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Bat "systems"

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I'm thinking of buying one of these "bat systems" as a way to get a bunch of bats for smaller work without spending a fortune.  North Star makes a bat system and so does Wonder Bat; they seem to be basically the same idea -- one base with a square cutout, and a bunch of small (5 or 6 inch) square inserts.  From what I can tell the North Star system has a Medex base (like it), but "Duron" -- aka masonite -- inserts.  I don't like that so much -- my masonite bats are starting to warp.  The Wonder Bat system has both parts made out of whatever they use to make Wonder Bats..., which I suspect is pretty good (and better than masonite).  Poking around here I found a couple of posts from people who like the North Star system, but haven't seen anything about the Wonder Bat system.  I think the Wonder Bat system looks good on paper, but that's no guarantee it works well in the studio.

 

Any thoughts about the relative merits?

 

(There is also a "Dirty Girls" system; maybe just as good but I object to the cutesy name.)

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I have the Wonderbat system.  It's good, but the inserts do not like to go back into the frame, if they are still damp, from the previous project.  So say for instance, that you wanted to start something, take it out of the frame, work on something, else and then come back to the original thing later.  It is very difficult to get that insert back in, with the ware on it.  

 

I would guess that is because the material is meant to absorb water so well, that the inserts swell up, as they pull moisture from the ware.

 

Still a nice system though.  I have found that a wood "Thumb" tool works well at prying the stubborn inserts out.

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I've only been using the Wonder Bat system for about 6 months and so far,so good.  The inserts are pretty thick and I haven't experienced any warping.  The inserts do fit tightly and I have to use a butter knife to gently pry them out of the holder.  I recently added 6 more inserts to my collection and they seem to fit better with the master bat.  

 

-Carolyn

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I have the Dirty Girls system with the 7" round inserts and love it. Like Benzine said, it can be a challenge to take work off and get the insert placed back in, but not so much as to be unusable. It is just a tight fit, and the insert doesn't want to go all the way flush. The Dirty Girls insert material looks like Masonite, but is not showing adverse signs yet. I typically just leave an insert mounted and cut my work off, so the material is getting a good test.

 

John

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I use wonderbats. Before each bat is inserted I sponge off all 4 sides. I do this every single time. Otherwise the bats are difficult to get out. If you do this, they fit easily and come out easily, if you dont then they dont. It takes about 4 seconds, 1 second per side. 

 

There is no way these things will warp, they are half inch thick or more. 

 

I have had mine for over a year and no signs of them wearing out and I use them every single day. I am about to buy about 50 more inserts tbh. 

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if you are at all handy in a woodworking mode, try making your own from a single round duron bat as the holder, and a sheet of duron cut into the size you want.

 

have been using mine for many years, at least 15 years so far.  take a little care with things and you won't have to buy new stuff all the time.  a drill hole at the line between the centers and the holder allows you to use a flat tool, paring knife, screwdriver, whatever to pry up the very tightly fitting bat.    

 

 atthe prices asked for either of these systems, you could have a very competent carpenter do the job and you will have more bats than you can ever use.  (unless you are mark cortright.)

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I use the batman system-black suit  with wings and batmobile. I use it at nighttime only.

Mark

 

your losing it. I cannot lose it if it's already gone.

 

Now as to bats I throw on homemade plaster bats on a clay pad- on wheel head-dries pots from the bottom up-best production bat for me.

I cover pad every day with a clay bag to keep it moist.These bats never warp and can be resurfaced every 10 years or when needed.

for work over 8#s I use either northstars blue 13 inch or 15 inch bats ot my own counter top cut outs (12 inch or 18 inch)

The northstars have a bit better grip cast into them.-they also never warp.

Hey batman lets go treefishing soon as it Battastic!

Mark

 

Keep in mind its holiday season in the pottery world and one has to do something to keep from going nuts-I'm thinking about makeing custom lids for broken pots made by others. Do you want to invest in this  new company I named- Pie in the sky .

I have a few boxes of bisqued lids for startup inventory from previous failures.

 

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Mark, you mentioned that you have some of the North Star blue 13" bats and that yours have never warped. I have five of the same bats and every single one of them have warped. I've only had them for about 9 months. Any thoughts on why they did this? And have you ever had any problems with "wobble" in your North Star bats? I always have to do a test rotation with mine. If it wobbles, I pick it up and set it back down 180 degrees out of what I started with. I check my bat pins repeatedly. Sometimes one is a little loose and I tighten it back up, but then that can cause problems with getting the bat to sit down without using a sledge hammer! :angry:

 

All in all, I'd have to say that I'm not really very happy with North Star's blue bats. If they hadn't been so freaking expensive, I'd chuck the lot of them into the trash! I bought them because of the material used. Hey! It's plastic. They'll never wear out and never warp! What could possibly go wrong!?! I guess that's what comes of doing my own thinking. <_<

 

I do have the sneaking suspicion that the warping might be the result of having them in the studio when the kiln is running. Even though they're hanging up on the wall when not in use, temperatures in excess of 100F in the studio might have something to do with it. Oh to have a studio with a separate room for the kiln!

 

Anyway, if you (Mark) or anyone else has thoughts on this, I'd love to hear it!

 

ETA: Apologies for hijacking this thread! ;)  

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I just made my system. Put 3 allen bolts in the head ( should have used 2 ) and cut a bunch of bats from 3/8" MDF board. 1 sheet gave me enough batts to do a lot of work on, after 6 months of use I find some of the bats have a slight hump in the centre. The other side has the hollow, was impressed the the material did not swell up like cheap particle board. The material is not costly and easy to build if you have a wood shop as well.

