Tools For Wheel Work

First and foremost, you need a potter’s wheel for throwing. There are many options and price ranges, depending on the size of the motor and pedal control features. For most practical studio applications, a wheel with a quarter to half horsepower will suffice. A full horsepower motor isn’t necessary unless you plan on working on large-scale projects. Manufacturers of wheels offer a range of pedal features, which is important because the pedal controls the speed of the wheel. The slow speed control is the most important for both large and delicate wheel work. Many pedals are adjustable but some are not, so be sure to check on these details.

Potter’s wheels generally come with splash pans, but look for one that is removable. Splash pans can get in the way when throwing large plates or bowls, especially when cutting the piece from the bat with a wire. Also, a permanent splash pan can restrict the size of bat that can be attached to the wheel head.

Many of the tools you’ll need for wheel work are the same as you’ll need for hand building, including a toggle wire clay cutter, assorted silk and elephant ear sponges, potter’s needle, serrated rib, ware boards, standard and mini compact discs, and sheets of lightweight plastic. But for throwing pottery, the following tools are also helpful:A small selection of wheel working tools: A) rubber ribs, B) compact disc, C) chamois cloth, D) metal rib, E) wooden rib, F) large metal ribs, G) bamboo  skewers, H) throwing  sticks, I) toggle cutting wire, J) natural  sponges, K)  needle, L) wooden angle tool, M) assorted trimming tools Wooden angle tool: Used to compress clay at the base of a piece during throwing and remove clay from the base before wire cutting.

Assorted flat wire loop trimming toolsUsed to trim clay from the base of a pot during the shaping of the foot.

Chamois cloth: Used to soften the rim of a pot when it is finished.

Calipers: Used to measure the width of a pot for making lids or joining two pieces.

Bats: Removable discs made of either wood, plaster, plastic, or masonite that fit on the wheel head on which pots are thrown. Bats are essential for preventing warping. They are used as a foun­dation for the pot and lifted from the wheel head without deforming the pot itself. They come in different diameter from about 8 inches (20 em) up to 24 inches (60 em). They are especially useful when throwing thin large bowls, which are very susceptible to warping. Bats are a must if you plan on throwing plates and platters because of the wide space at the base. Vertical pots such as vases and pitchers can be thrown without bats because of the narrow base and lip that help hold the shape, while removing from the wheel head. Bat pinsMost potter’s wheels come with wheel heads that have been pre-drilled for bat pins. These are small bolts that attach to the wheel and allow bats that are drilled in the same pro­ portion to drop into the bolts for easy attach­ment and removal.

Small food scale: Used for weighing equal amounts of clay for throwing the same size pieces. Choose one that measures up to 25 pounds (12 kg) .

Wire cheese cutter: Used for faceting.