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7 tips when buying used pottery wheels

7 tips when buying used pottery wheels

You want to buy a used potter’s wheel, but do not know what to look for? I have written together 7 valuable tips that you should take to heart before buying a potter’s wheel.

1. How to start pottery?

First of all, it is definitely a good idea to attend a pottery course in your area, or to borrow a wheel if you have never worked with a potter’s wheel before. Here you can find out whether you want to pursue this hobby longer, since the purchase of a potter’s wheel is a rather long-term investment. In addition, you will learn the basics of pottery and some tips and tricks in a course through professional guidance, so that you can better realize your creative ideas later.

If you want to learn a little, here are some books on the subject of potter’s wheel and pottery.

2. Which model suits me?

There are two different types of construction: Floor and table model. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Table model
Floor model

Here, everyone must decide for themselves what is the right option.
Nevertheless, for the beginning it is better to try out different potter’s wheels, either by borrowing potter’s wheels, going to a pottery studio or attending different courses.

3. The different types of drives

The potter’s wheel commonly used today is driven by an electric motor that makes the wheel rotate. This is located under the wheel, so it is driven directly. In addition, these potter’s wheels have an intelligent control system that slows down the speed of the wheel when pressed down too hard while working with clay, as with the Whisper-T or the RK-3 series.

Pottery wheels with an electric motor are extremely quiet, so the focus is absolutely on pottery.

In addition to the electric motor as a drive type, there is today also the drive by means of V-belts, such as the RK-55 from Shimpo, to buy. Here, a small turntable is located underneath the motor. The motor drives the small turntable, which, through the connection with the V-belt, also turns the wheel below the potter’s wheel.

About 20 years ago, there were two other types of drive, the ring cone system and the metal friction gear. Models with these two types of drive are no longer produced, but are still in demand in the ceramics world today.

In the ring cone system, the motor drives a cone that is adjacent to a turntable – which in turn is located below the potter’s wheel – with a rubber rim. By moving the cone down or up, the rotation speed of the turntable becomes either slower or faster.

In the metal friction gear, the potter’s wheel is rotated by centrifugal force. Inside there are the motor, gear and a wheel. This type of drive was patented by Shimpo at that time. Examples of this is the RK-10 series.

4. The turntable

Töpfern auf der Scheibe

For used potter’s wheels, you should also pay attention to the condition of the turntable, also called the wheel head. If the plate is out of round due to damage in the past, it can cause the clay to yaw when you’re pottering. However, this is not a big problem at all, as the attachment is usually available for re-purchase.

5. Mobility & space requirement

When buying a used potter’s wheel, the mobility and space requirements of the machine also play a small role. Here there are both floor and table models, which are extremely space-saving and easy to store. Undoubtedly, however, the table model is the forerunner in terms of mobility, as it usually has a lower weight and is therefore also faster to move.

6. What else do I need for pottery?

Arbeiten mit Ton

Basically, all you need to work on the potter’s wheel is some turning clay, tools – such as cutting wire, turning bar, sponge and turning loop – and a place to fire the finished work.

7. Disadvantages of a used potter's wheel

Of course, if you buy a used potter’s wheel, you won’t have the convenience of a new one. That is, you have to arrange for the pickup of the machine itself.
Also, second-hand pottery wheels completely lack warranty, because the private seller doesn’t have to take care of it if it suddenly stops working completely after a few months.
Thus, you will have to get a repair service if you can’t correct it yourself. In this case, the potter’s wheel may not be used at all, as there are almost to no spare parts left, especially for the older models.

Conclusion

With a used potter’s wheel almost nothing can go wrong at the beginning.
You can find the best value for money on the major online marketplaces such as Ebay Kleinanzeigen, Willhaben or in Facebook groups such as “Kiln, pottery wheels & pottery material used buy and sell”.

Ads for pottery wheels there are in Germany alone on Ebay Kleinanzeigen
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Nevertheless, the question arises whether a used potter’s wheel is ideal. Of course, there are some lucky finds, but the machine can become quite annoying if it has defects, or constantly need spare parts.
If you are looking to buy a Shimpo potter’s wheel, or already own one, we have plenty of spare parts for some of our models here.

So if you still want to buy a used potter’s wheel, it is important to consider where your priorities lie before you buy. Also, when buying, pay attention to what condition the machine is in.
To find the right model for you, I recommend that you visit courses and pottery studios before you buy your first potter’s wheel, so that you can try out more than just one machine. There you will also learn a lot about pottery and can exchange ideas with people who pursue the same hobby. Because besides all these criteria, of course, the joy of pottery on the wheel is the most important thing!

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