This $3 Tool Is Meant for Ceramicists, but I Use It Exclusively in the Kitchen

published Aug 25, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

I took a pottery class back in the day, and thought I’d be throwing designer dishes for an Etsy shop by now. Several ugly mugs later, turns out one of the most valuable things I got was a $3 metal scraper. It used to shape, smooth, and trim my lopsided forms on the pottery wheel, but now I keep the trusty silver sliver sink-side for easy access while I cook. 

Scraping is an underestimated kitchen skill — especially while baking and cleaning. Bench scrapers (also called bench knives or dough scrapers) breeze through portioning dough and squeegeeing countertops, but they can’t tackle curved surfaces like mixing bowls, cake molds, or hard-to-reach corners of a cream cheese container. And plastic scrapers are totally fine, I’ve just found that I like my metal pottery scraper better.

Buy: Kemper Scraper Tool, $3 at Dick Blick

Credit: Aliza Gans

It’s about half the size of a slice of American cheese, ensuring a perfect fit for my grip. It has both a curved and straight edge to reach all kinds of nooks in my cookware, but most importantly, it flexes like a mini stainless steel spatula without a bulky handle. 

The tool has become an extension of my hand, and I wield it like a bionic cook. I’ve used it to scoop out a halved avocado, swipe up the last slicks of cake batter in my bowl, and, most frequently, to loosen what’s stuck to my cast iron skillet. A bread-baking phase, however, originally brought this tool from the craft drawer to the kitchen. Working with high-hydration dough left me with a sinkful of sticky dishes. Soaking helped soften everything, but the flour paste would ultimately clog my drain and scrubby sides of sponges. Turns out, the edge, flex, and durability of the pottery tool allowed me to flake off all the dough (the brittle, shaggy, and gooey globs) without having to let stuff soak first.

I’ve used plastic scrapers, which are sold under kitchenware brands for often double the price, but found them to be too blunt and rigid to wedge under the grime. Plus, I feel like we have enough plastic in the world. Besides being a few dollars cheaper, the stainless-steel scraper is recyclable (even though it’ll last a lifetime), won’t melt, get stained, or absorb flavors. Note: You do have to be careful not to scrape anything too hard (like stainless steel pans or cast iron skillets), but the thing is bendy and that helps keep things in check.

Even though I’m not a prolific potter, that ceramics class did teach me that the right tool can make all the difference in the creative process — and in my cooking. I’ll never go back to plastic or my bulky bench scraper. 

Do you have any non-kitchen tools in your kitchen? Tell us about them in the comments below!