A Guide To The Steels Used In Our Bonsai Tools - Bonsai-En

A Guide To The Steels Used In Our Bonsai Tools

 When it comes to purchasing bonsai tools there is usually one piece of information missing from the product page, and this happens to be one of the more important pieces of information. What steel is used to make the tool? Most sellers make bold claims to what their tools are but don’t provide the information necessary for you to make a proper decision. I wanted to create this article so you could reference the steels used in our tools and get a better understanding and confidence in what your are purchasing.
Lets start with the most common steel in our Kikuwa tools which is S58C Carbon Steel

S58C Carbon Steel

This particular carbon steel is a Japanese standard carbon steel that has high strength, hardness and elasticity. S58C can be commonly seen used in applications that require a high strength structural steel. This carbon steel is used in the entry line into the professional bonsai tools and it will far out perform and last longer then 90% of the other tools on the market. Due to its carbon steel the tools will hold an edge for a long time and will also sharpen easily without removing to much material from the blades before returning a sharp edge. This is important as the material on the blades of most bonsai scissors is very fine so removing to much could cause issues.

S55C Carbon Steel

Much like the carbon steel mentioned above S55C carbon steel is used in the entry line to professional bonsai tools such as Branch Cutters and Knob Cutters. This carbon steel has a lot more precision when it comes to working with a straight steel which is important for blades that need to overlap. Having blades that perfectly pass over each other will result in a more precise cut and quicker healing of your trees. Much like the S58C carbon steel this is a strong carbon steel that will out perform and outlast 90% of the other options on the market.

KA70 Carbon Steel

When it comes to tools that under go a lot of tensile work such as jin pliers and wire cutters then KA70 steel is used. This is a world known steel for strength and Durability, It can also hold a sharp edge for a very long time which is a bonus for your wire cutters. When doing tensile heavy work such as gripping and pulling guy wires on trees you want to be sure that your tool is not going to snap on you half way through the work. When buying a tool made of KA70 you can be sure of this.

SK5 Carbon Steel

SK5 steel is moving up into our top range tools when it comes to scissors, This steel is very hard with a rockwell hardness of 65 ( that is very hard ). This steel is very popular for making anything with an edge such as hunting knives, scalpels, razor blades and of course bonsai tools. We also offer a range of bonsai scissors that are SK5 carbon steel but are coated with a Florine nickel plating which can prevent sap build upon your tools and also makes then rust resistant giving you the hardness of and reliability of carbon steel and the rust resistance of stainless steel.

Aogami Blue Super Steel

You will find this Japanese carbon steel in our Aogami range of Bonsai Scissors, This steel is held as one of the best carbon steels in the world and is one of the most popular steels for making professional chefs knives. It has the ability to be hardened to a very high hardness without being brittle. This steel can also be sharpened to a razor sharp edge. If you want the top of the range when it comes to Bonsai scissors you’ll want something with Aogami Blue Super Steel.

Here are some Benefits to Japanese Carbon Steels


  1. High Hardness: It has a high Rockwell hardness rating, which means it is able to hold a very sharp edge and maintain its sharpness for a long time.

  2. Toughness: Despite their hardness, These Carbon Steels are also known for their toughness and ability to resist chipping and breaking.

  3. Edge Retention: Japanese Carbon Steels are able to retain their edge for a long time, making them an ideal steel for knives and tools that are frequently used for cutting.

  4. Easy to Sharpen: Japanese Carbon Steel is relatively easy to sharpen and maintain, making it a practical choice for knives and tools that are used frequently.

  5. Corrosion resistance: Japanese Carbon Steel have a good level of corrosion resistance which means they can be used in damp or humid environments without rusting, Although when they are stored they will need to be oiled as they are prone to rust from even overnight exposure to moisture. This is the trade off of having hard durable tools.

  6. Affordable: Japanese Carbon Steel is a more affordable option compared to other high-end steels like VG-10, which makes it a good choice for budget-conscious consumers.

  7. Versatile: Japanese Carbon Steel is a versatile steel that can be used to make a wide range of knives, tools, and other cutting implements.

  8. Good balance of wear resistance and toughness: Japanese Carbon Steel has a good balance between wear resistance and toughness, making it a suitable steel for a wide range of cutting tasks.

It's worth noting that Japanese steel can be prone to rusting if it is not properly maintained, so it is important to keep it dry and clean, and to oil it regularly. You can purchase Camellia Oil Here

A8 Stainless Steel

When it comes to stainless steel you have to be very careful, Stainless steel is a very expensive raw material so 9/10 manufacturers will use a cheaper alternative to make their stainless steel tools. Compared to carbon steels stainless isn’t as strong in terms of hardness for the most part, it also doesn’t sharpen as well which can cause you to remove to much steel during the sharpening process ruining your blades and with a low quality stainless you will be sharpening a lot. BUT that’s not to say there aren’t good stainless steel alternatives out there, but what it does mean is that if you want good quality stainless steel tools that are going to last you a long time then you will be paying a high premium for them. A8 stainless steel is a cold work tool steel that has a high hardness of 55 – 60 on the rockwell scale, this is putting it up there with some of the higher quality carbon steels, but once again you’ll be paying for the privilege of that harder stainless steel due to the cost of quality raw materials. For example, a set of Carbon steel branch cutters would run you $99 but a set of similar spec’d stainless branch cutters will run you $165+
I hope this has helped you understand some of the steels used in our tools and why those steel were selected by the manufacturer, Its no secret here at Bonsai-En that we only sell the highest quality products and when it comes to Bonsai Tools the highest quality products on the market are made from true Japanese Steels. If you want a more technical analysis of each of these steel you can easily google them to get the exact chemical make up and hardness.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey.

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Author : Joshua Hooson

Joshua Hooson is an author and enthusiast of the art of bonsai. He has built his knowledge and understanding of bonsai through a combination of self-experience, lessons learned through hands-on practice, and extensive research. His articles reflect his passion for the subject and offer insights gained through his own personal journey in the world of bonsai. All the information provided in his works is a result of his own experiences and the knowledge he has gained through his studies. He is dedicated to sharing his love of bonsai and helping others grow in their understanding and appreciation of this ancient and beautiful art form.

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