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How frequently do you sand your rib?  

15 members have voted

  1. 1. How frequently do you sand your potter's rib?

    • Multiple times per day
      0
    • Almost never
    • Once a Week
      0
    • Once a month
      0


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Hello! I am an operations manager at a ceramic company called MudLOVE. We make a lot of different ceramic pieces. We have several potters on site each day. One of our potters insists on sanding his wooden potter's rib every 14 mugs he makes. He has 5 ribs and spends 10-20 minutes each day sanding the ribs. He insists it is absolutely necessary. Our other potters do not do this. One uses a metal rib and another uses hard plastic. Is this standard practice for potters? Do they sand ribs THAT frequently?

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54 minutes ago, Mark C. said:

He wants a sharp rib-let him have one-we all have our idiosyncrasies 

 

48 minutes ago, JohnnyK said:

Welcome to the forum, CH...Sounds like a case of OCD...if he does good work and produces to your level of expectation, what the heck...

Thanks so much for your quick feedback! This was very interesting to hear.

I'm also in charge of ordering supplies and we have to reorder ribs for him twice a month because he sands them into oblivion.  It would also seem unfair to make this concession for just one of our employees, effectively creating a lower standard (as far as number of pieces/day) for this one potter. 

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If I were a business owner I would want to provide my employees with the tools they want so they can do their job without having to worry about their tools.  A wooden rib is really cheap, is it really a concession?  In that 10-20 minutes he's sanding  them, is he really making that many fewer pots?  

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There is absolutely no reason to be sanding a rib every 14 mugs. That's ridiculous. If he needs a rib that sharp, then he should use a metal rib. If he's just using the wooden rib for stretching, there's no reason it has to be that sharp. Plus, since the ribs is usually used at a bit of an angle, it's kind of self-sharpening.

From a business standpoint, if I were to spend 20 minutes a day sanding, that's 10 fewer mugs that I'm producing each day. If he's doing something that the other potters aren't, and his production is lower as a result, then as the employer I would put an end to it. Plus it's costing you money to replace his ribs. I would have him try producing without sanding the ribs for a week and see if it really impacts the quality of his work. Chances are it won't. Ultimately, that decision is yours, since it's your product. If he wants to sand his ribs for making his personal work, then fine. But it's your call for your pieces.

I've got ribs I've been using for 15 years and have never sanded them.

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31 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

If I were a business owner I would want to provide my employees with the tools they want so they can do their job without having to worry about their tools.  A wooden rib is really cheap, is it really a concession?  In that 10-20 minutes he's sanding  them, is he really making that many fewer pots?  

It adds up over the course of a year. We do provide the tools they need, but the point of this post is to ask if it really is a need. And judging by the poll and responses, it is not a need. 

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21 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

There is absolutely no reason to be sanding a rib every 14 mugs. That's ridiculous. If he needs a rib that sharp, then he should use a metal rib. If he's just using the wooden rib for stretching, there's no reason it has to be that sharp. Plus, since the ribs is usually used at a bit of an angle, it's kind of self-sharpening.

From a business standpoint, if I were to spend 20 minutes a day sanding, that's 10 fewer mugs that I'm producing each day. If he's doing something that the other potters aren't, and his production is lower as a result, then as the employer I would put an end to it. Plus it's costing you money to replace his ribs. I would have him try producing without sanding the ribs for a week and see if it really impacts the quality of his work. Chances are it won't. Ultimately, that decision is yours, since it's your product. If he wants to sand his ribs for making his personal work, then fine. But it's your call for your pieces.

I've got ribs I've been using for 15 years and have never sanded them.

This was very helpful. I am going to try what you suggested about the trial period of a week. Hopefully he does not intentionally mess up the mugs lol. Thanks!

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Things people do that no one else does, hmm ...err, that most people don't do, err, that most people think most people don't do, err, that I'm going to keep right on doing, yeah, that.

  Put my tools down in the same place

  Keep my tools clean

  Keep my wheel and workspace clean-ish - wet and damp clay good, dry clay (dust) baad

  Separate trimming from throwing tools, kept in largish tumblers, points/sharps down 

  Take my foot off the pedal before putting hands near the narrow space between the wheelhead and fixed spash pan (if there's anyone else in the studio, switch off as well)

  Use a large (Hulk size) sponge for everything except where only a purposely cut tiny sponge will do

  File my carving/trimming/chattering tools - sharp is better

  Recycle clay

Some take time, some give time; meh.

