Article 18 – ‘Adjustable bonsai clamps update’

In the article ‘How to make adjustable bonsai clamps’ information was given on their construction, since then those particular clamps have been put to use. (Shown in recently posted images) Now new stock has been acquired more clamps are needed, but before production takes place a thought occurred of how to improve their versatility bearing in mind the variety of the stock.

The original clamps are able to incorporate different bends in a trunk or branch, but what if more acute angles could be achieved. This would mean designing a new pressure plate in order to be able to move the ‘hooks’ closer or further away from the centre threaded bar, hence the plate would have to be larger than before. At this point the ‘weight’ factor of the finished clamp would be a concern especially if use on trees whose trunks and branches are rather delicate.

The original steel pressure plate no 5 shown in the image below has been replaced by an aluminium plate (300mm wide x 4mm thickness) but all the other components were kept because they are interchangeable.


Two different pressure plate sizes were made at 10cm and 12cm, the 10cm plate has 4 holes for the hooks to be inserted 2 on either side and the 12cm plate has 6 hook holes 3 on each side. (Shown below)


This hole arrangement allows for the hooks to be positioned closer or further away from the centre as needed. Of course one can dispense with a series of holes and cut a slot as marked out below that would allow for further hook adjustment, which is found in some clamp designs. Although the new pressure plates are bigger in size, the weight factor is minimal compared to the original steel design.


In addition to the ‘new’ pressure plates, a variety of hooks with different size apertures were made to accommodate various trunk or branch thicknesses as shown in the next image – Red small yellow large.


Of course one may argue that bending trunks or branches can be achieved by using heavy grade wire but, there are factors where wire alone is unable to do this for example. The thickness of the branch or trunk in question, wire capabilities, how long can the wire be left in place before it leaves scar marks and has to be removed and does the area in particular need to be rewired. The clamp does have advantages over wire especially on thick trunks and branches because, it can be left in place for long periods doing little harm to the xylem. Which is the vascular tissue in plants that conducts water and dissolved nutrients upwards from the roots and also helps to form the woody element in the stem. Nevertheless, wire is preferable when shaping thinner trunks and branches in order to define a tree’s design but, a ‘home-made’ clamp or two in the tool box can be considered a bonus. Until next time – BW, N.

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