Today I spent a few hours making stop signs. Well, not really. I made bats. The recent discussion about bats on clayart got me to thinking about them, then I got an order for some large beer mugs and realized I needed some bats. Usually all the throwing done on the electric wheel is off the hump, so bats are unnecessary.
Anyway, the whole bat thread started with a little tiff over whether or not bat pins should be standard fare on all wheels. I am a non-pinner, because of the aforementioned hump throwing and although I am not against pins, I am against the exorbitant prices they get here in Japan for bats. More about that below.
During the clayart bat pin death match, David Hendley (a Texas potter) mentioned his bats, which fit around the wheelhead, not on pins. This type, incidentally, are the preferred bats in Japan, but they cost a bloody fortune at around $25 each. No really. They are a breeze to make, so I bought some plywood and went to work.
Plywood at the hardware store was about $16 per sheet and was pre treated on one side with some sort of water proof urethane finish. I got 3 sheets, which made me 24 bats in all.
Cutting the plywood sheets into 40cm squares.
Cutting off the corners, gives a nice stop sign. I could have done circles, but I didn’t have the right bit for my router. If you don’t have means to cut a circle this shape works well. If you are worried about the corners you can keep cutting them until you have close to a circle. My saw horses were lent out, but this ladder on it’s side worked great.
Tap center the bats on your wheel head, and sneak a sharpie under them to draw a circle around the circ. of the wheel head.
Here I used some screws to set blocks in place, to test tightness of fit. They were a bit loose, so later when I attached them for good a jiggled them in over the line just a tad.
Here it is sitting on the wheel.
And underneath view… You can see the cleat contacting the wheel head.
Final gluing. Titebond III is my favorite wood glue. Very strong, water resistant when dry, and no fuss. Cleans up with a wet sponge. I did the first couple with screws to clamp down the wood cleats, but it really wasn’t necessary with the weight method (below) which is much easier.
All the bats finished with 2 pugs of clay ‘clamping’ them down. Make sure all the cleats stack over one another, just like how you stack shelves in the kiln. The first few I put the cleats on with the bats in different directions. Makes no difference in the end, but for this clamping method, it prevents having a cool looking uniform stack. Dang. After the first 7, I finally got wise and assembled the bats oriented the same direction.
Here you can see the cleats lined up in the stack. After a night to dry, they should be good to go!
So, all in all, 24 new bats for about $50 and 3 hours of work. 24 new bats of this type would have cost about $600. All in all a worthwhile project.