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I have been using the wonderbat system for a few years.  Use it mainly for mugs and small bowls.  It does not soak up moisture as well as plaster, but it is far better than plastic. I use a large flat-head screwdriver to pry up each corner of the bat to remove it. 

 

Be sure to let the outter ring dry with air exposure on both sides to avoid warping.  The small squares have not warped at all.  This is quite different from the larger (10" and 12") wonderbats.  I invested heavily in them and they all cupped so badly that I cannot get them to sit flat on the wheel.  I have used all the flattening sugestions from the manufacturer with very little success.  I went back to plastic and plaster for large bats. 

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I've had about 3 dozen of the blue Northstar bats in use in my studio for 11 years. They have held up just fine. The only time they warp is if someone leaves a platter on them without cutting it loose and lets it get too dry. As the clay dries and shrinks it will actually pull up the bat and warp it. They seem to go back to normal eventually.

 

I personally use the Northstar Medex bats. They will hump in the middle a little bit, so you have to flip them so they sit flat. Not a big deal at all.

 

The bats systems all work about the same. The main problem I had with one I used to use is that the masonite inserts don't last very long. I'd find one that uses Medex inserts, or make your own. You could also just make small square bats yourself and drill another set of bat pin holes into your wheel head.

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I was searching online a few weeks ago and found this blog post by Jeff Campana. Basically you buy bisque tiles (I got mine at a ceramics warehouse - Bailey) and cut a square hole into a plastic bat, similar to the Wonderbat. It cost me $50 for the bat and 40 tiles, and it has been working wonderfully.

 

http://jeffcampana.com/d-i-y-tile-bat-system/

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Mark, you mentioned that you have some of the North Star blue 13" bats and that yours have never warped. I have five of the same bats and every single one of them have warped. I've only had them for about 9 months. Any thoughts on why they did this? And have you ever had any problems with "wobble" in your North Star bats? I always have to do a test rotation with mine. If it wobbles, I pick it up and set it back down 180 degrees out of what I started with. I check my bat pins repeatedly. Sometimes one is a little loose and I tighten it back up, but then that can cause problems with getting the bat to sit down without using a sledge hammer! :angry:

 

All in all, I'd have to say that I'm not really very happy with North Star's blue bats. If they hadn't been so freaking expensive, I'd chuck the lot of them into the trash! I bought them because of the material used. Hey! It's plastic. They'll never wear out and never warp! What could possibly go wrong!?! I guess that's what comes of doing my own thinking. <_<

 

I do have the sneaking suspicion that the warping might be the result of having them in the studio when the kiln is running. Even though they're hanging up on the wall when not in use, temperatures in excess of 100F in the studio might have something to do with it. Oh to have a studio with a separate room for the kiln!

 

Anyway, if you (Mark) or anyone else has thoughts on this, I'd love to hear it!

 

ETA: Apologies for hijacking this thread! ;)  

I store my plastic bats flat meaning horizontal  on a metal shelve and never subject them to any heat-how they are stored matters and keep them away from any kiln heat as they are plastic and heat kills plastics of ant sort.I have a few medex bats they gave me to test and its like Neil says they warp and come back.

PS I always cut pots off bats no exceptions(except for plaster bats)

Mark

Mark

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Thanks for the input, Mark. Now I wonder if there's any way to resurrect these bats. Dayum! I paid a lot for them, thinking I would never have to buy them a second time. :(  Do you suppose if I laid them horizontal with substantial weight on top of them the next time I fire up the kiln, that I might get them to return to their original flatness? I don't really have any place else to store them other than the studio......Like I said earlier, oh for a proper studio with a separate, closed off room for the kiln! <_<

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I use Speedball 7.5" plastic squares. I like em and they come in different colors. Not that that matters.

I also use some 1/4" S2S masonite I got a while back from Northstar. I use them like my buddy taught me.

He used 1/4" masonite that he cut into small sizes. I think some where as small as 6". He would use clay and make a pancake on his wheel head and put grooves in it with his fingers. And then he pressed one of these boards on it. Throw, pop it off and start over. Man he was fast too. He said he was a production potter. I don't remember where, but I think it was with Marshall Pottery.

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Thanks for the input, Mark. Now I wonder if there's any way to resurrect these bats. Dayum! I paid a lot for them, thinking I would never have to buy them a second time. :(  Do you suppose if I laid them horizontal with substantial weight on top of them the next time I fire up the kiln, that I might get them to return to their original flatness? I don't really have any place else to store them other than the studio......Like I said earlier, oh for a proper studio with a separate, closed off room for the kiln! <_<

I world try that-just make sure they are on afloat surface.

Did you store them flat or on edge when they warped?

Mark

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Mark, they were hanging vertically on my wall, all on one pegboard rod. Thinking back on it now, the very first one that warped was one that I had a mug on. I wanted it to set up to leather hard in a hurry (yes, yes, I know. One should never be in a hurry when dealing with pottery) so I set it out on the bench seat I had sitting in front of the studio. It was a nice sunny day with a light breeze and I figured I'd be able to trim the foot ring within the hour. When I checked on it about 45 minutes later, yes, the mug was ready to trim, but the bat was warped in that short of time. I thought it was due in large part because the bench seat I set it on is not flat. Now I know it was because of the sunlight. It wasn't all that warm of a day, but being at altitude, the sun can be quite strong around here. Certainly strong enough to heat up and warp a plastic bat, evidently! <_<  Lesson learned.

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