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Bonsai Tools for Beginners: 3 things you need to know

Bonsai and tools

The path of bonsai gardening is very exciting and rewarding. But those newly interested in this traditional Japanese art can find some obstacles along the road. They want to develop their bonsai skills, but they often do not know exactly how. Selecting the appropriate tools can make this journey easier. With the right tools, you can execute bonsai pruning, repotting and styling with precision and make beautiful bonsai tree creations.

From Wazakura we want to help those who just started but feel a bit unsure about the matter. So here are 3 things you should take into account when creating a bonsai tool kit.

1) BEGINNER TOOLS VS ADVANCED TOOLS

You finally decided to start with bonsai. Congratulations! However, now that you think of it, you do not have any gardening tools. Or you are not sure if what you have can be used for that purpose. So you begin to search what tools you should buy. And then the vast sea of information that is the Internet floods you with demonstrations on Youtube, forum discussions and specialized articles describing a large array of tools you did not know they existed.

Do not fear. You are just giving your first steps into the bonsai world, you do not need (yet) an extense collection. Three or four basic tools will equip one to perform most of the tasks necessary to produce and maintain a beginner to intermediate bonsai collection. A sharp pair of shears, a concave branch cutter and a rake and a bamboo chopstick (for watering purposes) will do the job.

Once you have master these basic tools, you can later add more specialized tools such as wire cutters, knob cutters, a root hook, different types of brushes, sickles, etc. And develop new skills according to your needs and new projects.

2) MATERIALS

You’ll find on your search that the bonsai tools can be mostly divided in 2 categories when it comes to materials: carbon and stainless steel. What is the difference, you may ask?

Well, carbon steel tools are generally more affordable, but they are prone to rust, so they require frequent maintenance and occasional sharpening. This means you may need to acquire the related knowledge and tools for proper bonsai tool care. Also, they have a black appearance with a silver blade.

On the other hand, we have stainless steel tools. They are more expensive compared to their carbon counterparts and have a beautiful complete silver look. But they do not rust as much, so they tend to hold their sharp edge longer.

When it comes to performance, however, there is not a real difference. Both are equally efficient and durable. It is really just a matter of personal preference and budget. So just choose what feels more suitable for you depending on the stage of your bonsai journey!

3) ORIGINS

When one thinks of Bonsai, Japan comes inevitably to mind. It is in these country after all where this gardening art was created, fully developed and then spread throughout the world. This background is what makes Japanese tools well-known for their high quality, craftmanship and prolonged life use.

On the other hand, Chinese tools are becoming more in demand due to the price quality ratio they offer. They have also experience a rise in popularity because of the thought that Made in Japan tools are expensive.

Although that might have been true in the past, and certainly there is a niche market for luxury bonsai tools, nowadays the technological improvements and new ways of treating materials have contributed to make Japanese tools affordable for all sort of budgets, within and outside Japan. And with high standard quality control systems that the Chinese tools tend to not undergo.

As an example, we here in Wazakura work with artisans of the city if Sanjo, in Niigata prefecture, providing original tools made in Japan at reasonable rates with excellent performance. Do not hesitate to have a look at our catalogue.

Happy bonsai, everyone. Arigatou!