Rib tools are essential in the shaping of ceramic pieces, especially when you’re throwing them on a wheel. While silicone and rubber versions of these tools are often used for finishing a piece and ridding it of imperfections, potters rely on the ones made of wood for most of the initial shaping. Because wooden tools are quite hard and unforgiving, leaving little room for error, it’s important to choose implements with just the right shape and feel for you. Below, we review the best wood rib tools for ceramics to help you make the smartest choice for your needs.
1. Kemper Tools Potter’s Rib
The kidney-shaped rib—having a straight edge and a wide, rounded side—is a classic and essential tool for shaping clay. We like this one from Kemper because its sides are uniformly smooth, with no splinters, and its corners are defined rather than curved. This means you can use this implement to get into tight areas and apply the necessary pressure your clay pieces require. Solid but not thick, it has a nice weight to it and is comfortable to hold at any angle.
2. Jack Richeson Potters Boxwood Ribs
Artists seeking an assortment of ribs in different shapes should seriously consider this elegant set of six. You receive a kidney, a triangle, an oval, a quarter oval, a notched rectangle, and a serrated stick, which essentially equip you with everything you need to shape curves and edges for small and large pottery pieces. Handmade out of fine imported boxwood and polished for extra refinement, the ribs are comfortable to hold, fitting in the palm of the hand naturally and easily so they can be used without strain for extended periods.
3. MKM Craftsman Series Wood Ribs
Looking for a specific rib shape? In addition to its CocoRibs, MKM sells beautiful wooden ribs made of European beech and strengthened with tung oil. Each has a precise function for different pottery types and sizes. Pick up, for instance, a curbed rib to fine-tune rounded exteriors or a teardrop-shaped one to create flat bottoms for bowls. Newly purchased, these ribs feature well-defined edges; they will naturally wear over time, but a little sanding can restore them to shipshape form.
4. Glamorway Potters Ribs
Featuring five common rib shapes, this set is ideal for beginner ceramicists, especially those who aren’t ready to spend a lot of money on tools. It comes with all the rib types you’ll find in Jack Richeson’s set, minus the kidney. Be aware that these are true budget tools: The wood doesn’t feel as luxurious in the hand and requires slight sanding down before initial use, as the edges aren’t perfectly smooth. They material is also more porous than higher-grade options, which means it is more inclined to become moldy. But for a basic, short-term set that gives you more tools for less, this receives our stamp of approval.
5. MKM Pottery Tools CocoRibs
They look like wood, and they feel like wood. But these special ribs from a small Wisconsin business are actually made of another natural material: coconut shell. Uniquely shaped to follow the natural lines of the raw drupaceous material, these ribs are very tough and can be used for both throwing and hand-building. Each has been soaked in mineral oil to increase its smooth feel and durability. What really distinguishes them from their wooden counterparts is their slightly curved forms, which makes them more ergonomic.