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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Large Juniper Project Part 3

We're back! When we ended the last post about this tree some of the rough shaping for the creating and sculpting of the deadwood was done. In this post we are going to refine that using a variety of power and hand tools. Here is where we left off last time:

When working with power tools the first concern should be for safety. Always, always wear safety glass when operating any kind of power tool. Also if you have long hair it should be tied back or put up under a hat or something. Be sure there is not a lot of clutter in your work area and that you have adequate ventilation as there will be a lot of dust.
Below are some of the tools used today:
The torch is used to clean the carbide bits, not for use on the tree. Some people like to use a torch on the deadwood but I generally don't. Next to that are safety glasses which I can't stress enough the importance of using. We only get one pair of eyes.
Then we have a variety of sanding wheels that work with the die grinder which is the blue tool. Above the die grinder is an assortment of carbide grinding bits in a variety of sizes and shapes. Below the die grinder is an Abortech mini grinder which is a real workhorse when it comes to removing large quantities of wood. (Check here for more info Not pictured is a small rotary tool similar to the Dremel that everyone knows. I use one made by Black and Decker.
The main reason for todays carving is to reduce or hopefully remove the reverse taper in the center of the trunk and to create the illusion of an aged, weather-battered tree that has withstood the ravages of time. As is really clear in the photo below you can see the area of reverse taper that needs correcting. During the last session I used markers to outline the areas I wanted to work on. I will reduce the bulkiness of this area and create more shari on the trunk above and below the area.
First I'll use the mini-grinder and die grinder to reduce the amount of wood.
Two hands are required for using this tool. If you're not careful it can get away from you and take away more wood than you want.
 I need to work on both sides of the trunk and to be careful not to disrupt the flow of sap to the top of the tree. After the initial removal I realized that I still need to do some more to get rid of the reverse taper and to create something that looks like there was a reason for it.

Besides getting rid of the bulge I also need to be sure that it looks natural. The movement of the trunk is a little weird in this area, it looks like it took a hard left. To create the illusion of this happening for a reason I decided to try to create a hollowed area in the trunk that looks like it broke at some point in the past and a side branch took over as the leader. To achieve this I flatten the top a bit then I use a paddle bit and a drill to drill down into the trunk.

After a few minutes I manage to hollow out the top four or five inches deep.

Then using a variety of bits and the small rotary tool I work on adding details to make it look more natural. I also add some more shari to the trunk and do a little work on the large jin. After an hour or so of carving I end up with something that I think works. The reverse taper is just about gone, the extreme left turn of the trunk now looks like it should be there and the whole effect is that of a tree taking everything nature can throw at it and still thriving in spite of it.

The bonsai is starting to emerge. The next step will be to choose and place the branches, then some fine wiring and we'll be well on our way to a very cool bonsai.
I hope you enjoyed this process. Stay tuned for the next installment and see how it turns out. I look forward to all comments or suggestions for future posts.


  1. Looking good so far Bob. Have been hoping you'd post some stuff soon and hope you post more often.

  2. Thanks. I'll post as often as I can. Thanks for reading.