Polymer Clay Tutorial | Taking Apart And Cleaning A Pasta Machine

Cleaning A Pasta Machine

Vid #87: How To Care For Your Most Useful Polymer Clay Tool, The Pasta Machine (**note):
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Although you can technically “survive” without a pasta machine when making polymer clay beads, I can’t imagine myself doing that! I love using this versatile tool
for conditioning Premo and Fimo clay, mixing colors, rolling flat sheets and making Skinner Blends.

If you use your pasta machine as much as I do,  be sure to clean it regularly. Light cleanings can be done using rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. This will work to clean the surface of the rollers. However, tiny bits of clay also become lodged behind the scraper blades and in the crevices where the rollers meet the sides of the machine. The only way to get at this lodged clay is to take the whole machine apart, clean off the scrapers from the inside, and then reassemble the machine.

Now you would think that since these machines were originally designed for processing food grade pasta, they would be quite easy to take apart and clean. But this is not really the case! Actually, taking them apart is not so difficult. It’s putting them back together again that can get tricky.

The people who assemble these machines must either have two sets of hands… or some special assembly jig. I’m guessing it is the later :-)

I had a heck of a time putting my pasta machine back together before I found out that removing the fins made the reassembly process much more manageable.

Since the process of taking apart and reassembling your pasta machine would be difficult to follow in a written tutorial, I have decided to show you with a video. You can see a preview of the presentation below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

 



 



Click Video Play Button

Here’s That “Link Below” Referred To at End of the Video
>> Polymer Clay Tutorials <<

The full version of the “Pasta Machine” preview video shown above, is available for purchase at my Polymer Clay Bead Making Videos Library in the Volume-008 Back Issue Package.

**Note: The advise provided in the Vol-008-1 Pasta Machine Cleaning Video only applies if you have an older model Amaco 7 setting pasta machine. Many pasta machines these days are not meant to be dismantled for cleaning purposes… and you will wreck them if you try.

In the Pasta Machine Cleaningvideo I show how to properly disassemble, clean and reassemble your pasta machine. Other topics covered in the video include:

  • Common hardware tools you will need for completing this maintenance project.
  • Tips for keeping track of the parts so you can put them back together again in the right order.
  • How the scrapers work and why they are important for keeping your pasta machine rollers clean
  • Why I think leaving out the fins during the reassembly process is a good idea.
  1. shannon, 29 December, 2008

    Thank you so much for this!
    I know I have needed to clean the machine for so long but I was clueless!

    Happy New Years to you, you wonderful woman!
    It has been my pleasure to get to know you.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 30 December, 2008

    Thank you Shannon! You are a delightful talent… the pleasure is all mine!

    Hope your New Year is filled with squeaky clean pasta machines and never again will there be nasty streaks in your Skinner Blends!! Hmmm… if a non-clayer read that they would be very alarmed and confused! ;-)

  3. Cindy Erickson, 10 January, 2009

    “nasty streaks in your Skinner Blends!!” Very cute, Cindy!!! Just don’t try to put your streaked skinner blends in the washing machine!!! LOL!!!

    Thanks, Cindy. I think I’ll clean my pasta machine on a day when I am feeling quite peaceful and not at all irritated so I put it back together correctly! You made the mystery of the pasta machine seem like a fairly easy task, thanks much!

    Hugs to you, Cindy E.

  4. Cindy Lietz, 10 January, 2009

    Yeah it’s a good idea to clean your machine regularly. You would not believe the gunk that gets piled up behind the scrapers! The first time I cleaned mine there was about 3 or 4 beads worth in there!

  5. Lupe Meter, 13 January, 2009

    Thanks for the video on cleaning the pasta machine. One question though…don’t you need the fins to guide the the clay through the machine? Or is it easy enough to guide the clay without them? I haven’t cleaned mine because of that simple reason. What if I couldn’t put those fins back on…wouldn’t it be difficult to guide the clay through the machine. I guess I will have to try that and see how it goes.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 14 January, 2009

    Actually Lupe, you don’t need the fins at all to feed the clay in. I think it is a little easier even, since you can see the rollers so well when the fins are off!

  7. Paul Arthur, 20 January, 2009

    Thank you so much for the video on taking my pasta machine apart and cleaning it. I’ve been working with polymer clay for a few months and was going to go out and buy a couple of spares, not now.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 22 January, 2009

    Glad to be of help Paul. Thank you for your comment!

  9. Patricia, 15 March, 2009

    Thanks this was very helpful,, I have heard people say tiny important pieces to the PM going everywhere when they have tried to open up their PM’s so I was reluctant to even think about opening mine up… Your video really put those fears at ease… I not only opened and cleaned my current PM, but open my first PM that had stopped working smoothly and thought it was a lost,, was able to fix the first PM just find that inside some of the nuts had become loose and just needed to be re tightened so the gears would line up correctly…

    Big help thanks…

  10. Cindy Lietz, 16 March, 2009

    That is so great to hear Patricia! I especially loved hearing you fixed your old broken pasta machine too! Now you can use one for light colors and one for dark if you want!

