Purchasing a kick wheel (a potter's wheel worked with a foot pedal) will cost between $900 to $3,000 depending on the quality and size of the wheel. Individuals wanting to save money can make their own kick wheel at a cost between $100 to $1,000. The cheaper of the two to build is a wooden kick wheel. A metal or pipe kick wheel will cost more due to the type of material and the cost for welding some of the parts. Both kick wheels are reliable and easy to build. The hand-thrown pottery items produced are equivalent to any thrown on a purchased wheel.
Wooden Kick Wheel
Basic supplies needed for a wooden kick wheel include plywood, 2x4's, screws, pipe, a pillow bearing and a barbell weight. The basic design is that of a box with the sides cut out for easy access to the kick wheel and turntable. The kick wheel is made from two plywood circles separated by 2x4's to give it depth.
A 25- or 50-pound barbell weight is put between the two circles to aid the spinning motion. The top wooden circle has a hole cut through the center to place the pipe through. The pillow bearing is placed on the bottom circle beneath the barbell weight.
The pipe is put through the hole on the barbell and set into the pillow bearing. The steel turning wheel is set on top of the pipe. This may be done by welding or using screws. The seat should be adjustable. The seat may be moved to any level and placed as you would a shelf. This gives the potter a variety of heights to sit while pulling pottery. The sides of the kick wheel should be cut out for easy accessibility.
The cost for this type of kick wheel will be less than $100. Be watchful of the screws, which can become loose and cause the table to be unstable.
Metal or Pipe Kick Wheel
A more expensive homemade kick wheel is the metal or pipe kick wheel. The cost increases exponentially when welding and metal fabrication is involved. When making a metal or pipe kick wheel, materials required include pipe, angle iron, nuts and bolts, concrete, pillow bearing, steel turning wheel and a 1x8 or 1x10 for the seat.
A basic triangle works the best for a metal kick wheel. The shape enhances the stability and allows for easy turning of the wheel. The point should be facing the front so an arm may be added to hold the table under the turning wheel. The seat may be put on in two fashions. The first is by adding a single stand on the center of the back. The pipe should be large enough to insert a second one with the seat on it. This makes the seat adjustable. The second way is to add legs on each side of the back. The pipe again should be large enough to insert a second pipe inside. This allows for an adjustable seat. The seat may be made out of wood or metal. An old tractor seat works great.
The wheel may be made from concrete or wood. When making a concrete wheel, a form should be made from plywood and underlayment. The underlayment will bend around the circle and provide an excellent concrete form. A tube should be placed in the center of the form to allow for the turning pipe to be placed after the concrete sets.
A pillow bearing is used to mount the turning pipe. The pillow bearing is placed beneath the concrete wheel with spacers added to hold the weight. The turntable is placed on top of the turning pipe. This may be welded or attached with screws, depending on the type of turning table available.
Upkeep of Homemade Kick Wheels
No matter the type of kick wheel, it should be placed in an area with good air circulation. The water from throwing pottery may cause mold or rust. Air circulation is extremely important with a wooden kick wheel, which needs to dry between uses.