You don’t need a lot of tools and equipment to pick up pottery. But having a good throwing wheel is crucial for good results.
The pottery wheel you choose will have a huge influence on your working process, projects you can do, and the results you can get.
Although kick wheel used to be popular, nowadays both beginners and experienced potters prefer to use an electric pottery wheel. Although these electric wheels make it much easier to throw clay, they can be pretty expensive.
In this article, you will find out our 5 favorite pottery wheels for beginners and how you can choose the right one for you.
Top 5 electric pottery wheels for beginners
Below you can find the ceramic wheels I always recommend to beginners. They are ranked by price, such that you can find one that fits your budget.
If you are looking for a small-sized yet high quality pottery wheel, this model by Mophorn would be great for you.
Due to its compact size and low price it is great for beginners. But it is definitely good enough for professionals as well.
The capacity isn’t explicitly specified, but it’s not too high (1~3lbs). So keep in mind you can only work on small projects.
It takes up little space and weighs only 33 lbs., so it’s easy to move around or use at home.
Additionally, people using their pottery wheel at home will also appreciate the fact that this electric wheel produces very little noise.
Capacity: <3 lb
Wheel diameter: 25 cm / 9.8 inch
Weight: 14.3 kg / 31.5 lb
Speed: 300 rpm
This second model by Mophorn looks similar to the first in terms of maximum centering capacity, wheel diameter and speed. However, this one comes with its own platform so it’s much easier to use it while standing.
The speed can be controlled with a pedal and is maintained until changed. So you don’t need to constantly push the pedal down. However, there is also the option of just using the on and off switch if you prefer.
It also comes with a detachable basin, which makes it much easier to clean the mud after you are done.
Capacity: ~3 lb
Wheel diameter: 25 cm / 9.8 inch
Weight: 14.9 kg / 32.9 lbs
Speed: 300 RPM
If you want to work on bigger projects you will need a pottery wheel with a higher centering capacity. This table-top wheel let’s you use up to 25 pounds, which is enough for most beginner projects.
Due to the small design and aluminum wheel, this model is relatively lightweight and can easily be moved around. However, you can buy static or folding legs if you want to use it while standing.
A small downside is that the pedal controlling the speed is not included and has to be bought separately. Additionally, the speed is a little slower than most other models.
Capacity: 25 lbs
Wheel diameter: 28 cm / 11 inch
Weight: 17 kg / 37.6 lbs
Speed: 220 RPM
If you are really serious about pottery, you want to go for a ceramic wheel that will give you the maximum amount of freedom and flexibility. This wheel by speedball has a maximum capacity of 100 lbs and a diameter of 14 inches. This is enough for pretty much any project you can come up with.
Moreover, the frame and wheel head are both made with steel and are thus very durable. On the flip side this also means that it is rather heavy and not as easy to move around.
The only strange design feature is the shape of the basin, which isn’t circular like most other models. However, this isn’t a huge problem and you quickly get used to it.
Capacity: 100 lbs
Wheel diameter: 36 cm / 14 inch
Weight: 32 kg / 70 lbs
Speed: 240 RPM
Last but not least is this pottery wheel by Brent, which is a real sturdy workhorse and favorite of many professional potters. This wheel shows solid performance and has a capacity of 75 lbs with a diameter of 12 inch.
The frame and wheel head are made out of steel and aluminum and the entire construction is very sturdy and stable. So you don’t have to worry that it might fall over while throwing clay.
It comes with a 5 year warranty and the company is known for amazing costumer service, especially compared with some Chinese manufacturers of the cheaper models. Moreover, since the parts are easily interchangeable, it is easy to repair the wheel when something goes wrong and you don’t directly have to buy a new one.
Capacity: 75 lbs
Wheel diameter: 31 kg / 12 inch
Weight: 75 kg / 165 lbs
Speed: 240 RPM
Buying a pottery wheel – what to look for?
Finding a good clay spinning wheel isn’t easy, even with all the suggestions above. In general, a more expensive model also gives better performance.
Fortunately, you don’t always need to buy the most expensive pottery wheel. Especially if you are just starting out, one of the cheaper options will be sufficient. However, keep in mind that you might have to upgrade to a more expensive model later on.
Here are a few things you want to look at when determining which pottery wheel to buy.
Each wheel has a certain amount of clay that it can handle at once, known at the maximum centering capacity. If you reach this capacity you might sometimes notice that the wheel starts to rotate a little slower.
Exceeding the maximum capacity might result in permanent damage. So if you don’t know what projects you will work on in the future, it will be a safe option to choose a model with a higher capacity.
As a beginner, a capacity of 25 lbs will be enough for most cups and bowls. However, if you want to work on bigger projects you will need a model with higher capacity.
The rotation speed of a ceramic wheel is controlled with either an on/off switch, a pedal, or both. A pedal is normally preferred because it gives more precise control of the speed and you probably don’t want to touch the switch with dirty hands constantly.
When it comes to these pedals there are two main factors that will determine their quality. First, you want one that doesn’t speed up or slow down too fast. Secondly, you want a pedal that doesn’t have a big delay between you pressing it and the wheel speeding up.
A high quality potter’s wheel is build to last a lifetime. However, most beginner wheels don’t offer the same amount of reliable performance.
The material that the frame and wheel are made out of have the biggest impact on the durability. Steel is the strongest and will last the longest, followed by aluminum and plastic.
If you are serious about your craft you might want to buy a high quality wheel from the start that you can grow with as you gain more experience.
If you have the space, I would recommend moving the wheel only when absolutely necessary. However, if space is limited or you need to transport the wheel frequently, it might be a good idea to keep this in mind when making your buying decision.
Besides the weight, you might also want to check if the wheel can be easily detached from the frame.
There are many different pottery wheels to choose from.
Besides just looking at the size, there are many factors to take into consideration such as portability, capacity, and pedal sensitivity.
If you found a good pottery wheel, you will also need to get a pottery kiln. Read my article on the best pottery kilns for beginners.