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WARNING: Pottery is Highly Addictive!

Yes, it's rewarding, life-giving, stress relieving and productive.  However, be advised that it is extremely addicting.  Readers should continue at their own risk!

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Get Creative with the Best Pottery Wheels of 2024

Last Updated: 1 Feb 2024

I started throwing pots a few years ago.  I would get lost in it for hours: working with my hands, learning, experimenting, centering. When I finished, I had something sitting on my shelf to show for it.  Working with clay was even healing for me during a stressful season of life. Many find pottery to be a great hobby. To start your own ceramic journey, you'll need a good potter's wheel.

Pottery wheels have come way down in price over the past several years, making this amazing hobby accessible to more people. I teach pottery and most of my students are kids.  In this article, I review the best pottery wheels and share my criteria for how I evaluate them. I hope you enjoy!





Clay Boss Pottery Wheel

of Recommended Pottery Wheels

Pottery Wheel Buying Guide

A pottery wheels is a valuable tool whether you're turning pro and becoming a potter or just enjoying a life-giving hobby. Buying a pottery wheel that fits your needs is important but can be overwhelming with all the choices.  That’s why I've created this buying guide below.

What To Consider When Buying a Pottery Wheel?


If you're are a professional potter, you likely have studio space dedicated to equipment like a potter's wheel. However, when you're starting out, you'll likely be like a traveling nomad, borrowing space from a garage, a spare room, or the corner of a room.  Smaller budget wheels, like the ones you find on Amazon, weigh around 20 pounds (9 kgs) while larger professional wheels weight between 70-100 lbs (32-45 kgs). For this reason, I take a smaller wheel to trade shows or to do demos.  I also prefer these smaller wheels for my classes as they are much easier to bring to a park or setup in the yard.


Solid Body and Open Body are the two primary construction types I'd like to discuss.  Solid body pottery wheels fold and weld a single piece of metal to form what appears to be a solid body.  This style was common in the 1970s and 1980s, but has recently surged back into style with the budget orange wheels on Amazon.  These solid body wheels are surprisingly strong considering how thin the sheet metal used is.  This is one of the reasons these wheels can be so light.  Alternatively, open body pottery wheels have a flat metal or thick HDPE plastic top with legs attached below.  Most professional wheels and even some budget options on Amazon are constructed like this.

Legs & Feet

Solid body wheels usually have 4 feet.  They are adjustable in that they screw in and out to adjust to the floor you're throwing on.  However, three feet/legs is preferable to four on potter's wheels.  "Three points define a plain" in geometry and three legs will always sit "flat" on the floor, even if the floor is irregular or uneven. On the contrary, four feet almost never sit flush on any floor without adjusting, and your first step when changing locations with any four-legged wheel will be adjusting the feet to level.  But to be fair, this is not a big deal.  It's more like a minor inconvenience when setting up a class or moving your wheel to the back porch.


The quality of the motor is one of the biggest differentiators among pottery wheels.  Larger professional wheels tend to be much stronger, able to center up to 100 pounds (45 kgs) at once. I've never centered this much clay and chances are you won't be centering that much either... ever. Typically, when I'm throwing really large or "throwing off the hump" I will center up to 10 pounds. All of the motors on all levels of machines recommended here are able to handle that capacity and even more.  The typical rotation pattern for pottery wheels is counter-clockwise.  All motors will rotate this direction but most are also reversible meaning they can also turn clockwise.  Some left handed potters prefer this setting.  Many budget wheels see a slight lag in responsiveness on their motors.  You adjust the throttle and a fraction of a second later, the wheel responds.  Typically, you don't see this delay in more expensive wheels but to be honest it is not a big problem.  Again, this is in the minor inconvenience category.

Wheel Head

The wheel head is the top part of the pottery wheel that spins.  It's usually made of an aluminum alloy or other metal material although many kick wheels have a wooden wheel head.  The most common size for a wheel head on a professional potter's wheel is 14" in diameter. You will, however, find some professional wheels with wheel heads of 12" diameter.  Most of the budget wheels on Amazon have wheel heads of 9.8" (25cm) or 11". Is this a problem?  Not really.  In fact not at all.  The bigger issue with budget wheels is the absence of bat pins.  Bat pins are small hex bolts with a wing nut on the under side (literally just a bolt and nut).  They attach through holes drilled in the wheel head and allow a potter to put a "pottery bat" on the wheel head.  This allows potters to throw forms and take them off the wheel without handling the wet clay itself.  At the time of this writing, there is only one budget wheel (under $400) on Amazon that has bat pins, and the bat pins on that wheel are not a standard size.  "10-inch-center" is standard on pottery wheels for bat pins.  This means the bat pins are 10" apart, measured from the center point of one bat pin to the center point of the other (hence the phrase "10-inch-center bat pins"). Most pottery bats are made to fit this standard 10"-center bat pin size.  Is the absence of bat pins a problem?  Again, not really. If you want to use bats, you can center a small paddy of clay on your wheel head and push down a square or circular bat on top of it.  You can check out my video here on how to do that.


Most pottery wheels have a foot pedal as the main throttle device. This is "standard" and is my preference as a professional, but it is not without its drawbacks. For instance, when my son was small, his little foot didn't have enough weight and strength to adjust the speed using the foot pedal on several of my professional wheels.  He much preferred the hand crank on my Shimpo aspire wheel as he could very easily adjust that.  I teach beginners when learning to throw to 1. Start out at full throttle, then 2. Go down to 1/2 or 1/3 speed when pulling up the clay walls. When you're just getting started and you're not used to using a foot pedal, you can accidentally change speeds while you're throwing if you're using a foot pedal. Everyone who is learning will do this and do it a number of times.  This doesn't happen very often with a hand crank or lever where you have to be very deliberate to adjust the speed.  My favorite throttle type for beginners is the hand crank / foot pedal combination on the solid body wheels.  It gives you the best of both worlds. You won't accidentally change speeds but you also have the foot pedal for other activities like throwing-off-the-hump or trimming.

Splash Pan

Splash pans are either are removable as two pieces of plastic that click into and out of place or they are fixed.  The vast majority are removable.  However, if it's removable and loose and wobbly you will not enjoy the throwing experience.  There are several ways to fix a loose splash pan but my favorite is the wind a string around the base of the mounting plate until the splash pan fits snugly.  Fixed splash pans are not a problem, though. Many think it's hard to clean a fixed splash pan but with a large sponge it's just as fast and maybe a little faster than a removable one.


Digital touch screen interfaces are the only feature I really dislike on pottery wheels.  You can get around them if you make sure you keep the setting on the "pedal" setting (and not the buttons) to adjust the speed.  But digital buttons with muddy hands on a touch screen is no bueno. Stay away from them if you can but if you find a good price on one, it's not a deal breaker.  Just make sure your hands or your leg doesn't touch the interface while you're throwing.  Manual controls on the unit itself are the preferred way to go.


These are the important features you should evaluate when buying a potter's wheel.  For my videos on the subject, see my YouTube channel here.  

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