Favorite Things

By Terry Davis

If I remember correctly, the concept for these benches came from Ann Erb.  Although the individual parts are weak, the method of construction results in a very strong bench, the strength coming from the compression by the threaded rods.  You can use thicker rods, but these are quite sufficient and about a buck cheaper each than 3/8” rods.  I suspect larger holes may weaken the bench, too.  They meet the following qualifications for bonsai benches:

by Dale Krueger

Check these out.  One of my favorite new tools for bonsai are the homemade chopsticks I make for re-potting trees. I learned about these during my studies with Ryan Neil at Bonsai Mirai. They are more versatile and a lot stronger than most of the Chinese restaurant chopsticks I had been using. You can break off various sizes of bamboo and cut to different lengths so that you can get to all of air pockets in the soil around the tree roots in the pot. The most difficult part to making these is finding a cane of bamboo of a suitable thickness. I purchased a 10' section 2 years ago and have used about 2 feet of it. The only things you make these are the bamboo, a root cutter and a sander, or grinding wheel. Once everything is laid out, it takes less than 5 minutes to make one.  They last a really long time and if they start to get dull or misshapen you can re-shape them again by sanding or grinding. 



by Terry Davis

Terry Davis image by RDS

I have gone through a lot of wound sealers in my time.  Essentially, I can break these down into two types: those that the callus grows over, such as Topjin and Elmer's Glue, and the ones that the callus grows under, like Cut Paste (the Japanese label actually says "Cutto Paisto") and Callusmate.

by Scott Vanderlinde


Indoor Greenhouse

As the number of tropical trees that I have has grown, I have run out of south facing window space in my house so I use this greenhouse for some of my tropical trees during the winter. It is approximately 4 feet wide by 5 feet long by 7 feet high. It is tall enough for me to walk inside.

Indoor Greenhouse













This version of the greenhouse takes less than one-half hour to assemble or disassemble. Assembly can be accomplished by one person, but an extra hand makes it easier. Fluorescent lights are used for lighting and a small fan for circulation, both of which operate on timers. The greenhouse is located in a lower level room in my house that is a bit cool. The fluorescent lights are enough to nicely warm the inside of the greenhouse during the day. The enclosed space stays between 60 and 70 % relative humidity which can be regulated by zipping more or less of the door.

by Tim McCarthy

When deciding how to display your Bonsai trees outside, there are several options. Many people build a bench, usually out of wood to display their trees. If you have a fence along your yard boundary, this can work well. In my situation, I do not have this. I also have limited areas in my yard with receive enough sun to grow most of my trees. Also, My pines and junipers need full sun, whereas my Japanese maples do not. After visiting Sue and Dales yard, I saw what I needed, circular platforms, one for each tree. For my arrangement, I thought that a variety of sizes would work best. The general rule when looking for a natural grouping, odd numbers and non-uniform sizes works best. My first two were 24 inches and 19 inches in size. Once outside with a tree, I decided this looked too large for my size trees. I settled on sizes ranging between 11 and 16 inches. The ones pictured here are 10.5 and 12 inches in diameter.

by Terry Davis

Terry Davis image by RDS

Look Sharp!

Van Jensen suggested using a set of three small diamond hones, “Eze Lap” brand L-Pak for sharpening tools.  I tried it, and they are fast and very effective.  My test for a sharp tool is if they will cut Kleenex, and they passed after maybe 5 minutes’ work (I am not awfully patient, so this is a good thing).  I have a set of water stones I use for my knives, and they work great, but they are not nearly as portable as these little hones, which are the size of tongue depressors (say Ahhh!).  And sharpening small blades on those big stones wears them unevenly (they are soft).  I got them from a local woodworkers’ supply, Rockler Tools, but they are available from Amazon.  The three-pack is sufficient.

For tools like the concave cutter, where the blades meet each other, a good test for proper sharpening is to cut into a piece of writing paper with them.  If it doesn’t cut, the tool is dull (duhh!), and if the cut has gaps in it, then the edges need to be evened out.  If you coat a piece of index card with black crayon and bite down on it lightly with the tool, it should leave black wax on the high spots.  Sort of like the dentist does to check your bite.