I am forever on the lookout for useful new products to add to our not inconsiderable range. Trouble is there’s a lot of old tat out there. I have no interest in selling junk, the juice ain’t worth the squeeze. Carving tools are a prime example, there are a lot of products out there that might politely be called ‘function of profitability’. In other words great looking worthless junk just designed to take your money. Anyone ever bought a Dremel with a 120 piece accessory kit? How did that work out?
I have been using power tools since I was nine years old. I doubt there is anything I have not used at one time or another. There are few things I have not done with power tools including cutting bits off myself. In that time I have learnt to recognise a good useful tool. I have also figured out that what might look pretty useless can often be mis-appropriated to do a different job from which it was designed. I have a box full of failed products, things that just didn’t cut the mustard. I also endlessly tinker with tools. Sometimes they become scrap but just occasionally I make them better, more efficient or more useful.
These days I find it increasingly hard to find significant new items that do a job that just can’t be done with something else. I mean, who in bonsai doesn’t cut wire with pruning scissors? Just last week I was busy on my lathe making some bike parts and needed to do a milling cut. I don’t have a mill but figured out a Terrier mounted in the chuck with the work bolted to the tool post turned my lathe into a milling machine. I recently had need to turn a chainsaw into a saw mill, job done and fingers intact so that’s Ok. I think it’s what the Australians call ‘bush mechanics’.
A couple of weeks ago a new little tool came across my desk and straight away it had ‘winner’ stamped all over it. In bonsai the process largely involves making big trees smaller and sometimes we need to resort to wood carving to get rid of ugly cuts and chops. Being a ‘dumpster diver’ I have always had need of such techniques and tools. The idea is to incorporate cuts and chops in a natural looking way to represent deadwood we might see in natural trees. This takes SOME time and practice to master and also a lot of time and work in order to complete. A full range of tools is important but it’s also important to know all the little tricks those tools can perform, this can take a very long time to master. Good tools are important but less so than the skill, experience and imagination behind them. The best carvers I have seen at work normally have a laughable tool kit, to the untrained eye. For example a brickie turns up on site with a bucket of scruffy tools in one hand and builds a house.
Part of creating natural looking deadwood in bonsai is in creating the initial shapes and hollows, what I call block carving. The next bit is the subject of infinite wrangle everywhere. Detailing deadwood is something that everyone does differently and with different tools. Ultimately, in my opinion, the goal is to make our work look so natural there is no hint that we were ever there. That’s a lofty goal I have yet to attain. This little tool, now available from our web site just might make a very tedious part of carving a bit easier and more enjoyable.