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 Basic Bonsai Tools Beginners Need

 By Erik A. Olsen

Although longtime bonsai enthusiasts could spend a lot of money and time growing these special, miniature trees, when getting started, it is not necessary to go overboard on tools. In fact, you can buy and train a bonsai for very little money, as long as you know what you need and why. Therefore, we wanted to provide you with some good but basic direction for buying tools.

When you begin to shop for bonsai tools, which would include trimmers, pruners, wiring, shears, and more, it can be a little confusing. Since bonsai is such a popular hobby, the number of options is varied. Therefore, rather than feeling confused between stainless steel and carbon steel, this article will show you how to buy economically without giving up quality.

Stainless steel tools are made with a minimum of 10% chromium to iron. The material is relatively strong but not very ductile. Many times, you will find bonsai tools made of stainless steel when nickel has been added. With this, the structure of the tools changes to become more ductile. When buying, the most common option is stainless steel that has 18% chromium and 8% nickel, which works well.

Carbon steel is often added to steel to increase the amount of hardness. In fact, by adding jus as little as 0.5% carbon, steel is completely changed. The problem is that adding carbon also makes steel less ductile. When looking at high quality tools used by the Japanese for bonsai, the tools usually have high carbon steel, which means the cutting blade has a hard edge and reasonable ductile. The benefit is that cuts to the bonsai tree are clean, thus causing little to no damage. However, for the beginner, good, stainless steel tools will work fine.

For annealing copper wire, which is used to train the bonsai, you want wire that can be bent into sharp curves for the best results. By choosing annealing wire, the wire is soft, pliable, and can be used time after time. Wire is inexpensive and easy to find. Now, when working with a more mature tree, you might need to go with fully annealed copper wire, which is stronger, allowing you to create shapes with up to 50% more strength. Other types of bonsai tools needed include:

- Concave Cutters These cutters will help cut into the bark when removing a branch. This way, as he wound heals, it will be less noticeable since the cutter made a clean indention.

- Shears or Scissors Great for trimming the foliage or smaller, new shoots

- Pliers or Nippers These too are great for removing internodes or some of the larger branches

- Root Cutters This tool would not be needed for a couple of years but would help trim back roots when it comes time to repot

- Wire Remover This tool helps remove training wire

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