How much does it cost to buy a pottery wheel? Well, that depends.
There are multiple varieties and sizes of potter’s wheels on the market. There are electric-powered pottery wheels and old-fashioned kick wheels that are fueled by your feet and legs. But, in general:
Expect to spend between $400 and $2,000 for a pottery wheel depending on whether you’re getting it new or used. Tabletop potter’s wheels are the least expensive, but often boast only a small workspace for projects.
A potter’s wheel is a machine that is used to throw (shape) clay to make pottery, earthenware, ceramics, and stoneware. To be considered pottery, a piece must be a fired ceramic ware that contains clay.
The process of using clay on a pottery wheel is often called “throwing” clay in reference to the twisting and turning motion of the wheel. In Old English, the word “thrawan” meant to throw, twist, or turn.
The wheel portion of the machine is also used to trim excess clay from the body of either air-dried or kiln-dried ceramic ware and to make incised style decorations or rings on the project.
Types Of Pottery Wheels
Pottery wheels are typically chosen based not only on price, but to fit the space the user will have to place it and the type of projects they wish to create. There are two primary categories of potter’s wheels: motorized and unmotorized.
Beyond that, some of the most popular brands and categories of pottery wheels include Banding wheels, Brent wheels, and Shimpo pottery wheels (a popular Shimpo model is the Shimpo VL Lite, which I didn’t review in this buying guide because I don’t have much firsthand experience with it, but is still a great choice).
Pottery Wheel Buying Guide
When pricing potter’s wheels, there are multiple factors you should take into consideration. A great price on a new or used pottery wheel only translates into a good deal if the machine is capable of doing what you need when making projects.
- Wheel Head Size. A wheel head that is at least 14 inches in diameter is recommended for making projects larger than small pots.
- Motor Size. The size of the motor plays an essential role in the amount of clay that can be centered. A professional potter typically wants a motor that can power a wheel capable of centering a minimum of 50 pounds of clay. Not all manufacturers correlate motor horsepower and pounds of clay usage statistics; some note only the motor size peak horsepower while others advertise the average horsepower the motor is capable of putting out. A wheel with a large motor can typically remain cooler, which helps prevent the power from degrading while the wheel is in use.
- Drilled Bat Holes. These holes enable the use of bat pins when attaching this essential part of the potter’s wheel. Not all manufacturers sell drilled wheels. The bat pins make switching out the bats in-between projects far simpler and quicker.
- Reverse Switch. If you are left-handed like I am, you likely throw clay in a clockwise rather than a counterclockwise motion. A reverse switch on a potter’s wheel allows the wheel to spin in either direction with merely a flip of a handily placed knob.
- Splash Pans. There are different types of splash pans. Some pottery wheels come with a splash pan but others require a separate purchase of the vital accessory.
- Workspace. Every potter’s wheel offers a workspace area to put a water bucket on the frame, sculpting tools, etc. The amount and style of the workspace can vary greatly by manufacturer.
- Noise. All pottery wheels make noise, depending on the torque, even manual kick wheel versions. Review the noise level notes and reviews for a pottery machine you are considering if this aspect is an important concern.
- Weight. Some pottery wheels are very heavy, especially traditional unmotorized kick wheel models that can weigh around 300 pounds. If your potter’s wheel needs to be portable, consider a tabletop design or a larger electric version that is built on wheels.
- RPMs. It’s important to have an idea as to how fast your wheel will spin, considering that this affects the final shape and size of the product. There are a variety of RPMs available depending on what you want to make, with low speeds measuring up to 50rpm used traditionally in hand-building techniques while higher speeds around 250 rpm used in throwing mugs and bowls.
- Type of pottery – The type of pottery you are doing will also determine which model you buy – if you’re a hobbyist, longevity might not matter much to you, but for the pros, you’ll want to invest in a pottery wheel that will last a lifetime.
