If you want to get better at pottery, then getting yourself a pottery wheel is the next crucial step to help you learn new skills and create anything you can imagine. So what features should you look for? Does it matter if it’s electric or not? And how much should you spend on the perfect pottery wheel?
What is the best pottery wheel? The best pottery wheel will be either electric or have a kick wheel depending on your preferences, have a splash pan that is easy to clean, have a steady frame, and be able to run at your preferred speed.
There are many pottery wheels available today, so picking the right one may seem daunting if you don’t know what makes them different. If you’re looking into getting a pottery wheel to elevate your craft, this guide’s for you.
Pottery Wheels – Buyer’s Guide
The pottery wheel plays a major role in pottery-making. It provides a platform for you to work from, and the spinning motion allows you to easily shape the clay to create the right symmetry for your pottery.
Let’s take a look at the different features and types of pottery wheels.
Electric Wheel Vs. Kick wheel
When it comes to pottery wheels, there are two main types: electric wheels and kick wheels.
As you have probably guessed, an electric wheel has a motor and utilizes electricity to create the spinning motion, while a kick wheel has a manual flywheel that enables the spinning motion. Each of these types has its own pros and cons.
A kick wheel is a tool as old as pottery itself. It doesn’t rely on electricity, although some modern kick wheels do have motors that make the spinning motion smoother and more effortless.
To work with a kick wheel, a potter can use their foot to kick the large flywheel at the bottom of the kick wheel, which will spin the wheel head where the pottery can be shaped.
A kick wheel is very friendly to both left-handed and right-handed potters since you can easily spin it clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on your preference. Because of the simple construction, a kick wheel can be quite low-maintenance and long-lasting.
Many potters prefer using kick wheels because it gives them better control over the spinning speed of the pottery wheel. However, because of how it is designed, kick wheels are often tremendously heavy – and therefore, not portable.
As you can imagine, working with a kick wheel for a long time can cause knee problems for potters since the manual control can get really tiring. However, this problem is somewhat reduced thanks to the modern motor-assisted kick wheels.
On the other hand, an electric pottery wheel is enabled using a motor that requires electricity. The motor is enabled using a foot pedal that a potter can press to get the wheel going.
Because of this design, it doesn’t require a lot of physical force to spin the wheel and can be quite friendly to potters with arthritis or knee problems.
Electric wheels, therefore, are designed to be very lightweight and portable, and they often don’t require a lot of space, which is a big plus if you are buying one for your home studio.
However, electric wheels aren’t all fun and games either. For beginner potters, it will take a while to master the spinning speed and motion, and during the first few tries, clay may spin out of the wheel due to the fast spinning motion.
Depending on the motor used, some electric wheels can be quite noisy, which is also a big concern for some studio spaces.
Most electric wheels can be customized to spin clockwise or counterclockwise, so both left-handed and right-handed potters can work with them. However, this is not a given for every electric wheel, so make sure to check this feature if you are left-handed.
Regardless of the type of wheel you are buying; every pottery wheel does have the same following designs. The wheel head is where your pottery will stay while you shape the work. This is the part of the pottery wheel that will be spinning.
Most pottery wheels have a 12″ or 14″ wheel head with bat pins that are spaced 10″ apart. There are different styles and sizes, of course, but the most versatile size is probably the 14″ wheel head.
However, if you want to make very large pieces, then you should get wheels that are large enough to accommodate the size of your work.
If you are a professional potter, then it’s a good idea to find one that allows the wheel head to be replaced when needed. The spinning motion may cause the joints to dry out over time, causing grinding sounds when you spin. A removable wheel head design is definitely a big plus in these instances.
Some potters prefer to work on plaster instead of directly on the wheel head. Some wheel heads are designed with pins to hold plaster bats, and these bat pins are usually removable.
If you want to use plaster bats with your wheel, it’s important you match the bat pins on your wheel head with the pin configurations on the plaster bat.
The splash pan is the plastic part that fits around the wheel. It’s typically used for collecting water or trimming scraps as you shape your pottery on the wheel. This part is designed to keep your working area mess-free, but it can also bulk up the size of the pottery wheel.
Many plash pans are designed to be removable for easy clean-up. You will also find built-in splash pan designs that can be emptied through a drain plug.
Table Top, Legs, Frame
The support structure that holds the wheel head in place will decide how easy it is to spin your pottery. If the support structure is sturdy, the pottery wheel will be more dependable when you work.
Most wheels have a sturdy plastic or plywood top and metal legs. The materials used here will not only decide how sturdy your pottery wheel will be but also how heavy and portable it will be.
Some companies make leg extenders that allow a wheel to be turned into a standing one. This style of throwing provides more comfort to the lower back, and in the case of the kick wheel, it can make spinning the flywheel more comfortable as well.
As we have mentioned, a kick wheel is usually very heavy and not designed to be portable. On the other hand, electric wheels can be quite compact and portable, especially those with plastic wheel heads and parts.
Depending on your needs and what your studio space looks like, you can get a size that suits your preference.
Electric Wheel Features
In addition to the features mentioned above, there are a few other things you should pay attention to if you are interested in buying an electric pottery wheel. Let’s take a look at them now.
