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How to easily trim pots

This section will help beginner potters to understand the basics of trimming.  If you take our advice, you'll save time, energy and probably a few pots down the line.  We hope it helps!

Trimming can enhance the look and lines of any shape you make.  There are two secrets to getting it right. 

  • You must trim at the leather hard stage.  The piece should be dry enough so you can affix it to the wheel head without altering the form.  If it's too dry, it will crack or break when you apply pressure.

  • You need 3 sharp tools.  Most beginner tool sets come with one trimming tool.  This is great to get you started but we recommend you add these trimming tools to your quiver.

First, turn your piece upside down and place the rim on the wheel head.  Line it up in the center and press clay coils gently around the rim, to hold it in place.  Use three pieces of clay in case one should come off, your pot wouldn't fly off the wheel.

Note: If the rim is bone dry but the base is leather hard, apply a damp sponge to the rim before trimming to prevent the rim from cracking or chipping.

After you have centered and securely attached your piece to the wheel, begin gently but firmly pressing down in the center of the base.  Start with the small tipped tool and slowly carve outward.

Next, use your square tipped tool to press down in the center of the base and slowly carve outward.  You can also use it to define the foot of your pot. 

Finish the bottom with the large tool, it has the most surface area and will provide a level base for the finished piece.  You can also use this tool to take away excess clay from the base of your piece. 

Finish the piece with your own unique foot and signature.

What if I have a low flat bowl that won't fit on the wheel?

If your piece is too large (in diameter) to fit on the wheelhead for trimming, you have a couple of options.  As a beginner to intermediate potter we recommend you use a custom made bat with a thin layer of foam rubber which grips the piece and supports the rim. 

If you want to make one, it's easy, get a large bat, a thin layer of foam rubber and Elmer's glue (or your favorite heavy duty brand).  Trace the bat onto the foam rubber and then cut out the circle.  Apply glue to both pieces and attach the foam rubber to the bat.

Simply set the bat on the wheel head.   Next, center the bat by pushing it toward the center as it spins.  Gravity and the weight of your piece keep the bat on the wheel.  So, be careful to keep your speed constant.  Don't jerk the wheel or go too fast or you'll get in trouble. 

Follow these guidelines and your trimming should be trouble free!

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