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Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode
Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode
Published by Random
Default Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode

1 clay pot - in this case, 5"H x7" Diameter
Portland cement or mortar
Pond pebbles

Razor knife
Vice grip
Small hammer
Small chisel
Putty knife

You will need to cut a door in the clay pot. There is no size rule, just be sure that it is large enough for fat toads to enter! You can use a dremel saw but I used a chisel.


1. Soak the clay pot overnight in water to soften it.

2. Lay the clay pot on it's side and fasten firmly to a table with the vice grip. See photo 2 attachment.

3. With the razor, etch an outline of your desired door shape in the side of the clay pot. Go over the groove again and again until it has some depth, cutting as deeply into the pot as you can.

4. Line the chisel in the razor groove and very gently tap along the door outline until the door piece comes free. If the pot cracks or breaks, it can be mended with the mortar.

4. With the sandpaper, smooth the door edges. This is very easy to do while the pot is still damp from the overnight soaking. Photo 3 attachment is before sanding.

5. Let the pot dry out.

6. Mix your mortar or cement, making it very thick.

7. Spread the mortar or cement mix over the outside of the clay pot with the putty knife.

8. Press the pond pebbles on to the mortar, using the mortar mix as an adhesive.

You can apply the pebbles by the handful and go back and stick individual stones where there are spaces using a dab of mortar on the pebble as an adhesive. You can also individually stick the pebbles to the pot for a more careful look. If you choose to put the pebbles on the pot one at a time, I would advice working with small sections of mortar on the pot, applying more as you go along. The mortar dries quickly.

Let the toad house dry out completely and place in a moist shady area of your garden. Enjoy!
Attached Thumbnails
Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode-photo1.jpg   Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode-photo2.jpg   Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode-photo3.jpg   Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode-photo4.jpg  
By NEBogger on 10-18-2009, 01:31 PM

Random, I like the looks of the finished project better than the plain pots I have. I'm wondering if they hold up very well in cold climates, or should they be brought in?
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By Random on 10-18-2009, 02:05 PM

Originally Posted by NEBogger View Post
Random, I like the looks of the finished project better than the plain pots I have. I'm wondering if they hold up very well in cold climates, or should they be brought in?
I honestly do not know since I am in GA where it never snows. For a cement bird bath you would just turn it over in since it's the freezing water that cracks the cement but you can still leave it outside. Since these toad houses don't hold water I would not think it would be a problem. Hopefully someone who is from a place that gets snow can jump in and have an opinion!

They are cute in a garden. I think half my neighborhood has them now.
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By Hedgerowe on 10-18-2009, 02:08 PM

You have made this look doable, Random. Excellent instructions AND illustrations.
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By TheLorax on 10-18-2009, 05:26 PM

This is one of my favorite projects I've seen.

Question- would a tile saw work or would it vibrate too much breaking the pot into a million pieces?
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By Random on 10-18-2009, 06:55 PM

Lorax a tile saw may be fine but use a bar clamp, not one of those weenie metal vice grips like I have in photo. I mass made these things and used an Irwin clamp ($8-$9 and far more handy than a vice) like the one attached and they held well, bar clamp is wider and has padding. The pots are $1.98 or $2.98, can not recall so is not a disaster to test a tile saw and ruin a pot. I mended several pots before I got it down. Okay I mended most of my pots. Good thing the pebbles hide all that.

Having it soak is a huge help. Far better than dry.

Hedgerow, it's very simple. Seriously a second grader did most of the one in the picture. He was better than I at it. Kids loved making them!!
Attached Thumbnails
Making a Clay Pot Toad Abode-irwin.jpg  
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By TheLorax on 10-18-2009, 07:06 PM

Was that a special utility knife you used? One that was heavy duty or did soaking the pot soften it enough to use a regular utility knife?
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By Random on 10-18-2009, 07:33 PM

knife is just one of those cheapo things from Home Depot - they have them at the counters even I think. It's a razor that you can break off the end with pliers for a new tip when it starts to get dull. It's in the photo of the bench.

Soaking the pot really did the trick. It wasn't that hard at all, just take your time. Once a groove gets going you can grind away with the razor knife. I did most of it with the razor.
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By BooBooBearBecky on 10-19-2009, 12:51 AM

Thanks so much for the great instructions and excellent photos of the Toad Abode project. I will be making these myself! And next time my twin nieces come to visit they can help me make more! I have lots of toads in my garden, so I need lots of abodes.

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By biigblueyes on 10-19-2009, 07:33 AM

They should love it.
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