  11. Ken H., 24 May, 2009

    I cleaned my machine last night and thought I would go crazy.
    The covers that you took off and left off, I need to help hold in the scrapers, mine does not have the little tabs at the ends. I just hope the scrapers are bace in position correctly. Wouldn’t you know I’d get an oddball pasta machine.:)

  12. Kimberly, 25 May, 2009

    I leave my scrapers as well as the fins off – is this bad? :(

  13. Cindy Lietz, 29 May, 2009

    Not if it works Kimberly! Will have to try that next time I clean my machine!

  14. Kimberly Hart, 29 May, 2009

    Great! Trust me… I had more problems with the scrapers than I did with the fins. They collect so much clay, and the only way to get rid of the clay stuck behind the scrapers is to take the whole damn thing apart… so leaving them off is the best way to go if you don’t like taking apart your machine a lot. :)

    I enjoy taking it apart and putting it back together, though… I am into machines and how they work, and especially putting things together – must have been the lego when I was a kid! :)
    .

  15. Ken H., 01 June, 2009

    Well, I discovered how to put mine back together again, I was having trouble fitting the scrapers back on, since unlike in the video, my scrapers didn’t have the little tabs to slot back into the machine. Mine has two thick peices of metal that look something like hairpins, here they’re (for lack of a better word) springs that hold the scrapers in place. Once I figured that out everything else went just like in the cleaning video.
    .

  16. Marion, 09 March, 2011

    @Ken H.: Thanks for recommending I share my ‘clay suddenly sticking to the rollers’ problem with the blog Cindy! Using alcohol did the trick. I might have thought of this, but the clay was only sticking at the thinnest setting, it was fine on all other thicknesses. So I began to think it was a fault with the m/c or the clay, plus it had never happened before and I’ve been using a pasta m/c for some years (now onto my 3rd!). I’d like to try Cindy’s video but like Ken I have one of those ‘odd ball’ machines with the hair-pin type fixtures (hence the 3rd m/c!). Can you share your secret Ken?

  17. Ken H, 09 March, 2011

    @Marion: first off DO NOT take it apart to the extent that Cindy does in her cleaning video, out of my own ignorance I ruined my first P/M, I think I somehow misalligned the gear system or something. I did remove the “hoods” right after I purchased the second one, but it has never again been disassembled to that point since.

    Take the one side panel off to gain access to the one pin, remember to see how the pins are holding the scrapers in or you’ll spend some time trying to “rediscover” how they were held in. Be careful, when the pin is removed the scrapers will pop out, use a pair of non jewelry pliers to remove the pin. Once they’re off the rollers and scrapers can be easily cleaned, then the ends of both scrapers need to go on the pin that you don’t have complete access to, and while holding them in place slide the other pin back in, then use the pliers to knock the pin back into place. replace the outside cover and that’s it. It may take a few tries until you can get the scrapers back into place, it’s sort of a juggling act, but after the first time you’ll know how it’s done and it should be easier.

    I hope that helps,

    Ken

  18. Marion, 11 March, 2011

    @Ken H: Thank you Ken, I’m still struggling but it’s good to know it can be done! The machine with the ‘hair pins’ was already in pieces unfortunately so I wasn’t able to see how they fitted before taking apart! On checking my ‘new’ m/c it looks like the scraping blades fit with little flanges so I’ve bought Cindy’s video and, with fingers crossed, am about to take my 3rd machine apart! I also think I’ve discovered why the very thinnest setting (#1 on my m/c) results in clay sticking to the rollers. I have 9 settings, not the 7 that Cindy has, so I’m thinking the very thinnest setting is so thin that combined with the clay which is now very soft with constant conditioning it is ‘sliding’ under the scrapers. Maybe they’re clogged up, making a ‘gap’ for the clay to slide through. Anyway, hopefully taking it apart will reveal all. Thanks again for your help.

  19. Ken H., 01 June, 2009

    Oh and I also now have the covers removed, they weren’t needed to hold the scrapers in.

  20. Cindy Lietz, 01 June, 2009

    That is excellent Kimberly and Ken! I can’t imagine how people can use these darn machines for making real pasta in if they are such a pain to keep clean. I would imagine there would be all kinds of flour and egg gunk in behind the scrapers the way they are designed. That is one very good thing about the new pasta machine Polymer Clay Express is designing. No fins, no scrapers, no problem!

  21. Kimberly Hart, 01 June, 2009

    No fins? No scrapers? Wow! What a dream machine! Hehehe.

