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A pottery wheel is essential if you’re looking to create an object out of clay with an evenly rounded shape. Be it a mug, a vase, a plate, or something more abstract, a wheel allows you to make a symmetrical piece of pottery without fuss. Throwing is certainly a skill to be honed, but a wheel allows for a foot in the door. That said, professionals are certainly looking for a little more power and speed control than beginners when it comes to choosing the right pottery wheel. Ahead, find portable pottery wheels suitable for neophytes and well-seasoned potters alike, all ARTNews approved.
Brent Models B and C Power Wheels
Dependable, heavy-duty, and user-friendly, Brent wheels are a staple of studios and classrooms. If you can spring for one, make one of these wheels your first pick—you’ll get a powerful machine that can handle heavy loads of clay. Each features a belt-driven motor, steel legs, and a hardy splash pan. Blick offers the B and C models, whose largest difference is horsepower: the former has a ½ HP motor; the latter, a ¾ HP motor that can turn steadily with more than 200 pounds of clay. Both have a speed of 0 to 240 rpm.
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Nidec Shimpo VL-Whisper Potter’s Wheel
If you live in an apartment, noise might be a major factor in your decision. Nidec Shimpo boasts what might likely be the quietest wheel on the market. Built with a beltless and brushless direct drive motor, its mechanisms are electronically controlled through a magnet system; as you work the pedal, you’ll be able to immediately feel the seamless maneuvering of hardware. Capable of centering up to 100 pounds of clay and with a speed range of 0 to 250 rpm, the ½ HP motor has good torque, but some potters might find it limiting. Another great feature of the Shimpo is its legs, which are removable for easy portability and storage and adjustable to accommodate all throwing positions.
Speedball Clay Boss Potter’s Wheel
Another wheel equipped with a ½ HP motor, Speedball’s Clay Boss is ideal for hobby potters. This is a relatively budget-friendly wheel—it’s a touch cheaper than our other picks—and is great for home use as it’s pretty quiet. It will accommodate up to 100 pounds of clay; as you approach heavier weights, you’ll notice the motor will slow a little. Still, this is an excellent wheel that moves smoothly and consistently, and whose speed you can control easily, from 0 to 240 rpm.
Nidec Shimpo Aspire Pottery Wheel
If you are short on space, consider a tabletop pottery wheel. With a 1/3 HP, 100W DC motor, the Nidec Shimpo Aspire has a bit less power than the three picks above, but makes up for it in portability. With speed ranges of 0 to 230 rpm, a 7-inch wheel, and a 20-pound centering capacity, this model will be more than adequate for most small projects, including miniature pots. Available with either a hand lever or a foot pedal.
Skutt Thomas Stuart Legend Pottery Wheel
The Legend model is a popular one to snag at a good price point for a Skutt wheel—a brand that is renowned for producing heavy-duty wheels, many built like tanks. This one features a powder-coated aluminum frame and chunky legs that will tolerate the force necessary to throw large pieces. You won’t have to worry about putting too much weight into it. Featuring a ⅓ HP motor, this wheel can center more than 100 pounds of clay while showcasing impressive torque. We also love the generously sized, removable splash pan that will help you save time during cleanup.