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Eyvind

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  1. Here is the method I devised on offloading extruded clay ribbons and then cutting them. I was amazed and dismayed when I bought the pugger/extruder that so little practical information exists for this necessary operation. First, I did buy the PP manual tile cutting table. It had a wooden surface then: they have since changed to some synthetic resin or plastic. It also has some pizza cutter blades attached to a spindle that you can use: see their website. This is all gravy. What you need is a table the same height as your ribbon of extruded clay, or just a bit lower, with a relatively smooth surface. Wet clay sticks to everything. So I use a strip of window screening material as the underlayment. These strips are 12" wide by 4 feet long. I start the extrusion and immediately place the leading edge of the clay on top of the the 12" wide leading edge of the screen. The clay and screen attach and then about 4 feet of clay can run out onto the table, made "slick" by the use of the underlying strip of window screen. When the strip of screen is all used, I stop the PP, cut off the strip, and process the ribbon of clay. Because it is on a solid surface table, it can be smoothed, cut, stamped, etc just fine. The pizza cutter with an oil coating is the best straight-line cutter: it doesn't make a messy edge like a needle tool but it does create a slight gap (a "kerf") between tiles that prevents the wet clay from healing back together as it dries. The pizza cutter also is not so sharp that it will slice up your window screening. A second long narrow table is used to load the cut tile onto the wire shelving for drying. You pull on the exposed window screening, not the clay, and the whole 4 foot long length of clay slides from table 1 to the top of the shelf sitting on top of table 2. The table tops need to be the same height to do this without flexing your wet clay. A roller conveyor could be used for supporting simple pugs of clay, but it will not do the job for tile processing. You could use your wooden boards or drywall as the support surface under table #2. However, I use the window screen and the wire shelf to create a pathway for air drying on the underside of the tile. My shop makes hundreds of square feet of tile for many orders and this is the only production efficient method I have found so far. By the way, the wire shelves are stacked on bakers racks, sourced from a restaurant supply store. These are much less expensive than ceramic ware carts. If you use boards or drywall, you will just need to see if the bakers rack dimensions can work for you, or if you need to buy the trays for the rack that would work as shelves. Hope this helps, and let us all know if you find any other tile making efficiencies.
  2. Hi, Learned it all the hard way! On clay: A consultant made a clay formula , and Laguna Clay in Ohio did the custom mixing and packaging. One ton minimum, unfortunately. The important thing really was a relatively large amount of grog, like you would find in many existing clays labeled "sculpture." Clay for throwing has a lot less grog. I have tried standard clays by Laguna made with more grog, including sculpture clays, and the resulting tiles did dry pretty flat. I assume other clays like Standard or Highwater (etc.) also have good options. Your sticky porcelain sounds like it is suitable for throwing, but maybe less friendly for tile. I do not have direct experience with porcelain in the PP, only stoneware, but I've read some on the subject. I think the PP use with porcelain is mostly for mixing and recycling to make a workable clay, not for extruding specifically for tile. How the sticky, plastic clay works in the pugger is unknown to me. Grog damage to the pugmill seems to be minimal to the stainless steel portions of my pugmill. The aluminum parts may have wear but I cannot tell: the surface has always been a bit rough. I agree that PP contact by email is not responsive. I have learned that any request, even for purchase, needs to be by phone. And then even so... My website is www.arcanatileworks.com . Good luck and happy experimenting!
  3. I replied separately to your inquiry about the Peter Pugger. I do have a bit of the lazy in me and look to find ways to reduce the manual labor involved in making tiles, especially flat ones. One approach was to find (even custom formulate) a high-grog tile body. The second was to keep the clay as low moisture as possible while still being in the workable range. The third was to dry wet tiles on closet shelving (the white wire shelving you find at Home Depot). The tiles themselves would sit on top of a strip of window screening to hold the shape of the tile when wet: this facilitated drying from below as well as from above. If the top sides of the tile still dried too fast, I use newspaper on top of the tiles to better equalize the drying process. Even the slab roller can affect warpage. The dual roller kind (like North Star) can reduce the bias in the clay that turns into warpage, and at least save you the step of flipping a slab over to roll again. I have a North Star and love it. The Peter Pugger does create a very homogenous clay extrusion with maybe less warpage bias than more manual methods, but still a lot depends on the clay, the moisture in the clay, and the drying process.
  4. Thank you for your inquiry. Indeed I do still use the pugger and it is a very reliable part of my business. On the extrusion issue I mentioned 9 years ago: no, I haven't found a perfect solution to that tendency for the clay to shrink in a slight curve, except to keeping the extruded ribbon of clay as dry as possible. I agree with one responder who said this may not be totally fixable, since I am sure it is related to the different densities and pressures created by the auger. I recall that a smaller pugmill (Bailey's, I think) was available with twin augers to reduce the bias in the clay created by one auger. Peter Puggers are not available that way. Just to be sure I was clear: the shrinkage into an arc was not warpage: the tile stayed flat but the edges of the tile did not stay straight. My corrective actions are mostly sanding. I acquired a down draft work table with a HEPA filter (not cheap but worth it if you do a lot of sanding and don't want silicosis). I use drywall sanding screens on the greenware edges: it quickly sands off the corners that have shrunk into a gentle arc. I don't know of another workhorse piece of equipment that is as large and reliable as the Peter Pugger, so I have no regrets. However, if I was to buy another one, I would opt for stainless steel. The non-stainless units react with stoneware and porcelain clay when it is stored for more than a month or so and hard crusts and nuggets form along the pugger walls. This ruins a smooth clay extrusion and can plug up a tile die, requiring a complete pugger cleanup and lots of clay waste. Are you a PP user or prospective buyer? I am happy to share any other experiences if you have interest.
  5. An excellent resource for buying and selling used ceramic equipment and supplies is http://www.pottersweb.net/ Go to their classified sections. There are always used wheels for sale.
  6. I have recently begun using a medium sized Peter Pugger tile extruder machine, with an accompanying tile cutter table. I have been working to get straight extrusions with usable edges that dry to tiles with straight sides with 90 degree corners. I have had problems with the edges expanding outwards when drying so that I get arcs for edges instead of straight lines. (I am making tiles 9" square, wet-clay size.) I know there are fluid dynamics issues with extruders that need to be compensated for with die design and maybe extrusion speed. Any advice on these or other possible issues would be welcome. In addition, Peter Pugger has recently introduced a "manual tile cutter table." This is a neat concept with some practical issues. Wet clay does not flow across the plywood surface, even when oiled. I have developed a workaround which I will be happy to share if anyone has interest, and would be interested in sharing any other ideas (like the oil I use) if there is some value in doing so. Thanks to all!
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