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fire and ike

homemade trimming tools

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Simon Leach has done a couple of videos on making tools . . . he uses metal strapping to make trim tools and chattering tools. I seem to recall that Brad Sondahl also has info on his website about making some tools. Many of the basic pottery instruction books also discuss making various tools. Clay is especially abrasive on trimming tools and the cheaper ones wear out rather quickly. Dolan tools last longer than Kemper and other less expensive brands, in my experience. If money is no object, take a visit to the Bison Tools site; Phil makes wonderful, long-lasting tools. Yes, expensive . . . but if you buy 10 cheap trimming tools you've paid for one really good one that will last a lifetime (unless you drop it).

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It seems like I wear out my trimming tools too fast. I saw a Tim See video and he briefly talked about making tools out of watch springs but I cannot find any more info on homemade trimming tools. Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks.

 

 

 

Get yourself a $39 bench grinder from Harbor Freight (they even have one with a flex shaft) and make your own out of hacksaw blades like this:

 

 

 

I really like that guy!

 

$80+ for a trim tool that will break if I drop it? Do you know how often I drop things? Meh! It's not that hard to sharpen a tool!

ChenowethArts likes this

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Guest HerbNorriss

Heavy metal strapping from crates, and hacksaw blades work great for making your own trimming tools as will any mild steel than can be easily sharpened. Cut 'em to the size and shape you like with tin snips, then get them nice and sharp with a $14 Nicholson double cut flat bastard file. Sharpen them before every use and during use, and there won't be anything you can't do with nice sharp tools!

 

In the old pottery video ...trim!, potter (now lighting designer) Derek Marshall shows you how to make japanese style trimming tools (kanna) using snips and a file. Fun. If you can find the three video series, center!, throw! ...trim! they are interesting and fun to watch. They are from 1998 though, so might be hard to find.

 

Woodturner Dave Ellsworth has a whole chapter on making your own tools from files, screwdrivers, hex keys, you name it, in his book Ellsworth on Woodturning. His emphasis is on turning tools, but there is alot that can be applied to pottery tools. As he says, homemade tools are ugly, but they work better than anything else out there.

 

After you make your own tools, you will never be satisfied with those chrome tool steel pearpitters again.

Go, go, go!

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You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for the great ideas. I'm off to Harbor Freight to buy a grinder and some hacksaw blades.

 

 

While you're at it, contemplate setting

up too...

 

I LOVE THAT GUY!

 

 

I buy silicon carbide self sticking pads for circular sanders at Harbor freight, put them on the wheel head. One pad cleaned up a kiln load of pottery. Peel it off and chuck it. 50 in a roll for under 20 bucks.

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You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for the great ideas. I'm off to Harbor Freight to buy a grinder and some hacksaw blades.

 

 

While you're at it, contemplate setting

up too...

 

I LOVE THAT GUY!

 

 

I buy silicon carbide self sticking pads for circular sanders at Harbor freight, put them on the wheel head. One pad cleaned up a kiln load of pottery. Peel it off and chuck it. 50 in a roll for under 20 bucks.

 

 

OK, I will transfer some of my Gadget Love to you as well.

 

Not to fear. It is a Safe And Appropriate (Groovy) Kind of Love.

 

:P (sorry, they have no ebil grins in the emoticons - how can you have emoticons without an ebil grin???)

MoKa Kath likes this

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Simon Leach has done a couple of videos on making tools . . . he uses metal strapping to make trim tools and chattering tools. I seem to recall that Brad Sondahl also has info on his website about making some tools. Many of the basic pottery instruction books also discuss making various tools. Clay is especially abrasive on trimming tools and the cheaper ones wear out rather quickly. Dolan tools last longer than Kemper and other less expensive brands, in my experience. If money is no object, take a visit to the Bison Tools site; Phil makes wonderful, long-lasting tools. Yes, expensive . . . but if you buy 10 cheap trimming tools you've paid for one really good one that will last a lifetime (unless you drop it).

 

 

I recommend bison tools-Mine lasts for about 3 years trimming 8-10 tons of porcelain a year.

if you are hobbyist then use any of the lesser brands you like.

Phil made mine just for me as i had specific need on double ender(two sides)

oh yea they will break if you drop them-I have used a few for many years(7-9) without breaking

one-I keep it in plastic tube next to trim wheel-its out only when its trimming in my hand-I used to go thru many grosses of 6 inch kemper R2s over the years now I get about 3-4 years as then its time to resharpened or get new tip-this tool has saved me big money-

Its not for the hobbyist as I noted

Mark

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It seems like I wear out my trimming tools too fast. I saw a Tim See video and he briefly talked about making tools out of watch springs but I cannot find any more info on homemade trimming tools. Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks.

 

 

 

Get yourself a $39 bench grinder from Harbor Freight (they even have one with a flex shaft) and make your own out of hacksaw blades like this:

 

 

 

I really like that guy!

 

$80+ for a trim tool that will break if I drop it? Do you know how often I drop things? Meh! It's not that hard to sharpen a tool!

 

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You can make "loop tools" out of hack saw blades as well. First, get the best quality hack saw blade. Then put it in a vise and snap it in half. These high quality blades will not bend unless heated. Before bending the loop, grind the teeth off and sharpen both sides. One end will have a hole, which will be used to attach that side to a wooden handle. On the other end grind a few notches on either side of the blade. Using a torch, heat the place where a bend is required, and using pliers, make the bend while still red hot. Design the shape so that the ends end up parallel and a handle can be attached. One side is screwed to the handle and the other side is whipped with some wire using the notches. If it doesn't look too neat, then you can wrap the whole attachment area with some duct tape. These trim tools stay sharp a long time. You need a ribbon sander/grinder to do a good job. I found a 1" ribbon sander at a garage sale for $35 and it worked great for many many years. The thing about the high quality hack saw blades is that they are harder than a file, so filing doesn't work for sharpening.

