How to Cut Terra-Cotta Pots

Terra-cotta pots are inexpensive and versatile for both planting and crafts, but the hard, brittle nature of the material makes cutting a challenge. A rotary tool fitted with a tile-cutting bit is an option for cutting a clay pot. You can use the tool to cut the pot in half, cut a section of it off or cut designs in the pot for a luminary. With a few tips and clay cutting techniques, you can modify your terra-cotta pot to fit your project needs.

Growth concept. Terracotta pots
credit: maria_esau/iStock/Getty Images
Terra-cotta is an inexpensive yet durable material for projects.

Step 1

Soak the clay pot for at least 20 minutes in water to soften the material and cut down on dust while cutting. Let the pot dry for another 20 minutes.

Step 2

Draw a line to indicate where you plan to cut. Use a tape measure to get an even line if you're cutting the pot in half or cutting off a section of the pot. If you're cutting out a design, draw the design freehand or use stencils. Larger designs are easier than fine, intricate designs.

Step 3

Secure the pot on a sturdy surface. Use a vise if desired to keep the pot from moving around as you make the cuts.

Step 4

Put on eye protection. Mark your starting point with a pencil. Drill a pilot hole in that spot by running the rotary tool over that spot several times.

Step 5

Insert the bit into the hole you started. Move the tile-cutting bit in a slow, up and down motion along the line. If you force the bit too quickly, you might overheat the tip. If you're making more than one hole or design in the pot, remove the blade once you finish the first section. Make another pilot hole and cut the next design in the same way.

Step 6

Wipe down the pot to remove any dust you generated from cutting the clay.

Shelley Frost

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.