 

More things I'm going to keep right on doing (road biking):

  Check six (behind) before changing my line (emergency maneuvers excepted)

  Communicate (attempt) before passing other bikers, and peds

  Check six for oncoming drama hundreds of times/ride

  Clean and lube drive train two/three times/week

 

...yada yada, ok, me stop now.

hey Pres! What things you do that most others don't, that you ain' gonna stop doin' neither?

Ahem, Isaac, get a belt sander for'm.

Edited by Hulk
word swap

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The only one of my tools, I have ever sharpened, is my trimming tool.  Like @Hulk said, sharpness is important for these.  

Beyond that, all my tools are as they were, when I got them... Minus the normal wear and tear of course.  I even have some of my Dad's old ribs, that he passed on to me.  Twenty to thirty years of use, with no sanding, and they are still great!

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1 hour ago, Hulk said:

Things people do that no one else does, hmm ...err, that most people don't do, err, that most people think most people don't do, err, that I'm going to keep right on doing, yeah, that.

  Put my tools down in the same place

  Keep my tools clean

  Keep my wheel and workspace clean-ish - wet and damp clay good, dry clay (dust) baad

  Separate trimming from throwing tools, kept in largish tumblers, points/sharps down 

  Take my foot off the pedal before putting hands near the narrow space between the wheelhead and fixed spash pan (if there's anyone else in the studio, switch off as well)

  Use a large (Hulk size) sponge for everything except where only a purposely cut tiny sponge will do

  File my carving/trimming/chattering tools - sharp is better

  Recycle clay

Some take time, some give time; meh.

 

More things I'm going to keep right on doing (road biking):

  Check six (behind) before changing my line (emergency maneuvers excepted)

  Communicate (attempt) before passing other bikers, and peds

  Check six for oncoming drama hundreds of times/ride

  Clean and lube drive train two/three times/week

 

...yada yada, ok, me stop now.

hey Pres! What things you do that most others don't, that you ain' gonna stop doin' neither?

Ahem, Isaac, get a belt sander for'm.

Thanks for your input! He uses a belt sander to sharpen the tools. 
What if you found out that the things you take time to do (thinking from a business standpoint) are not only unnecessary, but actually wasteful? And not only wasteful for you, but for your team and company as well? For example: if it's the users preference to walk around their machine 25 times  before beginning work. Would that be an accommodation you'd expect an employer to make? I wasn't saying that people in general should stop doing things others aren't doing. The purpose of this post was to see if others do this. I gave this potter the benefit of the doubt by assuming this sanding was useful. The bottom line is that he is doing something the other potters aren't, and his production is lower as a result. As far as comparing this to following the rules of the road for cycling, this doesn't even come close.  We take issues of safety very seriously. Thanks for your thoughts!

 

Edited by Ceramic Human

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40 minutes ago, Ceramic Human said:

Thanks for your input! He uses a belt sander to sharpen the tools. 
What if you found out that the things you take time to do (thinking from a business standpoint) are not only unnecessary, but actually wasteful? And not only wasteful for you, but for your team and company as well? For example: if it's the users preference to walk around their machine 25 times  before beginning work. Would that be an accommodation you'd expect an employer to make? I wasn't saying that people in general should stop doing things others aren't doing. The purpose of this post was to see if others do this. I gave this potter the benefit of the doubt by assuming this sanding was useful. The bottom line is that he is doing something the other potters aren't, and his production is lower as a result. As far as comparing this to following the rules of the road for cycling, this doesn't even come close.  We take issues of safety very seriously. Thanks for your thoughts!

 

It kind of sounds like a disability to me if he is that addicted to a process, if that's the case you might try to hammer out some kind of accomodation, at least talk to him about it.

  I use a single wooden rib and have never sharpened it or sanded it. Not even sure what the point of a sharp wooden rib would be.  My tools for throwing are a small sponge, a wooden bowl rib, a stainless rib, cutoff wire and then a pointy trimming tool for undercutting the foot.  But I know potters who have a big stack of tools next to them and use them all.  If he's able to keep up with the other potters in terms of numbers I think it's fine, if he's doing dramatically less then maybe make it about the numbers and not about the ribs.  

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1 hour ago, Ceramic Human said:

The purpose of this post was to see if others do this. I gave this potter the benefit of the doubt by assuming this sanding was useful.

Aye, the only reshaping of wooden pottery tools I've seen is to remedy excessive wear, typically at the point of a wooden knife or rib, and very seldom at that.

Liam's point "...in terms of numbers..." hits it for me, unless there's grumbling from t'others?

