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Tips For Judging Base Thickness On Thrown Pots

A few weeks back we sent an email asking our readers what they'd like to see in our posts. One thing we were asked is how to judge the thickness on pots thrown on the potters wheel.

Here are two simple tricks that I've used in my quest for "perfection!" Mind you... I'm still on that quest but at least I believe I've mastered the thickness issue.

Grab your coffee and apron and follow me to the studio!

Let's start with the technique I used in the very beginning when I had absolutely NO IDEA how to judge the thickness of my pot bottoms.

Technique #1

Wedge yourself a pound or so of a nice throwing body clay, then wedge a smaller piece, large enough for a pot bottom. Dig into your pocket, find a quarter, and grab a needle tool. Time to make the "perfect" bottom!

Start by centering the smaller piece of clay on your wheel and flattening it to the thickness you want your pot bottom.

Next, take that quarter you found in your pocket, and place it in the center of the clay disc on your wheel.

Now, place the larger piece of clay directly over the disc and quarter, and center it as you would if that disc wasn't there.

Open the center and pull your sides up just like any other time you've done it. The only difference beight, once you hit that quarter, don't go any deeper... jut continue pulling and shaping the walls.

There you have it! The base of this pot is exactly how thick you wanted it! The only thing left to do is remove the quarter...

Use a sponge to clean up where the quarter was...

And finish shaping the walls!

After you've become comfortable with the quarter method, your hands should have what's called "muscle memory", and creating the base thickness will be easier.

It's time to move on to Technique #2

Throw a pot and pretend there is a quarter in the bottom. When you think you've hit the right depth, use a needle tool to poke through the center of the bottom, then measure the thickness.


  • If you use a needle tool that still has clay residue on it, it will come out wet looking wherever it touched the clay. I used to poke my needle tool into a piece of clay prior to throwing my pot so it would have that residue.
  • The other option is to push the needle tool into the base and put your finger on it. This is a little more difficult if you have large hands or a narrow pot.

If you'd like to see something specific in our blog, shoot us an email @ or comment on this post!


2 thoughts on “Tips For Judging Base Thickness On Thrown Pots”

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