how much does a pottery wheel cost

How Much Does a Pottery Wheel Cost? – Buyers Guide

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When I bought my first wheel, I wasn’t sure how it was going to fit into my life or home.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that I simply didn’t get a chance to use.  I did some research at the time and one of my key questions was how much does a pottery wheel cost?  This is what I found out…

There are pottery wheels available to suit all budgets and levels of skill.  Pottery wheels range in cost from around $200-$2000.  You might worry that if you go in at a budget level that you are getting something second rate.  However, you can get a reasonably priced wheel that works well. 

When you are buying a pottery wheel, there are a few things to consider.  Price is definitely one of them.  In my review of some pottery wheels available to buy, I will arrange them in order of cost.  However, the cost isn’t the only factor to consider.  So, I will also give you an overview of some other features to bear in mind. 

This review is organized into 3 price ranges.  There is quite a bit of price variation within each range.  However, if you know what your budget is, you can click on one of the links below to go directly to that section…

As well as cost, here are some other features to take into consideration when buying a pottery wheel.

Key Factors Other than the Cost of a Pottery Wheel:

These are some features that I have found to be important when using a pottery wheel.  It’s good to have an idea of why these features are important when you decide which wheel to buy…

Wheel Head Diameter

how much does a pottery wheel costThe wheel head on a pottery wheel is the circle of metal that you throw your pots on.  These range in size on pottery wheels.  Ranging between 8 and 14 inches in diameter. 

The larger the wheel head, the larger the pieces of pottery you can throw.  A smaller wheel head of around 10 inches is normally fine if you are just starting out. 

Bat Pin Holes / Bat Pins

Bats are flat pieces of wood, plaster or plastic, that you can attach to your wheel head.  They are a good addition to a pottery wheel for a few reasons. 

One advantage of a bat is that when you’ve finished your piece you can lift the bat off the wheel.  Then you can put it to one side to let it dry.  This means you can avoid having to cut and lift the pottery off when it is still soft.

Pat pins are the screws that hold the bat in place.  Bat pin holes are the holes in the wheel head that you screw into.

Not all wheel heads have bat pin holes.  It’s not the end of the world if your wheel head does not have bat pin holes.  I used a wheel without a bat for years.  But it’s worth bearing in mind as a feature.        

Height of Wheel

Consider how tall the wheel is.  Will it be the right height for you?  If not, does it have adjustable legs?  Or could you fit leg extenders?

Forward and Reverse Function?

Does the wheel head rotate clockwise and counterclockwise?  It’s often said that right-handed people find it easier to throw when a wheel is going counterclockwise.  Conversely, left-handed people often find a clockwise pottery wheel direction easier.  Though there are always exceptions to this preference, reversibility is a useful feature. 

Does it Have a Foot Pedal?

Some of the unbranded pottery wheels that cost less don’t have a foot pedal and are lever operated.  Both can work well, but you may have a personal preference as to what you want. 

How Powerful is the Pottery Wheel?

Electric pottery wheels are run by a motor.  The strength of a pottery wheel is often gauged by the amount of clay it can center.  This ability depends on the amount of torque the motor generates.  Torque is a turning force that causes an object to rotate around an axis2

how much does a pottery wheel cost

Horsepower is torque multiplied by RPM.  So, although it is largely torque that determines a wheels centering capacity, horsepower can be an indicator.  Horsepower is designated in fractions such as ¼ HP or ½ HP.

Generally, the more horsepower a pottery wheel motor has, the more clay you will be able to center.  When you are centering clay you have to exert some force, ideally using your body weight.  There is quite a bit of resistance between you and the clay. 

The larger the piece of clay the harder the wheel has to work to cope with the resistance.  If the wheel lacks torque it will slow down significantly when larger pieces of clay are being thrown.  A stronger wheel will be able to keep up with the work involved in centering more clay. 

If you are making medium-sized bowls, cups, and plates, you don’t need a bionic wheel.  A wheel with about ¼ HP would be fine.  But if you are intending to go large with your pottery, your wheel will need more HP.  And higher HP pottery wheels normally cost more.

So, if you’re wondering how much does a pottery wheel cost, you need to consider wheel power too.  

The Splash Pan

The splash pan is the bowl that fits around the wheel head.  It catches water, slip and clay.  Splash pans get messy quickly.  It’s good if they come apart easily and can be cleaned. 

