How Much Is a Pottery Wheel?

Spinning pottery is more than an enjoyable hobby. It can also be a great way to generate income by selling the containers and other products you make, and also improve your personal reliance and sustainability by making your own dishes and cookware.

making ceramics from clay on a pottery wheel

But one thing you probably won’t be able to go without is a pottery wheel, and the price of these machines can vary dramatically. So, how much is a pottery wheel?

A pottery wheel can cost anywhere between $200 and $2,000, and even beyond. The power of the motor, size, controls, features, and more all play a part in determining the cost of a given unit.

Even if you’re an amateur potter, you might need to drop a fair bit of cash in order to get a useful pottery wheel that can do everything you need it to…

That being said, knowing what you need and also what factors influence the price of a pottery wheel will help you make an informed investment.

Keep reading, and I’ll tell you all about it so you’re ready for your shopping trip.

ONLY $120 for a Pottery Wheel? Is it TERRIBLE?

Cost and Capability are Closely Linked for Pottery Wheels

As with many things, with pottery wheels you really do get what you pay for. Bargains exist, of course, but even for a basic unit you should be prepared to spend around $400 or more for a budget-priced branded wheel.

Cheaper models that cost around $200 or sometimes even less are rarely branded, being mass-produced with questionable QA in overseas factories, and generally offer rudimentary capabilities.

Most aren’t likely to last very long under constant use even with routine maintenance.

On the other hand, more expensive models that cost upwards of $1,000 usually provide excellent performance, better control, better creature comforts, and increased capability.

If you’re just getting started with throwing clay, it is alright to start with a lower cost model. Just be aware that you might need to upgrade soon depending on your goals and usage tempo.

Cost Differences Between Electric and Manual Pottery Wheels

As you might expect, electric pottery wheels cost more than manual ones. Electric wheels will be more expensive as a rule due to all the additional technological components and controls that make them run; a motor, foot pedal, speed control, gearbox, wiring, etc.

Although they’re the most popular today by a huge margin, they are far costlier than manual wheels.

Manual wheels, sometimes called kick- or treadle wheels, are refined, modernized versions of the ancient potter’s wheel powered by elbow grease (knee grease?).

Typically made of sturdy metals and sometimes still made from wood, they cost significantly less than an electric wheel, usually around the $200 mark for a good quality model.

They can be quite effective with practice, and are the de facto option for off-grid spinning, but they can be quite a workout!

We’ll be focusing on cost factors for electric wheels below, but several of those factors also apply to manual wheels.

Comparing Four Pottery Wheels in the $150 to $750 Range

What Determines the Cost of a Pottery Wheel?

The following design and construction factors, and sometimes accessories, all add up to determine the cost of a pottery wheel…

1. Motor Size

The major cost factor for electric wheels, the size and power of the motor dramatically influences the cost of a pottery wheel.

A larger motor typically means more power, which can be crucial for handling larger wheels with larger amounts of clay, or simply for professional potters who require more robust equipment that can be used all day, every day.

However, as ever increased power comes at a price: Smaller motors, while less powerful, are more affordable for beginners or hobbyists, or for folks who only work on small pieces.

Don’t skimp on the motor: the motor’s quality directly impacts the wheel’s performance and longevity.

2. Reversible

A reversible pottery wheel is one which can spin both clockwise and counterclockwise. This capability typically entails a higher price than a non-reversible model, all things equal.

This feature might not be a make-or-break for you, but does add versatility, allowing potters to work in whichever direction they find most comfortable for a given job.

Reversible wheels also cater better to left-handed and right-handed users, making them a popular choice in shared studio spaces.

While this feature increases the wheel’s functionality significantly, it also raises its production cost, which is passed on to the consumer.

3. Controls

The type and sophistication of the controls on a pottery wheel also determine its price.

High-end models often come with digital speed controls, precise pedal sensitivity (if foot pedal equipped), and other advanced features that make the wheel easier and more efficient to use.

