A pottery wheel is a mechanism whose purpose is used for throwing or shaping ceramic objects such as pots, vases, mugs, etc. You then would place your material of choice such as sculpting clay onto the wheel head or plate and then you’d spin the wheel while using your hands to mold the object, usually into a uniform circular shape. The way it spins is operated through a foot pedal which would rotate the wheel at a regular pace. For regular pottery wheels, you’d need to use your foot to control the speed of the wheel by pressing the pedal and you’d need to keep pressing it for it to continue spinning.
However, an electric pottery wheel is a modern adaptation of the original pottery wheel that uses electricity as it’s power source to spin the wheel. The foot pedals alternatively is used as a means to control the speed of the wheel. This would require the electric pottery wheel to be near an outlet, which you can say is sort of a restriction, so what about this more modern design makes it better than the old school kickwheel?
Benefits of using an electric pottery wheel
The electric pottery wheel actually has lots of benefits. The most obvious reason is the fact that it’s powered by electricity for spinning the wheel. This removes any unnecessary energy spent pressing down on the foot pedal to keep the wheel moving. This way you can concentrate your attention on the pottery making techniques.
These electric wheels also give you the option for adjustable wheel head speeds that are much more controlled and consistent compared to using your foot to power and spin the wheel head.
Electric pottery wheels are also typically lighter in weight and smaller in size, meaning they are more transportable than the traditional pottery wheel. Being more mobile may give you more of an advantage especially if you’re just starting out because you might not have a permanent space dedicated for pottery making. Thus you’d need to move around your equipment and having a less heavier pottery wheel will make that much easier.
In addition, some features for electric pottery wheels include adjustable or removable parts, such as the basin or wheel heads and there’s bat pins that can be inserted in case you need to make some changes to your work space. You can also reverse the direction in which the wheel head is spinning, which opens up a new area of techniques for pottery making!
What to Look Out For in Electric Pottery Wheels
Now that you have an idea of what are the benefits for electric pottery wheels, how should you know which brand is best? Let’s take a look at what kind of features you should keep in mind when deciding which electric pottery wheel would be best suited for you.
Horsepower | Capacity
The horsepower of an electric pottery wheel will determine the motor’s strength and weight and this affects the entirety of the wheel. Obviously, heavier weight will make the entire pottery wheel more difficult to be mobile, but the highlight would be the strength. The higher horsepower a motor has will increase how much weight the wheel head can handle, meaning you can put more clay to make bigger pottery. You can also apply more pressure on the wheel head itself without worrying it will slow down with a higher horsepower. You can still get by doing pottery with a weaker motor, but the speed may slow down depending how much pressure is on the wheel head.
When it comes to equipment or technology, it’s best to invest more because it will last longer and maintain good performance for an extended period of time. Even if you’re just taking pottery up as a side hobby, you don’t want to replace your electric pottery wheel often just because you chose a cheaper option right? With proper maintenance, your pottery wheel can last over a decade.
The wheel head is the surface that spins and where you place your material, usually clay, and mold your pottery. Most wheel heads are flat; it’s one of the most common selections since working on a flat surface will make your pottery most balanced. However you have a choice of choosing different diameters for your wheel heads depending on what it is that you’re working on. For instance, bigger pots or dishes require larger wheel heads. On the other hand, you can have disc-shaped heads that have a curvature to it’s base for different designs and structures for your pottery, or a bucket styled wheel head allows for multiple plaster bats. Wheel heads also can come with different pin placements for the bats as well.
Bats and Bat Pins
Bats are thin disks made out of plaster, wood or plastic that are inserted onto the wheel head with pins. These are for when an artist throws their material that might be too difficult to lift off the wheel head, so instead you just remove the bat and then replace it with another bat to work on another piece. Bats can also have a curvature base as well! You need to make sure their dimensions fit appropriately on the wheel head and find a pin configuration that suits your needs because they can be placed differently throughout the wheel head. There’s also different kinds of pins, some that are easily removed so you can easily change your workspace on your wheel.