Sometimes, manufacturers of potter’s wheels will label their machines as “budget,” “residential,” “school,” or “professional” models. While a budget of a residential version of a pottery wheel can be made of fine quality, it might not boast as powerful of a motor, and make more noise than a professional model.
Is There a Difference Between the Cost of Electric vs. Kickwheel Pottery Wheels?
The short answer is yes! Electric pottery wheels are generally more expensive than kickwheels, but they offer some features that make them worth the cost.
Electric pottery wheels are powered by electricity, which means you don’t have to put in any physical effort to get them started or keep them going. It also means that you can turn them on and off with the press of a button – no manual labor required!
Electric pottery wheels can usually accommodate larger pieces of clay, so if you are looking for something more versatile, an electric wheel might be the way to go. They are also much quieter than kickwheels because there is no manual motion involved in spinning the wheel.
The main downside to electric pottery wheels is that they tend to be more expensive than kickwheels (you’re generally going to be getting into the $1000+ range versus a few hundred dollars) but it’s important to consider their many advantages as well.
Kickwheel potter’s wheels require manual effort – literally “kicking” off the wheel – in order to get started and keep it spinning. This type of wheel relies on your foot power to maintain a consistent speed throughout your work session, so it takes practice and skill to use this type of wheel effectively.
Kickwheels also tend to be smaller than electric potter’s wheels, so they are better suited for making smaller items like mugs or cups rather than large platters or plates.
The Best Pottery Wheel Selections
1. The FLBETYY portable pottery wheel gives you a very good bang for your buck, and is the cheapest quality machine I have come across.
- 350W power brushless motor
- Forward and reverse bidirectional controllers.
- Advertised as quiet
- Removable control panel for accessory replacement eases
- Rustproof aluminum alloy turntable
2. This Brent professional or school pottery wheel comes with a 10 year warranty, and several bundle bonus tools or supplies, depending upon the current deal being offered.
- Reverse switch
- Included splash pan
- Heavy duty foot pedal
- Industrial grade turntable
3. This portable and lightweight tabletop Artista pottery wheel is great for folks who do not have a lot of space for a potter’s wheel but still need a powerful machine to create sizable projects in a short amount of time.
- 25 pound clay centering capability
- 11-inch pottery wheel head
- ⅓ horsepower motor
- Low noise
- Included 2-part splash pan
- Foot or hand powered with plug in foot pedal attachment
Disclosure: if you visit an external link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Read my full earnings disclosure here.
4. This U.S. Art Supply potter’s wheel is simple enough for a beginner to use, yet powerful and durable enough for a professional to enjoy, as well.
- ¾ horsepower motor with a maximum speed of 300 RPM
- 11-inch wheel head
- 2-part splash pan
- Capable of centering 25 pounds of clay
- LCD display control panel
- 11-inch plastic bat included
- Reverse switch
This Lockerbie EK kickwheel potter’s wheel is deemed school – industrial grade. It is 100% muscle powered, and way too heavy to be deemed portable. This model sells for approximately $849.
- 14-inch cast aluminum head
- Aluminum work table
- Roller bearings
- Overall steel pipe and angle iron construction
How Much Should I Pay for a Used Pottery Wheel?
When it comes to purchasing a used pottery wheel, the amount you pay largely depends on its condition and age.
It’s likely that you’ll find cheaper options if you focus on older models, although beware of the possibility of rust or parts not working properly. On average, you’ll find that the average used pottery wheel cost can range from $100 to $2000 or more.
If all else fails, check out online classifieds and E-commerce sites – sometimes people give away things for free! Ultimately, with enough research and patience, you should be able to get your hands on a quality pottery wheel that fits within your price range.
One might think that buying a manual kickwheel potter’s wheel would be the cheapest option because it does not contain an electrical motor, but as you can now see, that would be a false assumption.
Finding a traditional kickwheel pottery wheel is getting more and more difficult. If you are handy and would prefer to save quite a few dollars, there are copious amounts of free plans online that can guide you through building your own manual potter’s wheel.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.