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One of the most basic needs for creating pottery, are simple tools.
Yes, things like a potter’s wheel, a kiln or a wedging table are helpful, but before you jump into buying all sorts of expensive stuff, you’ll want to get a set of basic tools.
These tools will help you with everything from cutting clay to cutting feet on pieces, or even making patterns or shapes in your clay.
A set of basic tools are essential for every potter, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a great set of tools.
For the beginner, start with a simple kit with just a few tools.
This will allow you to focus on building your skills, instead of trying to figure out a bunch of tools.
Simple tool kits, generally have eight to ten pieces, and are perfect for learning the basic skills necessary for all potters.
As you become more comfortable with your skills or as your desire to create different effects in your clay grows, you will find that more diverse tool kits will help you achieve the vision you have for every ceramics piece.
Additionally, more advanced kits have tools that will make some basic skills, like scoring joints just a little easier and quicker.
This may seem like a luxury, but when your pottery hobby has become a money making venture, having a wide variety of tools, to quickly score or texture a piece will make production faster, saving you time and money.
When you are shopping for pottery tools, it is important to consider the materials that your tools are constructed from.
Look for tools that have easy to grip handles, and high quality metal parts.
If you are buying tools that have metal handles, make sure that the handles are textured so that they don’t slip from your hands when they are wet or covered in clay slip.
Many potters prefer tools with wooden handles, which are easier to hold with damp hands, and are also easier to clean than textured metal tools.
Some tools come with thicker handles or tapered handles which can make holding tools, especially for young kids or individuals suffering from arthritis or other ailments, just a bit easier.
Tools don’t have to be expensive. There are lots of great kits on the market that have plenty of handy tools, for less than $50.
When you are shopping for tools, unlike things like a wheel or kiln, price doesn’t necessarily mean as much.
There are great, durable products on the market that are reasonably priced. What is more important when shopping for tools, is picking the right kit for your needs.
If you are doing more hand building, you may want a kit with more trimming and molding tools.
If you are doing lots of wheel building, you may want to pick a tool kit that is has fewer molding tools, and more trimming tools, to allow you to make fine designs in your pieces.
Understanding that shopping for tools, is not how a pottery enthusiast wants to spend their time, we’ve put together this helpful buying guide.
In this guide, we’ll show you the best kits on the market, and give you the pros and cons of each.
We’ll also give you some helpful hints on what to look for when you’re buying pottery tools. Then, we’ll answer some of the burning question about pottery tools.
We’ve searched the internet for the best tools and the most common question, and we’ve given you both, here in one handy buying guide.
Our Reviews Of The Best Pottery Tools
#1 Meuxan Pottery Tools Clay Sculpting Tool Set
30 piece clay and pottery tools.
Durable and long-lasting wood and stainless steel construction to meet your needs.
Ideal for carving, modeling, cutting, scraping, chipping, brushing, smoothing and more.
Double-sided design for a variety of shapes and uses, makes your work more flexible.
Great for beginners, nice variety for price.
Most of the tools go unused, some tools break easily.
Great gift for beginner or for pumpkin carving.
#2 Blisstime Set of Clay Sculpting Tool Wooden Handle Pottery Carving Tool Kit
These clay tools are smooth, lightweight & comfortable to hold, made of durable wood and stainless steel construction.
Keep your pottery tools organized with a strong zip-up case.
Individually store tools to make it easy to find the right tool at a glance and gives you compact storage and ideal for bringing your equipment to pottery class.
Contains most of the clay tools you will need, great for carving, shaping, modeling, cutting, scraping, brushing, smoothing.
Great value for the money, great starter pack for students.
Smiley face pulls on case.
Apron and zip-up case to keep you organized.
Perfect gift for the aspiring artist in your life.
#3 Arteza Pottery & Clay Sculpting Tools
The Arteza set of tools come with durable stainless steel tips that will not bend under pressure allowing for the most precision.
Professional quality tools for the dabbling novice and for the seasoned expert alike.
Double-sided, wood handles, stainless steel tips.
Well-made and durable, tons of tools.
No carrying case, many tools go unused.
The set includes double-headed rubber shapers for blending, shaping and easily removing fingerprints and blemishes from the surface of clay.
The all-in-one clay and pottery sculpting kit is perfect for the dabbling novice or the seasoned expert alike.
#4 BlackyVox Pottery and Clay Sculpting Tools
These handy little pottery tools are lightweight and sharp, providing for fine detailing, accuracy and efficiency.
They have managed to reduce the number of tools but not their utility.
You will find the same number of heads in a smaller volume, eliminating the weight of the case in the idea of a handy handling.
These tools for polymer clay are a good help for advanced as well as beginners.
Handles are made of wood and treated against moisture.
Fewer pieces, well made, lightweight.
Could be sharper, apron is OK.
Carrying case, apron and absorbent cloth.
Not available to children, adult supervision is required.
#5 Sherrill Mudtools Do All Double Ended Trim Tool
Japanese inspired and reimagined As the name implies, we think this ceramic trim tool does it all.
The sharpened more familiar spade shape provides an excellent precise cutting edge, especially for working the details around the foot of tea bowls, bowls and plates.
The curl, provides both a broad surface for smoothing and a tight shape for detail trimming. Enjoy discovering all the possibilities this tool provides.
Made in USA.
High quality thick metal tool.
Can rust, pricey.
It’s worth a higher price than going through multiple cheap tools.
Pottery Tools FAQ’s
If you are new to pottery, you probably have some questions about all of the gear that you’ve realized you need.
