Bonsai Scissors Buyers Guide - Bonsai-En

Bonsai Scissors Buyers Guide

When it comes to buying Bonsai Scissors there are decisions to be made so you can make the correct purchase, But what are these decisions and what is best for you? Lets Find Out.

In this article we will cover

  1. Steel Used For Bonsai Scissors
  2. Stainless Steel Vs Carbon Steel
  3. Japanese Made Bonsai Scissors
  4. Maintenance
  5. Different Types Of Bonsai Scissors

Steel Used For Bonsai Scissors

When it comes to the steels used in Bonsai tools most manufacturers will want to keep this cost as low as possible. Steel prices can increase rapidly with the higher quality steels. So far in my journey looking at Bonsai Tools and being a purchaser i have found that most manufacturers that aren't in Japan don't actually use Japanese Steels. We will explain why that's important later. When shopping for Bonsai Tools you might notice that 1 set of scissors is $20 while another is $40, The set for $40 is likely a higher quality tool made from a better steel so it will last you a lot longer. But the reason i used the word "likely" is because the world of Bonsai Retail in the western world is still fairly young and without a high amount of competition there can be room for unfair pricing. This can also be the case for the exact same tool between 2 retailers. While one might retail a tool for $50 the other might retail it for $35. In this case the more expensive tool is not any better because they are the exact same tool, so just be cautious when shopping and do your homework. 


Stainless Steel Vs Carbon Steel


I've done many articles and videos outlining this so let me just put it very simply for this article,

Carbon Steel is stronger but also cheaper to purchase. This will result in you paying less for a Carbon Steel Tool but having it last longer. All carbon steel tools will be coated black. A high quality Carbon Steel will rust over night if not cared for properly.

Stainless Steel is more expensive due to its rust resistance but is not generally used for precision cutting. This means you will pay more for your tool but it will go Dull a lot quicker then carbon steel and will be harder to keep sharpened. Stainless Steel does look nice due to its shine and is much easier to maintain.


For me Carbon Steel is always the winner, What other product can you say that the cheaper option is the higher quality option?


Japanese Made Bonsai Scissors


Japanese Bonsai Tools have always been the highest quality tools, but over the last few years I've seen a stigma starting to attach it self to the Japanese Made Tools that comes from people who don't want to spend a higher amount of money on tools and would prefer to spend less. The stigma usually goes something like this "People only want Japanese Tools because Bonsai is a Japanese Art " or something to that effect. Basically they are stating that people only want Japanese made bonsai tools to feel like they are doing better quality bonsai or are more involved in the world of bonsai then those without the Japanese tools. But those people are missing a major point here. If you think about the Chef Knife industry what are the highest quality knives? Its Japanese Knives, When we look at the sword industry what are the highest quality swords? Japanese Swords, When we look at hunting and fishing knives what are the highest quality knives? Japanese Knives. What do all of these have in common? Sharp Edges...

Japanese carbon steel can be worked down to a very thin edge giving you a razor sharp cutting edge, but the bonus with this Japanese steel is that even with a very thin edge of metal it is very strong and will resist damage such as chipping and becoming dull over time. This is the real reason any Japanese made tool for any industry that requires tools with very precise cutting edges is preferred. The carbon steel is very easy to maintain in terms of sharpness as well, you can use a whetstone to sharpen your tools and you wont move much steel off the blade before you get the sharpness back and it will stay sharp for a long time, This means that you move little steel to get a sharp edge and you have to do it less over the years meaning your tool will last forever and a day if you look after them properly. One important aspect of this quality steel to understand is how to use it properly, i've only seen it a few times over the years and try to educate people the best i can but using the right tool for the right job is very important no matter the quality of the tools you purchase. Even with a very strong high quality Carbon Steel there is always a weak point, for bonsai scissors there are 2 in particular, 1 is the join of the blades, if you cut something too large you can damage the pin the holds the blades together and cause the blades to separate, 2 is the blades themselves, to get the sharp edge the steel must be ground down to a very thin edge, this means the strength of the steel in this area is reduced greatly against bending, so once again cutting branches that are too large and require force can result in damage. if the cut requires force use branch cutters.




