Saturday, January 26, 2013

Buying a clay extruder - North Star Big Blue

Big Blue clay extruder

I had such a difficult time researching extruders.   I can't understand why some manufacturers don't take advantage of youtube for marketing and showing off what their products can do.

I have neck issues, so I wanted/needed an easy to use extruder.  That left me with 2 very expensive options.   Big Blue by North star or the Power Extruder by Baily.   I contacted both Northstar and Baily and neither manufacturer had anything showing what their product can do or how it works. 

With information I obtained from pottery blogs and forums,  I decided to purchased the Big Blue from Northstar.    I also ordered several pre-made extruder dies.

Installation:  This extruder is quite heavy and too narrow to span 2 wall studs, so John used a thick piece of plywood to span 2 wall studs, then he mounted the extuder on to the plywood.

I'm including some photos to show what his extra strong install looks like.

Use:  The hopper will hold 25 lbs of clay.  That's too heavy for me to lift on to the extruder, so I filled the hopper half way and compressed as much as possible.  The turning of the wheel took little effort.. Awesome!!!

Extruding:  It's going to take me some time to figure out the best way to remove tubes without damaging.   

Dies:  The premade dies from North Star are thick walled, which may be good for some applications, but for my use, I need a little less bulk.  I'm planning to have North Star cut some custom dies for me.  I have several  designs drawn, I just need to chose which ones are keepers.

Clean up:   Like with any extruder, it does need to be cleaned after each use.  This extruder comes apart quick and easy.  Clean up is no big deal with Big Blue.

All things considered, I'm sure I made the right choice for me. 

UPDATE:  10/2013 
I've been using this extruder for about 10 months.   I like the ease of use.   I did order some custom dies from North Star and they work well.   

UPDATE:  4/2014
I love, love, love my Big Blue Extruder.  I use it for so many things, even making pottery tools!   I have ordered even more custom dies from North Star.  They are fantastic.   If you're looking for the best of the best, I recommend Big Blue by North Star.