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cement board bat

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Cement tile backer board seemed too rough, although I hadn't considered sanding it off to smooth it some.
We're putting up cement siding board at the boy's house, hmm, the back (smooth) side might scuff off smooth enough to make a good bat?

It's stiff, should be fine with water and otherwise generally durable.
How it holds up to tools, that would seem to be "the rub" - I'm off to try it now.



That's how wide the planks are (just over eight inches), so diagonal holes work.
For medium and smaller wares, np.

Here I was ready to go the rib, so, about to cut away that bit of smeared out skirt, which did serve well enough to protect my finger bits from the bat, which is still rough. I used my least favorite wood knife - one I use most, heh; it becoming a nub sooner, that's maybe a drawback.

The material is absorbent enough that getting it damp to start is a thing, like plaster, but not nearly as pronounced.

I liked it well enough to make some more!
The edges need to be cut smooth and clean, err, cut as clean as possible, then cut back and sanded.
A few passes with the sander smoothed the surface a lot! It still abrasive though.
The other side is embossed with a woodgrain pattern, so I'll consider these one-sided bats.

A coat of durable finish of some kind might serve - giving up the absorbency but cutting down on the abrasiveness.

Lightweight, very rigid (some of the plastic bats flex, which can wonk a tall ware), flat, thick enough to hide the pins, easy to make.
I'll update after a good long test run...


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  • 3 weeks later...

So is 3 weeks good enough for a "good long test run"?

Currently I have one, count it, ONE, Hydrobat that I intend to use for platters/bonsai pots (so they pop off nice and neat).  I'm about to buy a couple of the Northstar pottery bat system thingies with the inserts (a couple because dark clay and white clay/porcelain shouldn't mix) and some 12" Medex bats.  But I've always sort of hankered after some sort of Hardiebacker based bat, just couldn't see a way to get around the abrasiveness.

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I haven't circled back on the HardiPlank bats; I'd left the power sander at our son's house.
The test bats had a few quick swipes with sandpaper, which helps; I have one piece that's been more thoroughly sanded, but haven't put holes in it yet...

The HardiPlank bats do move(absorb) some water, more than my powderboard bats, but not as much as the plaster bats.
Hence, wiring off ware comes sooner than with powderboard bats, but they don't "pop off" like with plaster bats.

Edited by Hulk
oops, thanks Pye
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  • 2 weeks later...

We had some big scraps of material, half inch and three quarter inch thick* that I made bats out of.
Not sure what brand/type of material - it's a particle board, or fiberboard of some sort, but the bits/particles are very small.

Any road, so averse am I to $pending on bats, I cut and drilled the material into rounds same size as the wheel head, also squares (with rounded corners) big enough to catch the bat pins in diagonal corners, then treated them with oil based stain, several times, allowed for thorough drying (a few weeks in the sun), and a final coat of polyurethane.
add: might've been oil bourne varnish, idk

If there's a next time, I'll skip the poly - it's great until it starts to fail. Where the poly has completely worn away, the bats are just starting to absorb moisture and swell a bit - time to dry thoroughly and re-treat with oil stain. ...or just start using the other side!

Over five years later, they are holding up fairly well.

I have two black plastic bats that are ok, however, they do flex a tiny bit, which is enough to distort ware (easily fixed, yes - still a bit annoying tho').
The Speedball bat is rigid but expensive. I didn't like the blind holes (easily remedied).

The HardiPlank bats may answer!
add: I want to try coating them, then comparing to sanded/polished ones left uncoated ...not decided on what to try, something that sticks and wears really well, maybe two part epoxy paint.

*I really like the thick ones. Although it looks like water/slip would sling over the lip of the splash pan, as the surface is that much higher, it doesn't, miracle!

Edited by Hulk
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I appreciate the updates on this @Hulk, I made a few bats of Hardibacker for my partner about a year ago but she hasn’t used them yet! My wheel doesn’t have holes for bat pins so I haven’t bothered to try them either (I’m accustomed to using roofing felt bats). 

We both regularly use it for ware boards though. The belt sander is a worthwhile step. 

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9 hours ago, Hulk said:

I put the clay pad on a bat* when using unholy bats!

*likely the practice is very frown worthy...

Me too.  I often will leave a large plastic  bat glued down with clay for days.   I cut off the pot I threw and clean the top of the bat, it is ready for another ball of clay.  I am not a production potter, I just do  throwing sessions  on a whim.   Denice

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Update on the cement siding board* bats.
I recommend sanding them smooth, painting/sealing them so the working surface is less abrasive, and trimming the edges with a tile saw (wet saw).

The bats are very stiff, not heavy, store nicely, are easy and not terribly expensive to make, even if paying full retail for a plank or two. 
The material is somewhat brittle; I'm curious to see how they hold up.

Per prior, sanding with the powered random orbital sander gets them smooth enough to use; I used 120 grit discs.
...smooth enough, yes, but I didn't use them - my other bats are smoother.
Also, I can choose between a bit absorbent (powder board), not absorbent at all (plastic), or very absorbent (plaster).
The cement board bats are between "a bit" and "very" absorbent - which I haven't been interested in.

So, I sanded off the six demo bats more, washed and dried them, then shot them with aerosol can "epoxy" paint (I found Krylon appliance paint at the local box store).
The new cement board is "pre primed," hence, two coats seem sufficient.
Between coats, allow to dry, sand off the gloss, clean (!important!), then apply next coat. 
The bats made from older cement board - that isn't pre primed - three coats seem sufficient.
The fibers stick up when wetted by the paint but are easily sanded off once the paint is fully dry.

Above are a few of the second batch of bats (after one coat of paint).
The wet saw cuts are smooth and tight - almost polished. I've knocked the edges off with the sander and rounded off the 45° corners as well.
Clipping the corners at 45°, I recommend that, for even a rounded off 90° doesn't feel good if/when it whacks your hand; besides, the clipped corners are tougher.
In the shot, there's a kitchen squirt container, very handy for glazing; a cut in half sponge; a corner of a sponge, and some greenware.

Here's two of the first batch of bats.
I'd cut the corners and lengths with siding board shears.
The shears leave some crushing along the edges, which is fine for siding hung on a building, but not so much for this application, for little bits will eventually work loose and end up in the reclaim, so these edges were cut back a bit more with the tile saw. I'd tried for a rounded corner, eeh, they look a little ragged.
In the shot is a Skutt wheel, cut in half sponge, a one gallon plastic bucket (coming up on forty years, that bucket), and clothespin chamois keeper.

*Cement siding - HardiPlank here - has embossed wood grain pattern on the "show" side, mostly smooth on the back side.
We're using the back side, which is somewhat smoother than tile backer board's back side, per my assessment...
The plank thickness seems perfect, just enough to cover the bat pins.

Edited by Hulk
minor edit
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