Electric wheels function using a motor, and this will decide how powerful your wheel will be. Most potters will find that a ½ horsepower motor is enough for most tasks, but if you want something a bit more powerful, a 1.5 horsepower motor is probably the strongest one that you can get.
Not all motors are created equal. In most cases, a bigger motor will provide better longevity and more use than a smaller one. Bigger motors are usually more energy-efficient, although this usually means you have to spend a little bit more money upfront.
Centering capacity translates to the power of the motor, the sensitivity of the foot pedal, and the start-up torque.
An easier way of understanding this is how much support you need for your pottery. Normally, you only need the wheel to center less than 20 lbs of weight at a time, so investing in a wheel with a 200 lbs of centering capacity is often overkill.
A foot pedal allows you to control the speed of the spinning wheel, but some expensive models also have responsive pedals that are highly sensitive to the pressure applied. If you are a more experienced potter, then you will want something that gives you a bit more control.
Some pottery wheels are designed with a fixed pedal, but others have more flexible designs that allow you to move the foot pedal around to find the most comfortable position.
The speed of the pottery wheel is indicated by the rotations per minute (RPM) provided by the manufacturer. This usually ranges from 0 to 260 RPM, which corresponds to the motor power.
This is also a matter of personal preference – some potters prefer a higher speed, while others want a more controllable speed but better torque.
The direction of the rotation – clockwise and counterclockwise – really matters, especially if you are left-handed.
While all kick wheels can spin in both rotations, many electric wheels have a switch that allows you to change the direction of the spin, which makes the wheel more comfortable for left-handed users.
This feature is not always available, however, so if you are left-handed, make sure to get a wheel that allows spinning in both directions.
Pottery wheels, even the more “affordable” options, can be quite expensive. There are many differences in the design and material of a potter’s wheel that can decide the price, but this is an essential tool in any pottery studio that can be worth the investment.
Inexpensive pottery wheels are usually less than $1,000. They are typically lighter and have a less beefy frame, but for hobbyists, these are probably the most suitable options.
Professional-grade wheels can cost around $1,200 to over $2.000, depending on the type and horsepower you want.
However, with proper care and continuous maintenance, these pottery wheels can last you decades, which is totally worth the investment if you want to pursue pottery as a life-long hobby or career.
If you are interested in getting a pottery wheel for yourself, take a look at some of our recommendations below for the best pottery wheels on the market.
Best Pottery Wheels
|Rank||Product||Best For||Key Features|
|1.||Mophorn Pottery Wheel||Beginners||Stainless steel and ABS plastic, mess-free|
|2.||Anbull 25cm Pottery Wheel||Beginners||Digital controls, up to 300 RPM|
|3.||FLBETYY Pottery Wheel||Beginners||Up to 300 RPM, rotates both directions|
|4.||VivoHome 25CM Pottery Wheel||Beginners||Portable, steady steel body|
|5.||Big Boss Elite Wheel||Pros||Durable, lightweight, up to 240 RPM|
|6.||Model C - Brent Pottery Wheel - Black : Brent Wheels||Pros||Low noise, up to 240 RPM, steel|
|7.||Skutt Elite 14 Inch Pottery Wheel, 1/2 HP Motor||Pros||Durable, slip-resistant pedal|
|8.||Bailey ST-XL Pottery Wheel||Pros||Customizable, easy to clean, durable frame|
|9.||Pacifica GT800 Pottery Wheel||Pros||Flexible foot pedal, accessible controls|
The Mophorn Electric Pottery Wheel is a great pottery wheel for beginners. With a large plate of 25cm diameter, this pottery wheel is able to support a relatively medium-size to a large piece of pottery.
While the wheel head is made of durable and highly smooth stainless steel, the splash plan surrounding it is made of ABS plastic, which is very easy to keep clean while still providing lightweight support to make crafting your pottery quite mess-free.
With both a foot pedal and a handle, it provides more control over the spinning speed, which ranges from 0 to 300 RPM. Rotating direction is changeable while controlling the wheel to flexibly operate while making different shapes of clay works.
The no-load power is 80W, and the full load power is 350W to cut down on your energy consumption. For beginners, this is quite an efficient and dependable wheel to work with, even if this is your first time working with a pottery wheel.
This Anbull Electric Pottery wheel is developed to help all kinds of potential novice potters through their creative process.
By combining mechanical structure with modern digital control technology, the wheel has become more stable and reliable.
This pottery wheel is equipped with an LCD control panel, which allows you to customize all kinds of features to suit your liking, including the rotation direction and foot pedal adjustment.
This pottery wheel is quite sturdy thanks to the strong metal structure that can support up to 20 kilograms. The powerful variable speed motor creates a high speed range from 0 to 300 RPM.
The body of the device is made of an electrostatic spraying metal material, which makes it strong and durable. On the top, you can see a 25cm aluminum wheel head that provides ample space for your work.
This sleek and highly beginner-friendly pottery wheel is perfect for those who seek a bit more control while perfecting their pottery skills.
