Orchids forum: Making vents in clay pots

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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 4, 2012 8:22 PM CST
I've been having trouble finding clay orchid pots lately. So a couple of the pots that came with some rescue phals from Lowe's just needed holes cut into them. We tried several different methods, drills, roto-zip, and then the super little Dremel tool turned out to be the answer.

Safety first, please wear safety glasses when you are using any cutting tool, and there will be terra cotta dust, so if you don't want to breathe it, a fiber mask would be in order as well. I did my cutting in front of a window in my DH's shop and there was a nice obliging breeze blowing the dust all over the floor instead of into my face . . .. in hindsight, the little shop vac would take away the dust very nicely (but it makes such a racket!).

I use a Dremel tool with a little diamond wheel on it. You may have to use a larger wheel if you have a bigger, thicker walled pot. My pots are only a bit over 1/8in or 2 to 3mm thick. You also are pretty much stuck with straight-sided holes, because the wheel only cuts straight cuts. It would take a lot of time and patience to make anything like a curved cut.
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These two little clay pots came with dying phals in them, from the Lowe's death rack. No wonder - the clay pots had no holes whatsoever, and inside each had a plastic pot as well. Soggy moss, hello-o!

The wheel cuts best if the clay is dry. Moist clay will gum up the wheel and you'll need to rinse it off during the operation.Turn on the tool, I use speed setting 7 (the tool has 1 to 10) and very light pressure to keep the tool, wheel and pot from overheating. The clay is not hard, but it is fairly dense. If you see sparks where the wheel is cutting, you are pressing too hard. Don't try to go fast, it only takes about 30sec. to make each cut. If your Dremel tool starts to get hot, stop and have a cup of tea while it cools down.
Thumb of 2012-12-05/dyzzypyxxy/e53973

I like to make little slanted rectangles (parallellograms) for those of you who are into math. So I cut two parallel sides about 1/4in. apart. Then I make the end cuts to break out the piece on the inside of the pot because you don't see the cuts extending beyond the hole. It just looks nicer.
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You can make squares or triangles (see below) rectangles, or star shapes, whatever turns your crank. Don't make the holes too big, though, or your bark mix or other medium will escape out the holes. Hmm, star shapes would be fun for gift pots at the holidays . . . I think I'd draw the star in pencil on the pot first, rather than try to freehand it. After I have cut on all sides of my opening, I gently tap the piece with a light metal tool. This little crescent wrench worked great. Note, the clay gets a little thicker up near the rim of the pot, and of course the "collar" of the pot is much thicker. I don't make vents in that part, but if the pot is tall like this one, I do make the holes fairly high up the sides.

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I'd advise not to make the holes too close together, as every hole will weaken your pot a bit. I was thinking a row of diamonds would look great, or narrow triangles with one pointing up and one pointing down.

Anyway . . I digress as usual. Here are pictures of the tools you usually find in the kit that comes with your Dremel tool. You can use a sanding wheel to dress the edges of the holes you made if you want to. The edges are a bit sharp, but not sharp enough to cut you unless you really grabbed an edge hard.

The dark red cutting wheels cut great, and would work for a thicker walled pot, but be very careful not to wear them too thin as they tend to break and fly apart. The big black cutting wheel made the tool overheat pretty quickly. It's a lot of work for that little motor to turn that big wheel.

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If you try this on a ceramic glazed pot, be extremely careful! They are fired at much higher temps than terra cotta, so they're more brittle. Also the glaze can crack and pieces fly around, so beware flying splinters!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Dec 4, 2012 8:28 PM (+)]
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Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Dec 4, 2012 9:02 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks so much for posting this, Elaine!! This is very helpful! Thumbs up
We have a Dremel, now I have to look if we have the right wheel.
Name: lindsey
wesley chapel, fl
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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sugarcane
Dec 5, 2012 1:02 PM CST
excellent presentation Elaine! Thanks for sharing!!!
lindsey
Name: Noel Calvert
Tumaco, Colombia-South America (Zone 13b)
A gringo?Where?(does a doubletake)
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NoelCalvert
Dec 11, 2012 9:30 PM CST
Hello dyzzypyxxy ,
I have something to add to your tutorial if you do not mind. I noticed you mentioned fire pots with ceramic coatings crack & chip & such. I know a way to stop that from happening. The same way you can poke holes in balloons without them breaking. You can take some tape ( we use masking tape for balloons, but I think something stronger is in order for pots), & cover your cutting area with it. Make a cross over the full cutting area, & simply remove the left over tape when you are done. This should allow you to make a clean cut without chipping or cracking. I would stay away from duct tape since it will leave a nasty tape residue on your pots to clean off.

Noel
Kneel & swear fealty to the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt! Mazrim Taim
[Last edited by NoelCalvert - Dec 17, 2012 11:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 17, 2012 7:02 PM CST
Excellent tip, Noel. Thanks!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Noel Calvert
Tumaco, Colombia-South America (Zone 13b)
A gringo?Where?(does a doubletake)
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NoelCalvert
Dec 17, 2012 11:20 PM CST
Your welcome Elaine. I hope it helps.
Noel
Kneel & swear fealty to the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt! Mazrim Taim
Stellenbosch Western Cape Sout
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Wilf
Aug 26, 2016 4:00 AM CST
Great advice from you guys.......thanks for sharing.....sharing is caring
Name: Jim Hawk
Odessa, Florida (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Hibiscus Birds Bromeliad Greenhouse Master Gardener: Florida
Garden Photography Region: United States of America Roses Tropicals Region: Florida Orchids
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hawkarica
Aug 26, 2016 8:32 AM CST
Nicely done, Elaine. Thanks.

Jim
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Organic Gardener Garden Sages Birds Frogs and Toads Plant Identifier
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terrafirma
Aug 26, 2016 9:18 AM CST
Very nice tutorial, Elaine! Thumbs up
If I may suggest... You should submit this as as an Idea for the Homepage...
Earn MORE Acorn 's! Whistling
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 26, 2016 9:19 AM CST
Goodness, this was written 4 years ago, you're most welcome and it still works. But I must admit I have graduated to using a diamond tipped hole saw on a cordless drill rather than the Dremel tools. I also drip water on the hole as I work, to keep down the dust, and keep the tool and pot from getting hot.

Maybe a new tutorial is in order?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Organic Gardener Garden Sages Birds Frogs and Toads Plant Identifier
Dragonflies Butterflies Hummingbirder Orchids Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator
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terrafirma
Aug 26, 2016 9:23 AM CST
Hilarious! I didn't even notice the original date! Hilarious! Funny how these can come up again!

Yes Thumbs up Maybe it is time for a new tutorial! Thumbs up
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 26, 2016 9:43 AM CST
Hi wcahl,

I see you just joined today. Welcome! to NGA and especially the Orchid Forum. (Ursula, How come we don't have an orchid imoji?)

Daisy
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Aug 26, 2016 10:40 AM CST
There's an orchid badge, Daisy. See it in the upper right corner of the posts? Orchids don't emote, at least that I've noticed . . . Big Grin
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Charter ATP Member Spiders! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Pennsylvania Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Ponds Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: New Jersey
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Ursula
Aug 26, 2016 1:11 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, you can buy one with acorns! I actually have it, but only the first 12 badges show. I just tried to move it higher, but I think I need to do on the IMac.

Other than that, my IPad has all sorts of cute emoties, different blooms too, but not an Orchid.
Name: Jeff
Hudson, Fla (Zone 9a)
Region: United States of America
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Moe
Aug 27, 2016 10:20 PM CST
Great idea Elaine !!! I love it....

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