Banding wheels are a great tool to use if you’re looking to sculpt your pottery piece from multiple angles. They’re great for decorating, sculpting, carving, and more.
But choosing the best pottery banding wheel can seem like a daunting task. After all, you want to make a wise investment, especially if you’re passionate about pottery and plan on using the wheel with nearly every project.
To help guide you through the ins and outs of pottery banding wheels, we’ve put together the following list. These wheels each have their own unique benefits, and by the end of it all, you should have your next pottery wheel picked out.
Are you ready to start shopping wisely for a banding wheel? Let’s get started.
Don’t have time to read? Here’s a quick summary of the products we recommend.
|Wheel Name||Why We Picked It|
|Shimpo Banding Wheel||Best Overall Banding Wheel|
|Amaco No. 5 Decorating Wheel||Best Mountable Banding Wheel|
|Activa Sculpting Wheel||Best Single-Plane Banding Wheel|
|Amaco Decorating Wheel||Best Plastic Banding Wheel|
|US Art Supply 12-Inch Sculpting Wheel||Best 12-Inch Banding Wheel|
|Creative Hobbies BW-18M Professional Sculpting Wheel||Best Value Banding Wheel|
|US Art Supply 7-Inch Sculpting Wheel||Best Heavy-Duty Banding Wheel|
|KEYHAO 8.6-Inch Sculpting Wheel||Best Beginner Banding Wheel|
8 Best Banding Wheels for Pottery & Ceramics
Shimpo Banding Wheel
Shimpo is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to pottery making, and for that reason (and more), we’ve included this wheel on our list. It’s a great addition to your studio and can make the most delicate applications easier with its built-in value.
This particular Shimpo banding wheel has an extra-smooth, even rotation that allows for detailed sculpting. The one-piece design is made from solid cast iron, finished with the signature rust-resistant blue paint Shimpo banding wheels are known for. The banding wheel head sits upon sealed ball bearings, so you don’t have to worry about them wearing out after exposure to water and air.
Shimpo banding wheels come in sizes from 7.5 inches by 2.75 inches to 11.75 inches by 4.75 inches. They also offer a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty to protect your investment. Many production potters use Shimpo banding wheels as standard equipment in their studios.
- Multiple sizes available
- 1-year warranty
- Cast iron construction with ball-bearing rotation mechanism
- Expensive price
Amaco No. 5 Decorating Wheel
Amaco might call this a “decorating wheel,” but that’s somewhat of a misnomer. This banding wheel has plenty of capability to help you in your carving, sculpting, and whatever else you might use this banding wheel for.
The aluminum 7 inch head of this banding wheel features concentric circles to help locate your work. The weighted rim provides extended spinning ability as well.
Amaco pre-drilled holes for attaching this banding wheel to a tabletop. There is also a grooved wheel shank to accommodate around belt if you want to motorize this banding wheel.
- Holes pre-drilled for mounting banding wheel to a tabletop
- Aluminum head is lightweight and durable
- Weighted rim
- No rubber boot to protect tabletop during use
Activa Sculpting Wheel
Most of the wheels we’ve included on this list so far have been set upon a stand, but this Activa Sculpting Wheel is the exception to that standard. These low-to-the-table sculpture stands are great for studio artists and classrooms alike.
Activa makes this sculpting wheel out of professional-grade plastic that can hold up to 30 pounds of clay. The stainless steel ball bearings turn just as smoothly and evenly as they would in a traditional banding wheel.
The banding wheel measures 10.75 inches in diameter and stands about 1.5 inches tall. It’s also easily cleaned and stored for later use. It’s a great banding wheel for hand building, as the turntable acts like a slightly raised tabletop.
- Holds up to 30 pounds
- Worksurface is lower than traditional wheels
- Easily stored
- Plastic may warp after extended use
Amaco Decorating Wheel
Much like the Activa sculpting wheel, this particular decorating wheel from Amaco features a squat base that’s more about working at table height than elevating your piece. This sculpting wheel does especially well in a classroom setting, where durability, price, and ease of use are key.
Amaco’s lightweight decorating wheel is 8 inches in diameter and is made from durable plastic. Concentric rings are scribed into the plastic banding wheel head for reference. The low height of this banding wheel makes it ideal for hand building as well.
- Plastic construction is easy to clean and store
- 8 inch banding wheel head
- Low working surface can make it easier to achieve fine details
- Same price point as many all-metal banding wheels
US Art Supply 12-Inch Sculpting Wheel
This banding wheel from US Art Supply can hold up to 50 pounds of clay at a time. The 12-inch banding wheel features a weighted rim and smooth ball bearings that allow you to spin this product up without having to constantly tend to it.
US Art Supply’s banding wheel is made of heavy-duty cast iron. Multiple circles are scribed in the face of the banding wheel so that it’s easier for you to center your work before beginning. The bottom also features a non-slip silicone rubber boot. This allows the wheel to sit firmly upon a tabletop without having to be fastened down.
- 12-inch banding wheel head
- Heavy-duty construction
- Concentric circles in banding wheel face
- No bat pinholes
Creative Hobbies BW-18M Professional Sculpting Wheel
Sometimes having 12 inches of workspace can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve chosen this 7-inch banding wheel from Creative Hobbies. Made from solid cast iron, this banding wheel features a blue top-grade paint coating like the Shimpo wheel we featured, without the hefty price tag that comes with it.
Creative Hobbies installs a weighted rim on this banding wheel. The rust-proof enamel coating protects the banding wheel from moisture. The base itself measures 6.5 inches in diameter, and the wheel stands about 4.5 inches high. A ball-bearing surface allows for smooth and even rotation.
Concentric rings are also scribed on the banding wheel. This banding wheel is a single piece, which adds to the overall strength of the product.
