Updated: Nov 5, 2021
As a Bonsai Enthusiast there is so much to learn, Bonsai is a Hobby and Profession that branches off in many directions. Nothing in Bonsai is straight forward and has 1 clear road and this stays true when it comes to buying your Bonsai tools.
Today we are going to concentrate on Bonsai Scissors and see if we can make your shopping experience a little easier when you are deciding what best for you.
Lets start with something that seems so simple..
Bonsai Scissors come in different sizes and this is usually specified in mm E.G 180mm , 200mm, 205mm, 210mm etc etc. To decide on sizes you need to take a look around your garden and see how dramatically the sizes of your trees change from tree to tree. If you have both Small trees and Large trees then 1 set of scissors in 1 size wont do, This stays true for things like branch cutters and knob cutters. As your trees get larger you need bigger tools.
Typically the factors that decide this will be branch thickness and foliage tightness.
For thicker branches you will need bigger tools ( make sure you can tell when you can cut a branch with scissors and when its too thick for scissors thus needing branch cutters )
Foliage tightness can call for a different kind of scissor which we will talk about later so keep reading to find out more.
Now that we have sizing out of the way lets chat about scissor types
When choosing bonsai scissors you may have seen that there are a few different types and you may have though to your self why do i need a different set of scissors for different cutting jobs, cant i just use the one set? Technically yes, BUT this just makes your job harder and you will likely damage that set of scissors really quickly using them for every job and the wrong job.
Pruning scissors are best applied to trimming smaller branches on a Bonsai Tree. As mentioned earlier you need to be able to tell the difference between a branch that is small enough to be pruned with a set of scissors and a branch that needs to be trimmed with purpose made branch cutters. If you cut a branch that's too thick for your pruning scissors then you run the risk of separating the scissors at the join, this will make your scissors less effective at cutting with precision and cause damage to your tree where you are making a cut. General Pruning scissors are a medium length and a medium thickness which makes them a good first set of bonsai scissors for the beginner because they will be most suited to an all round pruning shear.
It is absolutely necessary to have a set of scissors especially for roots. Some people may think this is just a strategy to sell more sets of scissors and make more money. But this couldn't me be more false. The reason we need separate scissors for Root Pruning is because within our root system we generally have coarse materials such as pumice, gravel, ground up granite etc etc. If we were to use our pruning shears or bud shears to trim back the roots there is a good chance we are going to hit some of this coarse material and ruin that set of scissors. Root scissors have a more durable blade, a nice sharp edge to ensure a clean cut for faster healing of the root ball and are also shorter making it easier to control the scissors thus giving you more control over where you are making your cuts.
These scissors are extremely handy when pruning trees that have very fine foliage or very dense foliage. Bud Shears are generally thinner and have decent length so you can get right into the tighter spots in your tree and make very accurate cuts, this is especially handy on junipers where you need to cut between the needles as its a very small gap. These bonsai scissors are also sometimes referred to as Satsuki scissors as they are popular for trimming azalea bonsai.
De-Candling bonsai scissors are long narrow scissors which make it easier to get into pines to perform De-Candling, They are also great for pruning highly ramified trees. They have a similar use to the bud shears in that aspect but they are a lot larger at 210mm and the blades are usually thicker allowing you to trim slightly larger branches.
Now that we have discussed the 4 main sets of scissors you may come across lets talk about materials.
Stainless Steel Or Carbon Steel?
Stainless Steel Bonsai Tools are top of the grade when they are Japanese made but are they the best for you? There isn't a whole lot of difference when it comes to Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel. The obvious difference here is the stainless steel tools will not rust over time and this is great when it comes to keeping your tools maintained. How ever stainless steel tools will need to be sharpened a lot more often then Carbon Steel tools will. Stainless Steel is also a lot more expensive because stainless steel as a material is a lot more expensive to buy so this means they are more expensive to manufacturer.
So when looking at carbon steel tools we can basically reverse what i just said, Carbon steel will rust over time ( the higher the carbon content the quicker they will rust ) so rust preventative will need to be taken when caring for your tools, But carbon steel wont need to be sharpened for a very long time as the blades will stay sharp if you are using them properly. Carbon steel tools are also a lot cheaper even when japanese made. Carbon Steel is very hard and is the prefered steel when it comes to edged weapons and chefs knives because of the strength and the steels ability to hold a sharp edge. In particular the Japanese Steels are favoured as they are top of the range when it comes to hardness and the ability to hold an edge. This is why most bonsai enthusiasts prefer Japanese Made tools such as kikuwa because naturally they use their own steel so you can ensure you are getting a high quality tool that will last.
Now for our last variable
Cheap VS Expensive
Just like everything Bonsai Tools come in a cheap version and an expensive version, And like every thing else you get what you pay for. But that doesn't mean there isn't a reason for the cheaper tools. When i started out i bought the cheap tools, it got me going quickly and kept that fire lit in me to keep on practising Bonsai, If i had to buy expensive tools straight away then i wouldn't have been able to afford to do the hobby and may have given up. Beginner tools are fantastic to get into the hobby and get styling and working on trees straight away but the reality is they wont last and will break over time or become blunt ( most of the time they are blunt to begin with and break within 6 months ). They are made from cheap material and don't have great Quality Control. Cheap tools are generally made from a cast so they are full of air pockets which is what makes them weak and not hold up against force. But as you start to become more involved in the hobby you can begin to upgrade your tools to the more expensive ones and they will likely last you a lifetime if cared for properly. So its up too you if you want to buy cheap just to get started or straight up spend the money on quality tools and not have to worry about those tools breaking or becoming too dull to work with in a short amount of time.
Research the brand of tool you are buying, See if they have a good history and try to see what steel they are using.
I hope this article has helped shed some light on some of the different tools available out there and i will post a link below to our online store so you can check out what's available and hopefully be able to make a clearer choice on what you need.
Buy Bonsai Scissors Online Australia : https://bonsai-en.shop/collections/buy-bonsai-scissors-online-australia
Special Order Bonsai Scissors : https://bonsai-en.shop/collections/s-o-bonsai-scissors-online-australia
if you need any help purchasing please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey.