We will go over the features and parts of a pottery wheel in this buyer's guide and give you a better understanding of the characteristics of a pottery wheel so you can choose the right one for you. Once you've read our guide, you'll be confident to select the best pottery wheel that caters to your needs.
Motors are the most significant difference between wheels, even within the same manufacturer's product range. A 1/2 horsepower motor can provide enough power for most potters. You can also see the differences in motor size if you have access to wheels. Even though they have the same HP rating, not all motors are equal. A larger motor, both in size and HP, is better because it can withstand more heat and use over time. To ensure greater longevity, get the largest motor that you can afford if you have the funds.
Similar to motor power, the centering capacity is frequently mentioned with wheels. It is a useful metric, but it does not replace horsepower. The motor's power, torque, and sensitivity to the foot pedal all affect the centering capacity. A larger motor with greater centering power is a good choice if you are serious about it and have the budget. Most potters don't need to center more than 10-20 lbs on a wheel. Wheels with 200-300 lb centers are a sign that the motor is strong enough to withstand heavy use.
Table Top, Legs, Frame
The material and design of the legs and table are the next most important differences. The majority of wheels come with a strong plastic top and metal legs. Some wheels have stronger legs or metal tops. Some wheels have a marine-grade plywood top. Most manufacturers have only one or two types of tables and can build different features on top. These frames will affect the wheel's dimensions and weight. Consider the dimensions, weight, and style of the frame and tabletop that you will use in your studio when choosing a wheel.
The splash pan is another example. Splash pans are typically two-piece plastic pan that clips around your wheel. They can be used for water collection or trimming scraps. Some wheels have one-piece splash pans that cover all of the frame's top. Some splash pans can be removed, while others can be cleaned with a drain plug. It is important to choose a splash pan that you like, as cleanup is an integral part of throwing.
The majority of wheels are the same size and shape. It is the motor's size and the frame construction determine the weight. There are wheels that are lighter and easier to maneuver. The way you plan to use the wheel, and the space you have for it, will determine whether you need a heavyweight or lightweight one.
Most wheels come with a 12", 13", or 14" wheel head. There are bat pins that are spaced at 10 inches each. Different styles will be found on smaller wheels and tabletop wheels. To determine the size of your wheel head, measure it using a measuring tape. Most wheels are 14 inches in diameter. It is also important to consider whether the wheel head can easily be removed or changed. Most wheeled ball bearing assemblies cannot be oiled or repacked and are therefore sealed for ongoing maintenance. You may need to replace your wheel head if it makes a grinding noise.
Consider whether the foot pedal and the onboard electronics provide some computer-controlled speed modulation or letting you control your speed with the pedal. Most experienced potters will not want the wheels to decide for them.
Another thing to consider when it comes to foot pedals is whether they are fixed or mobile. Some manufacturers give you the choice between placing the foot pedal on either side of the vehicle, or you can raise it on bricks.
We have included the RPM figure for motors from many manufacturers. These numbers give an approximate estimate of the motor's power and torque.
Many wheels are now equipped with a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of your motor. This allows you to turn the wheel clockwise or counterclockwise. Lower-priced wheels may have a reversible plug. This means that you will have to manually turn the cord. Some wheels cannot be reversible.
Manufacturers make leg extenders that allow a wheel to be turned into a standing one. This type of throwing is more comfortable for your lower back. This should be considered when selecting a wheel. You might also consider models which can be used as a tabletop wheel.
Shipping and Assembly
Some wheels come fully assembled, while others require you to do the assembly, such as attaching legs. You will also see a difference in shipping methods, such as FedEx/UPS or freight. Unless you're picking up the wheel in person, shipping and delivery will be costly. Consider how the wheel will be transported to your studio, as they can be very heavy. You may find a vendor that offers free shipping. Compare prices to get the best deal.
Warranty periods for wheels vary from 2-10 years. A shorter warranty is not a problem if you're careful with your tools. If you're buying wheels for an educational or communal space where wheels are likely to be misused, you may want to consider wheels that have a longer warranty.
Based on experience, that the best upkeep for wheels is to keep them clean and occasionally oiled in their moving parts. You can adjust the foot pedals and replace electronic parts such as switches. A wheel head bearing assembly that has become too saturated with water in the splash pan is the biggest problem. If you're careful, however, your wheel may not need major repairs.
You may want to stay away from the generic $100-$400 dollar wheels that are popping up online. Who knows if they will last a month or a few more years.
The price is affected by all the above factors. A decent-quality wheel typically costs between $725 and $1,000. You get a lighter, more compact frame for a lower price. It is likely to be noisier but will still do the job. Professional-grade wheels can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,300 to $2,000, depending on what options you choose. Consider how you will feel 5-10 years from now if you decide to upgrade your motor or foot pedal. The upgrades will make your wheel last a lifetime, and you won't even think about spending an extra $100.