How to choose a pottery wheel

If you decide to take up pottery, a novice potter will face the challenge of choosing a potter’s wheel. And this task is not so simple: there is a mass of designs of a circle and their cost, starting from, approximately, 20 thousand rubles, goes for 200 thousand.
By the way, with the last and worth starting – it is not necessary for a beginner to look at expensive circles. Shimpo RK-3E, which costs almost 120 thousand, is quite good, and it is great to work on it. But such expenses for a beginner potter seem absolutely unreasonable. Although, if you disagree, it remains to envy you)).

So, what does a newcomer to the potter’s wheel want? In a nutshell, the following characteristics:

  • power, or rather torque, which will allow you to center a kilo of up to 3 clays, well, maybe up to 5, if you have a good reserve. The centering is the most physically demanding operation for a lap. For rough orientation: 300 grams of clay – about a mug on 300 ml, and 3 kg of clay – a jug on 3 liters, that is quite a decent size. Thus, if less than 3 kg, you will soon be little, and if more than 5, it is unlikely to be needed.
  • RPMs, which should be adjustable from 0 to 250-300 rpm.
  • cleaning convenience. This is an important factor, as you will have to clean the lap every time after work.
  • electrical safety. This point is not worth the first one because it is not rated.
  • Protection must be provided because water and electricity are very much in love with each other. And it’s best if the design of the lap has a RCD (Safety Shutdown Device), which will prevent you from getting electrocution in the event of a current leak.

And now for the design features of the pottery wheels

Perhaps the most important detail of a pottery wheel is the drive. Well, yes, there are circles with foot drive and with electric (manual drive is, in general, exotic exotic). But, since the leg drive is a thing that occurs infrequently, then we will talk only about electric pottery wheels. And the drive for them is, of course, the electric motor.

So, as a rule, in pottery circles usually use collector motors, asynchronous and, recently, more and more often, collectorless, on neodymium magnets.

Collector motors are in the ranges of almost all manufacturers of pottery circles. Their main advantage is their low cost. I think that’s it. No, they are perfectly suitable for use in pottery circles and you should not be afraid, there is in the characteristics of the circle you will read: “collector motor”. That’s normal. They have 2 main drawbacks; the need for a reduction belt drive or gearbox and the presence of a brush collector. Belt transmission implies the need for periodic belt replacement. And brush collector – replacement of brushes and noise, which requires additional noise insulation. They also have a special feature to pay attention to: when using the collector motor, the correct speed control methods must be used, otherwise, at low speeds, the washer can be stopped with a finger. Pay attention to this when choosing a circle with a collector motor.

Asynchronous motors are good. But it’s expensive. Good, because it’s probably an industrial engine, with all its advantages. And expensive, because it is controlled by a frequency regulator, which itself costs about 10 thousand rubles. Yes, also at low revs, the asynchronous motor requires forced cooling, which also does not cheapen the pottery wheel. For today, due to the specifics, asynchronous devices are less and less common.

Finally, the most modern solution is the collectorless motors on neodymium magnets (BLDC). These are the ones that are put on electric bikes, gyro scooters and even on Tesla. Compared to the previous two types of motors, they are just perfect (shh-s-s, well, almost). They are brushless, quiet, controlled by inexpensive controllers, mounted directly on the axis of the washer and very reliable. In addition, they are getting cheaper every year. All other things being equal – choose a collectorless engine. That’s what Iskona pottery circles use.
An important enough characteristic for a potter’s wheel is its weight. And it’s a stick at two ends: the heavy lap is, of course, hard to move, on the other hand, the heavy lap stands securely on the floor and is not afraid of working with large products – it will not “sausage”. For understanding, you can apply the formula: the weight of the circle should be at least 3 times the weight of the clay to be processed. And this is the minimum! Otherwise, the body of the circle can begin to rotate itself. There is really a way out – the circle can be fixed to the floor, if the workshop premises allow it. But if the manufacturer declares the possibility of working with the weights of clay in a few tens of kilograms, and the circle weighs 20-30 kilograms, it looks somewhat suspicious.

The plan washer or otherwise circled: diameter 220-250mm, material – aluminum or stainless steel. A larger diameter is good, of course, but it’s usually more expensive. It’s the same with stainless steel.