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Neil nailed it; if he wants a super sharp rib, then he should be using metal, and not wood. I do sharpen ribs maybe once per year (hard woods, and hard plastics), but I throw a lot of pots, and the wear is mostly caused by cleaning clay off of bats before/after throwing while on the wheel. If the rib was only being used on wet clay, it would take literal tens of tons of pots to wear down a rib that it was noticeable.

Potters in Jingdezhen who trim bone dry porcelain to paper thin translucent wares do sharpen their trimming tools daily, and keep them like razors. I gave up on standard steel trimming tools years ago; now I use carbide tools from Bison Trimming Tool co. I needed a smaller size than my standard tool here recently, and after trimming 80 plates I could feel and see how much of the plain ol cheap steel tool was worn away, and it did impact my finished product. When I used to use the steel tools I stopped sharpening them a long time ago too; cheap enough to be used and tossed.

If he thinks that he needs to sharpen his tools that often, then he should do it on his dime. You the employer set the rules of the workpace; what hes doing is not necessary, to the process, but if he feels it is so, then he's off the clock every 14 mugs. Not fair to the other potters who out produce him, but get paid the same. Maybe pay him per piece, instead of hourly? Wood ribs, and generally most throwing tools, are cheap, however if hes blowing through 40 of em a year, this cost does add up. Unless all the other potters are getting new tools all the time too, then he should use what is provided for him, or he can bring his own.

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7 minutes ago, graybeard said:

Am I the only one here that is getting a strong feeling that we may be

costing someone their job???

I dont think this potter needs to seek new employment, just adapt his working process to meet the demands of the employer....and I dont think that the demands are a big anyways. Work without a rib might be a bit excessive.

Whenever Ive thrown work for other potters I always brought my own tools; usually what they supplied was inferior to the tools I own (which most are not very special), or just something different that I preferred to work with. This guy has a preference about sharping his rib, but not essential to the process. I had a preference when I worked for other people too; I wanted to be paid more to do the same job....that didnt fly over well either.

Quite honestly, I think the OP'er is being a more than fair employer by seeking out anonymous supporting information relating to a topic which he/she may not have the correct answer to on their own. I once had an employer who told me that I was to tamp gravel (building a retaining wall) with a 4x4 post instead of an actual hand tamp....that was being a bad employer. If the employee doesnt like any new restrictions placed upon their work habits, then maybe the potter wont have a job, but that may be a choice he has to make on his own.

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1 hour ago, graybeard said:

Am I the only one here that is getting a strong feeling that we may be

costing someone their job???

I do feel like that.  I feel like someone will use what we say here to justify firing someone eventually and I don't know if that's the best outcome.  I feel that if this person is sat down and has a meeting about the numbers that a lot more good will come of it.  It could be an ego issue or a disability, or just obliviousness.  I don't think an online poll will do much.  My suggestion is to have a meeting after work over a couple of beers and fries, and get to the heart of things.  

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What are othets doing?

If standing moving away from the wheel to sharpen, stretch back, touch toes, etc this may be a healthy thing to do...are his production numbers way down.

Long term he may be the only man left standing or sitting at the wheel

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13 hours ago, liambesaw said:

I do feel like that.  I feel like someone will use what we say here to justify firing someone eventually and I don't know if that's the best outcome.  I feel that if this person is sat down and has a meeting about the numbers that a lot more good will come of it.  It could be an ego issue or a disability, or just obliviousness.  I don't think an online poll will do much.  My suggestion is to have a meeting after work over a couple of beers and fries, and get to the heart of things.  

Thank you for the continued feedback.

Agreed.  That would be a bad outcome. I don't plan to fire this employee. The rib issue has been an ongoing conversation between us. I never mentioned this, but I made multiple attempts to find him a different rib. I tried extra firm plastics and a few metal ribs to no avail. There was alway concern about the way it would effect the wheel head or how he'd have to relearn something.

As a manager I have tried things like talking over a drink, but what I've found is that just takes it from being professional to being personal. At times I've seen that get in the way of candid communication at work. I don't want to encourage people to have everything be personal at work. It can create hypersensitivity to critiques about quality and efficiency of work. Although I do think your suggestion could work albeit in a more intimate environment. All that to say yes, I have been communicating with this employee. 

Edited by Ceramic Human

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6 hours ago, Babs said:

What are othets doing?

If standing moving away from the wheel to sharpen, stretch back, touch toes, etc this may be a healthy thing to do...are his production numbers way down.

