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QotW: tell us about your best handmade/homemade tools.

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LeeU posted in the QotW question bank: Here's one: tell us about your best handmade/homemade tools. A member just posted about having made a black walnut throwing stick. I felt immediate envy! I did make my own chattering tool at a NH Potters' Guild demo, and that was a blast. It is my only self-made tool so far and I treasure it--it works great--I did a good job with it.  Would love to see some pics-homemade brushes, wood tools, metal tools, whatever. 

Hand made, don't really have a single one that is homemade. However, I bought a throwing stick at the NC Ceramics conference a few years ago. Jack Troy was demonstrating a throwing stick that I thought would be nice to have. They were on sale there, so I bought one. It hung around the shop for a few years and then about a year ago when throwing chalice bowls I started using it for shaping, then for mugs, and then for teapots and other forms. . . love it.

Most of my tools that one would considered handmade are really recycled! The bamboo kitchen tools that I cut the handles off of to make ribs.

The band saw blade that I cut into lengths years ago for the HS for trimming blades for the students. I rounded off the corners, removed burrs and made a series of blades ranging from 3" to 8" long. We used them for scraping/scoring/smoothing when handbuilding. They were great for squaring up corners, or scoring before applying slip or Magic Water.

There are the chucks made from plumbing parts to trim chalice stems, or to trim the underside of flat ribs and help with centering a spoon for joining.

I also have made my own dies for extruders, and recently repurposed a power caulk gun to use as an extruder.

 

best,

Pres

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My best handmade tool is also a extruder,  I found the directions in  a Ceramics Monthly probably 20 years ago.  I built it originally according to the instructions  and have changed a few components over the years to make it stronger.   I make the dies for it from dies for cookie presses,  I find cookie press sets at estate sales for a couple of dollars.  I even have a really heavy duty cookie press that will extrude  handles for cups that I paid a dollar for.    Denice

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Homemade cutoff wires, made from fishing line and fender washers. Taught to me by the marvelous Nan Rothwell in Charlottesville VA. I love that these can be made to any length of your choosing. Storebought ones are always too long.

The first one is for cutting pugs, the second one is for cutting off small pots like mugs, the third one is for everything larger than a mug. They break every so often, but it takes only minutes to make a new one, and that one spool of fishing line will probably last a lifetime.

44FFC232-615B-451D-B89D-116C854B8997.jpeg.2d4963eead0ac523020e1687346a2b6e.jpeg

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17 hours ago, GEP said:

Homemade cutoff wires, made from fishing line and fender washers. Taught to me by the marvelous Nan Rothwell in Charlottesville VA. I love that these can be made to any length of your choosing. Storebought ones are always too long.

The first one is for cutting pugs, the second one is for cutting off small pots like mugs, the third one is for everything larger than a mug. They break every so often, but it takes only minutes to make a new one, and that one spool of fishing line will probably last a lifetime.

44FFC232-615B-451D-B89D-116C854B8997.jpeg.2d4963eead0ac523020e1687346a2b6e.jpeg

Awesome!!! will be making some soon!  Is there a "weight" of line that works best?

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3 hours ago, Up in Smoke Pottery said:

Is there a "weight" of line that works best?

My spool says “20lb.” Not sure you can see this in the photo, but each cutoff wire is two fishing lines twisted together, so it’s thicker and stronger than a single 20lb strand. The twistedness is very useful. It puts little pockets of air between your pot and the batt, so the pot can’t stick itself back on. And you can make interesting patterns on the bottom of your pot. 

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I'm also curious 'bout what type of line you're using GEP; there are many single and multiple strand options in stainless steel (and titanium), e.g. https://afwfishing.com/afw_products/K175T-0.asp 

Likely braided dacron (or other synthetical stuff) would work as well... oh! there's a reply!

...will try't with multiple strands of braided dacron (bass line), as I don' have any shark leader in th' tackle box.

Edited by Hulk
timing!

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WOW...where do I start? At this point I can't say that I have a favorite...actually, I think the splash pan is the fave since it keeps the throwing mess to a minimum...

I've built a heavy duty extruder and use 1/4" Lexan salvaged from a Sub-Zero refrigerator door to make the dies, a half dozen or more hacksaw blade trimming tools, a chattering tool from a piece of 1" heavy duty steel banding from a lumber yard, scratch tool from a piece of 5/16" brake line tubing, various cut-off wires, various bamboo/squirrel tail brushes, splash pan from the bottom of a plastic trash barrel, 3 banding wheels made from recycled ceiling fans...and these are just what comes to mind. I think my next BIG project will be to get an old trash masher and use the motor and screw drive to convert my extruder. As I spend more time in the studio with winter coming on, I'm sure there will be more things to fabricate to make my clay work easier.

