bonsai that. I've been playing with little trees for 40 years, and have almost nothing with "bonsai" in front of it.

A newcomer to the sport needs one bonsai tool: A Concave Cutter. If you can afford it get a large one and a small one. Stainless steel is pretty, but doesn't hold its edge as well. The non-stainless need to be fussed over a bit more to keep off the rust and corrosion from sap, etc.

Absolutely perfect scissors can be got here: http://www.gardeners.com/Scissors/GardeningTools_Pruners,13145,default,cp.html

For an unbeatable root hook, I go to an equestrian supply store and buy a hoof pick (metal or plastic for $1 - $5 -- instead of $20 for one that said "bonsai." Actually, a free chopstick from your last sushi meal is just as good. Jam the narrow end into a pencil sharpener, then dig away at the roots.

A Felco pruner is excellent for large cuts and roots. http://www.felcostore.com/pruners.jsp

Whatever you end up doing, ALWAYS BUY THE BEST TOOLS YOU CAN AFFORD, whether you're a mechanic, a carpenter, or a grower of bonsai.

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  slowly but surely on Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:35 pm

I don't know Jim - I don't think it counts as a hobby unless there's a whole stable of extras you're supposed to buy. Wink

But really, thank you Jim, that was exactly what I was looking for.

Best!

slowly but surely
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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  John Quinn on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:06 pm

I'd agree with the suggestion re. the concave cutter. The hoof pick should work well for large roots, but an adequate root rake for bonsai can be had for about 10 bucks at www.bonsaimonk.com . They have good customer service and a good selection. As you progress, a wire cutter becomes very handy to have...don't damage small branches by trying to unwind wire. In most cases, it's better to cut it off.

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:08 pm

I'm using 4 "bonified" bonsai tools: 2 different sizes of concave cutters, one knob cutter and a pair of wire nippers. (I like the wire nippers better than the standard wire cutters because the jaw configuration allows me to cut the wire off the branches without damaging the bark.)

I use 2 pairs of horse hoof nippers (left over from working as a horse shoer a couple of decades back), they work great for clipping some of the bigger wood.

Everything else is scrounged from my garage or yard sales. I even found a set of miniature garden tools that include shovels and rakes that come in really handy.

As you get further into this hobby, you will start seeing trees, tools, scraps, etc. in a different (slightly obsessive) light and your bonsai toolbox (or bucket, in my case) will begin to grow. You might even "invent" the perfect tool for some particular bonsai job, that others may have never seen before.

But, you will have a wonderful time on the journey.

Jay

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  slowly but surely on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:11 pm

JimLewis wrote:A newcomer to the sport needs one bonsai tool: A Concave Cutter. If you can afford it get a large one and a small one.

Any size recommendations? Does that mean one narrow blade, one wide blade, or do you mean lengths?

Thanks again!

slowly but surely
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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  EdMerc on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:19 pm

I could be wrong, but I thing that the blade length is in direct proportion to the tools overall length. I've never seen one advertised otherwise.

Ed

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  slowly but surely on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:23 pm

EdMerc wrote:I could be wrong, but I thing that the blade length is in direct proportion to the tools overall length. I've never seen one advertised otherwise.

Ed

I only ask because I saw this one advertised as narrow blade:
http://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/BM12-Concave-Cutter.html

It is the only one I've seen advertised as such though, so I'm assuming the recommendations for two sizes of concave cutters referred to length.

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  EdMerc on Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:11 pm

Sounds like that's it then. The blade length is in direct proportion with the overall size of the tool unless otherwise stated, as is the case in that narrow blade cutter.

Consider buying your tools from Paul Pikel. He's a great guy.

Orlando Bonsai Store http://www.orlandobonsai.com/store/

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Wire cutters/nippers help?

Post  slowly but surely on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:22 pm

Thanks again for all the advice above. I would love a little clarification in the wire cutter department.

As an example, here's a listing of 15 different wire cutting/nipping products:
http://www.dallasbonsai.com/store/black_wire_cutters.html

If you were going to get one wire cutting product, which would it be?

(especially if you were going to be working with a small/young Japanese Maple with small and medium sized branches being wired - and then removing the wiring from same)

Thanks again and sorry for my ignorance. It's a little hard to conceptualize the difference between all of these when I've never even wired anything!

Best,
Elias

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  Kev Bailey on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:44 pm

I'd say that they are all pretty much variations on a theme, apart from the Bud Cutter/Wire cutter. I'd reserve that one for bud cutting as it is more likely to snip the branch as well as the wire. I've got some very similar to the silver ones and they are perfect for my needs.

The very thin wires that you would be using for young growth on Maples are best removed by carefully unwinding.

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  JimLewis on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:48 pm

I'll show you what I use. Twenty years ago, Sears sold this Craftsman wire cutter. The Japanese cutters are touted as cutting at the tip so as not to damage the branch the wire is wrapped around. This one does that. It cost me $5.00 back then. Even if it costs $10.00 today, it's undoubtedly cheaper than a pair with "bonsai" attached to it.




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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

Post  slowly but surely on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:20 pm

Perfect Jim - a picture's worth a thousand words. Thanks!

-Elias

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Re: Tools: What to get / where to get them

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