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Extruded Clay Slicer

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Hi,

 

This is my first post. And on a scale of 1 to 10 for knowledge of ceramics, I'm at a 1.......maybe 1.5.

 

I just built one of the caulk gun extruders (making it was harder than I thought, but using it is much easier than I thought).

 

My extrusions are coming out nice and easily, however, I would like to slice them in exact thicknesses (such as 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2")......but after cutting them, they came out distorted and in arbitrary thicknesses. I used fishing line and it worked nicely, except when I got to the bottom of the piece.....it did not cut cleanly.

 

So my question is......is there some type of fixture or jig that I can buy/build that can cleanly slice extrusions in exact thicknesses?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

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Can you clarify a bit please.

What I think you are saying is that you are extruding a shape that you then want to cleanly cut length wise?

If so, you could place the long piece between two rulers then run your cutting wire through it using the rulers as a guide. I have images of this method on my website under clay lessons, making a checkerboard pattern.

 

Fishing line is not always the best choice for sharp, clean cutting.

I use the finest metal wire I find in hobby shops ... It is used to guide the flight of model airplanes.

Some people use fine piano wire.

Even your ordinary cutting wire tool does a great job.

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Can you clarify a bit please.

What I think you are saying is that you are extruding a shape that you then want to cleanly cut length wise?

If so, you could place the long piece between two rulers then run your cutting wire through it using the rulers as a guide. I have images of this method on my website under clay lessons, making a checkerboard pattern.

 

Fishing line is not always the best choice for sharp, clean cutting.

I use the finest metal wire I find in hobby shops ... It is used to guide the flight of model airplanes.

Some people use fine piano wire.

Even your ordinary cutting wire tool does a great job.

 

 

Hi Chris,

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

Here is a picture of what I am referring to......as you can see, it's not a clean cut and the thicknesses are random. I'm also attaching a picture of how I was hoping it would come out.

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

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Can you clarify a bit please.

What I think you are saying is that you are extruding a shape that you then want to cleanly cut length wise?

If so, you could place the long piece between two rulers then run your cutting wire through it using the rulers as a guide. I have images of this method on my website under clay lessons, making a checkerboard pattern.

 

Fishing line is not always the best choice for sharp, clean cutting.

I use the finest metal wire I find in hobby shops ... It is used to guide the flight of model airplanes.

Some people use fine piano wire.

Even your ordinary cutting wire tool does a great job.

 

 

Hi Chris,

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

Here is a picture of what I am referring to......as you can see, it's not a clean cut and the thicknesses are random. I'm also attaching a picture of how I was hoping it would come out.

 

Steve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seems to me like you need a wire harp, and a frame to place the extrusion in with a guide edge to keep your cut square and even. You may even be able to find a cheese cutter that is mounted like an old time paper cutter. At any rate, your unevenness comes from the lack of a guide to keep the cut straight. As Chris says, a cutting wire of sorts will do better than the fishing line. Stainless wire can usually be found in large hardware stores or hobby shops.

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For this shape you are really going to need the sharper metal wire. Anything else will tend to drag the form out of shape either at the start of the pull or the end. Even with the rulers as guides the natural instinct is to lift a bit at the end so be aware of this.

A trick that might help would be to put some plain clay in front of the extrusion so it takes the brunt of the pull, then you just lift it off to leave your shamrock intact.

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A long, long time ago in a distant country, I had an employer that had the idea of making porcelain beads with an extruder for production of beaded necklaces. For massive quantities of porcelain beads made in a jiffy I made an extruder die that extruded about 5 hollow tubes (about 1/4" OD) and then designed a cutter based on the principle of an egg slicer.

 

A metalworking machinist friend built an aluminum frame and base that would hold 20 steel guitar strings, individually adjustable with set screws on both ends. Can't remember what string it was (maybe 'E') but it was very fine and perfect for our needs.

 

Once the frame was complete, I cut a small block of maple that would fit within the frame and with the guitar strings as guides, marked where each string would interact with the wood block. With the block marked, I took an extra-fine kerf hand saw and carefully cut each location for a wire to fit through. Upon this maple block was where we placed the extrusions. Pulling the wire frame over and down upon the clay extrusions, the wires would slice through and into the wood kerfs cutting and separating into beads, just as the egg slicer works.

 

Once finished and mounted to the frame we had a small porcelain bead factory cranking out about 100 beads (1/4" long) per slice. Using Mason stains gave the beads different colors. The bisqued beads were lightly sanded in a tumbler with grinding/polishing medium (very little hand work involved) which yielded a soft satin finish after firing. It was a very painless process, all-in all! Sounds like something that would also fit your needs.

 

If you lack the design skills for such an instrument, perchance you have a friend that could do it and build it. Just look at an egg slicer and visualize the same type of assembly using your designed extrusions instead of the egg.

