The Bonsai Primer: Tools


It is quite easy to spend more of your hard earned cash on tools than getting the trees themselves.You can get by with just a few commonly available tools, these are:
Saw (Small fine toothed)
Scissors (Two pair one small for leaf trimming)

Wire cutters

As I say these are the very basic tools you can get by with. As you become aware of all the tools available, either by visiting suppliers or by mail order, your wallet, purse or sporran will begin to twitch, Please don't buy a tool if you don't need it. If you are developing trees from either nursery stock or wild collected material, your needs as far as tools will differ from someone who is maintaining a mature Bonsai.

The first tools I would recommend you to buy are 'wen' or parrot beak cutters, these make a concave cut and this will heal better than a straight cut made by secaturs.

The smaller of my wen cutters, these are about 18cm (that's 7" in old money) nose to tail (the paint's to identify them when working in a group) (People)

Sets of tools are readily available, from suppliers,at shows and on Ebay for about £40.00. the roll shown has a good selection (Wen cutters are missing!). As with all tools you get what you pay for and a cheap set may not last.


Power tools

Power tools are useful if you're into major conversions. Here we see Dan Barton using a cutter on a tree he's working on at the BCI convention in Birmingham in 1991. Although this is a big tree I've used my Dremel drill in some of my own trees.

The Tree a few years later

The next tool on your shopping list would be branch 'or side cutters', these are ideal for working in tight spaces. Here I'm using them to peel back wood to create a 'Jin'

Another good investment is a seive. No matter what Compost you're using you need to remove the finest particles, stopping them washing down to the bottom of the pot and blocking both water running out and air getting in.

Another good purchase is a hook. My one came from a supplier of riding equipment and is for taking dirt/stones from horses hooves. It's ideal when repotting for teasing out the rootball.





As you become more aware of the potential to use tools to achieve a desired effect, increase your tool collection, but only if you are sure you need the tool and will use it again. If however you join a club they may have a store of the less usual tools for you to borrow, or members who will lend you the tool you need, perhaps showing you the best way to use it at the same time.

I have used a blowtorch to char the inside of my big willow when I hollowed out the trunk, and have seen chainsaws used to create a similar effect.

Allen. C. Roffey June 23, 2018 16:53