These additional features require more complex design and manufacturing processes, once again increasing the overall cost. On the other hand, wheels with basic manual controls or coarse adjustments are usually more affordable.

Is the lack of precision a hindrance for you? Maybe, maybe not, but more control is never bad!

4. Height and Size

The height and size of a pottery wheel, specifically whether it’s designed to be placed on a tabletop or freestanding on the floor, further influence cost.

Tabletop models are smaller, more compact, and typically less expensive than freestanding models with similar quality and other features.

Conversely, freestanding wheels are larger, and may come with other added features, such as built-in stowage or adjustable legs or wheel height.

As you might have guessed, bigger is indeed more expensive!

5. Head Diameter

The diameter of the wheel head is another fundamental factor that affects the price of a pottery wheel.

Larger wheel heads can accommodate bigger loads of clay, allowing you to make ever larger creations.

Though the size of the wheel itself isn’t a huge cost factor, larger heads typically require more robust motors and sturdier construction to support the increased load, and that often results in an even higher cost.

Smaller wheel heads, on the other hand, are almost always cheaper. If you know you aren’t “going big,” you can save some bucks sticking with a smaller head.

6. Bat Mounting

Bat mounting refers to the system used to attach the bat, if used. Bats are the flat surface on which the potter forms the clay, separate from the head itself.

Some wheels come with bat pins, which allow for easy attachment and removal of bats. Others may use proprietary bat grippers or other anchor points.

The type and complexity of the bat mounting system can influence the cost of the pottery wheel overall…

Wheels with more advanced or versatile bat mounting systems often carry a higher price tag due to the increased functionality they provide.

7. Pan Design

The design of the pan, also known as the splash pan, influences the cost of a pottery wheel. The splash pan is designed to catch any water or clay that might be thrown off during the wheel’s operation.

Some pottery wheels have quick-removable pans for easy cleaning, while others have built-in pans that necessitate the dismounting the of the head to really get in there and clean it.

Some pans are two-piece, some are single-piece, but all are potentially an enhanced feature that manufacturers can use to get more for their wheels.

8. Quietness

One of the biggest creature comforts, the quietness of a wheel can be a selling point in and of itself, one that several manufacturers charge for!

Quieter models are often so because they use better quality components and advanced design elements to minimize noise, both of which allow wheel makers to get more from you.

Don’t want to go deaf in 10 years? Maybe you don’t want to drive your neighbors nuts listening to an electric motor all day? Better spring for the Whisper!

On the other hand, noisier models are generally cheaper, and most aren’t so loud they are intolerable. Any might be perfectly suitable for your shop or home.

9. Brand

Love it or hate it, brand reputation and recognition do significantly contribute to the cost of a pottery wheel. But it is worth pointing out that most brands deserve their reputation!

Well-known brands like Shimpo or Skutt are recognized for their quality, durability, longevity and customer service often command more for their products.

These brands have established trust with customers over time for a good reason (or through clever marketing), and potters are willing to pay a premium for the peace of mind and certainty that comes with buying from them.

Conversely, budget offerings like Vevor might offer basic features at a lower cost, but there may be more risk involved regarding quality and after-sales service overall.

Nonetheless, there’s a “shoe for every foot,” and there is a wheel for every thrower! You don’t have to spend top dollar to get a wheel that will do everything you want it to do.

Used Pottery Wheels Can Save You a Bundle

If you’re looking to save a bit of money while still pursuing your passion for pottery, buying a used pottery wheel can be a fantastic option.

The used market is often full of high-quality pottery wheels that have plenty of life left in them, and they often come at a fraction of the cost of a brand-new model.

You can find used pottery wheels on various online sales platforms, or in local classifieds. But community groups and forums are the best places to look for used pottery equipment.

Not only can you find great deals in such places, you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other enthusiasts who can offer advice and guidance if you are making your first purchase.

As always, when buying used, it’s important to do your due diligence. Make sure the wheel is in good working condition before you get it!

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