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Guide to Bonsai Tools

Aug 17, 2007
To practice the art of Bonsai you must have the proper tools. I am going to list and describe the more common bonsai tools. When you first start out you will not need all of the tools listed and depending on your level of involvment in Bonsai you may never need them all.

Pruning & Cutting Tools
Pruning and cutting tools are used for any cutting that is too heavy to be performed with scisssors.

Concave Branch Cutter: These are heavy duty cutters designed similar to bolt cutters. They are used to cleanly and smoothly remove fair sized branches.
Spherical Knob CUtters: Are similar to the branch cutter except the cutting piece is spherical. These are designed to cut through heavy knobs or knots.
Folding Pruning saw: This is a small rough cut saw that with a blade that folds back into the handle similar to a pocket knife. They are used for cutting very heavy branches or when you need to cut down the trunk of your bonsai tree.
Shears: You use shears for many different medium to light cutting jobs.
Woodworking Gouges: Gouges are used for multiple artistic purposes in bonsai. They are frequently used to remove bark or to score the trunk to simulate natural damage to a tree.

Scissors:
Scissors are a staple tool for all bonsai enthusiast, they come in various shapes and sizes to handle various jobs.
Leaf Cutting Scissors: Just as the name implies these are used mainly for light work like pruning back or removing leaves.
Shoot Trimming Scissors: These are a heavier set of scissors designed for cut small to mid-sized shoots or branches.
Heavy Duty Shoot Scissors: These are an even heavier pair of scissors designed for all the shoots that are too large for the regular shoot scissors but too small for a pruner.

Potting Tools
The pot that you keep your bonsai in is very important for both it's health and proper development. Bonsai need frequent re-potting and root modification. These are the tools most useful for those tasks.

Root Hooks: These are used to seperate the root ball into a more managable form for trimming and pruning. They are a heavy wire bent at one end and usually sharpened to a fair point.
Potting Trowel: This is just a small garden trowl that will be used to dig and manipulate the soil in your bonsai pot.
Soil Scoops: Are small metal or plastic cups with a handle and the open end is cut into a scoop shape. They are used to remove or add soil to the pot.

Brush: Soft brushes are used to lightly clean and maintain the trunk, branches and leaves of the bonsai.

Wire Tools:
Wires are frequently used to train the bonsai plant into the proper artistic form. There are a multitude of tools used to work with wire most of these are available at any hardware or automotive store.

Common Wire Snips: These are common wire snips that are frequently used by electricians, they should be heavy enough to handle any of the aluminumum wire used for bonsai.
Heavy Duty Wire Snips : These are just a heavier version of the snips listed above that might be needed if you are working with some heavier than average wire.
Pliers: Common house hold pliers are used for bending and twisting the wire into the proper shape and position.
Needle Nose Pliers: These are pliers that come to a fine point and are useful for working in tight confines around the trunk and branches.

Miscelenous Tools
Some general tools that do not fit in any of the other categories.

Chop Sticks: These are perfect for tamping and working the soil down around the roots of the tree.
Gardeners Knife: This is handy for many of the heavy non-delicate cutting you have to do.
Rake: A small rake just like a garden or yard rake except in miniature is used to clean and maintain the surface of the soil.
Tweezers: Tweezers are often necessary to work around the limited space on many bonsai.
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