Two Types of Pottery Wheel: Help You Find the Right One Fast

Have you been developing a liking for pottery lately? And are you in need of a step-by-step guideline as to buy a suitable pottery wheel? Well, we have got you covered, future potters!  

Kudos to your taste!

Molding clay and ceramic materials into pots, vessels, and other designs, which are durable, is “Pottery.” Since you are reading my blog post, it already means you do have a fondness for pottery, and even if, a beginner, as you may be, kudos to your taste and choice of art! (claps), it is one of the oldest human inventions and forms of art that stemmed from a necessity back then, as it was used to make cooking utensils. Its invention dates back to the Neolithic period (the final division of the Stone Age, almost as old as 29000BC). Before jumping into the details, here’s to let you know that this liking for pottery soon turns into a passion, and a therapeutic hobby, as soon as you get your hands on a good pottery wheel to start with. Many have used this art to earn their livings since pottery is primarily utilitarian and a crossroad where functionality meets aesthetics and decorative arts. What’s better in this world than to have a career in which you thoroughly enjoy doing? However, many beginners lose interest in this art for not choosing the right pottery wheel. So, knowing the basics and features of both types of pottery wheels is of great importance.    

A pottery wheel (Choosing the right type and everything a beginner needs to know)

  There are TWO types of a “Potter’s Wheel,” “Pottery Wheel,” or “Potter’s Lathe”:
  1. Kick-wheel (Nonmotorized wheel)
  2. Electric Wheel (Motorized wheel)
It’s a human instinct to think better of electrically operated equipment, but don’t fall for it since many people still prefer the kick-wheel over the other. To know what suits you, you’ll have to go through the pros and cons of both types. If you want to know what things you need to consider before actually buying a pottery wheel, check this guide out.  


    The classic, manual pottery wheel, which can last a lifetime, with almost no maintenance needed, and the only thing needed to power it, is YOUR FOOT as it is a KICK-wheel. It typically consists of an adjustable seat, a work table in the front, a wooden or steel frame, and an aluminum wheel head with a usual cast of 14 inches. While the heavy flywheel is kicked into motion and then slowed down accordingly by the artist’s foot, it would give your studio the vintage aesthetic of ancient times and old traditions. That is one of the many reasons it is preferred over the second type of pottery wheel by the studio potters typically.  

5 Reasons you SHOULD buy a kick-wheel

  • Manual Operation
If you don’t have access to a power outlet or don’t want to rely on electricity, go for a kick wheel.  
  • Low Maintenance and High Durability
As a kick wheel does not carry a motor with it, which requires maintenance and needs to get fixed now or then, kick wheels almost require and cost zero maintenance. So, in this way, they are not heavy on the pocket in the long term, which saves your time and energy. Moreover, as it is often said that kick wheels are built to last a lifetime, buying one is a no-risk scenario, as they are trustworthy.  
  • Kind to the Ears!
Yes, you read it right. Compared to other types, the kick pottery wheel can work while producing almost no noise. So even if you don’t have a separate studio for pottery, the kick wheel won’t disturb your friends, family, or colleagues around you.  
  • Easy Switch of Rotations
A kick wheel allows convenient right and left-handed throwing, i.e., you can easily switch between clockwise and anticlockwise rotation.  
  • Old school and Conventional equipment
There is no doubt that a kick wheel is a piece of conventional equipment that has been in use for centuries. If you want to connect to the vintage, pure essence of pottery, and you don’t mind going old school, a kick wheel is for you!    

