The level of craftsmanship that goes into Japan's forging industry is only appropriate when you consider how seriously the task of topiary is taken. In Japan, nursery apprentices aren’t even allowed to go near a blade for ten to fifteen years. They learn through watching the master and earn their crust by picking up fallen tree debris. You might not want to take your pruning that seriously, but there are some things you can do to improve your technique.
Light pruning can be done year round, but the task is made easier during the leafless winter. Broken, dead and deformed branches all have to go. Winterkill takes advantage of extremities such as protruding twigs and branch tips, so keep tabs on the tangle. Look for crossing branches, which often rub bark away and give diseases and insects a way in to the tree. Narrow crotches and branches growing at odds with the direction of the tree also have to go.
Work from the bottom up and the inside out. Cut as close as you can to the base without damaging buds or healthy branches. Always leave the branch collar intact. Buds will point in their intended direction of growth at the earliest opportunity, so direct the growth by rubbing a wayward bud out with your fingernail.
Keep things neat and tidy by clearing branches that have a disproportionately large diameter. And be sure to step back and examine your work from a distance, and from different angles. Work too close and you won’t be able to see the tree for the wood.
Dull tools make for dull cuts, and will ultimately render your hours of hard work less than satisfactory.
These pruners are easy to use. The only potential pitfall is for people so used to blunt tools that they habitually twist their pruners to chew off branches. Such brute force is not necessary here, so it's important to avoid twisting in order to maintain a clean cut. The high-carbon steel of the blade is not stainless, so wipe dry after every use and keep in a dry place such as a workshop or shed. Sharpen only using a whetstone along the outside bevel, not the flat of the blade.
Available in both left and right hand versions.
Hand-forged in Yamagata Prefecture, these pruners have an angled handle for a sturdier grip, and a two-and-a-half inch high-carbon steel blade. The blade is laminated to hold its sharp edge for longer, while the body is cast from softer steel to absorb shock and put less stress on the blade. The spring is designed to age without becoming stiff and squeaky, and the clasp is easily opened and closed without a struggle.
These hand-forged steel pruners make light work of unwanted tree saplings, thick brush, and garden vines. The blade is smooth and sharp allowing for a precise shear. Made in Japan.
2” (5.8 cm) blade
8” (20.32 cm) total length
hand-forged carbon steel
Yamagata Prefecture, Japan
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