If you're a home crafter who loves to try out gadgets that will help with your creative projects, a clay extruder might just be the next thing you need to invest in for your collection.
These often inexpensive tools make clay extrusion easy so you can bring your detailed, most intricate designs to life.
Every ceramicist should have a clay extruder in their crafts drawer, but don’t be fooled by their name into thinking these tools exclusively work with clay.
They’re commonly used for a range of applications including bread, pastry, and even delicate sugar paste decoration!
To fill you in on everything else you should know about clay extruders, how to use them, and how to find the best one available to suit your crafting needs, we’ve included a buyer’s guide which contains the most important information available on the world wide web.
We’ve researched and reviewed different clay extruders to see what they have to offer and compiled a list of 5 of the best options for you to compare. If you still have doubts, our frequently asked questions section answers some common customer queries.
Already know enough and just want to find out which is the best clay extruder available? Keep reading to see our top pick if you’re in a hurry.
OUR TOP PICK
If you’re looking for a durable clay extruder that will fit right in with your collection of crafting tools, this option from HEVERP will not disappoint.
Even the most novice ceramicists find it easy to use, yet it’s multifaceted enough to serve you even after you’ve become more experienced.
Perfect for use with a range of materials, including polymer and ceramic clay for pottery projects, or pastry, bread dough, and sugar paste if you’re an avid baker, this small clay extruder offers extremely versatile use.
Create up to 20 different shapes using the durable metal discs that are included, or expand your collection and purchase separate dies for even more variety.
Cleaning your clay extruder is effortless - well, easier - thanks to the 3-part disassembly, and the stainless steel material it’s made from is heavy-duty as well as being easy to clean with soap and water.
- Stainless steel
- Suitable for a range of uses
- Disassembles for easy cleaning
- Easy to use
- Not suitable for larger projects
The next clay extruder we looked at was from Walnut Hollow, perfect for use with polymer and air-dry clays.
It’s also suitable for use with fondant or other baking purposes, although it’s not recommended that you use the same tool for both because of cross-contamination.
Worried about your wrists? The crank-type handle operation makes this extruder easy to use for a range of ages and abilities, so you’re no longer limited by weakened or aching joints.
Due to the small parts included, the age recommendation is 14 years and up.
It can be used to make a wide range of craft embellishments, and the 20 included discs offer varying shapes and sizes for decoration to suit any project.
You can store these in the convenient storage case provided to avoid losing any and to protect the extruder from damage.
Thorough cleaning is required after each use, as otherwise, the screw cap can stick due to hardened clay in between the crevices.
It’s also worth noting that it can cause potential streaking, and as a result is not suitable for use with precious metal clays.
- Smooth, easy to use crank-handle
- Reusable storage case included
- Spare O rings
- Not suitable for use with precious metal clays
- Clay needs to be conditioned until soft and pliable for best results
Next up we have the TERMATH clay extruder, a slightly larger option than the other models we’ve included on this list, meaning it can be used for bigger embellishments and decorations.
It’s made of stainless steel for durable, long-lasting performance and the non-toxic metal makes it suitable for use with edible fondants or other types of food such as pastry or dough.
Cleaning is made easy as it can disassemble into 3 parts for washing, allowing you to reach every inch of this extruder to remove all traces of clay or food so it remains effective.
There are 20 different types of discs included so you can create a range of different designs, or you can use it without a disc at all to produce a large, round cane that can be molded into different patterns for decoration.
- Made using stainless steel
- 20 discs included
- Can be used for multiple applications
- Easily disassembled for cleaning
- Affordable option
- Endcap screw can cause a buildup of clay
- Discs are quite thin therefore less durable
The most affordable option on our list is this VORCOOL clay extruder, which has a similar design to our top pick but is made with aluminum alloy instead of stainless steel.
Best suited for smaller craft projects, this handheld extruder can be used to create shaped polymer or ceramic clay tubing, and can also be used for baking purposes including pastry, dough, and sugar paste for ultimate decoration.
The simple and practical operation makes this the perfect sculpting tool for an inexperienced user, yet the 20 interchangeable discs mean you won’t outgrow the applications it has to offer too quickly as it can create a number of different shapes for different projects.
It disassembles for easier cleaning, although some customers report that it can stick when trying to unscrew it, which can be remedied by running the tool under hot water for a couple of minutes before attempting to unscrew it again.
- Easy to use
- Disassembles to facilitate cleaning
- Versatile use
- Can get stuck when disassembling
- Extra rubber gasket not included
- Not as durable as stainless steel
Lastly, we looked at the Makin’s USA clay extruder. It’s more expensive than some of the other options we’ve included in this list, but the commercial grade stainless steel this extruder is made from ensures enhanced durability for long-lasting use.
Designed to work with clay, it features a handle in the shape of an ‘L’ for ultimate comfort while you’re using this tool. Higher torque requirements are also accommodated thanks to its internal features.
Only 15 discs are included with this clay extruder, which is less than the usual 20 provided by other brands, but it comes with a bonus plastic case for convenient storage, 2 extra rings, and 3 claycore adaptors which can be used to make hollow tubes.
- Storage case included
- Easy and comfortable to use
- Great value for money
- Commercial grade stainless steel
- Expensive option
- More limited use
Best Clay Extruder Buying Guide
Do you have a specific purpose already in mind, or are you simply purchasing a clay extruder that will prove useful for a number of applications?