  22. Cindy Lietz, 02 June, 2009

    You know, that might make a good name for it! ;-)

  23. Beverly Sims, 12 July, 2009

    Cindy: I’ve taken the “fenders”, “fins” or whatever you call them off – and now the clay sticks to the rollers and I can’t use the pasta machine. What am I doing wrong? I would really appreciate advice. Thank you so much – Beverly Sims
    .

  24. Ken H., 12 July, 2009

    @Beverly

    Did you replace the “blades” that go along side the rollers?
    If you have four peices removed then the scrapers weren’t put back, it’s these scrapers that help keep the clay from getting stuck on the rollers.

  25. Cindy Lietz, 13 July, 2009

    @Beverly: Sorry Beverly to have taken a bit to get back to you. It has been pretty hectic around here.

    Ken is right about needing the scrapers. I know in the post up above there was talk about no scrapers, but that is for pasta machines that are designed to not need them.

    Most pasta machines need the scrapers, at least mine does. When I took them off to try it, the clay just rolled around and around the rollers. The scrapers on most machines keep that from happening. I think the ones that don’t use scrapers, have non stick rollers. But I can’t be positive on that.

    You can leave the 2 fins off, like I showed you in the video, but put the scrapers back on and you should have no problem. Hopefully you will be able to find them!

    @Ken: Thank you Ken so much for getting to Beverly before I could! You are a tremendous help around here! :-)

  26. Ken H., 15 July, 2009

    Anytime, I was hoping that I wasn’t stepping on your toes since it was addressed to you. I remember how frustrated I was when I took mine apart to clean it only to discover that it was built differently that yours and I couldn’t initally figure out how to get the blades back on. If I can help I chime in.

  27. Cindy Lietz, 16 July, 2009

    Ken I would never see you as stepping on my toes! You are a tremendous asset around here. I appreciate your help a lot! I can barely keep up anymore so any help I receive is very helpful.Thank you so much!

  28. Ken H., 17 July, 2009

    You’re welcome.

  29. Cheryl Hodges, 13 February, 2010

    I got lines through the sheet of clay when i went past the midway mark. Any ideas why this might happen? I’m wondering if it is because the machine was not very level? i could not use the clamp provided with the clay machine because my table was thicker than the clamp allowed so my husband clamped it down in the center. I found out later that it was lifting up on one side a bit.
    I know this questions sounds silly but I’ve looked for tables at walmart, canadian tire . they are either too thick or the work tables are very narrow. I don’t want to be spending money just getting a table. Any suggestions to solve that problem or what kind of table i could get?

  30. Phaedrakat, 13 February, 2010

    @Cheryl Hodges: Hi Cheryl, this might be something you’ve already tried, but just in case — what about buying a couple of C-clamps from the hardware store? You can buy them in various sizes, and clamp down your pasta machine on both sides of whatever thickness table you want. They cost just a buck or two.

    What kind of lines in your clay are you talking about? Those little horizontal ones that are just 1 or 2 mm apart? Or is it a “colored” line, perhaps caused by dirty rollers or scrapers?

  31. Cheryl Hodges, 14 February, 2010

    it’s the horizontal lines not a clored line. Also the clay kind of buckles up a bit there. I do have the clamp that came with the clay machine but it doen’t fit the table as the table is way to thick.

  32. Phaedrakat, 15 February, 2010

    As for the clamps, buy a couple of bigger C-clamps (they’re cheap at hardware stores) that will fit your table. As for those horiz. lines, what do you mean about getting them “when you go past midway mark.” Do you mean medium thickness? As far as the rippling, that can happen with really thin sheets of clay. Or, if you’re having lots of trouble with it at higher settings, your rollers might be misaligned. Have you always had these troubles, or is this something new?

  33. Sue F, 15 February, 2010

    @Cheryl:
    One of my pasta machines leaves faint horizontal impressions in the clay every few millimetres, particularly at the larger/coarser settings, but it only does it on the front/top of the clay. So I just flip the clay over when it comes out of the pasta machine so that the other, less intuitive side is on top, and that’s always nice and smooth. Is there any chance that might be a workaround with yours too?

  34. Cindy Lietz, 09 March, 2010

    HOT TIP ALERT: Click on the link by my name to see how Cherie uses white clay to clean her pasta machine rollers.

  35. iasilva, 28 May, 2010

    Hello, I have a pasta machine that I used a few time with polymer clay about 7 years ago. I now would like to bring it back to life and use it on fondant. Is there anyway to completely clean my pasta machine so that I can use it with fondant? Or is it completely ruined now?
    Please help!

