Burning Deadwood

I have seen various bonsai artist using a torch to burn deadwood. I havn’t seen this on any of the Mirai videos. Is burning deadwood only for aesthetics or does it affect the integrity of the deadwood?

@Cjlopez4 I would say, from my limited experience, that it is for aesthetics. The first person I saw do this when I discovered bonsai was Graham Potter from England, and he explains that it’s done for two reasons. First, to remove fuzz and frays from splitting the wood if you’re creating deadwood features. Second, because it causes color change on the ridges on the tears, which causes nicer contrast and the illusion of age and weathering. Of course, also this can give the impression of a tree that has burned at some point from lightning, if it’s done more aggressively. Graham has some awesome examples of deadwood creation on Kaizenbonsai.com. After burning, the wood should be smoothed and cleaned and refined using a wire brush to get rid of embers and remaining char. Then lime sulphur. I’m not an expert, but I would bet that Ryan has done this before.

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There is a massive bonsai nursery in Naples, Florida. The team that runs that nursery often burns there deadwood and explain that it strengthens the deadwood.

In Japan there is apparently a tradition of charring timber to preserve it, but I think the idea is to leave the burnt surface as a protective layer.

Burning to remove the fuzz is certainly one of the reasons. As a secondary motivation, burning the wood lightly hardens the resins found in some woods and definitely is preserving the wood from rot during exposure. The practice of light charring fencing ( which I think is called Yakisugi ) does this and I believe within a few seasons exposure the wood shows natural greying anyway.

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Nearly all of the very old bald cypress trees I see in the swamps are hollow trees. A few of these old trees have charred interiors. I don’t know if this is caused by humans or nature. I’m thinking of replicating it precisely for one of my trees. Normally, though, I only use it for removing the fuzzies after carving with power tools.

Then again… I did recently find a bottle rocket… And I recently hollowed out one of my trees from top to bottom… Hmmmm… This could be a spectacular way of adding char to the inside of a tree…

Yep, you’re right. Yakisugi. Besides the aesthetic choice it also had a real practical application as well. It was used as a safety measure in more developed areas to help prevent the spread of fires. Should a fire start, the surrounding buildings that had the Yakisugi siding were harder to catch on fire. Pretty interesting. Here’s a video from Bjorn’s channel on youtube where he built a wall using this method at Ensei-En and goes over that process.


I’m planning on doing this when I resurface my deck this year

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