Bonsai Tools

Must-Have Bonsai Tools and Their Functions

Before you get started in bonsai gardening, you need to prepare essential tools that you will need for this project. However, you may be overwhelmed by the number of tools available in stores, and you may end up buying more than what you need. If you are a beginner in bonsai cultivation, you should focus more on buying basic tools that can do the job just fine. After all, you can always buy specialist tools as you progress in this type of gardening. Basically, you need a few items for your basic tool kit such as a pair of good-quality scissors, secateurs (by-pass type), wire cutters, chopstick (for combing out the roots), and nail scissors. Here is a rundown of important bonsai tools and features of each.

1. Long-Handled Scissors

You will need a good pair of sharp long-handed scissors that can be used for detailed and fine leaf or shoot work. Make sure you keep your scissors razor sharp to ensure the quality of cut. Moreover, dull scissors tend to crush new shoots, and this could cause damages to your fragile plant. For heavy work such as trimming roots, you may want to buy a nice pair of sharp kitchen scissors for an accurate and clean cut.

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2. Branch and Knob Cutters

Branches must be removed routinely by using knob or branch cutters. These bonsai tools are useful in cutting away branches and leaving small indentations to ensure quick healing of the resulting wound. Some people also prefer to use branch cutters for their branch pruning tasks, although knob-cutters would be your best bet because of their versatility. If you want a good pair that cuts seamlessly through various strengths of wood, then small knob cutters with narrower blades can be a suitable option.

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3. Wire Cutters

It is important that you use sturdy wire cutters because these can cut perfectly through wire that is nearer to the bark while preventing any damages to it. In addition, short blades can give you the ease in cutting even the thickest bonsai wire.

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4. Jin Pliers

This tool is used for stripping away wood fibers when you want to create a jin from your tree’s branch. When working on your bonsai trees, though, jin pliers have multiple uses aside from creating a jin. So, make sure you have an excellent pair in your tool kit.

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5. Diamond Tool Sharpeners

Most hardware stores sell good quality diamond tool sharpeners that come in a wide range of sizes. The best ones to buy would be small ones that are about 6mm in length with a rounded surface on one of its side. This type of sharpener is great for keeping your knob or side cutters and other cutting tools in perfect condition.

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6. Bark Stripper

Otherwise called a draw knife, this tool is functional for your bonsai gardening. This is the right tool you need in stripping away bark from the wood in a matter of seconds.

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7. Soil Sieves and Drainage Mesh

When you need to repot your tree, you need to use soil sieves that can help remove dust and fine particles from your newly-mixed soil. You may also have to buy a drainage mesh that can prevent soil from coming out through the pot’s drainage holes each time you water the plant.

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8. Root Hooks or Chopstick

For combing out roots, you will need a root hooks or chopstick. Both of these tools allow to remove old soil stuck around the roots of your tree without any problem. However, you may consider using your hands or a chopstick if you are repotting for the first time. This way, you can prevent damages on the roots, particularly on young plants.

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9. Wire

Naturally, you will need to shape your bonsai tree and style it through a certain position positioning of the trunk and branches. Hence, you need to have the right type of wire for this task, as well as in anchoring in your newly potted plants. Traditionally, copper wires are used because of their superb holding capabilities. Unfortunately, they are less popular nowadays, so you may opt for a good alternative such as custom-made aluminum wires.

These are widely available in most bonsai outlets, and you can choose from different gauges depending on your needs and preferences. For a basic tool kit, you may buy 1 mm, 1.5 mm and 2 mm gauges for shaping different thickness of branch and trunk.

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To ensure the lifespan and quality of your tools, you need to apply certain techniques to keep them in excellent condition. For instance, regular sharpening can significantly prolong the life of your cutting tools. Additionally, sharp tools can cut through wood perfectly instead of crushing it. Since your tools’ blades are prone to plant sap and rust, you should remove the sticky sap using abrasive paper or wire brush before sharpening them.


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