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Black abrasive substance on wheel


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I am fairly new to throwing and have just bought my own wheel, a Rhode HMT 500. First few weeks of throwing everything was greet, but now whenever I throw directly on the wheel head I am getting this black substance that feels gritty. It’s actually really abrasive and hurts my hands after a while. 

I thought it may be residue from some more heavily grogged clay I was throwing, but I have cleaned and cleaned the wheel head. On a totally clean wheel, if I wet my finger and let it run over the wheel head I can see and feel this black gritty substance build up. 

Does anyone know what it might be or how I can get rid of it?

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It's probably aluminum oxide, pretty common on older wheelheads.  You can sand it off or use something like steel wool and vinegar.  Barkeeps friend or a powdered abrasive cleaner works too.

You need to get a nice polish on it after so don't use a rough grit.




Edited by liambesaw
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  • 4 months later...


I just got a new pottery wheel (Venco no.3) and also have the issue of black gritty grime when throwing. My clay ends up with little particles like coffee grind stuck in it. It's a new wheel and I am worried about using steel wool as I can only see it scratch the entire aluminium surface. Does anyone have any other ideas what it could be? 



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So sad to hear all these issues with aluminum wheelheads, I have never had an issue with mine.  

Vinegar may be strong enough to strip off any sodium aluminate, leaving a protective oxide layer but it should not be coming off as hard chunks in your clay, that doesn't sound normal.

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