I'll soon be posting a video showing how I made my last banding wheel from a ceiling fan. I'll also post pix to my gallery album of some of the afore mentioned tools.

JohnnyK

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1 hour ago, Hulk said:

I'm also curious 'bout what type of line you're using GEP; there are many single and multiple strand options in stainless steel (and titanium), e.g. https://afwfishing.com/afw_products/K175T-0.asp 

Likely braided dacron (or other synthetical stuff) would work as well... oh! there's a reply!

...will try't with multiple strands of braided dacron (bass line), as I don' have any shark leader in th' tackle box.

I learned to make a twisted cut-off wire with stainless wire:

Put washer (or half-clothespin) in the center of the wire (cut doubled wire longer than the desired finished line to allow for twists).

Attach washer to center of wheel head with a lump of clay.

Hold an end of wire in each hand, slightly tensioned, above the wheel at about a 45-90 degree angle from each other.

Power the wheel to provide twist. The wheel speed and angle of wires to each other will determine density of the twist. 

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The tool that I made which probably gets about the most use are the small sieves. I use them to sieve my glazes before spraying. Local place charges $27- for one of the Talisman test sieves which I have a problem with since I was going through quite a few every year. (plus they are a little small for what I was using them for) I prefer the first one as it will sit in a container without me having to hold onto it. Other one was faster to make though.

 IMG_2582.jpg.94380d11162207431708f592d25d40fd.jpg

 

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Min, curious what you're using for screen? 

The several AeroPress discs can be had reasonable, however, I'm not finding what mesh they  are.

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2 hours ago, Hulk said:

Min, curious what you're using for screen? 

The several AeroPress discs can be had reasonable, however, I'm not finding what mesh they  are.

Hi,

I use 80 mesh stainless for glazes and 60 mesh for slips. I buy it by the inch at my local pottery supply store, it's made from a heavier mesh than the Talisman one. I pay  around $8- for enough to make 3 sieves. Like liambesaw said you can find it on Amazon or Ebay but I don't know about the quality as I've not bought online. 

Sieve on the left has 3 pieces, reduction fitting, mesh and a piece of pipe that fits inside the narrow end of the reduction fitting. This piece of pipe acts as a wider backing and a stop for the mesh. I did try just using adhesive to hold the mesh in place but found it's more durable with the insert and using adhesive. (I use E6000 for the adhesive)  Sieve on the right I just cut a piece of PVC pipe used E6000 and lightly clamped it together for a couple days.

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Thanks Min, thanks Liambesaw!

Search string "woven wire 80 mesh stainless" generates sufficient hits for me ...seeing need for smaller sieves (I have a few 5 gallon bucket size) for test batches o'glaze, etc.

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maybe the best "tool" is the way i keep them at hand for use all the time.

my slab roller was built on top of a table that i created with 2x4 legs, stretchers of plywood for storage and a very heavy wooden slab door.   the table is wide enough that i have space between it an the wall for the large number of plastic jars for my sprayer and several pieces of foam rubber for pressing slabs.  a heat gun and hair dryer live at the end near a 36 inch rolling pin i bought long ago when i thought i would need it.   the front edge hangs a few inches over the legs and provides a space for 2 little containers that will hold the tiny bits of excess clay that otherwise would end up smashed onto the back of a freshly rolled slab.  there is also a stack of sticks to judge thickness, i do not trust the little dial on the roller, i want to feel the thickness with my fingers.

the top is supported by a 2x4  on its narrow edge.   this is the best tool,  it allows me to hang all the things i need when making slab work.  they are under the table top a few inches so i do not hit the nails or the tools themselves while working above on the table.   i marked the top with a thick sharpie just where the nail  can be found below.   this means that i can find something without looking, the sharpie mark says it is right here.  whether a cheese cutter, a pizza roller, a wallpaper smoother, a wide, narrow or extra wide putty knife, a towel or a cutoff wire.  a glance at the black line and the tool is in my hand.

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Home-made slab roller.  Saves so much physical effort rolling slabs.

Mitre cutter

Stamp - made from an off-cut of a wooden curtain pole, and thick copper wire bent into my initial, hot-melt glued together.  Dipped in WD40 works perfectly.

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