pottery trimming tools

5 Must-Have Pottery Trimming Tools


Welcome to the second critical step of wheel throwing: trimming! In this guide, we’re diving into the essentials of pottery trimming, exploring what it is, why we do it, and providing a comprehensive checklist of pottery trimming tools that will elevate your game. Whether you’re a budding potter or a seasoned clay enthusiast, understanding the art of trimming is key to creating pieces that aren’t just sturdy and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. Let’s get into it!

What is Trimming?  

Trimming is a way to refine the shape of your piece before it gets fired. You trim when your piece is in the leather-hard phase (see our article the “your guide to the 6 stages of clay” for more). By placing your piece face down and centering it on the wheel, you can use trimming tools and carve away any excess clay or imperfections from the bottom and sides of your piece. Essentially, it’s the touch-up phase!

Why Do You Trim?

Potters LOVE trimming—if you see a potter examining a piece of pottery, they’re definitely turning over the piece to look at the “foot.” And while trimming does offer a nice, aesthetic finish to a piece, there are OH so many reasons to trim. Here’s just a few of the very compelling reasons to include it in your practice:

  1. Balance and stability: You don’t want your mug to do a wobbly dance when you set it down. Trimming helps even things to create a stable piece. 
  2. Aesthetics: trimming really helps even and smooth things out. You can shave away any imperfections on the side of your piece, and create foot rings to create a different vibe for your piece.
  3.  Avoid S-Cracks: The dreaded s-crack occurs when your piece dries unevenly, and it cracks in the kiln. By trimming the bottom of the pot, you create an even thickness through. An even thickness means even drying, which reduces the stress that can cause those pesky S-cracks.

The Helpful Pottery Trimming Tools Checklist

Ensuring Balance & Stability 

  1. Small Level: This will help ensure your piece is perfectly level on the wheel before you start trimming.

Securing the Piece on the Wheel

  1. Wheel clamp: Attaches to your pottery wheel and has attachments to hold your piece in place while trimming. 
  2. Pottery Trimming Spinner Tool: Small circular tool that you apply pressure to the center of your piece with to hold it in place while you’re trimming. 
  3. Clay wads: Simply use small balls of clay to secure your piece in place—no purchase necessary 🙂 

Getting Rid of Excess Clay 

  1. Loop trimming tools: These come in various shapes and sizes for different trimming needs. Some have rounded ends for smooth curves, while others are more squared for creating straight lines.
  2. Ribbon Tools: Perfect for removing larger amounts of clay and for creating more detailed shapes.

Our Top Picks for Pottery Trimming Tools

BUBLEVL Bubble Level

Let’s get real: nobody wants a lopsided pot. That’s where a level comes in handy—whether you already own a level, or want to download one on your phone, there’s really no wrong answer. If you don’t have a level and want a physical one for your kit, we love the BUBLEVL Bubble Level. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, but mighty in making sure your pottery sits just right. The large bubble is easy to read, and the circular shape is perfect to sit on the bottom of a pot!

LIVOSA Pottery Teaching Turntable Clamp

While wads of clay are certainly economical, Most potters prefer NOT to ball up wads of clay to hold their piece to the wheel. That’s where the turntable clamp comes in! The LIVOSA Pottery Turntable has adjustable arms to securely hold your piece on the wheel, AND it can stretch/shrink to accommodate multiple wheel sizes. It’ll keep everything nice and steady, so you can trim with confidence!

Spin-a-pot Ceramic & Pottery Tool

Looking for a more affordable option to hold your piece on the wheel? Meet the Spin-a-pot. Simply place it on the center of the piece, apply gentle pressure, and voila! Your piece stays put while you work your magic. It spins smoothly, is easy to use, and is kind to your wallet.

Xiem Studio Tools Teardrop Loop Trimming Tool

If you’re a ceramics enthusiast, then you know that having the right tools is essential to creating beautiful pieces. Xiem is a household name in the pottery world, and for good reason. The Xiem Studio Tools Teardrop Loop Trimming Tool is the perfect tool for all your trimming needs. It’s made of durable stainless steel, and the teardrop-shaped head is specifically designed to give you precise control. On your quest for flawless finishes, the Xiem trimming tool will be your go-to sidekick!

Kemper RSS 6″ Ribbon Tool Set

Sure, most potters don’t need six trimming tools, but it is fun to play with different shapes and styles. The Kemper Tools RSS 6″ Ribbon Set includes six different ribbons, each with a different width and shape—it comes with two flat ribbons, two round ribbons, and two square ribbons. It comes with a nifty pouch, too, so you can keep your creative tools organized and ready for action. If you’re looking to experiment with trimming styles, the Kemper Tools RSS 6″ Ribbon Set is a great choice.

Wrapping Up

Trimming is a blend of technical skill and artistic expression to add the perfect finishing touches to your piece. With the right pottery trimming tools and techniques, you can transform a simple clay form into a refined, elegant piece. This checklist serves as your guide to choosing the best tools for your trimming needs, ensuring every piece you create is functional AND aesthetically pleasing. Happy trimming, and let the clay be your canvas!


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