Our team searched the internet for some of the most common questions regarding pottery tools.
In this section, we’ve compiled some of the frequently asked questions, and provided you with the answers, in one place.
Giving you more time to create beautiful pottery pieces, instead of looking around the internet for answers to some basic questions.
What are the tools used in pottery?
For all potters, a good set of tools will include some basics like a sponge, metal and/or wood rib, a wire cutting tool and a couple of trimming loops and a needle tool.
These are the most simple of the tools that a potter will find helpful, whether you are hand building, sculpting or wheel throwing.
Of course there are lots of other tools that are handy to have, and many kits on the market will come with the basics, plus a variety of other trimming tools, scoring tools, and even water buckets and aprons.
A good set of tools will make any pottery project simpler.
There are some other tools that are handy for every potter to have, that you may not find included in a tool kit.
First, a small bucket is a very handy tool for every potter.
A bucket will allow you to have a close source of water when you are hand building pieces, and will provide you with a place to wet your sponge, wheel head, hands and clay when you are wheel building.
You can also use this bucket to store your tools when you aren’t using them or to carry supplies to and from your favorite class or studio.
The other “tool” that is handy to have is an apron or smock.
Pottery is a messy hobby, so having a durable and washable apron or smock is a must for protecting your clothes.
You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to an apron. Look for a basic kitchen apron with a couple of pockets.
Pockets are helpful for holding things like pencils or paper towels to wipe your hands on.
Tools that are handy for pottery don’t just have to be things you buy at the local art supply store or on the internet.
Many experienced potters find handy tools for texturing and clay or creating decoration from things that are easy to find inside or outside of our homes.
Things like toothpicks, paper plates, and even forks, knives and spoons can be really handy tools for texturing and working pottery.
Things like leaves, flowers and sticks can make great tools for adding decoration and design to a plain pottery piece.
What is the difference between pottery and ceramics?
This is a very interesting question.
Many people think that there is a difference between pottery and ceramics.
However, many are surprised to learn that there is really no difference between ceramics and pottery at all.
Have you ever heard the saying, “All thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs?”
Well something similar can be said about ceramics and pottery. While all pottery is ceramic, not all ceramics are pottery.
What exactly do we mean by that? Well, here’s a basic explanation.
Ceramics and pottery are both made using the same techniques and using the same materials.
Ceramics and pottery are both created using a clay material that is shaped or formed using a variety of tools and techniques, and then air dried.
The air dried piece is then fired in a kiln creating what is called earthenware. Earthenware is porous, and is what you might associate with the terra cotta pots used for planting flowers.
Earthenware ceramics or pottery are then glazed, and fired in a kiln a second time. The result is a material called stoneware.
Stoneware is waterproof and is the type of ceramic that most dishes are.
What distinguishes pottery from ceramics is that pottery refers to the creation of pieces that are containers.
Pottery is any form of ceramics that will be used to hold some material. We mostly think of pottery being things like cups, vases, bowls and plates. In essence, pottery is tableware.
There are a couple of subsets of pottery; studio pottery and commercial pottery. Studio pottery is created by an individual who makes unique and diverse pieces of pottery.
Commercial pottery is mass produced, and uses the same kind of clay for every piece. Ceramics pieces can be anything from containers, to sculptures or even molded figures.
The term ceramics encompasses the full range of styles that can be created using clay, and then processed using heat.
What is a wooden knife used for in ceramics?
The wooden knife is a very handy tool in your ceramics tool box.
It is a versatile tool that has a variety of applications when working with clay. Wood knives are also known as modeling tools.
These tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most frequently used in hand building pieces, though they can be used in wheel building or molded ceramics.
In hand building, modeling tools or wooden knives are handy for doing things like smoothing the joints where two pieces of clay meet.
They can also be used to score clay edges before joining, though most potters prefer to use a small brush, toothbrush or a needle for this task.
These tools can also be used to carve decoration or textures into soft clay surfaces.
Because they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, you can easily create endless textures, designs and shapes with modeling tools.
When wheel building, modeling tools or a wooden knife is useful for smoothing edges and trimming excess clay from a piece or from the foot of a container.
Like with hand build pieces, modeling tools can also be used to add texture and design to a piece.
What is a wire clay cutter used for in ceramics?
A wire clay cutter is one of the first tools that beginners are introduced to when learning to make pottery.
It is essential for all types of ceramic construction, whether you are hand building or throwing on a wheel.
The most basic use for a wire cutter is to cut smaller chunks of clay from a larger block.
If you are wanting to make a small piece, use this tool to separate a thin slab of clay from the large block.
A wire cutter is a simpler and easier tool to use to cut clay than a knife.
Some studios will create a large cutting wire that can be used to cut large pieces of clay, used for creating large pieces like vases and pots.
When throwing pottery on a wheel, the wire cutter is the easiest way to remove a completed piece from the wheel, without damaging the base.
The wire is pulled under the base of the clay while the wheel head is slowly spinning. This gives the bottom of the piece a smooth, and even bottom.
When done correctly, there is little smoothing that is necessary when trimming the foot, to create a level bottom for a container.
Finally, the wire cutter can also be used to create texture and decoration on soft pieces, whether they are wheel thrown or hand built.
Whether you are looking for a basic set of tools to begin your ceramics hobby with, or you are an experienced potter, looking to upgrade your tools, there are a ton of great options on the market.
We’ve shown you the products we think are best, and answered some common questions for you, in this buying guide.
Hopefully we’ve made your quest for new tools simpler, so you can spend more time creating, and less time shopping.
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