Bonsai Trees

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Project by Blake posted 01-09-2010 01:57 AM 3526 views 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Woodworking with living wood

My wife got me my first bonsai tree for Christmas. I had expressed interest in them several months ago during an exhibition at the county fair. She had remembered even though I hadn’t thought of it since.

As a woodworker, I have come to respect and appreciate trees in their natural form just as much as the lumber they yield. Bonsai trees are an art form which idealizes the form of the tree as it is in nature and mimics it in miniature. Great care must be taken to pot, prune, train, and cultivate a dwarfed tree in order to keep it healthy over many generations.

The small starter bonsai was the gift. After some research I decided to go get an $8.99 “shrub” from a garden center to practice with before attacking the gift.

The first two photos are the garden center shrub (before and after). The Second two photos are the gift bonsai. Both bonsai are Japanese Juniper. The wire you see wrapped around the branches is “training” the tree by forcing the branches into more natural looking configurations. After about a year the wire will come off and more pruning will be done. In the last two photos are the cinder blocks I arranged as a cheap stand ($2 bucks a piece) right outside our front door.

Last week I built this “Bonsai Tool Box” for the tools I have been collecting to work with the bonsai:

Click for details

Hope you enjoy seeing these!

-- Happy woodworking!

12 comments so far

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3858 days

#1 posted 01-09-2010 02:04 AM

Hey Blake, this is really neat…........ great job on your first bonsai. My wife is a Master Gardener and we went to a bonsai seminar / class and I was amazed at the details, time and care it takes to do this, in addition to the special tools. Congratulations on your “live” woodworking project !

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View DocK16's profile


1186 posts in 4449 days

#2 posted 01-09-2010 02:37 AM

don’t think you’re going to get much lumber out of this one

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1585 posts in 3927 days

#3 posted 01-09-2010 02:43 AM

Thanks Blake, I learned something today, for some reason I always thought Bonsai was a special type of plant.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jay's profile


22 posts in 3424 days

#4 posted 01-09-2010 03:14 AM

there must have been something in the air you are the 5th person other than myself that got a Bonsai for Christmas i love mine. yours looks a little better though :(

-- Jay, somewhere in Texas

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4169 days

#5 posted 01-09-2010 03:15 AM

Hi Blake,

This is so cool. I first got to see all of the tools that you collected for your bonsai kit when I visited your shop and then the tool box you built which is fantastic (love the Japanese lettering on the box) and now your first bonsai trees.Both are very cool but I really like the shape on the first one. The shape reminds me of a low slung monterey cypress similar to your mirror.

Still trying to get over how unbelieveable your work and shop are in person. Both are truly inspiring.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3335 posts in 4074 days

#6 posted 01-09-2010 03:32 AM

So, Blake, how soon do you think you’ll be milling this into lumber? ;-)

You did a fantastic job with them. Can’t wait to see them 500 years from now.

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View SPalm's profile


5332 posts in 4244 days

#7 posted 01-09-2010 03:40 AM

Cool Blake. You will have to post this over at GardenTenders.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View dorran's profile


140 posts in 3596 days

#8 posted 01-09-2010 03:55 AM

Nice trees. Another addicting hobby, pretty soon you’ll have a forest. I think junipers need to be wintered and have a dormant period every year. Don’t make the same mistake I did on a $50 juniper.

-- Life is about choices. You can spend a lot of money on furniture and have really nice furniture; Or you can spend a lot on tools and have even more expensive, crappy furniture. I made my choice.

View stefang's profile


16703 posts in 3696 days

#9 posted 01-09-2010 08:29 PM

Beautifully done Blake. You should be a buddy to Dale j. Struhar Sr. who is also bonzai hobbyist. He also makes some really nice bonzai related wood accessories. I wish I could get my wife interested in this because she is very good at doing floral arrangements and such like.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Karson's profile


35186 posts in 4762 days

#10 posted 01-10-2010 05:20 AM

Wow. Starting you own Chop Sticks. How cool.

Great post Blake. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View stcin's profile


29 posts in 3052 days

#11 posted 02-20-2011 03:26 PM

Your trees are very cool Blake. I kept little trees when I lived in Seattle. I have since retired near Branson, MO. Here I felt my little trees would not have survived without special winter protection. I have naturalized them for the last three years in the ground. This fall I hope to build a building with an attached lean-to greenhouse. It will offer some winter protection for my trees. Perhaps then I can return them to their dishes and enjoy them as bonzai again. Have you added more trees? What do your trees look like now?

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4236 days

#12 posted 02-22-2011 06:40 PM

I haven’t had much luck keeping them alive :(

I have been so busy with the new job and all, they suffered from neglect. I plan on coming back to the hobby when things settle down a little.

I guess I am better with lumber than live trees.

-- Happy woodworking!

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