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Hi Folks,

 

I manage a community clay studio which serves roughly 100-200 people each month - students, renters, beginners, professionals, kids, adults. We provide all the tools one needs to work in clay, and for the most part our tools stay in good shape.

 

That said, I struggle to keep our wire tools in decent condition for more than a couple weeks. I have been buying the Kemper Cut-Off tool (~$2.50 each), but with such constant use, the wire frays and becomes uncomfortable/painful to use pretty quickly. Getting poked with frayed wire is an annoyance to our long-term customers and a turn-off to studio participants new to clay.

 

Does anyone have suggestions for a DIY wire tool? 

 

Past attempts:

* Deep sea fishing line/wire - When the smaller gague Kemper wire frays or splits, I'll use this heavier gague wire in the Kemper dowels. These last longer, but ultimately suffer the same fate.

* High test thread tied to washers - These do a great job and take much longer to brek down, but they tangle something awful. These feel like i'm just trading one problem for another.

 

Current DIY ideas:

* Kevlar string/thread - I'm fearful this will tangle just as badly as the last thread.

* Hemp string - I think this would probably break down with repeated exposure to water.

* Tennis racket stringing - I don't think this would tangle or kink, but it's generally very thick.

 

The wire tool may simply be pottery's version of the foul ball... constantly lost and replaced. But I'm on a mission to figure out a better way.  Any advice or ideas will be appreciated.

 

Thanks much,

 

Chris

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I use piano wire for all my wirey needs. It's supper strong (same kind of wire partisans strung across roads to take of the heads of Germans on motorcycles). The thinnest is very thin but strong and makes a great cut-off wire. It is a little stiff so is not as easy as regular wire to tie a handle loop at each end. I use a little thicker one for a bow I use to cut slabs and one a little thicker than that as the cutting wire on my wedging table. I use one a little thicker than that to tie around the top of my head to make the voices easier to hear.

 

Jim

Idaho Potter likes this

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Make your handles and get some stainless fishing wire from a tackle shop. Buy some in a few thickness's thicker for longer wires.

Just about any other brand of cut off wires last longer than kempers-its just that they are so cheap so they get bought a lot.

Mark

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Multi strand stainless fishing leader and crimp on fasteners from american fishing wire.

I like the 60lb.

Make 'em any length you want

 

What the hell are you doing with these cut off wires? I've been making pots on and off 20 years and have only gone through about 4 cutoff wires and 2 of those were replaced because they carelessly got kinked.

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Guitar strings work nicely (or mando, or bouzouki... blah blah). Do you have any musician friends? I play in an Irish band, and I've never had to buy a cutting wire for my clay work...

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go to walmart with a few dollars.  see the fishing leaders in the sporting goods dept.  buy a package of 6 or so for under a dollar. they come in various sizes and thickness each with loops at the ends. then go to automotive and  find some key holders, the rings you slide your keys around.  they are 99cents each.  put the two together.  magic happens and the wires can be hung up on a nail.

 

then go to home depot or a tile supply store.  buy a tile grout sponge for maybe $2.  take it home and use a serrated knife to cut 5 or 6 sponges that will come out about 2x5 inches by whatever thickness you cut.  one about 3 inches thick becomes a clean up sponge (for those awful splash pans and table tops) and the rest replace those silly little round ones that cost so much and fall apart fast.

Mart likes this

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after threading the one dowel handles I put it on the wheel stuck in a piece of clay and twist it before putting the other dowel on. I made about 40 this way for my 2 classes, but they are longer cut off wires.

The thinner steel fishing line twisted nicely.

 

Marcia

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Spectra fishing line aka braid.

 

You can get coated wire called seven strand or the like,

 

 

 

Why not sell a basic ceramic tools set. I've seen them at close out places for 2.99. But keep some shop tools on hand...

 

I'm with mark stainless will last a while. 150# pound is pretty fat line.. And since you say cord I'm assuming its Dacron. Your longevity my be better seved with lower test weight, Not to mention lower cost.

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As an alternate to wood dowels for the ends, I use fishing bobbers at each end of the wire.  The bobber has a spring-loaded "j" that will grip the loop of the wire.  They are also bright and eye-catching and hard to lose, and come in a variety of sizes, in packs, or loose.  I use mine with coated stainless steel deep sea fishing line leaders.  I buy the leaders already made up, which costs a bit more with the loops already to go, but I take care of my cut-off wire better than the average student may and find it worth it to me to have the loop made.

 

John

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I use piano wire for all my wirey needs. It's supper strong (same kind of wire partisans strung across roads to take of the heads of Germans on motorcycles). The thinnest is very thin but strong and makes a great cut-off wire. It is a little stiff so is not as easy as regular wire to tie a handle loop at each end. I use a little thicker one for a bow I use to cut slabs and one a little thicker than that as the cutting wire on my wedging table. I use one a little thicker than that to tie around the top of my head to make the voices easier to hear.

 

Jim

Does it not interfere with that aluminum foil hat you wear to keep the creepies from reading your thoughts?

OffCenter likes this

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lots of people use piano wire, guitar string, and thin metal wire - but personally i don't think those hold up when used as communal tools, they kink and fray too easily unless taken care of.

 

i would suggest looking into high-test fishing line for an inexpensive solution since you can get rolls of it.  thick monofilament line works pretty good but isn't kink-resistant and tends to "hold memory", plus side is it's the cheapest fishing line.  other good line to look at are braided lines and these come in different types - i would recommend Spectra braided line aka: dyneema -- stuff is crazy abrasion resistant and VERY strong (like 300lb test for a 1mm thick line), it's the more expensive option for fishing line.

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Of course you use piano wire Jim like we did not know that one . Just like the weep testing on your piano top. Hey no need to string wire up to get those pesky motorcycles just put the pianio on in the middle of the street on a blind curve. It will need tuning afterward though.

Mark

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I understand the foil cap to foil the creepies, but--silly me--thought the thicker wire was for sending messages.  Aren't you the voice in my head?

 

BTW, my grandson plays in a band (who would have thought?) so I get guitar strings anytime I need a handful. 

 

All joking aside, I like the regular cut-off wire tools, but students who refuse to place the wire and only pull ONE handle have cost me at least 3 new wires each session.   AArrrrrghhh!

 

Shirley

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