3. FLBETYY Pottery Wheel
The FLBETYY electric pottery wheel is designed for beginners. This electric pottery wheel is created with a high-quality advanced motor with speed from 0 to 300 RPM.
The 25cm aluminum alloy turntable is designed for rust-proof support to make pottery spinning more comfortable and flexible. This material also makes transferring your work a lot easier and cleaning more stress-free.
This incredible pottery wheel is designed for ease of use; you can switch rotation direction clockwise or counterclockwise, and the ABS splash pan is removable, which makes it easy to clean.
The foot pedals have a large force-bearing surface for added comfort and flexibility during use. Despite being an electric pottery wheel, this wheel doesn’t generate a lot of noise when spinning (less than 60 dB), which makes it perfect for home use.
4. VivoHome 25CM Pottery Wheel
The VivoHome pottery wheel is the perfect addition to your art studio, classroom, or home. Similar to other pottery wheels for beginners, this one is designed to be highly portable and accommodating even to a pottery novice.
The 9.8-inch diameter wheel head rotates at speeds of 0 to 300 RPM per minute and is made of high-quality aluminum alloy to ensure a perfectly smooth surface for spinning pottery.
The main body is made of steel plate, which ensures stability during use. The foot pedal is designed to be flexible, so you can easily move it to whatever positions that you find comfortable.
All the controls are neatly organized on the side of the wheel, and you can customize the direction of spin and the speed using the switches and the foot pedal.
5. Big Boss Elite Wheel
For experienced potters that want more flexibility and control over their work, then this Elite Wheel is definitely a strong contender.
The Big Boss Elite Pottery Wheel is constructed of a heavy-duty yet lightweight aluminum base and a 14″ wheel head that can support up to 175 lbs of clay.
Although this is a powerful, industrial machine with a 1.0 peak horsepower, the motor is not too loud and still highly suitable for home use. This motor allows the wheel to spin at a 0 to 240 RPM speed.
What’s unique about this pottery wheel is the flexible height options. The adjustable glide feet allow for changes in wheel height or leveling on uneven floors, which makes it much easier to find a comfortable position to work.
Included with the wheel are a two-part splash pan, foot pedal, and an adjustable polyethylene utility shelf.
6. Model C – Brent Pottery Wheel – Black : Brent Wheels
Brent is probably the most popular brand among professional potters.
Known for its sturdy construction and highly reliable performance, this Model C Brent Pottery Wheel can deliver high performance at low noise, perfect for a school or home studio.
The Brent Professional pottery wheel can handle 225 pounds of clay continuously and is equipped with all-steel construction, including a 14″ cast aluminum wheel head for dependable support.
Professional potters will love the optimized torque at all speeds, along with a smooth reversible control and speed range of 0 – 240 RPM. All of this is thanks to the powerful 3/4 HP motor and 7 amp direct-drive motor, which delivers enough strength to handle heavy work.
This is a worthy addition to any professional pottery studio, and Brent does offer a lot of post-purchase support to keep this pottery wheel useful in your studio in the long run.
7. Skutt Elite 14 Inch Pottery Wheel, 1/2 HP Motor
Skutt is another well-known name in the world of pottery, and this ½ HP motor pottery wheel will not disappoint.
Built with a burnished aluminum base, a powerful 220-volt motor, and a durable polycarbonate body, the Elite offers a variety of functions for the serious potter.
Its 14″ removable wheel head is functional while you work and allows you to easily provide maintenance to keep this pottery wheel highly smooth and functional.
The built-in splash pan offers protection from the mess, and the slip-resistant, highly sensitive foot pedal offers more control for those who know what they’re doing.
Skutt electric pottery wheels are known for having more torque compared to other machines with the same horsepower, so you know that you’ll get more support and control over your work with this pottery wheel.
8. Bailey ST-XL Pottery Wheel
This is truly an innovative pottery wheel designed for the serious potter. The Bailey ST-XL features a 2-part splash-trim pan that is easy to remove and clean.
You can easily fit a large 9″ diameter water bucket inside the splash pan, which will also assist you while throwing pottery.
In addition, this electric pottery wheel also features a 13″ wheel head and a 100 lb clay capacity in the wheelhouse. This is partly thanks to the double reinforced T-Bar frame that provides highly sturdy support for your work, even large and heavy pieces.
Combined with the optional counter system and leg extensions, this pottery wheel is highly flexible and customizable to make throwing pottery really comfortable and highly enjoyable.
9. Pacifica GT800 Pottery Wheel
The Pacifica GT800 Potter’s Wheel boasts a heavy-duty steel frame, 13″ cast aluminum head, and spacious, molded tabletop to store your sculpting tools.
Whether you are a professional or beginner potter, this pottery wheel will process your clay with ease.
This is quite a powerful machine, with a 1 hp motor that enables quiet operation but still highly reliable torque that can support heavier pieces.
All the controls are easily accessible on the side of the wheel, and the foot pedal is also quite flexible, allowing you easily find the position that is the most comfortable.
In addition, if comfort is a concern for you, this brand also has a leg extension set and seat attachments that you can buy, in addition to the pottery wheel, to make your pottery station highly comfortable.