Long term he may be the only man left standing or sitting at the wheel

Thanks for the thought! But yes, his production numbers are lower than we would expect of him. Although taking a little stretch can be important, it strikes me as a funny thing that people would create an inefficient process in order to get their exercise in.It may be a fun thing to try in a personal studio, but not in a business. In fact I think a lot of the discussion here revolves around how to run pottery in a personal studio Vs. a production floor. 

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Your last comment is offensive to me,  your employees aren't trying to get in their daily exercises.  They are trying to save there backs and not wanting to look like the hunch back of Notre Dame in a few years.   I worked as a dental lab technician  and had to sit perfectly still for hours, it started effecting my health.    My doctor told me I had to get up an move around  at least once a hour,   it didn't help that much and my boss was always grumbling under his breath about it.  I really liked my work and hated to quit,  I ended up finding a part time lab job and going back to college.   Denice

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@Ceramic Human

I would encourage to improve production skills as well as construction skills. This would probably be over lunch, maybe even one that I paid for. This would be my benefit of a doubt non warning - warning notice. I would also create a reasonable and practical limit on the tools that I provided as often tools that are provided  free generally are treated and cared for in less than stellar fashion. 

In the trades it is pretty simple. Each skilled tradesperson must provide their own hand tools and basic test equipment to perform what should be a skilled task. I expect them to have a meter and not two light bulbs and a cord with probes on the end. I have known folks so adept though that they could use that cord and lightbulb setup to out diagnose many. They usually had the coolest true RMS meter though because this was their profession and they are experts at it. 

In a supervising position I have always preferred folks develop their skill set and improve daily. Encouragement in this has always been important for me. It’s really a human thing, I want you to grow as a person.

As far as fitness, moving, etc.... sitting forever is not reasonable or practical and folks rarely if ever work every minute of the day. Again it comes down to reasonable and practical . These are separate issues diminishing the current one. Making unreasonable demands on employees in this case does not originate from sharpening his rib nor does it serve to validate or dismiss the rib thing unless the employer has a history of unreasonable demands.

I always prefer that individuals learn and improve their skills, grow their careers, grow their human spirit, grow in development as a person. 

In the end I find most  folks fire themselves actually.

not sure if that helps actually, but just my experience for the better part of thirty years.

Edited by Bill Kielb

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4 hours ago, Ceramic Human said:

Although taking a little stretch can be important, it strikes me as a funny thing that people would create an inefficient process in order to get their exercise in.It may be a fun thing to try in a personal studio, but not in a business. In fact I think a lot of the discussion here revolves around how to run pottery in a personal studio Vs. a production floor. 

What exactly, are you considering inefficient?  It is definitely important, for many workers, at a variety of jobs, to get up, walk around, and yes, even stretch, to save them from strain on their bodies.  Any type of repetitive process, does take its toll on the human body.  Office workers, for instance, who usually aren't doing anything overly strenuous, are encouraged to take breaks.  This helps them avoid neck and back strain, from sitting, for so long.  This helps with their wrists and hands, from constant computer/ keyboard use.  And it gives their eyes a break, from the screen, which really does strain the eyes.  

In regards to potters, there are the neck and back issues to consider.  There are wrist issues, especially if centering larger amounts of clay, or from a lot of wedging.  And there is just the mental break, from doing the same repetitive task.  Some times, you just have to step back.  

Each potter, kind of has their own routine.  Some potters here, use the wedging process as their warm up, before starting on the wheel.  Whatever works for them, as long as they are being productive, should be allowed.  A healthy potter/ worker, is a productive potter/ worker.

Now, back to the rib thing, that is not a health issue.  It just seems to be a quirk.  If that is affecting their work, then you have a right to say something.  

Maybe try a little experiment.  Take two new ribs.  Have the person use one, up until the point, that they think it needs to be sanded.  Compare it to the new, unused one.  If there is no difference, then your point should be made, and they should be expected to sand on their own, off the clock, time, or not at all.  

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16 hours ago, Mark C. said:

One last note

It IS really hard to FIND a Production potter anywhere-Maybe a compromise in the middle .Another choice would be use a harder wood for the rib so it keeps its edge longer -like hard maple or even harder woods.Just a thought

I have to agree here, I was offered a throwing job months ago, which is a testament to how hard it must be to find them around here.

Having said that, my current employer would just tell me what to do, like "don't sharpen", with no explanation, and expect I will comply. Non-compliance will result in corrective action, up to and including termination, end of story, I was not consulted before management made the decision how I will perform my work duties and my input is not required or requested.

If you think the employee should not be doing it, just end the practice, they don't own the company. - Although, a replacement might not be as easy for this as it is at my job, so that complicates things I'm sure.

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