Portable DIY Slab Roller Makes Perfect Slabs Every Time

Make even clay slabs quickly with this brilliant and inexpensive DIY slab roller! Best thing is, this homemade slab roller is portable!

DIY slab roller

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 a lot of folks think about making a DIY slab roller for their studios. But clever potters like 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. Best of all this portable DIY slab roller is easy and inexpensive to make!

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 their DIY slab roller, or what they lovingly refer to as the “pocket slab roller.” –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

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

Clay Workshop Handbook

Learn techniques from the pros when you download this freebieClay Workshop Handbook.

More DIY Slab Roller Tips!

diy slab roller finishedAnother great way to make even slabs is to use a rolling pin and some dowel rods as thickness guides. Set one dowel rod of the desired thickness of your slab on each side of the clay you are rolling out. Then roll the rolling pin over the clay making sure that each end of the rolling pin is resting on the dowel rods. For best results, rotate the piece of clay so that you are rolling in multiple directions.

If you’re looking for thin slabs, check out Michelle Swafford’s great tip for rolling out clay!

Or, if you would like to pursue the route of a making your own more traditional slab roller, you can watch this great video that includes slab roller plans!

Finally, here’s a slab technique to try after you roll your slabs!

Let us know in the comments below if you have any brilliant methods for making slabs!

**First published in 2016.
  • Haide A.

    I am going to make a pocket slab roller and spend time getting good at using it.

  • Chuck C.

    Great tool! However calling this a slab roller is incorrect. A roller compresses the clay while this does not. So there are functional differences besides the pedantic argument

  • Peter S.

    For making large sculptural pieces that require slabs of 2ft by 3ft a slab roller is my tool of choice but for functional pieces such as plates and trays the compaction by finger pressure in throwing is vital.

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image
Send this to a friend