Also known as a batter board, a pottery wheel bat is a thin slab of wood, plaster, or plastic used to support pottery forms while you throw. Because the bat piece can be lifted from the wheel head, there’s no need to directly handle your clay piece and risk distorting its shape. Pottery bats come in a range of materials, shapes, and sizes. Circular pottery bats usually cover the full wheel, but square bats take up less space on your shelves. Plastic bats are sturdy, but Masonite and Medex (both types of hardboard made from wood fibers) expand and contract with your pottery. Whatever your preference, we’ve got you covered. Browse our roundup of the best bat options, below.
1. Penguin Pottery 12″ Medex Bat
Penguin’s 12-inch round bat is made of Medex, a brand of MDF that many ceramicists find preferable to plastic. Made of wood fiber, Medex releases clay as it dries without the need for wiring off, but since it is porous, it needs to be thoroughly aired out and stored flat. If this bat ever does warp a little, it’s reasonably easy to flatten: Use the opposite side, or weight it down evenly overnight. The bat pin holes are drilled all the way through for effortless and secure placement on the wheel; this also allows you to use it on both sides. This bat is designed to fit wheels with pin holes ten inches apart, but note that holes may have to be enlarged to fit some wheels. Responsibly made in New Hampshire by an employee-owned company.
2. Speedball Universal Pottery Wheel Bat
Though many ceramicists prefer hardboard bats, plastic bats are a great choice for many. The material holds up to water well and resists warping and other water damage. Speedball offers a few plastic bat options; this 7.5-inch-square one fits both 9- and 10-inch pin spacings. Great for professionals as well as novices, it’s high quality, lightweight, and inexpensive. The bat pin holes are hidden, leaving the surface completely smooth with no interruption. Take note that (as with any other plastic bat) you will have to wire your pieces off the surface. This bat is also available a 12- or 14-inch round.
3. Bleecker Station Bat System
This multipiece system offers a time- and space-saving option for busy potters. It includes a round outer bat and six pop-in 7-inch square inserts made of Masonite, another porous material that releases clay as it dries. Teachers will appreciate that additional inserts can be purchased separately.
4. Xiem Tools BatMate for Pottery and Ceramics
This 12-inch blue circle helps to keep bats from wobbling as you work—something that increasingly happens over time as bats gradually warp or get worn out. Made of hard plastic, it adheres firmly to wheels once you dampen it; placed under your bat, it eradicates the need for leveling. You won’t experience any more rattling bats, meaning that centering will be much easier.