 

Just an idea.wink.gif

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A long, long time ago in a distant country, I had an employer that had the idea of making porcelain beads with an extruder for production of beaded necklaces. For massive quantities of porcelain beads made in a jiffy I made an extruder die that extruded about 5 hollow tubes (about 1/4" OD) and then designed a cutter based on the principle of an egg slicer.

 

A metalworking machinist friend built an aluminum frame and base that would hold 20 steel guitar strings, individually adjustable with set screws on both ends. Can't remember what string it was (maybe 'E') but it was very fine and perfect for our needs.

 

Once the frame was complete, I cut a small block of maple that would fit within the frame and with the guitar strings as guides, marked where each string would interact with the wood block. With the block marked, I took an extra-fine kerf hand saw and carefully cut each location for a wire to fit through. Upon this maple block was where we placed the extrusions. Pulling the wire frame over and down upon the clay extrusions, the wires would slice through and into the wood kerfs cutting and separating into beads, just as the egg slicer works.

 

Once finished and mounted to the frame we had a small porcelain bead factory cranking out about 100 beads (1/4" long) per slice. Using Mason stains gave the beads different colors. The bisqued beads were lightly sanded in a tumbler with grinding/polishing medium (very little hand work involved) which yielded a soft satin finish after firing. It was a very painless process, all-in all! Sounds like something that would also fit your needs.

 

If you lack the design skills for such an instrument, perchance you have a friend that could do it and build it. Just look at an egg slicer and visualize the same type of assembly using your designed extrusions instead of the egg.

 

Just an idea.wink.gif

 

 

 

Thank you AmeriSwede! The egg slicer is exactly the visual I needed.......combined with a wooden base with grooves......perfect!

 

I'll make one up, and if it works, I'll post a picture of what I made.

 

 

 

 

 

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Give your extruded forms some time to set up . . . you can get a cleaner cut from soft to medium leatherhard clay than you can with soft clay.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I already learned that one! And I also learned to extrude straight down!

 

 

 

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I do not have any ideas other than those already posted but I did want to thank you for posting because I was wondering how the caulk gun extruder would work. I am glad to hear it works well despite any difficulty putting it together. Now if we could get someone to post instructions on how to make a harp cutter I would love it.

 

 

PS. I agree with everyone else when they say that wire will work much better than fishing line. :-)

 

Good Luck!

 

Kelly

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You might want to check out different models of bread slicers - they could work without having to construct something.

 

I do well with a wire cake slicer, it's big and cheap. Look at a cake decorating store. Sometimes they are at Hobby Lobby.

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Hi,

 

This is my first post. And on a scale of 1 to 10 for knowledge of ceramics, I'm at a 1.......maybe 1.5.

 

I just built one of the caulk gun extruders (making it was harder than I thought, but using it is much easier than I thought).

 

My extrusions are coming out nice and easily, however, I would like to slice them in exact thicknesses (such as 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2")......but after cutting them, they came out distorted and in arbitrary thicknesses. I used fishing line and it worked nicely, except when I got to the bottom of the piece.....it did not cut cleanly.

 

So my question is......is there some type of fixture or jig that I can buy/build that can cleanly slice extrusions in exact thicknesses?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

 

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Hi,

 

This is my first post. And on a scale of 1 to 10 for knowledge of ceramics, I'm at a 1.......maybe 1.5.

 

I just built one of the caulk gun extruders (making it was harder than I thought, but using it is much easier than I thought).

 

My extrusions are coming out nice and easily, however, I would like to slice them in exact thicknesses (such as 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2")......but after cutting them, they came out distorted and in arbitrary thicknesses. I used fishing line and it worked nicely, except when I got to the bottom of the piece.....it did not cut cleanly.

 

So my question is......is there some type of fixture or jig that I can buy/build that can cleanly slice extrusions in exact thicknesses?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve

 

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I just saw this: http://www.chinesecl...store_tools.asp

 

If you don't want to spend the 30 bucks on it, it may give you an idea of how you would like to build one.

 

L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the idea ICAR.......but that won't work for me for a couple reasons: although I couldn't see a close up of it, it appears that the wires do not go below the bottom of the clay such that it cuts completely through it (if that makes sense), second it only cuts slabs 3/8" thick (I'm looking to cut various thicknesses such as 1/8", 1/4", 1/2", etc.), and lastly, it's not "Made in the USA".

 

The egg slicer visual was what I was looking for........I'm confident that that will work........now I just have to find 20 minutes of free time to make it! I'll try to find time to work on it today.

 

But thanks again for taking the time to post the suggestion!

 

 

 

 

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OK...........so this is what I came up with. The first picture is just a block of wood that I made cuts into every 1/8". The second picture is just a rectangle that I also cut the edges every 1/8"........then I added a few screws and wound a thin wire around the screws and from edge to edge, back and forth.

