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Grafting Tools - preferences

Posted by Mike Biltonen 
Grafting Tools - preferences
January 27, 2016 01:08AM
I'm interested to see if anyone has any preferences on grafting tools -- knives vs pliers vs tabletop. I have a project where I could be grafting upwards of 1000 rootstock and using a knife for all of them seems a bit daunting with my other time constraints. Be specific about what you or don't like, models, brands, etc. please. Thanks!

Mike Biltonen, Know Your Roots
Zone 5b in New York
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
January 28, 2016 01:54AM
Mike, I am not speaking from experience but from what other "pros" have told me in the past. The consensus was that Tina seems to be the grafting knife of choice but one without a fat handle.

Have you watched any of Stephen Hayes videos on YouTube? Interesting fella from the UK and very knowledgeable - I've watched his orchard videos for years.

Good luck!

Joanne Patton, Squire Oaks Farm
Zone 6A, Northern Virginia
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
March 06, 2016 02:11AM
Mike, and others so interested- If you are asking about a specific grafting tool, I purchased one through Hummert- a foot operated benchtop model (I cannot pull the brand at the moment, but it is manufactured in New Zealand). This is a v cut type, and does it cleanly and offers replacement blades. It was pricey- like 700 + pricey, but thought it would make things a whole lot quicker. Here's the skinny, I wind up grafting most by hand anyway, as I am faster at it, and can be far more precise. Additionally, for anyone working with thinner wood, which can often be the case, most of these machines simply will not work, being hard to cut evenly and often mushing up the works. I like them for meaty stuff like 3/8 + pear stock or grapes. Although I quite like uber-simple machines like this, the price did not reflect the small amount of manufacture involved, replacement blades were costly, and instructions were awful. Lastly, both these v cut types and the tenoned units in my opinion do little to provide a joint with good structural integrity while healing. A whip and tongue, or simply an inch long whip graft with strong tape provide a much tougher product. A 15.00 grafting knife works just as well as most of these tools, and with just a little practice anyone should be able to bang out a thousand baby trees in a week. Another trick I have always used is to clean up any concave cuts with a good chisel for straight whip grafts (a holdover from my cabinetry days).

As far as speed, I cannot say enough about having your space fine tuned. Everything organized, stock in reach, a nice table and a comfy chair can shave more time that the best of instruments. And for anything that will take such time, have ready the best music you can lay your hands on.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
March 07, 2016 10:00PM
For anyone in need of inspiration, see this video:
No special tool needed, but this guy certainly has the knack...

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Author, The New Cider Maker's Handbook
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
March 22, 2016 10:35PM
Wowser!! He is slick smiling smiley


G2V Farm
Zone 5B/6
Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
March 23, 2016 07:42PM
What is great about this video to me, is that it shows the value in a human being, not a machine. I know this is personal, but one day maybe we will have more respect not for the crap we create, but the humans we make.

Also, grafting for me is a relaxing and reflective act, and even at a mellow pace, you can knock out quite a few little trees. I typically do between 4 and 10 thousand grafts a year, all in the evenings with an educational podcast on, or a less educational rock and roll ensemble in the background. Wait, this is an organic crowd, I mean Dave Brubeck and Nickel Creek ensemble in the background.
Re: Grafting Tools - preferences
February 02, 2017 07:32AM
We purchased a hand held omega tool and it works great, especially for top working trees out in the orchard. I am not very good with a knife, my husband is very good. We only bench graft about 100 trees per spring so he did all the grafting and I did the planting. Then a friend wanted me to top work some very old trees. I would not have been successful without the tool. The guy in the video is amazing!

Vista Ridge Orchard
Zone 8a in Washington
235 Cider and heritage apple trees, 72 varieties,
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