Some wheels have a two-piece splash pan, which comes apart.  Others have a one-piece splash pan that can be lifted off the wheel shaft.   

Noise Levels

It is also worth considering how much noise a pottery wheel generates.  Particularly if you work in a shared studio, or have family members or house mates who are sensitive to noise!

Weight

If you want a wheel that is portable, weight is obviously a factor.  Perhaps you envisage taking your pottery wheel into the back yard on a sunny day.  But even if you don’t, you might need to slide it from one side of the studio to the other.  In which case the weight of your pottery wheel is worth thinking about.

 So, though a key question might be how much does a pottery wheel cost, these are important considerations.  That being said, you will most likely find something that meets your needs in your price range.  And, if you find a pottery wheel that you love, it really is the start of a beautiful friendship!

So, How Much Does a Pottery Wheel Cost?

Bearing in mind some of the factors described above, let’s have a look at the different price ranges…

Budget Pottery Wheels – Costing Under $300

If your key consideration is how much does a pottery wheel cost, then chances are you’re on a budget.  This section is all about budget wheels, so read on…

Wheels under $300 are generally unbranded.  The models that I have reviewed below are listed with names.  However, these are the names of the sellers rather than the wheel. 

Never the less, I wouldn’t let the fact that they are unbranded put you off.  Both of these budget low-cost options have some real plus points.

Table Top Budget Pottery Wheel

This pottery wheel is very compact.  The height of the unit from its feet the wheel head is 13.8”.  This means that unless you are a child or very petite, it will work much better on a tabletop.

Although it isn’t sold as a tabletop pottery wheel, this is the way I would think of it.  You would just need to find a table that brought the wheel head up to the right height for you. 

Check out my post about the best height for your pottery wheel.  This article should help you work out what table height you’d need with this wheel. 

Important point!  Be aware when you are selecting this wheel that some models come with a foot pedal and some don’t. 

You have to look at the image when you are choosing which one to put in your basket.  Some have a foot pedal and others have a hand control lever. 

I made the mistake of buying a wheel with a hand lever when I actually wanted a foot control version.  Some potters prefer the hand lever, but I’m used to using a foot pedal. 

It was fine in the end, and I was able to return and replace it.  But it was a pain to organize.  So, it’s just something to be aware of!

Overall:  This is a good beginner’s wheel.  It is compact, easy to clean, and is not too noisy.  In addition, it is quite strong for its size, putting out about 1/4HP. 

You would be able to center up to around 5lbs of clay on this pottery wheel without trouble.  That is enough clay for a decent sized mug, plate or bowl.  So, if you’re wondering how much does a pottery wheel cost, the answer can be… not much!  

Table Top Budget Wheel Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
9.8"
No
13.8"
Yes
Optional
Up to about 5 lbs
2 piece removable
<60db
33 lbs
0 to 300 rpm
1/4 HP

Free Standing Budget Pottery Wheel

This is also a very compact pottery wheel.  It weighs in at around 33lb and the dimensions are only 22 x 16 x 14.5″.  As a result, you can easily store this wheel without much difficulty in most homes or studios.   

  With the wheel head 14.5″ from the ground, it is quite short.  So, it is perfect for kids, or petite adults.  Or it can be used on a small coffee table for taller adults who need more height. 

However, unlike a table top pottery wheel, this wheel has legs.  Which means that if you want to make it higher, you can simply put it on risers. 

My first pottery wheel had this exact same design, and I used bed risers to bring the height up.  Check out my article here on how to boost the height of your pottery wheel if you are tall.

From personal experience I can really recommend this wheel as a starter wheel.  It’s a great little wheel, with a surprisingly powerful motor.  

The motor has enough torque that you can center clay quite easily.  It doesn’t slow down when you are centering clay.  I found it managed well with up to 10lbs of clay. 

It is not designed to throw really big pieces like great big platters or vases.  However, if you want to make cups, bowls, plates and normal sized vases or jugs, this wheel is perfect. 

It’s easy to clean and light in weight, so once you have finished your session, you can clean up and slid it out of the way.  Mine was tucked in the corner of my kitchen for a few years.    

