Introduction: Ceramics Wheel Throwing Bats

This Instructable is one way to make bats for wheel throwing on a potters wheel.  Bats are used when you need to remove a pot from the wheel head without picking it up and marring the surface.  These can be made with very few tools.  I am lucky enough to have access to a full wood shop with just about any tool I need.  Get creative, make it work for you!

Step 1: Step 1-The Supplies

The supplies needed to make bats are listed below:
1.  MDO- MDO is a marine grade plywood which can be purchased from most wood distributors.  It is also know as sign board.  You want to buy unprimed mdo.  This plywood has a layer of paper on both sides which help keep it water proof.  I usually get the 1/2" because its lighter and still pretty durable.  These sheets cost about $48.  I throw platters up to 36" 60-75lbs on 1/2".  I usually do not put a finish on these, but you can coat with poly if you like.  DO NOT MAKE BATS OUT OF PARTICLE BOARD OR CHEAP PLYWOOD!!  YOU RUN THE RISK OF MAJOR SPLINTERS OR SHARDS BEING JAMMED INTO YOUR HANDS OR WRISTS!!!  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!
2.  Band Saw or Jig Saw
3.  Circle Jig for Band Saw
4.  Table Saw or circular Saw
5.  Tape Measure or Ruler
6.  Pencil
7.  Drill press or Drill
8.  1/4, 3/8 drill bits
9.  Router, round over bit
10.  Sander or sand paper

Step 2: Step 2-Cutting the Wood

When making bats, I prefer to cut the 4'x8' sheet of MDO plywood into squares slightly larger than the bat I am trying to make on the table saw.  In this case I am making 22" bats so the squares are cut at 22 1/8" to allow for use on the circle jig later and adjust for blade thickness on the bandsaw.

Step 3: Step 3

After cutting your squares define your center by drawing lines from corner to corner to make an X.  Draw lines all the way across because they will come in handy later when drilling holes for the bat pins.

Step 4: Step 4

Once you've drawn your lines on the squares choose one of the two lines to measure for bat pin holes.  Most bat pins are 10" apart, meaning the holes you need to drill are 5" away from the center of the wheel head on each side.  Make a mark at 5" off center with a pencil or a punch if you prefer.  In the images I used 10" on the ruler as my center instead of measuring from 1".  This is why my marks are at 5" and 15".

Step 5: Step 5-Drilling Bat Pin Holes

Now that everything is marked to be drilled, it's time to drill your holes for Bat Pins as well as a hole for the pin on the circle jig.  You will need a 3/8" forstner bit to drill nice clean holes for the bat pins.  A 1/4" bit is needed for drilling a hole half way through the bat to ride on the pivot pin of the circle jig.  Most important you need a drill press or a hand drill for this process.  A press is always more accurate, but if a hand drill is all you have it will work.  Whenever you are drilling holes use a piece of scrap wood for supporting the piece you are drilling to keep the paper from blowing out and tearing.  As you can see in the second image I move the piece of scrap wood each time I drill a new hole so that the hole drilled will be clean at the exit point.

Step 6: Step 6-Drilling Hole for Circle Jig

After drilling holes for the bat pins, now you need to drill a hole in the center of the bat HALF WAY THROUGH with a 1/4" forstner bit.  This is where the bat will pivot on the circle jig like a compass.  If you are not using a band saw and a circle jig, you can skip this step.  Use a compass from the center point to draw a circle the size of the bat you want and cut it out with a jig saw and sand the edges clean.

Step 7: Step 7-Set Up Circle Jig

Now it's time to set up your circle jig for cutting your now square bats round.  Instructions for making a circle jig can be found online if you do a search for bandsaw circle jig.

Step 8: Step 8- Cutting Circles

Once you have the circle jig set up and ready to go.  Place your bat on the pivot pin of the circle cutting jig.  With the saw running start cutting from a flat edge of the square until the stop prevents the cut from going any further.  Once this happens, start to turn your bat on the pivot pin and this will start cutting a perfect circle.  Keep going until you have completed cutting your circle.  Now you have a bat

Step 9: Step 9-Cleaning Up the Edges

When you have cut all of your bats  you can leave the edges as they are, or you can sand.  The other option is to route the edges with a round over bit to make them easier to remove from the wheel head.
I'm not sure if there is an instructable for making the circle jig, but If you would like I could probably do one.  Let me know if you would like to see this made.