5 Reasons you should NOT buy a Kick-wheel

  Here are some CONS of buying a kick wheel, coupled with some common complaints I have encountered while interacting with kick wheel users.  
  • Hard to move
Kick wheels have a sturdy, heavy body. The concrete flywheel alone weighs around 130-140 pounds, making it extremely hard to move them, let alone carry them, for traveling purposes.  
  • Need greater space
The heavy body, though reliable as it is, occupies a lot of space and thus might not be suitable for you if you have a small studio space in your home (which is, unfortunately, the case with most beginners).  
  • Physically Demanding over Prolonged use
As you have to kick the pedal to start the kick wheel and control the wheel’s revolution by foot, it might be physically draining for you if you plan to invest quality time of your day in pottery. Due to the physical input kick wheel demands, I have even come across complaints of aggravated psoriasis, arthritis, or other knee problems in people who have been using kick wheel for long hours over the years.  
  • Multitasking
While focusing on making the pot, the potter needs to control the speed of the flywheel and keep it at the desired pace. So the process might be mentally demanding for a person and requires a bit of multitasking ability, which is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, especially for beginners.  
  • Requires more Practice
The point mentioned above also gives way to the fact that mastering the art of managing the speed manually, with other tasks such as throwing the clay or shaping the details might require a greater deal of practice, but the results are worth it nevertheless!  

Electric Wheel

    Now comes the type of wheel that revolutionized the world of pottery, making it common among craft potters and educational institutions. It is also known as the “Motor-driven Pottery Wheel.” Electric pottery wheels have proved to be a very productive and practical application of technology in the art of pottery. The three basic components of an electric pottery wheel are:
  1. Wheel-head
  2. Frame
  3. Power-source.
However, an electric pottery wheel is not as simple to buy as the kick wheel. Many features have to be taken into account while considering one for buying. Some of the key features to look out for, being:
  • Power (Capacity)
  • Diameter, material, and configuration of wheel-head
  • Loudness
  • Speed adjustment.
  • The direction of rotation.
  • Removable bat pins or basins.
A pottery wheel with a wheel-head diameter of 8 to 14 inches and a revolution power ranging from ¼ to 1 hp is recommended for beginners.  

5 Reasons you SHOULD buy an electric pottery wheel

  • Portability
While electric pottery wheels come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from those fancy ones with built-in splash pans, heavy-duty bearings of flywheels, and fully kitted out wheels to simpler ones with small and compact table-top units, they are generally lighter (usually weighing anywhere from 30 to 140 pounds) and smaller than the kick wheels. Some of the varieties with removable parts make them more handy and portable, suiting best those who do not work in a permanent studio.  
  • Space and Storage
Being compact and lightweight, electric pottery wheels occupy lesser space. The storage issues have also been catered to, as some latest options carry removable parts, and modular construction also helps.  
  • A broader range of Variety
Moreover, one of the perks of choosing an electric pottery wheel to buy is that you get a wide variety to choose from. A wide range of special features has been incorporated into the electric pottery wheels in customization with the user’s preference and comfort zone.  
  • Handy to Use
Since electric pottery wheels are power-driven and do not require the multitasking ability, nor the coordination of hands working with the clay and foot kicking the pedal as in kick wheel, they are much more convenient to use. Beginners can master the art while using an electric pottery wheel far more easily.  
  • Better Handling of Heavy Clay
An electric wheel usually allows easy handling of heavy clay, which on the other hand, is hard to play with and also physically demanding in the kick wheel. The electric wheel lets you easily mold the heavy clay into desirable shapes, especially bigger-sized vessels.    

5 Reasons you should NOT buy an electric pottery wheel

  Now let’s just quickly jump into some of the cons or downsides of an electric pottery wheel, which the kick wheel-fans probably cannot stand at all:  
  • Shorter Life Span
A good, high-quality electric pottery wheel has a life span and warranty of a maximum, ten years, which is already a long time. But compared to a kick wheel, which lasts a lifetime, the former loses the battle of longevity.  
  • High Maintenance and Bit of Extra Love!
The electric motor and adjustable parts might need maintenance, now and then, and require some extra care, as is the case with similar electrical equipment.  
  • Vulnerability to Water
Water is an important pottery element, either in lubricating hands while molding or throwing the clay. It is used now and then. Though electrical pottery wheels are designed to keep the motor and electric cord intact, preventing any water from reaching it, there are chances of water reaching the electric supply, causing a potential breakdown.  
  • Noise Concerns
No matter how high the quality is, the motor-driven wheel might be starting to act a bit noisy, and for most of the varieties, you can hear the motor even when the wheel is brand new.  
  • Switching Rotation
As many potters like to switch between clockwise and anticlockwise rotation while throwing the clay, not every electric wheel allows you to do that. So, it might be missing unless you ensure its presence in the particular model you are looking for.    

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