Free Standing Budget Wheel Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
9.8"
No
14.5"
Yes
Yes
6-7 lbs
2 piece removable
Not specified
33 lbs
0 to 300 rpm
1/4 HP

How Much Does a Pottery Wheel Cost in the Mid-Range?

If you have a little more to spend, the following might be the right price range for you…

Pottery Wheels Costing $300-$1000

One of the most reasonably prices pottery wheels in the mid range is the Artista by Speedball

Artista Pottery Wheel by Speedball

Speedball makes a few pottery wheels.  The Artista is the most economical from a cost point of view.  And it is also very versatile.  It is designed to be portable, so you can move it from room to room.  You can also take it to and from the studio, or throw pottery outside if it’s a nice day.  Perfect.

For a compact, lightweight pottery wheel it is powerful and is able to center up to 25lb of clay. 

Although it’s portable, it is solid and you need not worry about it moving around as you center your clay.  It stays put and does not slide across the table surface.  

There are a few features that it’s good to be aware of.  Firstly, out of the box it has a hand-operated speed control.  There is a knob on the side that you turn to adjust the speed. 

However, if you want it to be foot-operated, it is easily converted with a plug-in foot pedal.  You can buy the foot pedal separately, directly from Speedball.  However, I found it with a discounted cost at Bailey Ceramic Supplies

Likewise, by default it is a table top pottery wheel without legs.  However, you can buy leg sets specifically made for the Artista.  These will convert it into a free-standing unit.

The last thing to be aware of with the Artista is that it does not have a reverse function. But you can buy either a standard (right-handed) wheel or a left-handed one.  You make this selection at the point of purchase.  

Artista Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
11"
Yes
9"
No
Sold separately
25 lbs
2 piece removable
Not specified
28 lbs
0 to 220 rpm
1/4 HP

Speedball Clay Boss

The Speedball Clay Boss is the first in the mid-cost range that has a free-standing design.  With a horsepower of ½ it can easily center up to 100lb of clay.  So, it is a powerful piece of pottery kit for a really reasonable price. 

Because it has a 14” wheel head you have more scope for throwing larger pieces too.  The advantage of the Clay Boss over the Artista is that it does have a reverse function. 

The reverse function can come in very handy, especially when trimming your pottery.  So, having the option to reverse your wheel is definitely a bonus. 

The Clay Boss costs a bit more than the Artista.  However, with the Clay Boss, you don’t have the additional expense of the optional free-standing legs and foot pedal. 

It also has ‘load sensing control,’ which means that the wheel adapts to the weight of the clay you’re using.  As you use different quantities of clay, the wheel registers the change in weight and will adjust its performance.  The upshot of this is that the wheel head maintains its speed under different weights of clay.  Basically, it doesn’t slow down and struggle as you use more clay.   

In addition, you get 2 free plastic bats, a circular one and a square one.  Bonus!

Speedball Clay Boss Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
14"
Yes
19.5"
Yes
Yes
100 lbs
2 piece removable
Not specified
83 lbs
0 to 240 rpm
1/2 HP

Skutt Thomas Stuart Prodigy

Skutt is one of the leading pottery wheel brands.  They produce a few models.  The Prodigy is the least expensive and newest addition to their Thomas Stuart range. 

Their pottery wheels have a reputation for being well made, solid and strong.  In general, their pottery wheels have large wheel head shafts, so they can cope with throwing larger pottery.  And they have heavy frames which stop them sliding when you are working.

The bearings that enable the wheel head to rotate are heavy duty.  And though Skutt don’t give a DB noise reading for their wheels, the robust bearings mean they are quiet. 

Another feature of Skutt pottery wheels is that they have large motors.  The benefit of a large motor is that it will improve the torque capability. 

Skutt use Continual Duty Rated Motors, which are large and dissipate heat that would otherwise reduce torque.  If a motor gets hot, it is less able to handle torque.  A Skutt motor also has a fan to help the unit cool and preserve power.    

As a result, Skutt state their wheels have more torque at the wheel head than other brands1.  

Features of The Thomas Stuart Prodigy Pottery Wheel

This particular model has the same usual features of a Skutt wheel, however, it is made on a steel frame. 

The Prodigy has a one-piece splash pan that is easy to clean.  To remove it, you have to twist the wheel head and lift it off the wheel shaft.  The splash pan can then also be removed and cleaned. 