Electric pottery wheels do create a hefty amount of noise, mostly due to their motor running, so it’s best to look for a model that is more quiet than others. When it’s too noisy, not only will it disrupt your concentration for your pottery, but it will also affect others in your environment, especially if you’re working at a shared space or home.
Some of the set ups for the electric pottery wheels just come with the essentials: a wheelhead, frame, and the motor. There are others that have much more to offer such as splash pans that can contain remnants of your throwing or trimming you do for your pottery. There are also splash guards or raised edges to prevent making a mess when throwing your pottery. Some set-ups have additional workspaces such as tables that can be detachable in case you need more room for your supplies. They may also have storage compartments for your supplies and accessories. Electric pottery wheels can come quite personalized!
Here are some of our top models that we’ve looked at that are a great electric pottery wheel.
1. Brent C Electric
This wheel is quiet and runs powerfully at the same time, so it’s great for bigger pottery projects that can withstand up to 225 pounds of clay. They also have a 10 year warranty, which is reassuring since the usual lifespan is that timeframe. Their wheel head size is 14 inches, giving you an option for a bigger work space for throwing. The structure itself is built with steel for that strength, durability, and stability.
- Top tier quality
- 10 year warranty
- Lots of different sizes
- On the more expensive size
- Better suited for more experienced pottery throwers
2. Mein Lay
The Mein Lay pottery wheel has a large, responsive foot pedal for improved user experience. It also has a detachable basin that is used as a splash pan and it can be easily cleaned. Another feature with the Mein Lay pottery wheel is that it has an LCD screen that displays the speed of the wheel too. It’s also waterproof and adds an extra layer of control and supervision on your projects. Their wheel head has a diameter of 9.8 inches or 25 centimeters, so it’s built for most small and medium potteries.
- LCD screen for better analytics and visual control
- Easy to use and clean
- May be a bit short for some
- Some customers reported issues with shipping
3. Nidec-Shimpo VL-Whisper
The Shimpo VL model is also another big pottery wheel that has a 14 inch wheel head that can handle 100 pounds of pressure. It’s essentially quiet when operating and comes with plenty of accessories. You can get extended legs for the pottery wheel so you have an option for standing or sitting to utilize it and more table space and compartments for any of your supplies. They also have a package of equipment if you’re just starting off or need brand new items and a variety of bats to choose from.
- Adjustable set-up for better performance
- Quiet and not disruptive
- Lots of accessories
- On the more expensive side
- Some small parts may not fit correctly
The electric pottery wheel by Tech-L has a wheel head diameter of 9.8 inches and it’s very compact, so it’s easy to move around and not take up too much space. It’s quiet and has a nice clean look with a white appearance, so you’ll definitely know where to clean if it’s dirty. It also comes with a 8 piece clay sculpting tool kit.
- Easy to use and set-up
- Sleek and aesthetic design
- Not as durable as other products
- Quality control is less consistent
The YaeTek electric pottery wheel also has a smaller wheel head size of 9.8 inches, which is more compact compared with your basic essentials for an electric pottery wheel. It is very affordable and doesn’t make too much noise when you are operating it. This is one of better pottery wheels for beginners to start with. You can move it with ease and it doesn’t take much time to set-up and get started with.
- Simple and easy to use
- Great for beginners
- Breaks down over time
- Unable to remove basin
Pottery is one of the oldest methods to make daily used items, which makes learning it much more desirable as a way to continue old traditions. In addition, you’ll be able to discover the art of making the cups and plates and the beauty behind the process of creating a simple everyday commodity. Pottery wheels can be a bit pricey, but it’s essential to get a great quality wheel so you have the best learning experience to make superb pottery.
I’m a stay at home mom with our two kids. I really enjoy doing crafts with my toddler however, that is typically a challenge with her limited attention span, messiness, and desire to always have clean hands. So, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting an enjoyable experience and fond memory for the both of us.