Fool-proof way to cut through ceramic/teracotta pots

jane1187

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Hello to anyone interested in this thread.

let me give a brief explanation, I would love to use old teracotta pots in my aquaria and vivaria but the tops of the pot provide an exposed cave that a lot of my creatures don't like using. Ideally the pot should be upside down with a semi-circle cut out of it to provide a darker and more cosy home. So I've scoured the internet and sought advice from my local DIY superstore and have found an apparently fool-proof (well I was able to do it and if you know me that says A LOT) way to cut holes in teracotta pots (or cut them in half is that takes your fancy). I noticed a thread about how to do this but it involved a drill of some sort or someone suggested cracking the pot with pliers. This risks damaging the pot and crating cracks. MY METHOD TOOK ME 10 MINS! NO CRACKS! Also using pliers or drills can leave sharp edges on the pot, my nethod leaves none.

First: Buy teracotta or ceramic pots to the desired size. If you use glazed pots the glaze may crack on the outside but the method should still work.

Second: Buy a tile saw. This is not a specialised piece of kit and required no electricity to work. It cost me around £8 for a cheap one, so they're not massively expensive. See attached picture to see what one looks like. You'll notice that it looks like a hack-saw but instead of a blade it has a file.

Third: Soak the pots for 24 hours. this softens the teracotta, reducing the risk of breakage and makes it easier to cut.

Fourth: Use the file to literally file out a chunk of the pot. Do this with the pot straight from the water. Because the cutting technique relies on the pressure you apply in a certain direction, you can cut whatever shape you want! Square, triangular, circular... zig-zag? You name it.
WARNING: Filing creates teracotta dust. It should be wet and so won't fly everywhere and you won't breathe it in, but you will need to do this on top of an old towel or something to catch the dust.

Fifth: Insert your new pot into the aquarium/terrarium and let your newts, frogs/toads, lizards, snakes, small mammals or invertebrates enjoy!

(Optional) Sixth: Buy a tile file (a similar file material to the saw blade but on a flat or rounded file). You can use the tile file to smooth off the edges of the hole for a better finish if you are a perfectionist. Using the tile saw shouldn't create any sharp edges (it may be rough but is not sharp) but you can use the file to flatten it even more. You can lso use it to hide any errors if you don;t cut in a straight line.

Please see the other attached photo for an example of the finished article. You can use them underwater too as they are non-toxic.

Hope everyone finds this useful.
 

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Cliff

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I used an angle grinder last time - I had quite a few hides to make

Soaking the pots for 24Hrs beforehand really helps cutting through and stops a lot of dust!
- passing down knowledge from Sharron
 
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