Looking to buy a pottery wheel but surprised by how much good wheels go for? Then buying a used pottery can be a solution.
Buying a secondhand pottery wheel can save you a lot of money, and with a bit of luck you can find one that is still as good as new.
But you want to be careful with your purchase. Because if you buy a faulty wheel, you can lose all of your money as well.
So let’s go over the 6 most important things you should know before buying a used pottery wheel.
1. Test before buying
Like any other used item, you want to take a good look at the used pottery wheel and test it out before buying it.
A few photos can tell you a lot about the general state of the wheel. But it’s difficult to judge how well the wheel will work when turned on.
So even if you find a used wheel online, always ask the seller if you can come over and give the wheel a spin before buying.
Ask yourself the following questions when checking the state of the wheel:
- Is the power cord in good shape?
- Are there any strange sounds?
- Is the foot pedal still responsive?
- Does the wheel wobble?
- Are there any obvious signs of use or rust?
When you do find some flaws with the wheel that wasn’t mentioned, you’ll have to judge how big of an issue it is.
In the worst-case scenario, the wheel won’t turn on at all and it’s better to look for a different wheel.
But if there are just a few scratches that weren’t clear on the photo, you might even be able to use it to negotiate a better price.
2. Check the warranty
Most good pottery wheels come with 5 to 10 year warranty. If the used wheel you are buying isn’t too old, you can ask the seller if the warranty is still valid.
If the seller can provide you with the warranty, you can buy the wheel with a lot more security. Because if the wheel does turn out to be defective, you can get the repairs for little to no cost.
But if the warranty expired, is missing, or has been used before, you will have to make sure yourself that the used wheel you are buying is in good condition.
3. Ask why they are selling
By asking the seller why he is getting rid of his wheel you can get a good idea whether the wheel is still in good condition or not.
If the original owner bought a new wheel that has a higher centering capacity, then the used wheel he’s selling is probably in good condition. But if the owner bough a new wheel of the exact same model, then the wheel he’s selling probably has some defects.
Similarly, ask if the seller is the original owner of the wheel or if he’s just a secondhand dealer. If the wheel was picked up from the sidewalk or a yard sale it’s also more likely to have clear signs of usage.
Keep in mind that not every seller will be completely honest. So don’t take everything on face value.
4. Know which wheel you want
There are a lot of wheels you can choose from, but not every wheel is worth buying.
Many cheaper wheels (<$200) are very small in size, can only throw small amounts of clay, and tend to break quickly.
But if you see one of these wheel for sale, you might be tempted to buy anyway.
That’s why I would recommend making a list of pottery wheel models that you are interested in and meet all your requirements. So when another used pottery wheel pops up on your radar, you know if it’s worth your time.
I personally am a big fan of the Shimpo VL Whisper. But of course there are many other good options.
Reading my article on the best pottery wheels might help out a lot. I go over all my favorites and what to look for.
5. Know where to find used pottery wheels
Finding a used pottery wheel in good condition is a bit of a number game. Many of the wheels you come across will be from an inferior brand, won’t have the right specs, or are in a bad condition.
So having a lot of used wheels to choose from definitely helps. If you are looking online, you can start your search on one of the following sites:
- Facebook Marketplace
If you are living in or near a big city, you can also use your network and ask around a bit to see if anyone has a wheel for sale.
Often times you can find someone that has a wheel sitting in their basement that they haven’t used for years. They might not have considered selling it before, you just by asking them you could change their mind.
Some places to ask around are:
- Friends & family
- Community centers
- Pottery schools
- Communal pottery studios
- Pottery supply stores
6. Negotiate the price
So you have finally found a good used pottery wheel and you are ready to close the deal.
But before you hand over the money, it can really pay off to try to negotiate the price down. Often there is still some wiggle room and the seller might be willing to accept a lower bid.
To successfully negotiate the price you should know how expensive a new wheel is, assess the condition of the used wheel, and use some people skills.
If you notice that the seller is really eager to get rid of their wheel or if there are some minor defects/scratches that weren’t clear on the photos, you can use this to your advantage during your negotiation.
But of course you don’t want to push too hard and run the risk of losing the deal.
I hope this article helped you find a good pottery wheel. But a wheel isn’t all that you need to get started in pottery.
Here are some more articles that might help you get started: