In this series of photos (from our Juniper book), Hideki Nakayatsu turns a needle juniper on its side to work on the apical jin (jin can be either a dead branch or a dead top of the trunk). He is using is a draw knife to carve natural looking grooves in the wood. Though there are other ways to get grooves in deadwood (dremels come to mind), a draw knife is a tried and true old standard.
This close up, though far from perfect, shows the grooves a little better. Deadwood naturally cracks and grooves along its length as it ages, so offering a helping hand is a quick way to give your bonsai an old weathered look. One secret to achieving a natural look is to let the knife move with the wood’s grain. It’s easier and the results are better.
A close up of the head of a draw knife.
Mr Nakayatsu’s juniper, finished (for now) and turned right side up.
Go to Jin and Shari #4 for links to earlier posts on the topic.