First timer grafting... advice welcome!

Toledo is zone 6B, Zone 4 is like Minnesota/upper NY brutality…I hope your grafts do well my friend!

Good lord. How did I end up thinking it was 4? Thanks for setting me straight!

I didn’t think too tight was a problem, but now I wonder…dang. I just got me a brand new roll of 'lectrical tape and I applied it unreservedly the other day. I’ll say in my defense though that I did the same thing last year and had 100% on my apple grafts; and I am often making up for poor cuts…but they are getting better. Still learning.

Good luck with the grafting, Tim, hope it works out alright for you.

I did three apple bench whip and tongue grafts last month for the first time, and it looks like they’ve taken. I potted them up last week and they look like they’re doing well still. I used electrical tape to wrap the graft, I suppose when the sprouts gets bigger, I’ll cut it off.

Slightly OT, but my wife has family in the Toledo area. She was actually born in Oregon, a suburb, many years ago when her family lived up there in the 60’s, and was there for her first ten years. I often call her a Buckeye, which she greatly bristles at. She said she’s a Kentuckian since her family’s been on this land in NE KY for over 200 years, and she spent her later years here. I know all that, but I still like to needle her about it.

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Never used kevlar, all i tried would make me way more nervous due to loss of feel of the knife and scion.

I am not saying do it my way, you need to do what you are comfortable with…i AM saying you should watch a video or four, just to be more well-informed as you decide how to proceed

Yeah, I’m not sure about the gloves for that reason, honestly. I don’t want to trade control for safety; especially not if it’ll result in worse knife work. I watched a couple today, still looking for more that show knife work up close. The skillcult video was pretty helpful, and a couple others have been, too. I think I’ve finally understood the thumb “locking” idea - it’s not locking at all, right? It’s just keeping them together, to keep knife motions stable, controlled, and deliberate?

Lots to learn! I love it.

I can see you’re going to get addicted to grafting.

You’ll learn to be careful and my advice for all the beginners whom seem to choose cleft grafting is don’t ever push the knife rather rock the knife up and down and let the tool do the cut. You’re putting very little pressure on the knife. The scion cuts are another whole ballgame. Getting two flat cuts that come together to a point takes practice. You should do a hundred of those before you ever begin.



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I used latex-coated Kevlar gloves yesterday while doing 12 grafts, and they provided excellent cut protection. Several times my hand was in the way of the very sharp card box cutter, and got hit by its blade with force that can cause a severe cut, with zero injuries to my hand and to the glove. I strongly recommend these, for beginners and experts as well. Amazon link below (I am not endorsing Amazon, it can be bought elsewhere).

G & F 1607L Cut Resistant Work Gloves, 100-Percent Kevlar Knit Work Gloves, Make by DuPont Kevlar, Protective Gloves to Secure Your hands from Scrapes, Cuts in Kitchen, Wood Carving, Carpentry and Dealing with Broken Glass, 1 Pair, Large

I occasionally use a cut-resistant glove on my left hand as a precaution, maybe for one graft in 50. I can tell you though if your hand is hit by the blade often, you’re doing something wrong.


You are right Stan. I was doing cleft cuts in 3/8 inch apricot under stock, which was pretty tough, and I was in a hurry trying to beat sunset, and knowing that my left hand is protected I did not bother controlling the pressure I am applying with the knife much.

Just as @Barkslip said a couple comments above, putting strong pressure on the knife while making a cleft in the understock is a wrong technique, just rock the knife up and down.

You and Barkslip are right, but my point is that if someone has sloppy technique, a beginner, or even a pro who got distracted or complacent, these gloves offer a lot of protection and are strongly recommended.

Here’s a suggestion: if you are cutting long faces, as in the male part of a cleft or maybe the cuts for splice/whip grafts if you are not cutting those with your nippers like I think you should be, cut away from you. If you’re cutting toward yourself to make the female part of a cleft or the tongue part of a whip and tongue choke way up on the knife handle, pinch the base of the blade between your thumb and the bend in your index finger, and then jam your thumbnails against each other with the knife edge against the wood. Your index knuckles will be jammed against each other also. The knife edge will be less than 1/2 inch from your finger. Carefully rock it back and forth as Dax says, working your way along. This is easy to do and hard to describe.

If you’re cutting whips hold the knife vise-like in your dominant hand and hold the wood in your other hand. Jam the wood-hand tight against your chest with just enough wood sticking out for your cut. Line the knife edge up against the wood to be cut, and tight to the body. Keep the knife-hand, like a vise, where it is, and pull the wood in the other hand towards the outside of your body. I’ve never cut myself doing this (yet) but it would be easy enough to make this cut with a Kevlar glove on. But anymore I would just make these cuts with nippers.

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I have a pair of cut resistant gloves…must be Kevlar. I have used one on my non-knife hand several times in tricky field-grafting situations. The latex coating sounds like a good idea. Mine don’t have that but they do go a ways up the wrist so they stay in place well. I’ll just say they are good to have around the house, in case; and same with grafting…in certain situations they’re handy.

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ha ha ha hah a ha haha

When I do whips and you guys are going to shake your head. I stop the knife with my thumb print. My knife is sharp enough (wicked sharp) that I’m in complete control. I think after a very long time handling a knife and assuming you are coordinated to some degree of which I am, it becomes a natural phenomenon.

I’ve stood side by side with my buddy who’s been doing this three times as long as I have and he too stops the knife right at his thumb print, that is, the same thumb of the hand holding the knife. But, you will learn the correct ways first such as Mark described (pulling the wood thru your knife) whereas I am doing the exact opposite.

There’s no wrong and no right way. It’s a level of comfortableness. I highly recommend a knife vs. a utility blade though. A utility blade is a level of comfortableness too, I understand. It’s just that a utility blade is so thin that it could flex going thru a cut and veer off and cut the living shit out of yourself. A knife doesn’t do that.

Just be careful everyone.



Well, my mahaleb rootstock arrived, and I used 7 of the 9 pieces. I am holding back a couple scions for my krymsk 5 rootstock, which should be here in the next week or two I hope.

Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, I think of the three trees I’d collected scions from, one of them I didn’t connect anything useful. The buds all look… I don’t know the term. Spent? They don’t look smooth or like there is life in them. There may be one viable piece, but I’ll save that for the krymsk stock.

My grafts are in the basement, in the boiler room where it’s nice and warm. They are all in one container with potting soil, and I strapped some branches to the outside of it that are taller than any of my new grafts, then put a trash bag on, upside down, over the whole thing and closed it up at the bottom. They’ve been like that for about a week (I uncover them for a minute every day or every other day, and water as needed to keep the soil damp).

Buds on several are starting to green, I take it this means they are breaking dormancy…

I guess I’m writing for two reasons:

  1. is this proof the graft is taking?
  2. should I cool them down to try and slow this, or keep them warm to support the callusing?