Pottery tools #3: Mafe's clay tools - spatulas from hack saw blades

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Blog entry by mafe posted 04-30-2015 05:36 PM 2209 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Personal clay tools, cutter, wire and new handles Part 3 of Pottery tools series no next part

Personal clay tools
spatulas from hack saw blades

Some of you know that I also work with clay, this is kind of a sharpening method for me.
Clay croquis are a really intense way of sharpening your; eye – brain – hand interaction.
To try and make an interpretation of what you see and stay out of the perfectionist trap.

Here a clay croquis figure I made.
(The black and pink vase and bowl are also mine).

As with every thing we work with, we learn more and more about the process and so we get preferences in material and tools, so just as with the wood tools I like once I get the hold of the process, to make my own tools that suit my way of working.

For the clay croquis I found out that a spatula are a real favorite of mine, it makes me more free in mind, since I can’t get to detailed and then focus more on the shape.
The only problem I have with the spatulas that can be bought are that they are too rigid, and I like it to have more spring.

The one steel I could think of being cheap and easy to get, was hack saw blades.
These comes indifferent hardness and rigidness, some are even called flexible.
So with a Dremmel tool the blades are cut to shape, on the right you can see the first one I made.

All shapes you can think of are possible.
On top you see a small knife tool, these blades are excellent for that also, just don’t burn the metal, then it will become to soft, so dip in water often.
The reason I choose the shape I did, was to make a thin neck, in this way you can make it flex even more.

Also I mad the round blades, these are for making intersection points for casting in plaster of Paris.

Here you can see that in the back ground, behind a cast I did.

So here comes the wood part…
A ferule for a handle, just match up the size with your caliper.

And make what ever shape makes you happy.
The one to the left are for my teacher at casting class, the one of the right for me, guess you can see my wood reference.

A saw cut made.

Fine fit.

And it can lock the cut.

Sanding of the extra wood to make a tight fit to the ferule.

No the round blade can be mounted.
If the fit is not perfect, then use epoxy. ;-)

Casting tools are ready.

I like to keep some of the paint on the blades, this to add a small story to the tool.

Now time to put a handle on the clay spatula.
Some natural string.
Form a loop as I do.

Then roll up.
Here you see why I kept the teeth, they provide good grip for the string.

Roll up until you reach the desired length, then put the string through the loop.

And pull in the other end, like this the string will be locked inside the handle.
Quick and easy!

Cut of the ends.

I choose to burn of the threads.

White glue.

Rub it in.
And leave to dry over night.

Clay spatula.

Together with all the other tools.
(Yes I know, I have too many tools).

Also made one with a tunable blade for the knife / saw.
Like this the cutting part can be stored in the handle.

This was the inspiration, a casting class with an amazing Danish artist and me making this casting of one of my little demons.

Two of the spatulas became gifts for friends there and the teacher seemed happy for his little tool also.

This is the notes from my sketch book from the casting work shop.
(Writing in Danish).

Like this I can remember the process.

You might also be interested in my Clay rolling and cutting board:

Hope it can inspire others to make their own tools.

The best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

15 comments so far

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#1 posted 04-30-2015 05:43 PM

Here a link for some cord wrap, if you want to push the handle a little:

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Notw's profile


440 posts in 1174 days

#2 posted 04-30-2015 06:51 PM

How do you have time for all of this? those handles look real good

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1170 posts in 1134 days

#3 posted 04-30-2015 07:37 PM

Lovely tools! I think that you have many tools. But TOO many – newer.

You remind me of a professional potter that lives in the village i grew up in, Torsten Mosumgaard. Has a remarkable sence of shape and function. And makes his own tools as well. If you scroll a bit down and see the 2. image on his website you’ll see one of his special knives.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View helluvawreck's profile (online now)


22684 posts in 2288 days

#4 posted 04-30-2015 08:13 PM

Mads, you are so creative. You better be careful! Your going to have that so full that you will have to move to a bigger place. Your tools are always so nice to see.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#5 posted 05-01-2015 12:36 AM

helluvawreck, thank you I do enjoy this wooden path, have the rule that I can only have one of each…
Notw, yes I do spend a lot of time playing with wood, making tools and sharing it, I enjoy it, I’m retired and I’m single. Laughs.
Kaerlighedsbamsen, Thank you for that compliment, I just saw his work and that’s really in a special league. Naaaa too many me? But I found one tool I don’t really want Ty.

View on YouTube

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16804 posts in 2527 days

#6 posted 05-01-2015 01:26 AM

Nice way to make your tool, Mads.

That is one mean mulcher

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3097 days

#7 posted 05-01-2015 04:28 AM

An other amazing blog.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2225 days

#8 posted 05-01-2015 01:12 PM

You are a gr8 hand tool maker for sure Mads. Very nice clay carvings also.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View SmallTime's profile


15 posts in 600 days

#9 posted 05-01-2015 01:42 PM

Thanks Mads, thats really nice. I’m gonna try out your stringing technique on handles for my next cutting board!

View Matt Vredenburg's profile

Matt Vredenburg

163 posts in 2835 days

#10 posted 05-01-2015 07:16 PM

Mads, thank you for taking the time to document the process you’ve taken to make your tools. You’ve inspired me to make a marking tool using this process. Thank you!

-- Matt, Arizona

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#11 posted 05-01-2015 07:34 PM

Now problem is solved, the nudity has been blurred away and tools can still be seen.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View lew's profile


11265 posts in 3176 days

#12 posted 05-04-2015 01:46 PM

Thank you for the journey, Mads!

I used to work with a friend who made cold cast porcelain replicas for artists who wanted to sell copies of their creations. Mold making is a very special talent.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#13 posted 05-04-2015 02:00 PM

Lew, yes I learned that it is really not just, it is a real work of the hand and much more time consuming than I had imagined. It is always interesting to touch other trades, it always makes my respect grow.
Thank you.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2755 days

#14 posted 05-19-2015 01:39 PM

Great intro to clay working Mads.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2510 days

#15 posted 05-20-2015 12:41 AM

Smiles Mike.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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