DIY Pocket Slab Roller Makes Perfect Slabs Every Time

This clip was excerpted from In the Studio with Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie-Johnston , which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Shop!


Make Even Clay Slabs Quickly With This Genius Tool

Slab rollers are wonderful for making clay slabs of even thickness, but not everyone has the space or the money for this piece of equipment. So clever potters have come up with all kinds of ways to create slabs for slab building. Jan McKeachie Johnston and her husband Randy have a solution that not only makes slabs of even thickness, but also gets them done quickly and nearly effortlessly.

In today’s video clip, an excerpt from their video In the Studio with Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie-Johnston, Jan explains how to make and use what they lovingly refer to as the “pocket slab roller.” –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


To learn more about Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie-Johnston or to see more images of their work, please visit

  • Susan R.

    Daniel Haffner, I was wondering the same thing. My issue with this method would be how much clay is necessary each time. I can’t imagine preparing that large of a chunk of clay. surely they are using a pug mill. And if I am not mistaken, I thought I saw an air pocket near the edge of one of her slabs.

  • Daniel H.

    How do you prepare your clay without getting air pockets in it? I have tried this several times in small amounts and though it cuts evenly I still end up with air in the clay.

  • I work at a glass/print studio here in New Orleans and since a slab-Roller is not in our budget, I’ll be making 3 sets of these for our summer camp ! Thanks for the demo ! My director is tickled by the video !

  • Hilli J.

    I have been thinking to buy a slab roller, but after I saw this great explanation, I change my mind. Thank for sharing!!

  • Fraser L.

    Thank you for sharing this ingenious method. I usually use two sticks of the thickness I want and role with a rolling pin. I will try your method for a bird house I want to make. I usually throw on the wheel doing functional pottery. Thank you again.
    Fraser langford

  • Starr V.

    What a great idea! Genius would be most fitting. As in a previous post I’ve done a similar technique with cakes but never dreamt of using the same technique on clay. Thank you for such inspiration! It proves that money is not the key to beautiful art just ingenuity.

  • Patty H.

    I’m just starting pottery and would love to know where I can purchase this tool.

  • Nigel C.

    A wire harp will get the same effect, without the issue of keeping the wire tight, also with a harp you can use several wires together and cut several slabs in one go, saving time and effort, just ensure the clay slab is not too wet.

  • Sheri R.

    I’m just a beginner, so this is a great tool for me to use when setting up my first studio. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Allison T.

    I put numbers on my sticks so if I started, say at number 1 then I knew to move the wire to number 2 and so on. Just made it easier to move the first slab out of the way and know exactly which groove to use for the next slab. This technique works like a charm!

  • Amy L.

    That is genius! What a great solution for those of us who haven’t yet made the commitment of investing in a slab roller! 🙂

  • Dori D.

    Wonderful, thanks for sharing! When one has limited space when students are present this will be great to use right at their work space 🙂

  • Patty C.

    Cake decorators have a tool something like this to cut even layers. Brilliant! Even though I have access to a slab roller, this seems so efficient. Thanks for sharing!

  • Caren H.

    I am limited with space in my studio and have to store away my table top roller between uses. It is a chore to get it out, set it up, clean it and store it away. This idea is definitely finding its way into my workspace. Thank you for sharing.

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