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Published Oct 17, 2023

When it comes to improving the efficiency of their processes, clay people are quite clever. We get a lot of great studio tips sent to us from readers, and every month Ceramics Monthly publishes some of them in their Tips and Tools section.

Readers seem to like them, so we also share them in our Quick Tips feature. Here's our latest installment. Enjoy! - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

P.S. If you have a great tip to share, email it, along with photos, to

Super Smart Trimming Chuck

by Bobby Free

Wedging, centering, pulling, evening, forming, wiring—learning to throw can be tough. And after you’ve got that down, now comes the trimming. Here’s a quick tip to get you trimming without a lot of aggravation and disappointment.

Most potters learn from the get go that an easy way to trim a cup is to place the pot straight onto the wheel head, center it, and secure it down with wads of clay­—lumps of clay that often damage delicate rims or leave a messy residue. This trimming technique also can flatten the rim and deform the shape, potentially causing warping in either the drying or firing stage. A cone-shaped trimming chuck is a great alternative.

Throw some clay into the shape of a small cone, remove it from the wheel, and let it set up until it’s leather hard. The chuck is ready to use when it reaches the same state as the cups you’re going to trim. Re-center the chuck on the wheel, put the cup over the chuck, and tap it on center. If the chuck isn’t the correct angle it can be easily trimmed to fit your cup’s rim shape. Once the cup is centered, give it a couple of downward taps from the top and the cup should be secure enough to start trimming. If needed, keep downward pressure on the bottom by using your finger or a small disc, such as a bottle cap. This method allows quick and easy removal of the cup after trimming and keeps it looking the way it was after it was thrown. The chuck can easily be recycled right along with your trimming scraps.

Thank you to Bobby Free, Helena, Montana!

No-Brainer Stay-Put Wadding

by Jason Boblin

efficiency in the studioFor years I have been using a multi-purpose glue to apply wadding and shells to my pieces for wood and salt firings. These glues are very frustrating to use because of the long drying time and the sticky mess. Recently, all of the glue bottles were missing, so I plugged in a hot glue gun and started gluing the wadding to my pots. It worked like a dream! It was quick and if the wadding came off before the work was stacked, we simply had a glue gun near the kiln to replace it. The clean up was a whole lot easier as well. This truly is a no-brainer.

Thank you to Jason Doblin, Tuscaloosa, Alabama!

**First published in 2012.