Category Archives: advice


We who do pottery all have a few favorites and some of us have to exert extra effort to avoid going on a tool shopping spree on Amazon. I bought a whole bunch in the last few months and want to share which ones I like best and use most and for what. If you’re starting your tool collection, maybe this’ll help. Or if you have a favorite tool that I didn’t list, please share in the comments.

General Purpose

  • Extra Sharp Pin Tool – one of my favorite things. It’s useful for marking delicate clay because it won’t tear the clay the way a thicker pin does sometimes. The thin pin is good for trimming my beginners’ pinch pots when they are uneven, again, because it’s thin enough to not pull clay. I also use it to mark out patterns that i will carve. Because the line is thin, it’s easy to fix later.
  • Wooden Tool Set – very versatile set of tools. You can use the knifey tools for trimming wheel-thrown pots. The sharp-ended sticks are great for signing your name and doing any other carved drawing/mishima/scrafitto. The kit has a variety of different shapes that you can use to clean up joints between parts of your pot.
  • Paint Brushes – so useful! I use brushes to clean joints, to paint on glaze, to paint on wax resist,  to smooth out surfaces, to apply small amounts of slip, to add moisture to clay…  So I use them a lot and I think a $10 set of brushes is a great investment.
  • A notebook – it’s highly recommended by everyone with any sense to keep track of the glazes you used and to sketch what you plan to make. I am not disciplined enough to do this well, but I use a combination of paper to sketch, this blog to plan and record glaze, and my phone to take pictures.

Carving & Sculpting Tools

  • Xacto Knife – an absolute must have for carving and great for beveling slabs. In my case I use it mostly for carving, so if you’re not into that, you may not need an xacto knife.
  • Jewelry Wire – a niche tool. You only need it for carving out complex patterns.
  • Round Hole Tools – a niche tool, but when you need a lot of round holes (see soap dishes) they can’t be beat.
  • Small Loop Tools – nice to have, I use them sometimes, and they are most useful for deep texture carving.
  • Rubber-tipped Tools – nice to have. I like to use this one to clean up various edges. Because the rubber is soft, it’s sometimes more forgiving than the wooden tools.
  • Metal Tip Tools – not a must have in my opinion. I have a bunch of these and almost never use them. I prefer the wooden sculpting set.

Wheel Throwing Tools

There’s the basic set of tools that most studios will either provide or ask you to buy up front plus the wheel. I’m not going to talk about those b/c they’re a must-have.

  • Level – very useful tool for pieces that need to be trimmed in a chuck or composed of multiple thrown sections.
  • Special Trimming Tools – cool but not a must have. These guys are sharp as hell and a little harder to control than regular trimming tools.