Maintaining Bonsai Tools

Maintaining is better than repairing or replacing. It is very important that you get in a routine of maintaining your bonsai tools. This not only keeps them in optimal condition so they work better when you use them. But also saves time spent on fixing issues that develop over time like rust for example and potentially saves money that would be spent replacing tools that are beyond repair.

How do I maintain my bonsai tools?

There are four basic elements of bonsai tool maintenance. Cleaning to remove any sap or dirt that might build up as well small pockets of rust. Disinfecting the tools keeps you from inadvertently transferring pathogens between plants. Oiling helps the tools operate more smoothly and helps limit rust. And finally sharpening not only makes the tool work better but also makes them easier to use.

How do I clean my bonsai tools?

You can clean your bonsai tools with household detergent and water, just make sure to dry them thoroughly afterward. But this is one of the few times I will recommend a specific product. The SandFlex Cleaning Block is very effective at cleaning off any sap that has accumulated on your tool or even small spots of rust. It really is like a magic eraser for bonsai tools and is very reasonably priced.

How do I disinfect my bonsai tool?

Take regular household bleach and mix it one part bleach to ten parts tap water in a large container. Immerse the tools in the water for at least one minute, remove, rinse and hand dry.

How do I oil my bonsai tools?

Several oils will work, I prefer camellia oil, also called tea seed oil(not to be confused with tea tree oil). Just take any old rag, cut up towel or sock, and apply the oil over all metal areas. Be sure to wipe up any excess oil. When I am I done I put the cloth in a zip lock bag and keep it with my bonsai tools to use the next time I oil.

How do I sharpen my bonsai tools?

A surprising number of bonsai tree enthusiasts still use traditional sharpening methods. By traditional I mean using Japanese water stones in different grit classifications to hone out any damage to the blade then put an edge on it. If there is minor damage to your edged bonsai tools you can use a water stone of a grit in 300 to 500 rage to work it out. But for routine use I find is far easier to use the modern diamond edged file. This is clearly a situation where technology trumps tradition.

How often should I do all this stuff?

You likely paid a good amount of money for your bonsai tools and properly maintaining them not only makes them last longer but work better. And isn’t that why you shelled out so much for your bonsai tools in the first place, because they work better? You should perform some maintenance every time you use your bonsai tools. At the least clean them off, giving them a quick sharpening and oil them. Once you establish a maintenance routine it is pretty painless.