 

The third picture shows how the wires fit into the slots on the block of wood. The fourth and fifth picture show it in action.......note that I was cutting wet clay, not leather hard, because I didn't feel like waiting to see how it would work.

 

The sixth picture shows what it looked like after one cut.......clearly this isn't going to work since the wires didn't stay 1/8" apart. The tension was gone. The seventh picture shows a harp that I made out of a scrap piece of wood.......and I only put one wire on it and two eye screws that I could turn to increase the tension.......this worked very well, until the wire snapped due to the increased tension. So the last picture shows just a wire between two eye hooks......when used alone with the block of wood, it worked very well........but it still was only cutting one at a time, albeit exactly 1/8" apart.

 

Any suggestions?

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It is amazing how inventive potters are!! There are such 'outside the square' thinkers in amongst us who spend lots of time and thought in designing better ways to make our work.

But looking at these pics, I wish I also had the woodworking skills and tools to create these 'tools'- I particularly like the harp made out of a scrap :) This topic has been great to follow

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CeramicShapes.... your extrusion cutter looks pretty fine. Pretty much how mine looked. The major difference was that mine was built from 3/4" square aluminum stock, drilled with fine holes for the steel wires to enter into (which maintained the spacing) while the tension was maintained individually on each wire with hex-key set screws. Besides allowing for individual tension adjustment it also gave us the flexibility to change any wire independently of the others, though that only happened once in 6 months.

 

Your wood frame is nice but for me it would only be for a prototype. The wood is bound to flex too much or warp with constant tension, lessoning the tension in time as well.

bciskepottery 's suggestion to narrow the width may prove adequate for a while, but I would also add that possibly placing a cross brace (in the middle) to counteract the tension might also help. Not quite sure about the type of wire and the attachment system that you are using. Some wire can also stretch with tension on it. The steel guitar strings proved adequate for our purpose and never stretched.

 

As we never had the problem of slackening tension, it is hard for me to pin it directly on the type of wire used or the use of wood vs metal as the cutters frame.

 

Your quick manner of putting this together from the suggestion shows that your ingenuity is good enough to work out the bugs, though! You are on the right track as I can assure you the cutter that I designed and had built functioned beautifully for tens of thousands of cuttings.

 

Good luck!

 

.......rick

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bciskepottery

......you're probably right that making it smaller will help alleviate the tension issue.

lynny

.......thanks! I have more scrap wood laying around than I know what to do with!

Rick........can you post a picture of yours so I can get an idea of what it looks like? I liked the idea of using wood since I'm sure it would be a LOT less expensive than the one you had made.......but I could also make one out of 1/2" thick acrylic and I know that wouldn't buckle.

I also used 32 gauge jewelry wire (the thinnest I could find)........so maybe I should try a thicker version or the guitar string.

 

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Rick........can you post a picture of yours so I can get an idea of what it looks like? I liked the idea of using wood since I'm sure it would be a LOT less expensive than the one you had made.......but I could also make one out of 1/2" thick acrylic and I know that wouldn't buckle.

I also used 32 gauge jewelry wire (the thinnest I could find)........so maybe I should try a thicker version or the guitar string.

 

 

Sorry, no can do on the picture CeramicShapes, as I had done that back in 1987 and didn't even have a camera at the time. The company was years later dissolved, so I heard.... I was then living in another state. I'll try to work up a quick sketch for you, but it may be a number of days before I get that done and posted.

 

....rick

 

 

 

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CeramicShapes...

 

Here is an abbreviated sketch (reduced number of cutter strings, screw holes and saw kerfs in wood block) of my design. I had a machinist friend make it as it was quicker, easier and more accurate to have him do all the precision drilling for the cutting wires and the set screw holes which required both boring and tapping. It was also easier for him to bore the holes all the way through and tap, for the set screws, rather than boring part way and using a bottom tap. He mentioned that this might also be a better way to do it as the set screws could be positioned to grasp the wire at the direct center. Otherwise if the wire was tightened against the walls of the hole, it could shear the wire.

 

If I recall, he used 3/4" square aluminum barstock (he had scrap) which was also an easier metal to drill and tap. The top frame was then penned (two clovis pins) to the base frame which I had attached the kerfed maple cut-off block to, from the underside, using tapered flush-set wood screws.

 

The guitar string was the thin 'E' string (steel). Drawings are not to scale.

clay-cutter-web.jpgscrew-setup-web.jpg

 

 

You can see that what you built is in actuality quite similar. Difference being in materials used and manner of attachment for the cutting wire.

As the above design did and does work, I think that your problem lies in those differences. wink.gif Good luck!

 

-------rick

 

 

 

 

 

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