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Bonsai Deadwood

How to Create Deadwood on a Bonsai Tree

Do you know there are huge old trees in nature with amazing deadwood?

Unfortunately, a bonsai tree cannot recreate this kind of deadwood naturally as this is caused by extreme weather events. However, the good news is that there are a few interesting techniques to create deadwood on a bonsai tree. 

These deadwood techniques add a sense of age, struggle, and character to the bonsai tree! Thus, in this article, I will explain exactly how to create deadwood on your bonsai tree!

It is possible to create deadwood on bonsai trees in two ways. In a tree, “Jin” is the deadwood on the branches. “Shari” is the deadwood on the trunk. “Uro” is the space where a branch has been removed and will be hollowed out and maintained with lime sulfur to give it a striking old look. Both ways add character to the tree and work well together to create an aged look. Continue reading to learn more…

Three Types of Deadwoods on Bonsai

Bonsai trees have three types of deadwood, Jin, Shari, and Uro. It’s important to understand the difference. And when to use each technique for removing deadwood.

So, let us understand each technique,

Jin

  • The Jin technique creates deadwood on whole branches. 
  • The purpose of this is to give the bonsai the appearance of age and struggle. In nature, deadwood branches survive extremely severe weather conditions for this appearance.
  • The tree appears to be older than it actually is thanks to Jin’s illusion.
  • With Jin, you can create some truly stunning bonsai trees just like the ones you may have seen them at events or clubs around the world.

Shari

  • The Shari technique involves creating deadwood on the trunk of the bonsai tree
  • The deadwood usually runs up the trunk, creating a stunning appearance. 
  • It can enhance the character of a bonsai tree since lightning can only cause this process in nature. 
  • Unlike Jin, a Shari cannot be removed, so don’t attempt to do this on an expensive tree at first.

Uro:

  • Uro differs from the other two primary techniques of making deadwood in that it’s a simple hollow where a branch once used to be.
  • Uro occurs in wind naturally when strong winds, storms, or lightning strike branches and entirely rip them from the tree. Over the years, the damage would heal, forming a hallowed look.
  • Uro is often witnessed on deciduous trees, making it a good method for creating deadwood on these species. 

How To Create Deadwood on Your Bonsai Tree

When creating Jin, Shari, and Uro bonsai, having the right tools is essential. There are three main items you will need: Jin pliers, graving tools, and lime sulfur. Also, to prevent unnecessary injuries and infections, make sure your tools are completely clean. 

With the use of Jin pliers, branches are broken off to remove the bark. Graving chisels, blades, and burins give bonsai an aged appearance. Moreover, recent years have seen the addition of power tools to the bonsai toolkit. They include grinding and carving bits. 

As soon as the deadwood is shaped, a gas torch is used to burn away any remaining tiny wood fibers and raise the grain. The final steps include removing tool marks with wire brushes and sanding.

After deadwood is shaped, it is treated with lime and sulfur bleaching preservatives. This preserver protects the wood from pests, infection, and rot, giving it a silvery glow.

Jin, Shari, and Uro all add extreme character to a tree. Also, it is possible to combine them to create an impression of old age. Deadwood will rarely cause sickness if the tree is healthy and strong. 

Also, make sure you plan appropriately and cautiously since deadwood is nearly impossible to remove.

For Creating a Jin

Step 1 – Choose the branch you wish to use from the tree.

Step 2 – Shorten the chosen branch by an inch.

Step 3 – Using a knife, cut through the bark on the branch’s base. Then cut along the entire length of the branch. This will make peeling that bark much easier.

Step 4 – Using a peeler, peel the bark off Jin. If you are performing this technique in winter, you will likely need a knife to remove the bark. Whereas in summer or spring, you will just need to peel it.

Step 5 – Using your Jin pliers, pinch or crush the exposed end of the stub. Next, pull back small sections of wood carefully. In this way, you will get the most natural Jin effect.

Step 6 – Pull back the wood until Jin looks good to you.

Step 7 – Put some lime sulfur on Jin. By doing this, you will prevent infection and pests. Let the exposed wood bleach naturally.

This way you will have a Jin looking like a tough winter storm had broken off a tree branch years ago. Also, to preserve that area, you will need to apply lime sulfur every year or so.

For Creating a Shari

Step 1 – Before creating a Shari, make sure you have given it some serious thought. Because if done incorrectly, this can ruin the look of your bonsai tree. Also, make sure the bonsai looks natural, otherwise, it will not look nice.

Step 2 – As you work on the tree, be sure not to interrupt the sap flow up the tree, as this can cause damage to the branches above. Take a close look at the bark, and you should see some swollen areas moving upwards. Since they are transporting sap, they need to be left alone.

Step 3 – Mark the edges of your bonsai where you want the Shari to be. Follow the trunk line and highlight the tree’s curves without interrupting the sap flow. I recommend using water-based ink for markings as it can be removed quickly.

Step 4 – Using a modeling knife, cut through the bark. Make another cut a few millimeters away at an angle so you can easily remove the bark between them.

Step 5 – Remove the bark more if the Shari is not satisfactory.

Step 6 – Apply lime sulfur to the newly exposed wood. It will protect and preserve the wood and keep pests away. However, beware, it smells terrible!

For creating an Uro:

Step 1:

Gather all the tools you require and make sure that they are sterile and in fine condition. Whenever you cut branches out or bark and make an open injury, you need to make sure your tools are sterile so that you don’t invite bacteria or diseases into your bonsai.

Step 2: 

You may have already decided which branches you are going to remove. Maybe it’s a sacrificial branch that’s accomplished its duty and is prepared to be taken out. But make sure to keep the front of your tree in mind. Simply because creating a Uro in the backside of your bonsai where it won’t be visible isn’t worthwhile.

Step 3:

Once you’ve assessed your bonsai and fixed on which branch to withdraw, cut it out using a saw or concave cutter. A concave cutter will help you make an indent where you like the hollow to be.

Step 4:

Now you can use your drill to create a hollow, more specified concave where the branch was. If you don’t have a drill, you can employ your carving tools. Don’t make a completely circular hollow as that will look artificial.

Step 5:

Paint the hollow and wounds with sulfur and pain/ink blend. Add a deeper tone to create a more dramatic look. 

FAQs:

What are the types of bonsai to use to create deadwood on bonsai trees?

When creating Shari or Jin deadwood, it’s essential to have the knowledge that these techniques work reasonably well on evergreen trees, especially conifers. In the wild, deadwood generally rots away on deciduous trees. The point of Bonsai tree practice is to properly imitate what happens to trees in nature. 

On the other hand, the Uro method can be done on all types of trees, especially deciduous trees. 

What is the best time to create deadwood on the bonsai tree?

You should perform your deadwood crafting on your bonsai during the growing seasons of the year. This mainly varies depending on the sort of tree that you have. Most trees thrive well during spring and summer, but make sure this is fitting for your bonsai too. This way you are ensuring the health of your bonsai. It will recover rapidly during these seasons. 

Conclusion

The deadwood of a bonsai tree is a feature that immediately catches your eye. Additionally, the deadwood on a Bonsai gives it a lot of character and makes it appear well-loved and old.

There are two types of deadwood: Jin and Shari. A Jin is a bare stripped branch and a Shari is a bark-less trunk.  You can use the bonsai deadwood method as per your need. However, be careful when using the Shari method, if done incorrectly, it can ruin the look of your bonsai.

You can leave a comment below letting me know how it worked out for you, I would love to see your finished product!

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