bonsai tree care

basic care bonsai tool

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do not know much about caring for bonsai tools. I sharpen them when bored and occasionally oil them to prevent oxidation. Here is my basic configuration:

Sharpening stones


I’ve been using the same holder Hone since I started bonsai. It is ideal to keep hones in place.

Sharpening stone holder

holder Hone

Regarding the stones themselves, which uses water stones. There are many great alternatives to water stones, including stones oil and diamond stones. I stuck with water stones because they are simple and easy to use.

If I break a toe, double, or otherwise lacking respect my tools so start with a pretty rough stone (somewhere between 400 and 600 grains).

Medium grit stone

raw water stone

using the rough stone as a starting point – the heightening of goods happens with a stone top grain. I use a combination of stone water that is around 1000-1200 grains on the sharp side, 6000-8000 on the polished side.

Combo stone

The combination of water stone – sharpen side

I do most of my sharpened with this stone. Once you get a good lead, I turn the stone over and use the polishing surface.

Combo stone

The combination of water stone – polished side

not always polish the blade after sharpening, but I find it keeps better edge when the stone is used polishing. It also makes for a very sharp edge.

When the sharp scissors, starting with bevelled edge. I try to keep the scissors flat against the stone at this point or run the risk of ruining the edge – or hurt myself. It always amazes me how much practice it takes to get the right sharp movement.

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Sharpening scissors

Placing scissors in stone

Please note, water stones require water! I only use these stones when they are completely wet and drizzle water on the tool and the grindstone throughout the process so that water can wash away loose sand. The photos below show the start-up dry, so it’s easy to see how I line tool and stone.

Sharpening scissors

Ready to sharpen – do not try without water

I do not expect this process to make much sense of the photos here. The best thing I can recommend is to find someone in your community who loves bonsai tools and ask their advice. A lack of live assistance, YouTube undoubtedly has some advice on the subject.

I stop and inspect the blade frequently while working to avoid grinding more metal than necessary. Once the disc is sharp, turn on the scissors on and gently rub some dirt on the inside of the sheet.

Sharpening scissors

gently remove dirt

other concave and branch cutters pose a number of challenges. Cylinders, blocks with gouges, and small stones, like the one shown below make work possible, but not easy. I tend to work slowly when sharpen these tools.

Sharpening branch cutters

Hone Small

After sharpening my tools I use tool oil to keep rust away. It is a good idea to lightly oil tools after each use, but I’ll admit I do not always have the time for this step. I clean the tools after use, and just keep my dry tools. If accumulates some rust, I use steel wool and a lightly oiled cloth.

I’ve been using some of my tools for almost 20 years. I do not know if they will “last a lifetime” with the care I am providing, but a decent start. Ask me how it goes another 20 years from now and I’ll be happy to share the results.

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basic care bonsai tool

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