Why I Bought an Electric Pottery Wheel Instead Of A Kickwheel

A picture of Marie sitting at an electric pottery wheel and a kick wheel

I recently bought a brand new Pottery Wheel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted an Electric Wheel or a Kickwheel. A Pottery Wheel is an essential part of a Potter’s craft. That’s why I had to try a variety of them and do some deep investigation before I made my final decision.
So I thought I’d share some of the things I considered and the benefits and drawbacks of both options.

I’m recommending an Electric Wheel because of the weight, they are easier to move. They can be used in smaller spaces. You can add extensions to the legs and then take the legs off to stand up or sit down. Also learning how to use an Electric Wheel is easier than a Kickwheel.

 A Broader Range Of Electric Wheels

  • Electric Wheels have different horsepowers to choose from.
  • You can get one-quarter horsepower all the way to one and a half horsepower. Depending on how much pressure you will be applying to your wheel.
  • They have many sizes and weight ranges to choose from.
  • There are also portable Throwing Wheels.
  • Good price range to choose from

While Electric Wheels have a good price point, they are not cheap. So you want to make sure you get the one that fits you and your lifestyle.  That’s why it was important for me to try as many different wheels as I could. A Pottery Wheel is just one of a few big purchases you will be making so you want to choose wisely.

More Convenient To Use

An Electric Pottery Wheel is smaller and lighter than the other types of wheels. With the flip of a switch, a motor turns the wheel, and the foot pedal controls the speed. It’s that easy. You don’t have to coordinate your foot with your hands as much. Throwing can be faster, which is important if you are producing a lot of pottery.

 Storing Your Pottery Wheel

  • If you are limited in space and have to bring your Pottery Wheel out when you use it, then the Electric Wheel makes much more sense.
  • If you would have to store your Electric Wheel, there are more places for you to tuck it way.
  • It’s much harder with a Kickwheel, and if you have to store it for a while, you may have to disassemble it to make more room in your storage area.

Kickwheels Are Easier To Maintain

Kickwheels have a steel or a wooden frame, depending on how old school you want to go. A heavy concrete fly-wheel is kicked into motion and slowed by the potter’s foot. Usually a 14″ cast aluminum wheel head. An Adjustable seat and work table in the front of the wheel. Having no motor makes it easier to maintain.

Electric Wheels Are Easier To Move

  • If your lifestyle calls for you to move your Wheel to different locations. You will find that an Electric Wheel is much more convenient to move compared to a kickwheel.
  • The Electric Pottery Wheels range from 40 pounds (Table Top) to 130 pounds.
  • You can take An Electric Wheel to festivals, craft shows, or in a class setting to give a live demonstration.
  • With a Kickwheel you can’t change your view as easily. Because of their weight, the Pottery Kickwheels can be challenging to move compared to other types of wheels.
  • The Kickwheels ranged from 270 pounds to 360 pounds. The concrete fly-wheel weighs around 135 pounds alone.
  • If you don’t plan on moving your Kickwheel, then that would not be an issue.

Personally, love to change my view from time to time. If it’s a beautiful day I can take my wheel outside if I so desire.

Kickwheels Are Much More Water Resistant

  • Electric Pottery Wheels are made with water in mind. With any electrical equipment, there is always a chance of short circuiting something.
  • You can NOT hose down your Electric Wheel. Of course, you can wash it, but you have to keep the water away from the motor.
  • With a Manual Kickwheel, there are no electrical parts to be concerned about.

You May Hear The Motor

Some Electric Wheels are very quiet. Other Wheels may have a little hum to them, which could be to your benefit.

The Wheel is silent when you go slow, but as you speed up the rotation, the wheel starts to hum a little.
If your foot accidentally moves while you’re throwing and the wheel speeds up or slows down, you may hear it before you feel it.

The sound lets you know you’re maintaining the proper speed. Manual Kickwheels are typically known to be quiet.

Right and Left-handed Throwing

  • Some Potters enjoy switching from left to right for various reasons. You may also want to trim in different directions.
  • Kickwheels are great for that because they easily allow counterclockwise and clockwise rotation.
  • Not all Electric Wheels can switch rotation. If you want the option to do so, you have to make sure the model you are looking at has forward and reverse on it.

Kickwheels Take Longer To Master

Getting a feel for the flywheel and the speed of the wheel can be tricky. When you feel the wheel slowing down, you have to start kicking and stop when you hit the right speed. That was something I was having a hard time with. Now if you can hit both just right, a kick wheel would be a good fit for you.

I personally think Kickwheels are pretty cool. Unfortunately for me, it was too hard to concentrate on the clay, the movement of my feet, and the speed of the wheel at the same time.

Electric Pottery Wheels Give You More Space

  • If you are limited on space Electric wheels may be a better fit.
  • When you throw on the wheel and don’t want to feel too crowded.
  • A Kickwheel could take up too much space in a limited area.

Having your studio at home can take up a lot of space. Between storing glazes, clay, Pottery, tools, wedging area, and handbuilding area. Your space can start to fill up pretty fast.

Attach A Motor

  • If you need a little assistance you can buy a motor and attach it your kickwheel.
  • The rubber drive wheel makes contact with the edge of the concrete flywheel.
  • Electric Kickwheels which are sometimes referred to as Hybrid KickWheels already have a motor attached.
  • The wheel will operate as a manual Kickwheel any time you want. But if you want to go electric, just turn the motor on.
  • Keep in mind, if weight is an issue the motor will add more weight to an already heavy Wheel.

You May Want To Go Old School

If you want to feel the pure essence of pottery making, then maybe a Kickwheel is for you. A Kick Wheel is built to last a lifetime, and then some. In my future, a Kickwheel may be a possibility.
But for now, I’m going to stick with the Electric Wheel. The convenience and being able to move it around easily is what really helped in the final decision.

My Final Pick

It was a hard decision to make. In the end, I went with a new Brent CXC. (amazon) – (blick arts) A larger motor was important because I will be pressing down hard on the wheel for many years to come and don’t want the wheel to bog down. I like how well built it is and the feedback on reliability was great. I also love the ten-year warranty which I couldn’t get with a used Wheel.

You can watch me use my Brent CXC over on our YouTube Channel

POTTERY CRAFTERS THOUGHTS… Choosing between an Electric Pottery Wheel or a more traditional Kickwheel can be a little confusing without some facts in front of you. I hope the information I provided will help you in making your Pottery Wheel choice.

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