Only now I understand nothing

Reblog from Shohin-bonsai Europe…… how true and well written.

Only now I understand nothing.


Some new stands

With winter almost on our doorstep, and most of the trees slowing down a little, theres been more time to spend on other things around here including getting to finish a few more stands I had in the works. I have come to realise the mountain of work in these and now know why the genuine article from Japan costs as much as they do….. I’m not able to justify the price for my own needs, but am fortunate to be time wealthy, and can devote the time needed to produce a reasonably refined piece, considering I’m self taught in the wood working arena and learn more by the mistakes I make. Anyway, I’m happy with the progress so far. More to come through the winter I suspect….
First up….

A chunky shorter cascade stand….5”x5”x10”H West Australian Jarrah with Mahogany stain and finished with Bison wax.
Chunky Short Cascade 2Chunky Short Cascade 1
This one was a real challenge being that the design was based around a floating top which I hadn’t done before, plus I wanted to come up with something more Japanese inspired for the side details. Made using the very highly figured Flame She Oak or Allocasuarina inophloia, for all you botanical name buffs. Also known commonly as Hairy Oak. I love this timber with a passion, but damn, is it tricky to work with….very brittle and fine pieces can snap in your hands in a heartbeat, and a few did just that, but the end result is worth it for me.
A medium sized stand at 12”x15” x 5”H
Floating top table5Floating top table 2Floating top table detailFloating top table3


Ficus Microcarpa Branch Cutting

This cutting started out at 100mm or 4 inches in diameter and about 16 inches or 400mm long. Basically the base of a large branch from a tree at the end of our driveway. Curious to see if it would strike roots and whether it might make an interesting bonsai one day. Well, that was a little under a year ago and here is its progress so far.
The cutting has grown like crazy this summer and I had to remove and rewire it twice throughout the season. I cut all the wire off it about 6 weeks ago and thought I’d leave it a while before I wired it for a third time. The new trunkline started to develop a right angle about mid way up which freaked me out a bit so I thought I better sort this out while I could still bend it back into the right shape. I took 2 x 6mm wires to do it but it was successful. I was going to leave it at that, but I got into a bit of a zen wiring mode, and before I knew it, I had rewired the whole tree again for a third time and had the carving tools out to get rid of that big square chop and start blending the trunkline and taper.
Progression so far has been pretty good for literally one season in training I think.
First styling 16-5-12
First styling 16-5-12

First styling 16-5-12

September 2012

September 2012

December 2012

December 2012

January 2013

January 2013

April 2013 Carving and rewire complete

April 2013 Carving and rewire complete

A few of my latest Stands

We’re into our 2nd month of Autumn here and it’s either stinking hot or pouring rain….. still! So I have been in the shed working on some new stands, and preparing timber for more to come.

The first one is another Cascade Stand made from Western Australian Jarrah….an extremely hard and heavy timber normally used for hardwood flooring. Deep red/brown colour enhanced here with a diluted mahogany stain. 5.75” x 5.75” x 19”H.




This one is a low square design measuring 10” x 10”x 1.5”H. I’ve seen this design done by a number of makers, and always loved the simple but beautiful design of the sides. It is also my first attempt at using my new scroll saw. Made of a light cedar with a Brown Japan stain finished with Bison wax.

Carved Square_56


Carved Square_55


Carved Square detail_58

Next up is another low square stand made predominately from scrap Kwila I had laying around. It has a mahogany insert in the top to change things up a little….. again finished with Brown Japan stain and Bison wax.

10” x 10” x 2”H


Tricky double mitre joint

The first time I tried this joint, I ended up in all sorts of bother. Having a saw that cuts true and straight is a must if you plan on doing a lot of these joints, which is why I ditched my not so old Ryobi compound saw, and replaced it with a new Makita LS1040. So precise, and a joy to cut with. Provided my measuring is spot on, the saw cuts 45’s like a dream.

double mitre joint.....tricky little sucker!

double mitre joint…..tricky little sucker!

my new baby

my new baby


My first cascade stand

A few months ago, I put the word out locally to see if anyone knew of a good supplier of nice affordable bonsai stands….. replies came back with a few leads, but nothing too reliable, so I thought I would investigate the option of making my own. I have limited wood working experience, but like anything, if you seek good advice, and know how to follow it, you may have a chance. I have turned my hand to many things I have no formal training in over the years, and have had success with most I’m proud to say. I turned one into a 30 year professional career strangely enough. Anyway, as it turns out, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog from a fellow bonsai nut from Fresno, California, who also makes his own beautiful bonsai stands and has been incredibly generous with sharing his knowledge and skills on how he goes about making these bespoke pieces. Referring to his tips and using some of my own skills, I embarked on my first project…. this cascade stand.

A few years ago I began making “one off” longboard skateboards using exotic hardwoods, such as Mahogany, Birch, Maple, Black Bean, Ebony & various others. I bought a few slabs of ”hairy oak” which is a she-oak (Allocasuarina inophloia) from dry areas up in Queensland, and this is what I chose for my first project. It has amazing grain patterns and I know some purists out there will say it’s too flashy for a bonsai stand ‘cos it will distract from beauty of the tree….. I couldn’t care less about that to be honest, as I also have stands I display purely for the beauty of the stand. It doesn’t have to have a tree on it to be admired. Anyway, here it is….. the dimensions are 3.5ins x 3.5ins x 11ins tall.Image

Top detail… the top is a solid ”one piece” with routed profiles and the internal border was carved by hand. My new projects have a central ”foot print” piece plus boarders, following the traditional methods, however I will still work on some designs using a solid one piece top.



I thought I would show the incredible variety of grain patterns in this amazing species. These pics are all from the one 6ft. piece of Hairy Oak, from both sides of the piece.

Hairy Oak-3

This is why it got its name.The bark literally looks like aYetti.

This is why it got its name.
The bark literally looks like aYetti.

Hairy Oak-6 Hairy Oak-11 Hairy oak-10 Hairy Oak-9 Hairy Oak-8

These next few pics are from the one 4ft length of Silky Oak. This is sold in the USA¬†under the name ” Australian Lacewood” .

Silky Oak-4 Silky Oak-2


Silky Oak-7

More storm damage


This majestic old fig is believed to be around 150yrs old according to my neighbour who has run cattle on this farm for over 50 yrs. Last week during non stop rain, the entire back half of the tree split away leaving barely half of the original form. It now lays dying on the ground, trampled by the cattle that once took shelter under it from the heat of the sun. Huge figs like this are splitting in half and dropping massive limbs all over our shire due to the relentless rain over the past weeks. Everything is waterlogged and roots are rotting by the minute, leaving these giants vulnerable, and without much hope of survival. Sad days for us….:(