How to Make a Pottery Wheel: 4 Methods that are Simple, Easy yet Effective

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How to Make a Pottery Wheel

Do you like working with clay? If the answer is yes, you will want to make pottery. There are many different tools you need, but the pottery wheel is probably the most important one. Purchasing one is expensive and not something beginners can easily do. Luckily, we will present you how to make a pottery wheel guide below that works well, yet is very affordable.

There are multiple ways you can use to make a pottery wheel. Some are more complicated than others, but in a nutshell, there are two main options. The first one is a manual pottery wheel that uses pedals or you, spinning the wheel in order to get rotation. The second type is more appealing and much better. These are electric pottery wheels. Although there are countless variations and you can invest your own one within minutes, all of them have a circular base for the clay and it is powered by an electric motor or another power source.

To help you get the most out of your new pottery wheel, we have decided to present you with a couple of methods. Each one is different and each one works well. As you shall see, all of these are different DIY projects that do require different things.

Things you will need depend on the model you choose to make. We will present you all the items and divide them into the needed items for a specific pottery wheel.

How to make a homemade pottery wheel — what you need

Things needed for ceiling fan pottery wheel project:

  • Electric motor from the ceiling fan
  • Bucket
  • Plywood for the base

Things needed for electric drill and a bike pottery wheel project:

  • Bike frame
  • Gears
  • Electric drill

Things needed for electric scooter pottery wheel project:

  • Electric motor from a scooter
  • Oil pan
  • Foot pedal
  • Power supply

Things needed for car wheel pottery wheel project:

  • Car wheel
  • Central hub
  • Base

Now when you know all about the projects we are going to present to you here, let’s start building it. All of these are simple projects but the one that is ideal for you depends on numerous factors. Take your time and decide which one you want to make.

Ceiling fan pottery wheel project

Ceiling Fan Motor

If you want to know how to make a homemade pottery wheel using simple and ordinary items, this is the best method for you. You will need any ceiling fan electric motor you can find. You can see that the bucket we used is ordinary as well. It may vary, just make sure you are using a big one so it has plenty of room for the base where the clay will be positioned. Anyway, once you have all the items ready, you can start with these simple steps.

Prepare the electric motor

In a nutshell, this step is straightforward and you need to start planning how you will do two things. The first one is attaching the plywood in a circular shape to the motor and how you will attach the motor to the bucket. You can see that the electric motor has an interesting design. When connected to the electricity, it will spin, but the base will remain in place. That’s why this is a very simple project to make.

You need to measure and cut two pieces of plywood that are circular in shape and can fit the bucket nicely. One will go at the bottom and it should be screwed to the bucket itself. Use L-shaped brackets if you need extra support.

Attach the wheel

On the piece of the motor that rotates, drill carefully measured holes and attach the wheel made out of plywood to it. Thread the wires and drill a bucket so they can be pushed outside. Now you should have a simple and almost completed pottery wheel. As you can see, once the electric motor gets the power, it will rotate the wheel attached to it.

There are a lot of variations here due to the fact each ceiling fan electric motor is different. However, you can adapt the projects and the steps accordingly. Don’t forget that the motor will need a power source which may be 110V or 230V. You can use any power regulator to achieve the result.

Once started the pottery wheel works perfectly and there are no issues. We recommend you mount it slightly lower than the upper part of the bucket so you have a lip that will collect the clay as you work. For longevity, you can protect the motor using non-flammable insulation or etc.

Also interesting: Pottery Wheels for Beginners.

How to make a pottery wheel from a bike


pottery wheel

This is a slightly bigger project but it is simple as well. In a nutshell, you need an old bicycle and an electric drill. Keep in mind that you need to remove the wheels and the steering column. These are not needed for the build. Once you are done, you can start with the first step and slowly move forward.

Attach the wheel

You need to place the frame of a bike into a horizontal position. Ideally, you will use some pieces of wood or old buckets to lift the frame from the ground and keep it in place. You can use zip ties for this purpose.

Cut a large piece of wood into a circular shape and find the dead center of it. Drill a large hole and attach the sprocket of the bike (front and the biggest one) to the piece of wood. Use the included mechanism to connect the wheel to the frame of a bike. All of these things you already have with your old bike. Remember that there must be space between the sprocket and the plywood or any other material you used. This is because the bike chain will be placed over the sprocket.

Add the electric drill

You will have to remove the drill bit and attach a small sprocket to the drill. The simplest way is to weld a small piece of the pipe or rod in the center and insert it into the drill as a drill bit[1] It should be very well welded together so the sprocket doesn’t oscillate a lot when the drill is activated.

Find a place where the drill can be attached to the frame of a bike. Make sure it is linear or in the straight line to the main sprocket you attached to the circular base. Add the bike chain connecting the two sprockets in order to find the precise position easily. Once you have found it, attach the drill. You can use zip ties, wire, or make custom brackets for this purpose. It is up to you. Ideally, you will use a drill that has an on/off switch rather than a button. If not, once you want to activate the drill, fasten the drill switch using a zip tie or tape.