One of the good things about this design is that it reduces leaks and drips from the splash pan.  Two-piece splash cans are easy to click apart and remove.  However, I’ve found that they can leak at the join if the splash pan gets messy.  The one-piece pan removes this issue.    

Another feature of this wheel is that it doesn’t have a reverse switch.  It turns counter-clockwise by default.  If you prefer to throw clockwise, you will need to change the direction of the motor. 

This is done by changing the switch on the motor to the opposite position.  Although this might sound like a nuisance, it’s actually quite straightforward to do.  However, it is true that this wheel does not have a convenient reverse switch like many other pottery wheels.   

Skutt Thomas Stuart Prodigy Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
12"
10" bat pins
No (see details above)
Yes
Skutt say "A LOT"
1 piece removable
Not specified
94 lbs
Not specified
1/3 HP

Shimpo VL Lite

The Shimpo VL Lite weighs just 51lbs, which makes it one of the lightest free standing pottery wheels.  This is great if you need some flexibility with where you position your wheel. 

It is however very sturdy enough to throw on.  Shimpo pottery wheels have a reputation for being quiet. 

This is great if you are in a class room scenario with lots of pottery wheels going on at the same time.  If you have a few wheels generating noise at once, it can be hard to hear yourself think. 

Likewise, if you are someone who likes to throw in a very serene, quiet studio, then a Shimpo wheel might suit you very well.

However, they don’t have as much torque as some of the other leading brands.  

As a result, they have a somewhat lower centering capacity of around 25lbs of clay.  This is an issue if you are someone who likes to throw massive pieces. 

It is however very sturdy enough to throw on.  Shimpo pottery wheels have a reputation for being quiet. 

This is great if you are in a class room scenario with lots of pottery wheels going on at the same time.  Likewise, if you are someone who likes to throw in a very serene, quiet studio, then a Shimpo wheel might suit you very well.

However, they don’t have as much torque as some of the other leading brands.  As a result, they have a somewhat lower centering capacity of around 25lbs of clay.  This is an issue if you are someone who likes to throw massive pieces. 

On the other hand, 25lbs of clay is more than adequate for the majority of potters. This is especially true if you are buying your first pottery wheel.  

Some Other Features of the Shimpo VL Lite

One of the handy things about the Shimpo VL Lite is that the legs are adjustable.  This means you can alter the height of your wheel easily.  The legs are also removable, so the wheel can be converted for tabletop use.  Removing the legs also makes storage easier.

However, whilst the wheel does have bat pins, it is not sold with any bats.  The bat pins are standard size, so they will be easy to buy.  But it’s worth being aware that this is an additional expense. 

Also, whilst you can change the direction of the wheel head, you can’t do this at the flick of a switch.  The direction of the wheel head has to be reset.  This is a simple process, but it does involve switching off and unplugging the wheel. 

Once the wheel is off you remove a switch guard and change the switch position before replacing the guard.  When the guard is back on, you can power your wheel back up again.     

Shimpo VL Lite Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
12"
Yes
21"
No (see details above)
Yes
25 lbs
2 piece removable
Not specified
51 lbs
0 to 250 rpm
1/2 HP

How Much Does a Pottery Wheel Cost in the Higher Price Range?

Perhaps this is your second wheel.  Or perhaps you are new to pottery and want to give yourself the best chance at doing well.  If so, then, you will most likely find something to suit your needs in this section…

Pottery Wheels Costing $1000-$2100

If you want to push the boat out, you may want to consider one of the following…

Skutt Thomas Stuart Legend Pottery Wheel

The general points made above about Skutt wheels also apply to the Thomas Stuart Legend.  In short, Skutt pottery wheels are solid, strong and very well made. 

The Thomas Stuart Legend has a very large removable splash pan.  Because it is large, it holds a lot in terms of slip and trimmings. 

And it is easy to remove by twisting off the wheel head and lifting the pan off the wheel shaft.

Like the Prodigy the Legend has a continual duty motor.  This enables it to handle really large quantities of clay without the motor getting hot and losing torque. 

It also has a heavy cast aluminum foot pedal which lends to the overall experience of solidity.

 

Potter’s who own Skutt pottery wheels tend to be passionate about how great they are.  If you like to throw big, then a Thomas Stuart Legend is a great investment.      

