Author Topic: Bending a Western Juniper  (Read 11773 times)

MatsuBonsai

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Bending a Western Juniper
« on: June 14, 2009, 07:43 AM »
This Western Juniper Juniperus occidentalis was the subject of a major bending lesson at the last Bonsai Intensive.  The first exercise was for the students to pick a front. There were two good fronts on the tree, but one in particular that Boon wanted to use.

With the front chosen and an end goal in mind it was time to get to work. It's important to start with a healthy well fed tree.  A channel was carved out of the trunk so that bending would be easier.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 08:12 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2009, 07:44 AM »
Large gauge aluminum wire was then placed inside the new opening and raffia was applied. Then, large annealed copper wire was applied to the trunk, twice. This will be enough to support the major bending that was about to occur.  With the tree all wrapped and wired it's time to start bending.

In Japan, the master does the bending while the apprentice(s) tighten the guy wires. Knowing how far to bend is something that is learned with years of experience. The apprentices learn by example here.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 08:12 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2009, 07:46 AM »
The use of a jack, C-clamp, rebar, and multiple guy wires makes the bending much easier.  Now, this tree will be allowed to rest.  More wiring will be done in 5-6 months, once the tree has put on some good growth. 

It will take 2-3 years for the trunk to thicken enough for the bend to hold.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 08:12 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

bwaynef

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2009, 07:37 PM »
How large was the channel?  Why the use of Al  in the channel as opposed to Cu?  About how long, after prep work, did it take to get the branch bent into submission/position?  Other than the process as a whole, is there anything that wouldn't be intuitive once you got into the actual work?

Being unfamiliar with any of the Western Junipers I don't know how flexible they are.  Nonetheless, this photo series is quite impressive.  It shows what a good eye accompanied by a good bag of tricks is able to accomplish.
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2009, 08:23 PM »
The channel was about 1" or so wide and a little deeper along the length.  There was a lot of grind, test, flex, cut, test, flex, etc.

Thick aluminum wire was laid along the length, folded, laid along the length 3 or 4 times until the groove was filled.  Copper work hardens and would have been too difficult to bend and twist and flex the way we needed.  It was there to support the trunk as we made the bend.  Size 6 copper wire was wrapped around the trunk, twice, to support the bend and keep the tree in position once the bend was complete.

The prep work took the bulk of the time, 2-3 hours.  After a break for dinner we returned and did the major bending in 30-45 minutes.  It took about 3-4 different guy wires to get the full bend, place one then remove one, move the jack, bend some more.  In the end only one guy wire, and the main copper wires and internal aluminum remained.

I'm sure there are nuances that I'm not remembering, but that's about the gist of it.

With collected junipers they seem to become more flexible in new soil and fertilizer after a few years.  Lots of new growth on this one means that it should recover quickly.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 08:12 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2009, 04:11 PM »
Irene, this is just one way to perform a major bend.  I've seen it used on collected junipers, mostly. 

Perhaps Hans or one of our other members will detail the procedure for one of the other methods for major bending?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2009, 08:12 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

Victrinia Ridgeway

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2009, 06:34 PM »
This technique is excellent on most any conifir species, and is generally a must with any large sized collected material. It's rare to find really large trees so perfectly compacted (and going in the right direction to boot) that they do not require this kind of method. Daniel teaches much the same process but I am curious what you used to cut the channel...?

I find, and have been taught, that maintaining contact with the tree at all times when using a die grinder increases your control. But I also would use a 3/8 core box router bit for this process. It is easier to control.

Nice photos also...

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2009, 10:19 PM »
Victrinia,

Thanks for the comments.  Very good advice, and great to hear how others do it.  Tools for the operation were a Makita die grinder and a CMT biscuit joiner blade on, I believe, a router shank which helped keep it on track (mostly).  You're absolutely correct though, much easier to control while in contact with the tree.  :)

Once the channel was carved the interior was cleaned out and rounded with a round bit.
 

akeppler

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2009, 09:22 AM »
I have never seen a bisquit joiner blade used. While I use my joiner to build my stands, I never thought to use it for trees. A picture of the application would be nice to see how it is used.

Thanks, Al
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2009, 09:32 AM »
Al,

This is likely the best picture I have:



I'll check again tonight to see if there's a better one.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2009, 09:41 AM by MatsuBonsai »
 

bwaynef

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2009, 03:48 PM »
How is the scarring dealt with?  Are the bends placed in such a way that they will eventually scar over sealing the channel and aluminum wire or will there forever be an opening into the center of the tree?
 

bonsaikc

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2009, 05:49 PM »
How is the scarring dealt with? 

On the tree, or the hands and other body parts? That seriously looks dangerous.

Chris
 

MatsuBonsai

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2009, 07:44 PM »
Wayne

The "opening" will remain.  This will just become another feature of the tree.  Junipers don't really heal large cuts well so we have to emphasize the deadwood.  There's already a significant amount of deadwood on this tree, and more won't look out of place.  With a little refinement carving in a few years you would have a hard time distinguishing where work was done.

The aluminum wire will remain until the raffia rots away and can be safely removed.
 

John Kirby

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Re: Bending a Western Juniper
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2009, 02:53 PM »
John,
Nice presentation. This technique is talked about in many. many books and articles, frequently with very few photographs (lots of drawings though). You have to maintain a steady hand and Boon uses a router speed control unit on his fixed speed die grinder to give greater control during wood removal (I found my router speed control unit- think of a rheostat (dimmer switch) for a die grinder at Amazon.com).

The speed control and the depth of work need to be carefully observed. you want to take out a good deal of wood, but not so much that you "crimp" the live wood when you bend it. This crimping (collapsing) of the canal is partially alleviated by the large Aluminum wire and raffia(Wayne, it fills more of the channel and is much more flexible and amenable to bending than large copper). However, I can tell you from personal experience that not controlling speed can lead to the grinder wheel walking to where you don't want it to and not maintaining uniform depth can result in pinching and killing the branch.

You can bend many branches of many species with the raffia, lengthwise wire, followed by raffia technique. I don't believe that you will bend these old junipers as well, or at least not without the fear of an occasional break. If you have a number of guy wire points and places to put fulcrum(s) you can get pretty dramatic bends in yews and pines and junipers using the technique that Hans used with Irene.

Nice pictorial, the more of these we get out there the better.
John