Your pottery wheel is now made and you can use it. There is another option for how you can make this. In simple terms, you can keep the bike in a normal position and remove the wheel. The pottery wheel will be located instead of the column and the chain will be connected to a drill that is located under where the seat goes. This is basically the same method just switched around. It is more appealing to some users due to the fact it looks better. Keep in mind that the sprocket that moves the base will be located beneath the column and connected with a chain to the drill. Now you know how to make a pottery wheel from a bike and you can adapt this method so it suits your specific purpose and works with the items you already have.

Also interesting: Pottery Wheels for Kids.

Electric scooter pottery wheel project

Yes, you can make a simple project, but if you are really into pottery you will want to make a bit more advanced pottery wheel. This process is slightly more complicated and will require more time. It is also more expensive but it looks more professional. Let’s start with the steps. Keep in mind that you need to follow all the steps and do not skip a single one.

Make the base

The first thing you need to do is to make a base that will work like a base where the clay goes. This can be done from plywood, real wood, or a thick piece of metal. But, if you make it from metal, you will have to add support, which makes things more complex. Use plywood if you want the simplest option. Take the oil pan and measure its diameter. The base will go inside the oil pan. Cut it accordingly.

The diameter will depend on the oil pan size. If you like, you can also use a bucket for this purpose, but you will need to cut it in half.

Make the frame

For this step, you can use an old metal or wooden table. Keep in mind that it should be small and has space for the wheel and the electronics. Basically, it should be large enough to accommodate two pottery wheels you are making. Yes, you can use aluminum and wood to make your own table, but finding an old one is much easier. Just remember that it must have a strong top section due to the weight we will add later.

There are no specific instructions here. The frame will support the wheel and the electric motor. It is worth noting that you can secure the table if it is too light or you want a more professional look.

Attach the motor and the wheel

This is the most important step. You will need to attach the electric motor from the scooter on one side and the wheel on the other side. The oil pan must be drilled in the center. A long rod will go from the top of the wooden wheel, connected with a circular piece of metal through the oil pan and to the bottom. At the bottom, it will have a sprocket connected.

This is the base of the machine and it looks impressive. Use the chain from a bike or anything similar and connect the electric motor to the sprocket mentioned earlier. The electric motor should have a small sprocket added as well. You can use different methods to keep it in place. Don’t weld it to the electric motor. You will ruin the unit and you won’t be able to replace it when needed. You can also add side panels and switches to make it look professional, like the one from the photo above. Or you can simply use it and make amazing pottery. It is up to you.

Add the pedal

To power the electric motor you can use a power source. This is a more complicated method but slightly better. A much easier alternative is to use a battery from the electric scooter. You can see that it has a cable and a port for charging. Recharge the battery and connect it to the motor. Once it is connected, the motor will start spinning and therefore will spin the wheel.

Attach the pedal to the installation. Depending on which model you have chosen, use the user manual to connect it properly. A pedal works like any button and there is no need to explain it in detail. You can skip this step if you don’t have a pedal or it is expensive in your city.

Also interesting: How to make pottery.

How to make a pottery kick wheel

You can use any wheel you have available. Just keep in mind that it should have the tire connected to it and you need a corresponding hub.

This process makes you a manual pottery wheel. What this means is that you will use one hand to turn the wheel and a second one to make your pottery. It works well and it is more than just affordable, but it is still a manual pottery wheel.

Install the hub on the wheel

The first thing you will have to do is to connect the hub to the wheel. You can use the matching hub from the car or get a new one. The goal here is to have an extension so when you place the wheel horizontally, it is elevated and doesn’t touch the ground. You can use any other method you like and you can use almost anything for that.

All you have to remember is that the wheel must be secured and it must not wobble around. If it does, you made a mistake and you will need to secure it harder.

Connect the other piece of the hub to the base

For this, you will need a base that can be a log or anything that will lift the car wheel from the ground. You can even make a base for this purpose only. The hub that is connected to the wheel must go inside the second piece that is connected to the base you have just made[2]

Once you install the two, you have a manual pottery wheel. There is no need to do anything more if you are satisfied with this design. So, when you want to use it, you need to spin the car wheel and place clay in the center. As you can see, there is no simpler method for this. Both the hub and the other piece for connection can be taken from any old car that is not in use anymore.

Here we can see one downside with this design. The center of the wheel, where you will place the clay isn’t flat so your pottery will have an indentation in the middle. To solve that, cut a small piece of wood in the circular and flat design and attach it to the wheel. You can use any bolt you like and there are no special rules here.
Do not use a bike wheel for this purpose. They are too big and too flimsy so you won’t get a decent result. There is no need in telling you that you should use a smaller car wheel so you can spin it easily.

Also interesting: What is pottery.

The final word

shaping a clay pot


Now you know how to make a pottery wheel and you can do it within minutes. Make sure to try or at least investigate all of these methods and tell us in the comments what you think about each one. Even better, tell us how it performs for you and did you change the design somehow. As always, take your time and make sure you complete all the steps with a great level of precision. Tell us also about interesting alternatives you may have invented.

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