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CactusPots

Table for slab roller

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When I finish my patio cover for my studio expansion, I want to start thinking about a slab roller.  I'll have space for it then.    I do agree with reviews here that the Bailey is the way to go.  I like to build stuff, so I'll probably just get the machine part.

Question:  Does a plaster table for a slab roller make any sense?  No doubt the work table aspect of the slab roller is reality.  My wedging table has held up really well, 20+ years.  I can build a solid table.  I do like the canvas covered slab as a clay working table top.  Would that be compatible with a slab roller?

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A canvas-covered table would not be compatible with the big Bailey slab rollers. These slab roller compress the clay by drawing it through the pair of rollers and sliding the thinned slab across the outfeed table. The tables need to be shiny and smooth so that the clay (which is sandwiched between canvas sheets or a slab mat) can slide with no resistance. A canvas-covered table would have too much friction against the sliding slab.

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The first time I covered my solid core door I covered it with this heavy self stick vinyl that I found on a close out table.   The vinyl started to crack up so I replaced it with  formica.   I think  if you have a smooth door you could probably paint it with a gloss oil base paint.   You could also wallpaper it with a commercial smooth finish vinyl.   Tempered masonite  would probably work,  the tempered is water proof and you can buy a eight foot piece at the lumber yard.   I get formica at close out stores we have around here.   I try to get a piece as close to the size I need,  use contact cement to put it down and use a rolling pin to make sure it has good contact.   My husband has a router with a formica bit that we use to cut the excess  off.   Denice

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1 hour ago, CactusPots said:

So the surface of choice is pretty much formica?

As Denice has suggested, there a various materials that you can use to build a table with using various surface treatments, but anything that you roll or brush on like paint or varnish or urethane will, over time, wear from the friction of the slab mats. Formica would probably be the best choice with the gloss finish most preferable...

JohnnyK

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Formica-is the best. The Bailey table is cut so the wheels roll the slab onto the table-I woul hold off builing that table until you have the machine. Unless you are talking table top model. I have the 30 inch electric model and would not get anything else .

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I doubt I will use it enough to justify the electric model, but will go for the manual 30 inch.  I can build a solid table no problem, but would you advise buying the Bailey table?

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My husband built my table with the instructions from Bailey.   He used 4x4 framing and a solid core door (no plaster inside)  I have been using it for twenty years.   It is very sturdy  I slam  a lot of clay on it.   You will need to own a circular saw,  you cut part of the door off at a 45 degree angle,  it goes on one side of the slab roller unit.  The rest of the door goes on the other side of the unit and sits a inch higher.  We  made our own table because the cost of it and shipping was so high and we could do it.  If you are not handy in woodworking you should probably buy it.     Denice

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Bailey has generic instructions for building your own table that they will send you. 

 Dimensions are important - have the slab roller unit on hand before you build a table so you can make sure everything fits:

  • The table top on the feed side of the slab roller is 1 inch lower than the table top on the output side (output side is the same height as the top of the bottom roller)
  • The distance between the bottom of the machine housing and the table top is not the same for DRD's and DRDII's  - be sure to get instructions specific to the model you buy.

Rather than 1 table,  I had two tables built with 3/4 inch plywood tops.  This allows me to  roll the machine out of the way when not in use and also have a larger stand alone work table.  Both tables are on 4 locking casters.  The larger work table is ~5/8  inch shorter which allows the tables to be level with a piece of sheetrock (see photo).  The slight drop doesn't make any difference if I don't use the sheetrock for bigger slabs.

This design was a  better working option for my studio.  It was not cheaper or faster than buying the Bailey table.

-Stephen

DRDII tables.jpg

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Thanks for that.  This is the kind of advise I was hoping for.   I never would have thought of making 2 tables.  Solid idea, I think. 

I think I could make the second table with a plaster top and cover it with a slab mat when rolling a slab.

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One thing to consider is cutting the slab-which surface under it do you want to have -cloth or paper(slab Mat)-I use the slab mat on top and the cloth under so I'm cutting on cloth not paper-which gets wet and will cut easily.

I really like my Baily 8 foot table but I could have buildt one just as easy-its steel so the legs are not as cumbersome as wood. I like the formica surface as I use it as a work surface alot. I do not want it to roll so if rolling is important I would build my own.

I drag slabs onto wooden playwood pieces to get them out of the way with cloth under them.I could not see why plaster would help as you would not want to cut on that surface as it would get cut up.

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I'm cutting slabs now on  plaster covered with canvas using a fettling knife.  It doesn't cut the canvas.  I've never even seen a slab mat.  If it's paper and tears easily when wet, then maybe that won't work.  I like the plaster as it helps to dry slabs.  I'm pulling textures off templates and applying them as sprig.  All the way around the pot.  The slab pulls more easily off the texture mold if it's slightly on the dry side.  That's my basic work bench.  The idea of the slab roller doubling as a work bench is super attractive.  Sounds like formica is the way to go.

Just to make things complicated, on my new patio work space, the slab isn't level.  It's poured to drain away from the studio building.  I already have leveler feet for the table.  If it needs to move, I'll add castor jacks.  I see them for woodworking equipment.  The 2 piece design for the table would let me move the slab roller machine part up to the permanent work table.  (Maybe) 

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