Rib and scraper tools are essential for pottery and other ceramic work, aiding in the shaping and smoothing of clay. Though most often used when throwing pieces on a wheel, ribs can also be used in other clay practices. Ribs come in a range of hard and soft materials, but it’s the soft ones, traditionally made of rubber but now also of silicone or other polymers, that are best for removing fingerprints and imperfections when finishing pieces on the wheel. They can also be used for shaping or burnishing. There are more options than ever for soft, resilient rib tools for clay. Review our picks of the best ones, below.
1. Xiem Tools Ultra-Soft Silicone Rib
For absolutely flawless surfaces on your ceramics, try this soft green silicone rib from Xiem Tools. Its flexibility allows a gentle touch that smooths without disturbing shape or details; it’s also a great choice for burnishing. The elongated kidney shape of this rib features one sharply curved tip and a more gently curved one for versatility. Silicone makes it not only highly flexible but also strong: This one resists heat, stains, and cracks. At just ¼ inch thick, it can be used for detail work despite its large size.
2. Mudtools Polymer Rib
Mudtools was created by ceramicist Michael Sherrill, and the brand is known for innovation. While this rib looks much like other kidney-shaped ribs—and is in many ways—it is made from a proprietary polymer that is slightly sturdier than similar silicone options and more flexible than rubber. This rib is one step above the company’s softest polymer rib and offers plenty of versatility in the studio.
3. Impresa Soft Ribs
This pack comes with two ribs that are identical in shape and size. Made of silicone, they are ultrasoft and have a kidney shape, which means they can handle many different angles and curves. Each rib has a hole in the center for a comfortable grip and less slippage while in use. The malleable silicone creates a soft finish and rids your final project of surface imperfections.
4. Longdex Ribs
If you’re looking for a rubber rib that feels almost as though it’s a part of you, you might want to try this set. With a slightly rounded kidney silhouette, these three tools fit just so in the curve of your hand, which makes them easy to maneuver when working with clay. Flexible yet firm, they can set a novice ceramicist on the way to a nicely outfitted studio at a reasonable price.
5. Kemper Finish Rubber
This rubber rib is excellent for small areas and tight spaces. Measuring 3.125 inches, it can access those hard-to-reach spots without harming the integrity of your piece. It has a traditional kidney shape, the most popular shape of ceramics rib, and can handle many curves and finishes. It also is so comfortable to hold that it practically feels like an extension of your own hand.