Monday, October 31, 2016

My DIY Pottery Trimming Tools

When I began studying ceramics in 2014, I became enamored with the precision techniques and guidance provided by Hsin-Chuen Lin on his YouTube channel. At the time of this writing, he has 250+ videos showing and sharing his techniques, his tools, and demonstrating his extensive pottery skill.

One of the most harrowing parts of making wheel-thrown pottery is the trimming process, which entails getting to the clay when it's dried enough but not too much, centering the piece once again on the wheel, and holding the tools correctly. Mr. Lin's videos helped me learn how to tap-center (practice) and how to have contact between my hands and the pot at all times when possible.

Because I love DIY-everything, I particularly enjoyed his video on how to make tools out of hacksaw blades:

I contacted Mr. Lin and he allowed me to visit him in his studio and watch him work. My friend Ash took some gorgeous photos that day.

I was inspired by the video and the presence of a blowtorch in my house to make my own tools from some old knives.

Blowtorch, a bastard-cut file, two pairs of pliers, a bowl of water, an old knife.

Got rid of the pointy bit.

Dulled the part of the blade that I wouldn't be using, and sharpened the square edges. In hindsight, I should have sharpened a bit farther down the blade, to have a better corner for trimming. 

The plastic handle melted a bit because I kept the knife in the flame too long. Oops.

This tool has treated me relatively well, but it has to be sharpened quite frequently if I want to avoid unintentional chattering. Perhaps it's so hard to avoid because the tool is so thick? 

Of course, I couldn't stop with that one. More bent metal things:

My favorite and most effective one is the one in the center-- perhaps because it's thinner, it holds the edge better? The one on the left is very sharp, but it is a bit too pointy for most of my trimming needs. 

A video of me trimming a bottle using that favorite tool:

A video posted by narinda heng (@narindaism) on