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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Today, 04:31 PM

#63526 Used Pottery Wheels: The Good And The Bad?

Posted by neilestrick on 29 July 2014 - 05:26 PM

I'm a Thomas-Stuart/Skutt fan. I've got 11 of them. They run smooth, have the most torque for the money, and the big splash pans keep the studio much cleaner.


For used wheels, just make sure it runs smoothly, and check the belt for wear. Beyond that it's hard to tell if it will run for 20 years or break down in a week. Avoid the Brent wheels with the black control box with smooth/flush buttons. Those were not good- Brent was replacing them if they died, but I don't know if they still are.

#63206 Granite For Wedging Tabletop/element Wire For Fixed Cut Wire ?

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 03:45 PM

Hmmmm.....wondering how many potters/ceramists are also guitar pickers.


I'm a banjo picker, which is why I use guitar strings for a wedging wire. I need my banjo strings!

#63201 Raku - Leaving Pots In Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 24 July 2014 - 01:02 PM

In addition to the issues of reduction posted above, dumping a bunch of combustible material into the top of a hot kiln is a very dangerous thing to do. It ignites so rapidly that there's good chance of catching a fireball in your face.

#63105 Are Custom Orders On Location A Good Idea?

Posted by neilestrick on 23 July 2014 - 02:32 PM

On average I take one order at every art fair. There is always someone who wants X form with Y glaze and I don't have it in stock. So they pay 100% up front plus shipping, and they wait 4-6 weeks to get it. I will only make forms that I already make, and only with glazes I already use. Nothing custom. I will not copy someone else's form, and certainly won't formulate a glaze for someone. For dinnerware orders I take a 50% non-refundable deposit.

#63080 Flying With Ceramic Material

Posted by neilestrick on 23 July 2014 - 10:28 AM

I would not try to fly with bags of white powder. :unsure:

#62959 Granite For Wedging Tabletop/element Wire For Fixed Cut Wire ?

Posted by neilestrick on 21 July 2014 - 02:35 PM

The clay will probably stick to the granite when you wedge, rough or smooth.


Guitar strings make great cutoff wires. Put a stiff spring on one end. I've got one that's going on 13 years.

#62702 What Can I Make Besides Food-Holding Stuff?

Posted by neilestrick on 18 July 2014 - 10:26 AM

If your glazes are not food safe, they shouldn't be used on the inside of planters, either.

#62667 How Fast Do You Run Your Wheel When Centering?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 09:05 PM

I've got the TS 1/2 HP and use it at 75% to center, slower for pulling and other work, depending.  I'm asking because I have 3 other wheels in my studio right now and 2 of them are much lighter and slower wheels, with lower HP.  When I started moving around among my beginning wheel students helping with centering, I actually had to work at centering the 2 lb balls on the smaller wheels where on my TS the same clay is instantly centered.  Got me to wondering. And one of my beginner students wants to buy a wheel and I hesitate to recommend the lighter wheels with my experience today. 

Any thoughts?  The TS is very nice, solid, smooth great foot pedal sensitivity. May have spoiled me for the others?


Ultimately, you get used to what you have. But if they plan to use the TS in class, then they might not enjoy they're smaller wheel at home by comparison. The price point between the lower priced decent wheels and the higher priced wheels is only about $300, so it's easy enough for a student to save up for another few months to afford the better wheel. I highly recommend the TS wheels- lots of smooth power, smart design, but not the most expensive. I've got 11 of them, 10 are the 1/3hp, and I haven't made anything that slows them down yet.

#62643 Why Don't Elements Glow Outside The Kiln.

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 05:49 PM

One more question, why does everybody attach all the electrics to the outside of the kiln where it gets hot and moist? Is there a reason not to run wires to the elements from a seperate box or is it easier to manufacture them that way + less wire.


It's easier and faster and therefore cheaper to attach it all to the side of the kiln. Easier to ship, too. There are some kilns, such as the L&L Davinci models, that have all the electronics housed in a free-standing box, however that's because there's just too many parts and big relays to fit into a kiln mounted box. That's a good question, though, because relays, and electronics in general, last longer if they are kept cool. I see more relay failure in certain brands of kilns due to their design.

#62611 Why Don't Elements Glow Outside The Kiln.

Posted by neilestrick on 17 July 2014 - 10:51 AM

The section of the element that goes through the wall and attaches to the feeder wires is called the 'pigtail'. Take a close look at them and you'll notice that they are twisted double thick. That keeps that section from heating up.

#62195 Firing Without A Vent Kit - 2 Quick Peephole Questions

Posted by neilestrick on 10 July 2014 - 09:28 PM

Do not crack the lid. With a zone control digital kiln like the L&L it can cause issues with the controller since the top will be fighting to stay as hot as the other sections. You should have no problem leaving the top peep open through the entire firing. Many of my school customers that only have overhead hoods, not downdraft vents, do it that way. It will reach temperature just fine. There's no reason to plug it at the end of the firing, either, unless you find that it's cooling too quickly with it open. It's unlikely to cause shivering or cracking, but you may find your glazes look better with a slower cooling.

#62038 Wireless/network/remote Smoke Detector?

Posted by neilestrick on 08 July 2014 - 04:04 PM


#61819 Aesthetically Pleasing Garments For Clay Workers.

Posted by neilestrick on 05 July 2014 - 01:54 PM

When I'm done with my jeans, they are not in good enough condition to make an apron. Plus I've never found an apron that keeps me clean enough to warrant wearing it all day. Got plans for converting old jeans into a hazmat suit?

#61425 Building A Top Loader Kiln Lid.

Posted by neilestrick on 26 June 2014 - 05:39 PM

The steel rod is totally unnecessary in a slab of that size, and will likely cause problems in a lid that's only 3" thick. The rod will be too close to the edge of the brick and will likely warp due to the heat. The hole in the middle of the old kiln had nothing to do with the failure of the lid. A crack may have found its way to the hole, but the hole itself is not a weak point. Mortared lids fail over time. It's just the nature of the beast. The flex and move a lot during a firing, and take a beating being raised and lowered every day. The best thing you can do to increase the life of the lid is to get a good quality hinge that mounts front and back on the slab, and all the way down the back side of the kiln. L&L and Skutt come to mind.


The key to good mortaring is to keep the mortar joint very thin, and get the bricks joined up quickly before the mortar dries. It's not as easy as you might think. Personally, I would spend the money on a factory lid, or find a cheap used kiln in the area and use that lid. If the floor slab is in decent shape then you'll have a backup. I would not spend the time and effort in making my own lid, knowing it will most likely not be as strong as a factory slab.

#61361 Real Time Preheating Question

Posted by neilestrick on 25 June 2014 - 11:32 AM

The cost of preheating is so low you might as well do 12 hours just to be safe. If I put freshly trimmed pots into the kiln I usually do an 8 hour preheat to get them dry.