[Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

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Taffy
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[Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Taffy »

I've been reading a topic by a newcomer - and I commend him on starting with his first tree. I was going to give him a bit of advice on wiring, but first I came to Tips, techniques and advice to see if anyone had done a topic on wiring so that I could refer him to it. I haven't been able to find one, so I thought I'd try and write one. If one has already been posted, please feel free to delete this one as I'm not trying to step on anyone else's toes. Ok, here goes:

Wire comes in two types: Copper and ‘Copper coated’ aluminium. It isn’t actually copper coated – it’s anodized with a copper coloured solution. Copper is stronger than aluminium but is a lot more expensive. Ordinary aluminium wire can be used – it doesn’t have to be the anodized stuff. Anodized is only used for aesthetic purposes – it doesn’t stand out as much as shiny stuff. Wire comes in varying thicknesses from 1 millimetre all the way up to 10 millimetres or more.
The correct gauge (thickness) of wire to use is about 1/3 the thickness of the trunk/branch to be wired.
Before we start, the wire I have used in the photos isn’t necessarily the correct thickness to use for the application – I’ve just used it for demo purposes.
When wiring the trunk or the first (lowest branch), start by pushing the wire into the soil at the back of the trunk. This will anchor it firmly. Wind up the trunk at an angle as close to a 45 deg angle as you can get (photo A). This is the strongest angle for bending branches etc. Any less and it has the effect of a spring – it also wastes a lot of wire. Any more and it doesn’t give enough support or strength for bending the branches. At a 45 deg angle the amount of wire needed is approximately 3 times the length of the branch to be wired. There are times when you can’t get this angle but don’t worry about it, just get it as near as possible. It is preferable not to cut the wire off the roll before wiring if you can hold the roll and wire as you go, and only cut when you reach the end of the branch – you’ll save wire that way. If you cut it off before starting your wiring, you may end up with not enough, or too much to do the branch. Not enough means you have to put more on and too much means you will be cutting some off and end up with lots of small pieces that you can’t use. If you do cut a piece for a particular branch and it ends up being too short, don’t remove it and put another piece on – use another piece and start about two coils down from the end of the original piece then continue winding up to the end of the branch. By trying to remove wire you have just put on, you will end up breaking off twigs and leaves and also run the risk of scraping off some of the bark – especially on trees with very thin outer bark. Also, take care not to trap twigs, shoots and leaves under the wire – they will die off.
Wire1a.jpg
If the wire you have selected isn’t strong enough to bend the branch, again don’t remove it. Put another piece on right alongside the piece already applied (lower part photo B). Another point to be aware of is don’t apply the wire as if you are bandaging a snake-bite – it will cut into the bark very quick, especially on fast growing trees. Wrap the wire around as if you are putting a bandage over a graze on a child’s leg – gently!
Wire1c.jpg
To wire branches, it is always better to do them in pairs if possible. Wire one, then continue up the next one – but! Be careful you don’t cross any other wires (purple arrow in photo C) and never leave the ends of the wire sticking up in the air unless you want it sticking into your arm or your eye or something (photo C).
Wire1f.jpg
If you’ve cut it a bit long, either cut it back flush with the branch or bend back over on itself (photo D). Plan the path of the wire before applying it (photo D). Notice that the wire on the left branch now winds up in the opposite direction (yellow arrow). To wire a single branch, start on the main branch or trunk, put two complete turns around the main branch or trunk before going out onto the branch. This anchors the branch and greatly reduces the risk of breaking it when you are actually doing the bending.
Wire1g.jpg
Photo E shows another BIG no-no. Never cross wires like this. If you do, you are guaranteeing yourself really bad wire scars on the trunk. The crossing wire is already pushing down on the one below it so the bark is already being compressed.
Wire1h.jpg
Photo F shows three wires coming up the trunk – the top one going out to the branch and the other two continuing up the trunk with another wire being added near the top.
Wire1i.jpg
In photo G you can see this new wire in place (red arrow). This one takes two turns round the trunk then out onto the right hand branch. The original grey wire goes up the middle branch and the brown goes up the left one.
Wire1j.jpg
Photo H shows most of the branches wired with some pretty radical bends in them.
Wire1k.jpg
Photo I shows the difference between the strength of copper and aluminium wire – and they are both the same thickness. The branch on the top right is done with copper and it has adequate strength to bend this branch. The top centre branch is aluminium and it barely strong enough to put some minor bending into it - and the top left branch is also aluminium but because it isn’t thick enough it isn’t able to put a bend in the branch.
Wire1n.jpg
The last two photos show how to wire two opposite branches and a single branch on its own.
Wire1p2.jpg
Wire1p2.jpg
A final note about wiring: always keep a close eye on any wiring you have done and if it looks as if it might be starting to mark the bark – take it off! It doesn’t matter if the branch hasn’t set in place yet. You can re-apply the wire right away but put it on in a slightly different position, maybe 5mm away from the original or wire it in the opposite direction – don’t put it back where it was as you will make matters worse.
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Last edited by Steven on November 9th, 2010, 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed title and made sticky
Regards

Taffy.
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Re: Basic Wiring

Post by jase »

Thanks very much for posting this Tman!! As a beginner this information
is so valuble to me and is a great quick resource to have onside when out
in the garden.