Skutt Thomas Stuart Legend Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
14"
10" bat pins
Yes
Yes
400 lbs
1 piece removable
Not specified
117 lbs
Not specified
1/3 HP

Brent IE Pottery Wheel

There are a number of different Brent Pottery Wheel Models.  These models include the B, C, CXC and the EX.  The wheel I’m looking at in this article is the IE.  The reason for looking particularly at the IE is that of the Brent Models, it is the most reasonably priced. 

There are two versions of the IE.  The IE-R is exactly the same as the IE, except that it has a reversing switch.  With the IE-R you can easily switch wheel head direction. 

The switch has a neutral position that you must pass through to transition safely and smoothly as you change direction.  In addition, the toggle switch is sealed for safety. 

The other feature of the Brent IE is that it has adjustable legs.  These can be shortened down to 13” for tabletop use.  Or they can be adjusted between 20 and 25” for floor use.  In addition to this, you can also buy compatible Brent Booties, if you want to add more height.

I really like this flexibility of height.  It’s good for potters who need to take ergonomics into consideration.  Tall potters and potters with wrist or hand issues need to be especially careful about their posture.  And the Brent IE accommodates the need for flexibility.

In addition to adjustable legs, Brent manufactures a seat that can be attached directly to the wheel.  Again, this is great for posture because you can adjust it for height and distance from the wheel head. 

The IE has a good-sized tabletop made from high-density poly, which sits upon a solid steel frame.  All in all, this is a solid pottery wheel that has enough torque to handle up to 75lbs of clay. 

Brent IE Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
12"
Yes
20-25" (adjustable)
Optional (see details above)
Yes
75 lbs
2 piece removable
Not specified
93 lbs
0 to 240 rpm
1/4 HP

Shimpo VL Whisper

As the name suggests, the Shimpo VL Whisper is very quiet.  In fact, some potters find it eerily quiet.  It’s a bit like an electric car.  You don’t know it’s there until you get a fright when you turn around and see it creeping up behind you.  Not that your pottery wheel will be creeping anywhere, but you get my point. 

Some potters like to hear the sound of their wheel working, in which case, this may not be the wheel for you.  But if you like tranquillity then it is ideal.

Another nice feature of the VL Whisper is that at 0 rpm, you can turn the wheel head turns freely. 

This means that you can use it as a banding wheel.  This is a handy feature for lots of things like applying underglaze or glaze.  Or for generally spot checking your pottery for unevenness. 

One of the problems sometimes cited by potters about the Shimpo pottery wheel is that they lack torque.  It’s difficult to know why this would be the case.  They have a direct drive motor, rather than a belt drive and direct drives generally have more torque.  And the manufacturers specify that they can handle up to 100lbs of clay. 

Never the less, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the Shimpo struggles with clay in this quantity.

The Shimpo VL Whisper is a very popular choice.  Whether it is the right one for you depends on what you are looking for. 

If you are looking for a quiet, refined pottery wheel, at a reasonable cost this might be for you.  It has a reputation for being a sensitive, responsive machine.  If you’re looking for a solid workhorse that can handle huge chunks of clay, this may not be the one.  

Shimpo VL Specification

FeatureSpecification
Wheel Head Diameter
Bat Pins
Height of Wheel Head
Forward / Reverse Function
Foot Pedal
Clay Weight Capacity
Splash Pan
Noise Levels
Weight
RPM
Horsepower
14"
Yes
23.22"
Yes
Yes
100 lbs
2 piece removable
Couldn't be quieter!
122 lbs
0 to 250 rpm
1/2 HP

Final Thoughts

You may have round this article because you were wondering how much does a pottery wheel cost.  I hope this post will have helped you find something within your budget.  And also highlighted some factors other than cost that deserve to be taken into account.  Whichever one you choose in whichever cost bracket I hope you have fun with your new pottery wheel. 

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References:

Pottery Tips from the Pottery Wheel

Lesley

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Pottery Tips from the Pottery Wheel

I’m Lesley Milne, the creator of The Pottery Wheel.  Like many people, I used the potter’s wheel at school.  But then I began to focus on clay sculpture and I left the wheel behind.  However, more recently, I found myself being drawn back to pottery and the potters wheel.  And so, I have tried to pick up where I left off all those years ago at school. This blog is a chronicle of what I have learned as I got back into the potters saddle!

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