Heavy bending noble fir

I’m about to attempt some heavy duty bending on a noble fir I collected and I am searching for a bit of information and guidance. I know this is an operation which is perhaps beyond the skill level of a beginner but I figure one has to start somewhere.

about a year ago I had found a video on the subject which was very helpful produced by bjorn at esei-en (if I remember correctly) however I am no longer able to find it. I know there is a two part series here on mirai which details bending with a wedge cutting method however I’m not certain this is the best strategy for this tree. despite being stiff trunked and nearly 2 inches in diameter I believe directly bending it is still possible. In the video I mention bjorn split the trunk then wrapped it in rafia before bracing and wiring it for bending. I like this strategy far more than wedge cutting because it will allow for a more a dynamic and continuous curvature which is what I think is called for. but while I remember the general procedure bjorn used I do not remember the specifics. I wonder if any of you have experience in this sort of procedure or know of any additional sources of information on the subject.

one specific question I am wondering is if it is too late to be doing such work now that it is essentially spring. I believe fall is the ideal time to be doing heavy bends however I didn’t feel the tree was ready to be worked on at that time which is why I waited until now. btw I live in Oregon. the tree was collected up in the cascades last spring and is in excellent health.

The tree has fantastic movement at it’s base curving dramatically upward with a U shape (it had been clinging to the side of a cliff) and it has a great natural taper to it however the latter 2/3rds of the trunk is rather unexciting growing essentially vertically. I would like to add a great deal of movement to this section.

due to the peculiar shape of the tree with it’s trunk base actually below the root mass I had to build a specially designed box to hold the tree but i think this will actually assist the bending process since it will allow me to set anchors and fulcrums into the wooden boards wherever they are needed.

my vision for the trees future is a windswept clinging to rock style with a ten-jin (also windswept) and a variety of jin mixed with the live branches. for the tenjin I will need to add movement now while the tissue is living and pliable and only after the structure is set can I go about jining the top. but that will likely be a few years down the line.

any guidance you can offer will be appreciated. thank you.

1 Like

Your instincts are right the wedge cut is primarily for pines not other types of trees (as far as we know).

I’m not 100% sure of Bjorn video you are referring to, but I think it’s a technique that is used mostly for junipers. I think he was splitting the live vein from the deadwood, since deadwood is not flexible. I could be wrong though.

But even still, this type of technique might be successful with an elongating species like the noble fir. Ryan did something similar in the Nursery Stock Holiday Bonsai Creation video.

Might also be good to reach out to a local club to see if anyone has some experience with big bends on noble firs.


thank you, I’ll definitely give that video a watch.

seeking out a local club would probably be the safest next step but I would really like to proceed as soon as possible, additionally it’s not exactly a world class or rare piece of material so worst case scenario is I ruin a couple days worth of work. I think I can accept that kind of risk.

1 Like

Love to see a before photo now…
Love your tag name. Was that your father in Monty Python’s Holy Grail?..


sure, I’ll try to take a picture tomorrow.

thanks :slight_smile: lol
and yes he smelled of elderberries

1 Like

Makes great wine… and jelly.
Not so much good for bonsai…
The spring flowers are awsome… probably where the fragrence noted comes from! Old timy aftershave. Great grandma liked eau de violets…:kissing_closed_eyes::sweat_smile:

1 Like

Firs are realllly flexible, I think youre going to learn well with everyones comments and your practice on your noble fir. Just remember to take er easy on other genus. If you use fir technique on a pine, you can easily snap a branch.

I am always learning patience. I would do bending (and wiring) in the fall for most trees. When trees are about to bud I try to only work roots and give the rest of the system a break.

Would love to see pictures of it!!

1 Like