Ive just been given a Chinese Elm today and need a couple of years growth
before I start wiring............But thankyou very much again for this,
it awsome information.

Jase
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Re: Basic Wiring

Post by Pup »

Thanks for putting this up Taffy. I have thought about many times, but thinking about it does not get it done does it. One thing about the wire that is not anodised and bright in colour it does remind you it is there.

The other way of testing to see if you have the right size is to take the piece of wire you think is right, flex it between fore finger and thumb, then do the same with the piece of wood if the resistance is the same it is pretty much right.

If you are lucky enough to have Bonsai today Number 1 or access to it, it has 19 pages on wiring, also the Last edition of Bonsai Focus and the next edition have articles on wiring.

Getting proficient at wiring is like anything, it takes practice. So my advice is, to get some branches like Taffy has got here, and practice on them.
Steven I believe this little article deserves one of Janet's pots for Tman.
JMHO

Cheers :) Pup
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Re: Basic Wiring

Post by Graeme »

Well done Taffy, a very comprehensive writeup. Great advice from you as well Pup. Trouble with a lot of us is we have been doing this stuff so long it becomes second nature and doesn't everyone have second nature? ;)
Power cable is a great source for nice heavy guage wire, if you see Power Authority workers in the area hang around they throw away miles of the stuff. The shine goes off it after a while, or a wipe over with vinegar gets rid of it.
As Taffy said, try and leave the wire a little longer than the branch and bend it back over itself - saves stabbing yourself with the end of the wire. The cut end of a piece of wire in your eye is not a good thing!!!
Something else to remember as well. When removing the wire after it has done it's job - cut the wire from branches, dont unwrap. Trunks can have the wire unwound from them if they are good stout trunks, otherwise cut it from them as well. Wire does not cost as much as a snapped branch or trunk. ;)
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by makro »

Hi Taffy,
Thanks for the detailed how-to on wiring.
Cheers
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Scott Roxburgh »

There is a good DVD video about proper wiring technique available here - Bonsai Boon Wiring Video (you will require QuickTime to view)
Last edited by Steven on November 9th, 2010, 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited link
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Re: Basic Wiring

Post by Loretta »

Steven I believe this little article deserves one of Janet's pots for Tman.
JMHO

Cheers :) Pup[/quote]


I agree 100% Pup, this article would have taken a lot of time and effort. Steven, I also vote "A pot for Taffy" please.
cheers Loretta :D :D
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by boom64 »

Thanks for a great article Tman.
As one of the relative newcomers we all appreciate these posts.
Practice makes perfect but a great template to work from is invaluable.
Thanks John. :)
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Tinmonkey »

I think I might be the newcomer that Tman was refering too :D
And so I say thanks once again this info has been a huge help.
Ive been practicing already and noticing the difference some good advice can make.
I third the vote foe a pot for Taffy :)
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Steven »

Here is a nice video on wiring bonsai by Graham Potter that is worthy of viewing.

http://youtu.be/lHdGpf9AfQc

The description states;
Graham Potter demonstrates the correct way to use wire for shaping bonsai. Simple techniques and a few tricks to help you master this simple and rewarding process for shaping bonsai trees.
Enjoy,
Steven
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by alpineart »

Hi Steven thanks for posting .Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks , definately a worthwhile tutorial ,Cheers Alpine
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Mushman »

Steven wrote:Here is a nice video on wiring bonsai by Graham Potter that is worthy of viewing.

http://youtu.be/lHdGpf9AfQc

The description states;
Graham Potter demonstrates the correct way to use wire for shaping bonsai. Simple techniques and a few tricks to help you master this simple and rewarding process for shaping bonsai trees.
Enjoy,
Steven
Thanks heaps! This video was great. I'm going to give this a shot on my Juniper this weekend.
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Briscraig »

Hi Taffy
Thanks very much for putting up this sort of info for us newbies to Bonsai. I am currently considering how to start wiring my first Ficus, so it's time to stop thinking and start doing!

regards
Craig
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by wormette »

awesome information - I had no idea about wiring and now I am excited about it!!!!!!!
Cheers
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Re: [Tutorial] Basic Wiring Techniques with picture examples

Post by Jason »

Thought I might give this thread a :bump:, as its full of great tips on wiring for a beginner like me.

I seem to have trouble with the whole 'thinking two steps ahead', and usually end up with a crossed wire or two, but I think that will just come from practice :)
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