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.
Regardless of the type and size of pottery wheel you want to buy, expect to spend between $400 and $2,000. 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.
Pottery Wheel History
Pottery wheels are believed to have been invented somewhere between 6,000 and 4,000 BC in Mesopotamia. This machine innovation allowed the ancient people of the region the ability to make not only more items out of clay, but to do so far more quickly.
The first mechanical pottery wheel was not invented until the 19th century. Before that time, potters operated their wheels by kicking their feet to make the motion start off, and by putting a stick in a hole of the wheel top, then turning it by hand.
After the invention of the mechanical potter’s wheel, crafters became capable of making multiple projects in a single hour.
Types Of Potter’s 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.
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 when 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 at minimum of 50 pound 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. Theses hols 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 counter clockwise 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 a multiple 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, sculpting tools, etc. The amount and style of the workspace can vary greatly by manufacturer.
- Noise. All pottery wheels make noise, 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.
Sometimes, manufacturers of potter’s wheels will label their machines as “budget,” “residential,” “school,” or “professional” models. While a budget of 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.
Pottery Wheel Prices
1. This FLBETYY portable professional grade pottery wheel currently sells for an amazing price, 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
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 currently sells for approximately $849.
• 14-inch cast aluminum head
• Seat made of red oak
• Aluminum work table
• Roller bearings
• Overall steel pipe and angle iron construction
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.