When it comes to maintaining your Bonsai Scissors it is very simple. Before use spray them with isopropyl alcohol and spray in between the changing of trees so you don't accidentally transfer fungal spores between your trees. You can also use a Crean Mate before use to clean any build up off your blades which will cause them to separate as they cut causing a less precise cut to be made. After use you can apply Bonsai Tool Oil which is camellia oil commonly used in the chefs industry, You can apply this with a Tool Oil Applicator which will apply a thin coat of oil which will protect them against rusting.


Different Types Of Bonsai Scissors


Now that we have some of the basics out of the way lets take a look at the 4 most common types of bonsai scissors you might see when purchasing scissors.


200mm Pruning Shears ( General Pruning )

High Quality Bonsai Scissors

These are the most common set of scissors you will see and the set you will start with. The 200mm bonsai scissors are a medium length and a medium thickness which puts them right in the middle of all the other scissors in terms of use. These bonsai scissors are good for general pruning work mainly on the outer canopy's of trees with small to medium sized twigging. You don't want to cut anything too large with these scissors as you don't want to damage the join between the blades or even bend the blades which can be done with any scissors no matter how good the quality is, The blades are the thinnest and most malleable part of the scissors so it is possible to bend the blades cutting branch's that are too large. Save larger cuts for  Bonsai Branch Cutters .


Bonsai Root Scissors ( For Bonsai Root Work )


Bonsai Root Scissors

The bonsai root scissors are a shorter length as you don't need to get them in between any fine branching or into any tight spots, but the big difference here is that the blades on a good set of bonsai root scissors are a lot thicker then all the other types of bonsai scissors we will see. The reason for this is that in bonsai in particular we run into in organic aggregates in our root systems which with a thin set of blades could cause some damage, Having the thicker blades allows us to work with confidence in the root system and if we do come across something a little harder then normal our scissors will live to see another day with sharp blades. Just be carful though because although scissors can be designed in this way it doesn't mean the steel used is strong so be sure to research the steel used to make sure it is up too the task.


De-Candling Scissors ( For De-Candling Black and Red Pines and Also Working On Highly Ramified Trees with fine twigging )


Japanese Made Bonsai Scissors


As you can probably already tell with these scissors the advantage is the longer slender handle. This allows us to get in between pine needles and branches to De-Candle our pines. The other main use for these scissors is maintaining highly ramified or compact trees where you need to get the scissors deep into the branching without having to get your whole hand in there increasing the chances of breaking fine branching. These scissors generally have a finer blade which will allow them to cut fine twigging, For general top pruning use a 200mm scissors with a thicker blade to prevent damage to the blades.


Bonsai Bud Shears ( for removing buds and trimming highly ramified fine twigging )


Bonsai Bud Shears


These bonsai scissors are some of the smallest of the lot, They are generally used for removing un wanted buds which can be very small and need a small precise blade to get the bud removed at the base. They are also commonly used to work on trees with a lot of very fine twigging, because they are so small they can fit into tighter spaces without the risk of damage to the trees ramification.




When shopping for your Bonsai Tools in general take the time to research the brand, See if there is trust in the company and if their tools have lasted in the hands of other artists. Research the steel used, see if it is used for applications that require strength and longevity. Check the pricing, Remember cheaper is not a good thing in the world of tools. You want your tools to last, 1 set of high quality tools will be cheaper then 10 sets of cheap tools over your bonsai journey. 


The best set of bonsai scissors will be the ones with quality steel and build quality, a good price point and will be the type that you need to carry out your work,


I hope this has helped you with your Bonsai Scissors Purchasing journey.


Bonsai-En has all the scissors mentioned in this article available with shipping to Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Italy.


We also have an Online Bonsai Beginners Course available which covers these tools plus 4 Hrs of Bonsai Fundamentals to instantly improve your Bonsai Practise. You can check that out here 


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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