DIY Homemade Pottery Wheel
Homemade Pottery Wheel Project
I once heard that innovation and engineering are driven largely in part from a necessity. In this case I could not agree more. Any of you fellow potters out there know just how expensive a new wheel can be (anywhere from $500-1200 for everyone else). I spent months searching craigslist and other sites for a decent used wheel. It was incredibly frustrating being outbid or being too late for a sale. Basically used wheels are a rare find, and that was not going to diminish my desire to have one. I began searching around the web to see if other potters where experiencing similar problems, and if so what did they do about it. I had never considered building one of my own until I stumbled upon some youtube videos of homemade wheels. Not only did these innovators make wheels out of just about any junk they had laying around, but the wheels really worked! Light-bulb!
Your first step in designing a wheel needs to be a thorough sketch including dimensions. Include as much detail as you possibly can in this. When you actually get to building the wheel you want to minimize surprises.
- Think carefully about how much room you want the wheel to occupy. It is your own custom wheel, go wild with it.
- Ever ran out of room for tools? Attachments are limitless now, consider what would be most convenient for you and include this in your planning.
- Pay attention to aspects such as width and height. If you are custom to throwing sitting down, plan your seating and wheel height accordingly. Similarly with the width, if you prefer to have your legs wrapped around the wheel don’t make it too wide.
There isn’t much I can advise on when it comes to assembling the wheel. Just don’t go cheap on your materials. You want a good sturdy wheel that will hold up for years.
Fortunately if you do not mind a little extra work motors are extremely easy to come by. Just go to your local craigslist and find any used treadmill with variable speed control. I should note that the better shape the treadmill the more likely you won’t blow a motor (in my experience). Once you have this tear it down to the bare components. Keep:
- The motor – and all wiring associated
- The circuit board connected to the display screen
- Any other electronics – for the time being
I recommend testing the motor and becoming familiar with the circuitry. For my wheel the speed was control by a potentiometer (looks like a dial), this works by varying the current delivered to the motor. If possible discard any unneeded extras such as the fail safe built in to stop the treadmill if you remove the safety card (if you fall).
Lastly find a belt that will fit will fit the teeth on your motor, remember it has to fit around your wheel head assembly as well so pay attention to the distances. I purchased a Brent wheel head already assembled. It contained the 14″ wheel head, the shaft and bearings with pre drilled holes for bolting it down.
I hope this post inspires those who would like to own a pottery wheel to build their own. It is a rewarding experience, especially when you are able to throw knowing you built the wheel by hand. If anything is unclear or you have further questions/comments please leave me a message.