I really wanted to like the Makin's Clay machine in this review. It’s designed for conditioning polymer clay, unlike the Atlas. And a quick listing of its features makes it look more promising than the Sculpey. But it does have significant quality problems. So the question becomes, is it a value at any price?
Rated: 3.0 out of 5 among Amazon buyers
Price: Low, usually between $35 and $50 USD
Maximum sheet width: 7 inches
Has a Motor? Yes
RECOMMENDATION: Limited uses. Best for Makin's Air Dry Clay. Warranty may not cover using with other polymer clay brands.
Check the Makins Clay Machine on Amazon to see if it's on sale today.
I have not owned a Makin's, but I know 3 people who have purchased them from Michael’s using a half off coupon. 2 of them are still being used after two years and their owners believe that they got a good deal. The last one had problems with the gears after 2 weeks and sent it to the recycling bin. She’s now using an Atlas, which she’s very happy with.
What I like about the Makin's unit:
Polymer clayers like me are attracted to the these because of:
What I don't like:
The manufacturer has told me that their warranty won’t be good if you’re using it to condition other clay brands. To be fair, the box does say that its best if used for Makins Air Dry Clay. But it is sort of buried in the fine print.
Since this sheeting tool is optimized for Makins Air Dry clay, then it should easily handle clays with similar hardness, like warm Premo or Fimo Soft. Yes, there's at least one reviewer on Amazon who ran old, crumbling Cernit through it and it handled those little rock-like crumbles with no problem. But I would still hesitate to use it to condition old Kato or Fimo.
And there's also the common pasta machine complaint about the included screw clamp not holding the unit firmly enough to the worktable. So don't use the included one, get a sturdy C clamp instead from the garage.
What really turns me off this machine are the reports of inconsistent manufacturing quality in both the manual roller parts and in the motor. One of my friends had to throw hers away, remember? There are also too many online stories of them breaking down after just a few uses or after a couple of months. Gears grind, rubber feet fall off, rollers lose parallel and motors stop working far too soon. Not all these things can be blamed on using them with the wrong brand of clay.
My Recommendation: Buy the Makins for travelling to classes, clay days or seminars. But don’t purchase it unless you can get it for a great price. Otherwise get the Sculpey model, it's less expensive and better quality. If you also pick up that great polymer clay book you’ve had your eye on, and a quality workbench clamp you can get it all shipped to you free. Check the Makins Professional Ultimate Clay Machine at Amazon. Maybe it's on sale?