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QotW: Space wise can you afford to have a slab roller?

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Ok, OK, OK, ok. . . no more new QotW's in the pool so Pres is going to have to pose one.  I just happened to have been asked a few days ago if I would be interested in a Brent 14 inch slab roller with stand. This is a cable system that I first purchased while teaching. I am familiar with its foibles, and the board system for setting up thicknesses. So not a big deal. However, I had to pause, as my one car garage is kind of crowded. Then I figured that I could always cover it and use it for a table or new pot shelf when not actually using it. So someone might ask how often I would use it? I do like to do a bunch of slab/wheel combinations, and this would be helpful. . at times. 

In the end I said yeah I would take it and pay some cash for it. I think I mentioned $25 or $50.

So the question of the week is Space wise can you afford a slab roller or any other piece of equipment that you would not use all the time?

 

best,

Pres

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I know most people here have a dedicated area for their pottery, and I feel like eventually I'll move towards that.  When that time comes there is a list of equipment I'd love to get for specific reasons and a slab roller is one of them.  I'd love to make slab plates and feel like a slab roller would make that a lot faster.  I want an extruder for handles, test tiles and extruded kiln stuffers (soap dishes, toothbrush holders, business card holders, etc).  But in the end I need to be realistic about the space I have, so no.  The space a slab roller would take up would mean displacing my entire rack of glaze chemicals, which also happens to be the rack with my sleeping bags, tent and portapotty.  

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My studio is small and the electric slab roller is 30 inchs wide at rollers and another 1 foot for the mechanics. its about 7 feet long as well. I cut into the sill to get it flatter to fit my small space.I use the table all time in glazing and forming stuff. It was an adjustment but in the long run I'm vdery happyt to have it. The table is formica so its a joy to clean up.My answer is yes I can afford it space wise even thought its use is not very often.I wonder why I did not get this sooner in my career ???My rolling pins  and shims hardly ever get used anymore-now thats something that is never used taking up space now.

 

Edited by Mark C.

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I have a 12x12 room and I don’t slab build a whole lot, so in my case it’s a hard pass. I have to be pretty deliberate about what I have in that space, and it’s part of the reason I’m such a fan of low tech soloutions for most things.  I got no room to get complicated!

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I have a 10x11 maker's space.  But I did work in a small tabletop slab roller which has paid for itself over and over and over.  And it is work space also.  That is where I sit to do hand work.   However, no place for an extruder or a pugger.  Those things happen the old fashioned way.  And I should say, I do not dry all my pots in that 10x11 room, they are shuttled next door to the "spare room" which hurriedly gets purged when company comes!!   

r.

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sorry, pres,  that your space is so small for all the things you do.  but i bet you will find more use for your new slab roller than you can imagine today. 

i use my slab roller tables at both locations for a comfortable height table as well as rolling out slabs.  i am fortunate that i found the big bailey, originally 8 feet long, when bailey decided to make only the big 30 inch size and put mine on clearance.   it is 24 inches wide and i have cut it down to only 7 feet because when i put the bathroom in, the 8th foot stuck out.  it is bolted to a heavy wooden door that serves as a stabilizer and gives me several inches behind and in front of the roller itself.  i use both all the time and it is rare that the tabletop is not being actively used.  there is storage space under it that holds lots of occasionally used wooden forms and the edge is where i hang lots of useful tools.

in the tiny studio in florida, the extra length that was added a couple of years ago became my table of choice.  the height is just right for almost everything and it is so easy to wash off.  when it was only 2 feet on either side of the roller, it was a pain because there was no room to work.  i have watched other people make slabs only large enough for what they are making right now and cannot understand that way of working.  i make slabs that are 22 by 28 or so and almost fill my printers blanket.   that gives me enough to make several things at once and if i use a big piece, there is room for lots of small stuff on the leftover slab.   gets lots of stock without having to devote a day to making small stuff.   just form it  and stuff it on a drywall shelf nearby to dry.

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It sounds like Im in the same boat as everyone else here too.

I built my slab roller frame, and top, and used a Bailey Machine to finish it out. Made the top from Formica, and made the in/out feed tables larger than need be; table end to end is about 10', by 30'' wide. I also made the height of the top closer to 37" so it was a comfortable height to work on. Both choices (bigger table, and higher top) were made because I knew it was going to have to serve double duty. When I get into my bigger studio I will be making a new top so it will be 4' wide and 10' long. 

I also built shelves underneath the table so I can store all my forms for slab work, along with all kinds of other tools etc. I made it small enough that it could fit through most doorways, and can come apart when I need it to. I usually have the "wheel" taken off my mech so its easier to work around...slides into a corner of the studio. I use the slab roller as a slab roller about 1-3 days a month, and for the few times a year I use it, I consider it a completely sound investment. I make these little dishes from slabs which are press molded into a plaster mold; before the roller it would take me about an hour to make 50 blanks, with the slab roller it takes me about half or less of that time; It paid for itself quite rapidly, even though the mech from Bailey was close to $1k.

My current studio is on the smaller size than what my new studio will be, but is bigger than what most of you are stating. If I had a smaller studio, and wanted to have a slab roller, Id put it on heavy duty locking casters so I could roll it to a wall when not in use as a slab roller, and it would become just a work/storage table. I put small 1" non locking castors on one end of my slab roller, thinking that the other end without castors would keep it from shifting around the studio as its worked on; while it doesnt move around, I dont think it would anyways even if I had casters on both ends. It does make it very easy to pick up the one end and "drive" it around the studio when need be.

I think if I only made slabs a couple times per year, then Id stick with my slats and rolling pins, but it is SOO much nicer to have an actual slab roller when you're making a bunch of slabs.

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Like Marc and Sam my Bailey slab roller has Formica on it and storage underneath it.   Their is always work being done on it, if I am not using it  my husband will spread some newspapers out and work on come car part.  My shop has heat and air conditioning  I am glad to share some space with him.  We bought the slab roller unit and built the table from plans that Bailey sent with the roller.  I would have a hard time parting with it.  I have made thousands of tiles with it and I am starting a new tile project soon.    Denice

Edited by Denice
Forgot a name

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My home-made slab roller was designed to fit under the bench in my greenhouse/studio.  Now, tho' it sits permanently on the bench, and is used as bench space when I don't need to roll.

The benefit of not having to drag it out, find something to put it on, then struggle to put it away, has more than made up for the space it takes up, and as for the time and effort to make it - not having to use the rolling pin has made my shoulder much happier.

 

So for me, finding the space was a no-brainer.

 

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I have the Bailey table-top on my work table that I use mostly for glazing and sorting, within a 12x14 total studio space. It's worth every penny, especially with some of the benefit to reduce wear & tear on my body.  I often use it for other flat surface work when not rolling clay.  I'm careful about cleaning it and keeping the surface in good condition. The masonite boards come in handy for other things as well. It earns its keep. and if need be I can stash it under the work table. 

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I got one of those little table top slab rollers and some slab mats when I bought a package deal for someone's studio stuff, but the person didn't give me the boards for it and it has sat unused.  I plan to cut some plywood so my wife can use it for handbuilding, but i am out of space, my studio is in our bathroom.

So no, I can't even afford to have the little table top roller I already have, lol -  Wife says she's gettin' "clausty"!

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5 hours ago, shawnhar said:

 I plan to cut some plywood so my wife can use it for handbuilding, but i am out of space, my studio is in our bathroom.

 

Mine has 6mm mdf boards, and two different thickness "cutting mats".  We made the whole thing so it would take A2 mats.  They weren't bought to be different thickness, just came from different suppliers, but has turned out quite useful.

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