How to Make a Gauge for Throwing Consistently Sized Pots on the Pottery Wheel


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When trying to throw a set on the pottery wheel, starting off with the same size ball of clay, and using a ruler or calipers is a great place to start. Eyeballing it does not usually give you the best results. But, if you are on such a tight deadline that every second counts, it is nice to not have to stop what you are doing to measure. That’s where today’s pottery wheel tip comes in handy.

In this post, Don Adamaitis demonstrates how to construct a simple, easy-to-make throwing gauge to help measure for consistency on the pottery wheel.  -Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor


Make Your Own Gauge for Throwing Consistent Pots on the Pottery Wheel

by Don Adamaitis

For the potter who wants to make their own throwing gauge, it’s easier than you think. This simple tool can be constructed from inexpensive materials and can be used for other purposes besides throwing duplicate forms. I use mine to lay out designs on leather-hard pots for carving and on bisqueware for glaze decoration.

First establish the size (diameter and height) and profile of the form, and determine the amount of clay needed for each piece. Once this is accomplished, throw the first form in the series. While it is still on the wheel, set the gauge tip to mark the diameter and height. Remove the first piece, and center the next ball of clay. Open it, pull the wall and shape the form until the edge of the lip meets the tip of the throwing gauge. Repeat this for each form in the series. If necessary, use a rib to define the profile.


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gauge1

A T-bevel with a 9-inch adjustable blade (these are readily available at home improvement stores); galvanized T-fitting; epoxy-type glue.
gauge4

Place the adjustable bevel on the galvanized T-fitting so the adjustable extension blade lines parallel up with one side of the T fitting. Glue the base of the bevel to the fitting.
gauge31

The throwing gauge is placed in front of the wheel head (out of the way) and adjusted to the dimensions required. The gauge could be mounted on a brick if more height is needed. Each piece is pulled and shaped to match the tip of the gauge.
gauge2

The gauge can be used in combination with a division chart to mark off equal sections of the pot for decoration.

**First published in December 2009
Comments
  • For those too lazy to make a gauge, use a lump of soft clay on the side of your wheel table and a chop stick stuck in to the height and width of the desired form.

  • Subscriber T.

    I already use a very similar tool – great for marking along the profile as a banding guide.

  • Judith R.

    Another ‘lazy’ option for a simple throwing gauge, use a good quality long handled No 6 imitation sable paint brush, pressed into a lump of clay on the edge of the wheel as per the chop-stick…… this removes any psycological fear of throwing very close to the gauge tip… the brush tip can just touch the form being thrown without drama…! ( even better than other rubber tipped gauges )

  • How about accurately weighing out each ball of clay to the nearest ounce and not worrying too much if one mug (bowl, whatever) is an eighth of an inch different from the next?

  • Natalie L.

    These are all great ideas! I love the bevel’s precise adjustability. It’s a cool tool for us techier potters. Still, if much precision is desired, might as well slipcast a mold. 🙂
    I’d tape a brush to the edge and use it for symmetrical decoration!
    Thanks for the ideas y’all!

  • Stephen M.

    One of my Pot Gauges is hinged at the end, so that it flips up out of the way when not needed. The other point at the centre of the wheel, but pivots 90 degrees to the left so that if the work touches it it knocks it out of the way

  • I like the weighing technique, because I don’t want a “perfect” set of anything. I want the handmade look. I find most people prefer to have some slight differences in height or width as they look handmade. When I have made pieces that look too much the same, they say “this looks like something from a store or from a mold. Saying that, I do find the different techniques interesting.
    WF

  • Jeffrey D.

    I just use two chopsticks mask taped loose (to adjust) in a cross dull end down & mark the stick for width & point down for depth. this way you can use it whether throwing from hump or individual piece.

  • I purchased a centering and throwing arm a few years ago. I sold my equipment and ther arm went with it. It was wood and metal, mostly wood.
    The metal shaped the outside of the bowl then, you bring the arm into the middle of the bowl and pull out,same as you would if you were doing it by hand. The top edge is done by hand.I thought I saw this piece of equipment in the Ceramics Monthly.

  • Not lazy- industrious! I just did a workshop with SIMON leach and he uses a lump of clay to hold a stick for a gauge. It’s also a great way to learn to be more efficient. Use 12 oz of clay and throw a 5.5″ tall cylinder. I found this very helpful!

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