This is something you’ll want to decide before you click “add to basket”, for reasons we’re about to go into…
But first - what can a clay extruder be used for, exactly?
What is a Clay Extruder?
Also referred to as ceramics extruders, these handy tools are used to create different shapes which can in turn be hand applied as decorative details for pottery projects.
They can also be used for decorating cakes, although you’ll probably want to use a form of icing rather than clay if this is what you’re using it for.
Used with metal discs (called dies) that feature a cutout shape in their center, clay extruders push the clay through an inner tube and out through the disc cutout to produce lengths of clay that are shaped however you want.
Rather than trying to mold the clay into the desired shape by hand, clay extruders do most of the hard work for you, leaving you to enjoy the creativity side of bringing your project’s design to life.
One of the biggest advantages of these tools is that they can be used for a variety of crafting projects. With that being said, certain models are designed for specific types of clay, which is more limiting than the multi-purpose extruders that can be used for pretty much anything.
This is where your intended use will come into play, as there’s nothing worse than purchasing a product then realizing it’s not fit for purpose when it arrives. If you’re working with a specific type of clay, make sure it can be used with your extruder by checking the product specification information.
There doesn’t appear to be a strict correlation between how many applications clay extruders can be used for and their price, so if you’re a frequent crafter it’s worth choosing one that can be used with a number of clay types and for other projects as that way you’ll get the most value your money.
Keeping Your Clay Extruder Clean
If you’re using the same clay extruder for cake decorating and ceramics, you’ll want to ensure that it’s been thoroughly cleaned between each use.
Even if your clay extruder is exclusively used for one particular purpose and has no risk of cross-contamination, keeping your equipment clean is an important part of its maintenance and will keep it in good working condition for much longer.
To make the cleaning up process easier, choose a clay extruder that is going to be easy to disassemble, as this will facilitate cleaning and allow you to reach all the nooks and crannies where clay may end up sticking and clogging the tool.
Another way to reduce the effort needed for cleaning is to remove all clay before it has a chance to dry, as hardened clay will be twice as hard to clean off. This is not only frustrating, but it can cause unnecessary wear and tear to the extruder which will shorten its lifespan.
The size of your project will influence what size clay extruder you need, as this will determine the size of the shapes you’re able to create. For example, larger clay extruders can create more solid, substantial shapes that are perfect for chunkier designs where you need thicker pieces.
If you’re working on a project that requires fine, intricate detailing for the decoration, you’ll need a smaller extruder that can produce thinner shapes and pieces.
Small clay extruders are great if you’re working predominantly with polymer clays, as well as being the perfect tool for making decorative rope, braiding, tubes, and more detailed shapes that can be used to give the illusion of hair or grass.
The type of material your clay extruder is made from will influence how long it will last, especially if you’re going to be using it frequently.
The most committed hobbyist or anyone who uses these tools in their daily work will find stainless steel is the most appropriate, as it is much more durable than other types of materials and can withstand repeated use.
Stainless steel is usually reserved for higher-end clay extruders as they make it easier for the clay to be pushed through the tool without sticking, which is easier to clean. They tend to be slightly more expensive as a result, but it’s worth it if you’re going to be using your extruder a lot.
Other materials include aluminum alloy, which can be found on some of the cheaper extruders.
They’re less effective at pushing the clay through resulting in some resistance, but they’re also less expensive which is great if you’re looking for a tool to suit a specific purpose, rather than something to help with all your crafting needs.
Most clay extruders will come with a starter kit of discs so you can create different shapes to suit different designs. The number of discs that are included will vary between brands, so check the description to see what you’re getting with your purchase.
You can always purchase separate discs, but it’s worth considering what styles your extruder comes with, especially if you have a specific project in mind.
Also check the size of the discs, as this will tell you if a clay extruder is suitable for its intended purchase. This also applies to the thickness of the metal and the material it’s made from, as thinner discs are more prone to bending or other forms of damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are clay extruders difficult to use?
This can vary between models, but typically clay extruders are supposed to make it easier to work with clay and other materials, not harder.
They’re ideal for older or younger hobbyists who may struggle to complete more intricate detailing by hand, or by anyone who wishes to speed up the process.
If you find yourself struggling to use your clay extruder, make sure you’re working with clay that hasn’t been left to harden, as it’s easier to manipulate when it’s softer.
How do I remove dry clay without damaging the extruder?
The easiest way to remove clay that has dried is to spray it with a light mist of plain water, as this will soften it so that it can be scraped off with less effort.
Don’t use anything too sharp to scrape away the softened clay, as this can scratch or cause damage to your extruder.
Can I make my own clay extruder discs?
Yes! If you’re struggling to achieve the exact shape you want with your clay extruder, you can make your own DIY dies using a credit card, just make sure it’s one that’s already expired before you start cutting into it!
Simply mark the shape you wish to create on the back of the card using a pen, or if using a pencil, sand down the surface slightly so that the markings are clearly visible.
Next, take a suitable cutting tool (we recommend using a Dremel tool or a scroll saw) and cut around the shape you’ve drawn onto the back of the card. If it needs tidying up, carefully use a small knife to neaten the edges and use some sandpaper to smooth out any burrs.
To use this with your clay extruder, place it over a disc that has a wider opening than the shape you’ve cut out making sure it’s as central as possible, then use your extruder as normal. It’s really quite easy!
However, it’s worth noting that homemade dies will only really work with clay extruders with a barrel that is 3-4 inches, as larger amounts of clay may exert too much force on the credit card causing it to snap.