  36. Phaedrakat, 31 May, 2010

    @iasilva: Most experts advise that once you use your machine for clay, you shouldn’t use it for food again. (This applies to any tool — once you use it for clay, you can never go back!) If it’s a really expensive pasta machine, I can see wanting to clean it and make it usable for fondant, though. If it’s a cheap machine, you might just want to get a new one instead. You can get a Sculpey clay conditioning machine for about $12.50 if you use a coupon at JoAnn’s or Michael’s. Otherwise, you could try Cindy’s pasta machine cleaning video, which shows you how to take it apart to clean it thoroughly. It’s in one of the Polymer Clay Library Back Issues (Vol-008).

    It’s meant to clean your machine when colors build up, to keep fresh clay from getting other colors on it. But it might help — you could follow the procedures to clean your machine. It depends what type it is, too. It’s difficult to get all of the clay from certain machines; make sure you use lots of alcohol to clean everything completely. Then, hope for the best (I suppose!) Good luck on this, it’s a bit scary! ~Kat

  37. Sam G, 03 November, 2011

    Hi Cindy

    I just wanted to say thank you for this great tutorial. My husband Martin just watched your video on how to clean a pasta machine and then set to work on mine!! I have to say I was a little nervous, he likes to take things apart a little too much! Normally down to every last screw and then not be able to put things back together. Lol But I am happy to report that I now have a fully functioning, clean and slightly more naked pasta machine.

    BTW His first comment was is Cindy Canadian? He spent a couple of years in Canada about 24 years ago but still picked up on it!!! Thanks so much again for all your hard work and inspiration.

  38. Cindy Lietz, 04 November, 2011

    That’s great to hear Sam! You must have one of the older 7 setting machines. Glad to hear it is all sparkly clean, even if it is a bit naked. :-)

    How cute about your husband… how could he tell I was Canadian? Was it the accent or the personality? Just curious.

  39. Sam G, 05 November, 2011

    Hi Cindy
    Apparently it was the way you said ‘out’?? I am not so discerning I am afraid I can just tell you are from that side of the Atlantic rather than this lol!!
    Whatever type of pasta machine I have he was making sure it was coming apart!!!!!

  40. Catalina, 27 July, 2013

    I just bought a new machine and clay got jammed. Couldn’t move the handle! So, thinking I could take it apart an clean it like my other one, I took it apart and discovered those “pins”! Well, you know I messed it up! Can’t believe they changed it! I was hoping you knew how to handle these but I guess I’m doomed. It nevered worked smoothly and seem very cheaply made compared to my old one. Just glad my old one is still good!

  41. Cindy Lietz, 29 July, 2013

    How frustrating Catalina! The issue of crappy pasta machines is one I have been dieing to solve for a long time. The Dream Machine did it, but I feel the costs are so high that it just can’t be justified by the average clayer. I have almost caved and bought one a few times but the darn thing is not only expensive but it’s not even available right away. They need to wait until they have a certain number of orders before they can manufacture them.

    If only the big clay companies like Polyform or Amaco would listen to us and manufacture a clay conditioning machine that had many of the features of the Dream Machine (non corrosive rollers, the removable scrapers, stronger gears, wider rollers, etc) but in the $50 to $100 range instead of the $300 range of the Dream Machine. I know there is a market for it, but they just keep pushing out that low end crap to the masses.

    Now it’s even worse than when I put out this original video… since the new machines can’t even be taken apart anymore. Wish I had the deep pockets to do it myself… but we’re so busy with the videos, we just can’t get into manufacturing right now.

  42. Ken Hamilton, 29 July, 2013

    That’s the way with everything today. The companies put out crappy merchandise that falls apart in 6 months to a year and then your back buying another one because there’s no choice but to. They make more money doing this than putting out a quality product. No company puts out a durable product designed to last. I am saving a little bit at a time for one of those Dream Machines, it ‘s not a hurry and I know someday I’ll have the money for it. Patience is a virtue, a virtue I haven’t been granted yet, but I’ll have the Cadillac of clay machines eventually.

  43. Katie C, 29 July, 2013

    A mid-range alternative between Amaco and the Dream Machine is probably the Atlas. I purchased mine through Mona Kissel’s site (for the removable scrapers – much easier to clean) and it’s by far been the best investment to date for me. I still have an Amaco for white and translucent, but it’s basically just taking up shelf space at this point (especially since I took it apart once and managed to lose bits. It still rolls clay, but is not so well-attached to the base. Oops.)

    For time reference, I got my Atlas in December 2010. I’d already been through two of the cheaper machines by then and started with polymer clay in mid-2008 (I think.)

  44. Catalina, 30 July, 2013

    I’m thinking of using the roller and popsicle sticks to roll the clay to different thicknesses. LOL! I wonder if food grade machines might be a way to go. Anything that can be cleaned and maintain would be nice. I may look into this and see what I can find out.

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