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Not to be the 'downer' of the forum, but....Trimming tools are cheap. In the time it would take me to make one, I could throw enough pots to buy a couple dozen. If you've got the time and want to explore the craft of making tools, then go for it. It can be a lot of fun. But if it's really about the money, it's just not worth it.

phill likes this

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Not to be the 'downer' of the forum, but....Trimming tools are cheap. In the time it would take me to make one, I could throw enough pots to buy a couple dozen. If you've got the time and want to explore the craft of making tools, then go for it. It can be a lot of fun. But if it's really about the money, it's just not worth it.. .. .

 

pres replies

. . . . unless of course you have a need for a special shaped tool that you can't or couldn't find out in the markets. In the 80's I made a series of ribbon end tools to make cut handles out of a block of clay. It was a new thing that I saw in a magazine, and after looking for the tools and not finding them-I made my own. Of course as I was a HS teacher on the same floor as the wood and metal shops I had access to a great amount of tools. I had also fostered a great friendship with the shop teachers over the years. It also helped that I had been a class A parts fabricator for an aircraft factory in my younger years.

 

Edited by Pres

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Guest The Unknown Craftsman

"Not to be the 'downer' of the forum, but....Trimming tools are cheap. In the time it would take me to make one, I could throw enough pots to buy a couple dozen. If you've got the time and want to explore the craft of making tools, then go for it. It can be a lot of fun. But if it's really about the money, it's just not worth it."

 

It's not about the money, exactly. It's also about getting a better tool, and doing for yourself, instead of buying a pearpitter that winds up in the landfill. In fifteen minutes, I can cut, bend, and sharpen some strap steel that will be sharper than any tool you can buy. When it gets dull, I can easily resharpen it in one minute. The hacksaw blade method doesn't take too much longer. These tools will last for years. They will perform better than the cheap trimming tools that are too common in studios, especially art centers. This is because people might not know better, they never get exposed to good tools like Dolan, Bison, etc.

You must be a fast thrower, Neil!

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Bump.

 

I have made the hacksaw blade trimmers that Hsin-chuen famously highlighted along with the metal strap trimmers. Both are more of a let down to me than just buying a dolan tool. I understand the whole make your own tools idea, but I also can't get over how cheap and wonderful a Dolan tool is. I use 3 or 4 dolan shapes and they last me a LONG time, even without sharpening them. And then once you sharpen them, they last even longer. $10 is so cheap for such wonderfulness. Dolan is fantastic. 

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I have made the hacksaw blade trimmers that Hsin-chuen famously highlighted along with the metal strap trimmers. Both are more of a let down to me than just buying a dolan tool.

 

Phill, I did the same thing... I'm very DIY, but the fiddliness involved in getting tools just the right shape, sharpening them, etc is too much.  I want to make pots, not make trim tools.

 

I wonder how much time Hsin-chuen spends getting his tools just right.  Watching him make pots, he's clearly not in a hurry... meticulous and patient.  I expect he puts similar time into making his tools.

phill likes this

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One of the things that I share with students.................

 

If you are trying to make you work "your own"........ to have a visual and tactile identity that is personal,........... then you make things harder for yourself when you use generic clay bodies, generic glazes, and generic tools.

 

Aside from the uniqueness of your own particular set of hands touching the clay, the tools that you use to form and alter the clay DO have a huge impact on the way the clay is formed. 

 

Most tools have a distinct way they "like" to be manipulated.  As you use them, you find this aspect in them, and then tend to repeat it becasue it just seems to "work best" that way.  Many others will find the same brand / model of tool works the same way for them too.  So you all start finding "solutions" that look like each other's.

 

Make your own tools whenever you can.  Develop your own clay bodies and glazes.  At the least, realize the potential that this is happening.

 

If you don't want to make stuff......... at least try to find ones that not 'everyone' is usiing. 

 

If you are worried about the time involved.... charge more for your work.  It is likely you are underpricing your work already.

 

best,

 

....................john

phill and High Bridge Pottery like this

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Hey,

    Years ago a friend of mine saw someone using a bent, pointy, trimming tool made from a stainless steel butter knife.  I went to the thrift store and bought

four knives.  Two USA made knives and two Japan made knives.  When I put them in a vise to bend the ends the Japan knives bent 90 degrees, the USA

knives snapped and snapped all the way to the handle.  Once bent, the ends are gound on the grinder until sharp.  I think she had planned to trim the excess from the bottom.

     Wheel grinder - I use the wheel grinder for wood working.  It actually burns thru the wood, but I use it to shape ribs.  I make "ribs on a stick" by buying

wooden spoons and grinding off one side to "bell out" the inside of pitchers and mugs.  Make sure the correct side is ground off.

    Loop tools - I've made some loop tools and they worked ok.  But when I did, I took a disposible razor blade apart and had two strips of metal and placed the strips of metal into the hollow end of bamboo and sealed it with the epoxy putty found at auto parts stores.  Its the kind you slice and mix the epoxy outer

cover with the core.  It sets up 5 minutes.

     To sharpen the store bought loop tools, I keep on hand some wet/dry sandpaper (from the auto parts store) and drag the blades across in a 45 degree

angle, both ways (front and back).  Its easier to sharpen tools before they get too dull.  A few swipes across the sandpaper a week keeps the blade's edge

manageable.

     There is a brass wire wheel on one side of my grinder that I use to smooth off the bottom of the stoneware vessels.  I also use the wire wheel to feather

the sharpe edges left from the coarse wheel.

Hope this sheds alittle knowledge.

Alabama

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