- Single-piece construction
- 12-inch banding wheel diameter
- Ball-bearing rotational surface
- Not quite up to Shimpo standards, even though it’s less in price
US Art Supply 7-Inch Sculpting Wheel
US Art Supply also makes a 7 inch banding wheel that’s sturdy enough for almost any project. In fact, it can hold up to 40 pounds of clay.
The heavy-duty makeup of this banding wheel features cast iron construction and a weighted rim. Ball bearings help the banding wheel spin effortlessly, so you can focus more on your project than having to spin up the banding wheel constantly.
US Art Supply inscribes concentric circles on these wheels to help you center your clay. The no-slip silicone rubber grip on the bottom also keeps this banding wheel stable. Measurements on this US Art Supply banding wheel are 7 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches in height.
- Holds up to 40 pounds
- Weighted rim
- Rubber grip for stability
- Can be heavy for some artists
KEYHAO 8.6-Inch Sculpting Wheel
If you’re just starting out with pottery and want a banding wheel to learn on, check out the KEYHAO banding wheel. It stands just over 4.5 inches tall with a base of roughly 7 inches. The banding wheel head itself is 8.6 inches, which allows you to work on projects of medium to small size.
Precision stainless steel ball bearings help this heavy-duty construction banding wheel turn smoothly. Lightweight and sturdy, this banding wheel also features concentric rings scribed into the head for the accurate placement of projects. Plus, the banding wheel is silver plated for looks and durability.
This banding wheel is easy to clean. It also features a non-skid rubber boot that anchors your wheel to the table as you work.
- Medium-sized banding wheels
- Stainless steel ball bearings
- Concentric rings built into wheel head
- Not the highest quality banding wheel on our list for the price
What to Look for in a Banding Wheel
Below is a list of the main characteristics you should pay attention to as you search for your next banding wheel.
Many of the ceramic banding wheels we’ve included on this list are made from metal. However, you can also find banding wheels that are made from wood, plastic, or laminated formica.
Wood banding wheels typically don’t fare well when it comes to continued use. After a few hours soaked with water, the wood tends to warp and lose its ability to spin true.
Plastic wheels are good for young children and/or smaller projects. These wheels are easy to clean and don’t weigh a lot. A plastic wheel may not spin as well as a metal banding head on a ball-bearing platform, but it can still get the job done.
Lastly, laminated wheels are also lightweight and relatively inexpensive. This category of banding wheels is often made from particleboard that’s covered in a layer of formica. This allows them to be cleaned without warping, as wood banding wheels are prone to do.
The difference between material types in banding wheel models will also be reflected in the price. Turntables are typically plastic, so they’re reasonably priced for classrooms.
Searching out a pottery wheel with a ball-bearing surface can greatly ease your processes as you work on the wheel itself. A ball-bearing surface allows the wheel head to turn with less friction and greater momentum, so you’re able to go longer without having to spin up the wheel more. Ball bearings provide reliably smooth spinning, so they’re a popular feature among potters.
Wheel Head Features
Most of the wheels you’ll find include concentric rings scribed into the top of the banding wheel head. These lines are there to help you center your clay/project and can also be useful in terms of measuring with your eyeball. You can even use a line to cut your clay accurately or score a line in your work at a specific point.
While we may not have included any pottery banding wheels with bat pin holes, this is a category feature that could be useful if you plan on working on a few projects and don’t want to have to scrape them off the banding wheel head. Bats can be useful on the throwing wheel head as well as the banding wheel.
Besides specific materials, you’ll also want to take a look at how some of these banding wheels are constructed. You can first look at weight to see what will fit your situation. Generally speaking, heavier banding wheels are able to hold larger amounts of clay.
You should also consider how many pieces the banding wheel is. Most banding wheels will have a flat head attached to a sturdy base, but sometimes these bases can detach. This is good for cleaning. However, not all banding wheels come apart.
Banding wheels are typically classified not only by material but by dimensions as well. Check out the dimensions of both the banding wheel head, as well as the base. This will tell you how much room you need in order to work on the banding wheel.
Banding wheel-head diameters typically measure anywhere from 7 to 12 inches, while heights can vary from an inch or two up to 5 inches or more.
The material type a banding wheel is made of will typically dictate how you can clean it, but sometimes having a banding wheel that comes apart can also aid in easy cleanup. You’ll probably have to clean your banding wheel at some point, so choosing one that makes the job quick and easy can be a real timesaver.
Common Questions Are Shimpo banding wheels the best pottery banding wheel brand?
Shimpo and Brent pottery wheels are some of the most popular brands out there. Shimpo banding wheels are built to last practically a lifetime. However, there are plenty of other competent banding wheel manufacturer companies out there as well.
Can you use a pottery wheel head as a banding wheel?
Yes, pottery throwing wheels can be used as a banding wheel. In fact, you can think of a pottery throwing head as a motorized banding wheel, if so equipped. One of the main differences between pottery wheel heads and banding wheels is that you can carry a banding wheel. Trying to carry a pottery wheel head is not as easy.
What else can you use for a banding wheel?
Many potters use a cake decorating stand in place of a banding wheel. However, one thing to consider with most cake decorating stands is that they’re typically not rated for the same weight as a pottery banding wheel. They’re often plastic as well, so durability isn’t as high as an all-metal banding wheel.
Turntables also work well for substitutes. A turntable allows you to move your workaround to see different sides of it. Having this type of equipment can really speed up working on your clay models. Investing in a turntable is relatively cheap as well. Plus, turntables can make painting and/or glazing much easier.
Hopefully, you’ve found this list of pottery wheels helpful in your shopping. A banding wheel can truly make a difference when it comes to sculpting, glazing, and any other processes as you work with clay.