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Pres

Leveling the Wheel

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Strange as it sounds, I was just wondering how many of you out there take the time to level the potters wheel in the studio? I have just moved my wheel and re-leveled it. Many years back, I noticed a student had moved a wheel from one area to another, and seemed to be having a problem with a tall narrow cylinder. Close inspection of the area showed that the floor dipped nearly a 1/2" on the one side. This set the wheel off level by a few degrees, not much for many throwing tasks. However, if you looked at throwing a tall cylinder, the pot would be going around off center 18" up nearly 2" off. Strange little thing, but can mean a lot.

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Strange as it sounds, I was just wondering how many of you out there take the time to level the potters wheel in the studio? I have just moved my wheel and re-leveled it. Many years back, I noticed a student had moved a wheel from one area to another, and seemed to be having a problem with a tall narrow cylinder. Close inspection of the area showed that the floor dipped nearly a 1/2" on the one side. This set the wheel off level by a few degrees, not much for many throwing tasks. However, if you looked at throwing a tall cylinder, the pot would be going around off center 18" up nearly 2" off. Strange little thing, but can mean a lot.

 

 

 

After moving my wheel, I started to notice that the foot ring on my bowls was not the same height all around. My husband suggested checking the level. It was only out about 1/4 inch but once corrected, my foot rings were even again.

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Dear All,

 

I too have worked on a wheel that was not level. It drove me crazy. It was, as has been mentioned, the foot ring problem that made me nuts!!! Everyone said "just shim the leg." While shimming would be okay for once in a while you really need a level to ensure it is correct.

 

In my new studio, I insisted in the pouring of the concrete that the floor was level. I actually made a big deal about it. Last week, my contractor had his big level out and we checked my wheel head and lo and behold it was perfect. The bubble was in the center of the guage.

 

I think part of my decision to get a Soldner wheel was based on the fact you can adjust the feet. When and if I move my clay studio, at least I will have these feet ready to make the throwing and trimming surface level.

 

I do think, testing the level of your wheel from time to time is good studio practice. It can prevent a melt down when you repeatedly throw pieces you think are solid only to have them ruined by an uneven foot ring.

 

Nellie

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Yes, I do level my wheels. I even tried to make a leveling system out of pvc parts that fits on the legs of the wheel but it didn't work too well. Maybe that is something wheel manufacturers should consider adding.

 

Sylvia

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Hey,guys and gals;

Too many great answers here to name all of you. Some of you know that I moved my studio over Christmas. I hurt my back. Been going to physio for two months. It turns out that my right leg is longer than my left by half an inch. I noticed that when I write on the board, it always slants up toward the right. So, the question is;If I am not level, how can I expect my wheel to be level?

You don't need to answer.

TJR.

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So why did I ask? Unlike Neil, the floor in my garage/studio is all sloped towards a central drain. Makes leveling pretty tough sometimes have to raise part of wheel 2 inches! The garage is built over an underground river! The drain dumps right into that, so it is not advantageous to wash down the concrete floor with a hose. for Leveling, I have a piece of 2X4X8 that has a large central hole cut 1/2 way down to set the lowest leg into, the others I use larger washers. Much more stable than the levelers with the CXC.

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A quick test to see if yur wheel is out of level is to clean the wheel head then put a small amt of water in the center. You'll see where the low point is and the faster the water goes the more the wheel is off.

I've had to change from standing to sitting because of hip issues and seem to need to readjust wheel height about twice a year,up or down a bit and level

Wyndham

ChenowethArts likes this

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I guess I really don't see the need for the wheel to be level. As long as it runs true and doesn't wobble, does it matter if it's level? I could see a problem if it was radically sloped in any one direction like what Pres has to deal with, but a little bit shouldn't make a difference.

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When I first started potting I was in my shed outside, perfectly level floor, I checked when I put the wheel in. I was learning great and everything was going so smooth. 

 

I later needed more space and I put my kiln in the garage below the breaker box. I moved my wheel in the garage as well. Started having a hella time throwing things well, all my pots were wonky, and trimming was an absolute nightmare. I felt like all my bowls were crap. Eventually I hit myself in the head and said hey lets check to see if its level.

 

Well, it was about 1.5 inches off. Talk about some terrible slab work. That is by far the worst garage slab Ive ever seen, I used to finish concrete as a young man. I put a wooden wedge in it and put a level on my wheelhead. Now that it's perfectly level my pots are so much better. If your floor is slightly off I doubt it matters.

 

But if you think about it being 1-1.5 inches off over 14 inch wheelhead thats a huge difference as the pot rotates around. Think about pulling that up, your always going to be pulling 1 side higher than the other naturally. 

 

So I personally think its very important to check your floor, then if your floor is bad, check your wheel.

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I use a level app on my phone. Figure things this way. If throwing a cylinder 12' tall, and the wheel is off by 1/2" what does that make the distance at the top of 12' off by when you are centering the rim of the pot?

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Wow I'm amazed about all this leveling. I have never leveled any of my4- 5 wheels or any pots or chucks.I own tons of levels but have never found the need.

My old shop is out of level I'm sure but I have managed to not let this be a problem. Maybe I'm missing something?.Never has an issue with this?

Now I am curious about if they are all of wack?

Mark

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After seeing that video and thinking about it, I think I've finally got my head wrapped around this. I know I'm probably not using the correct scientific/mathematical terminology here, but when you pull, the plane on which you are applying pressure to the clay is always parallel to the wheel head, regardless of the angle of the wheel. That plane is moving as you go upward, but it is always parallel to the wheel head. If that weren't the case, and one side were taller than the other, then the tall side and short side would switch places as the wheel rotates, and that just wouldn't work. Similarly, if you even out the top of the pot with your needle tool, that top will always be parallel to the wheel head, since the rotation of the wheel determines the plane of the cut.

 

A wheel head that doesn't run true is a different story, because the wheel head is not rotating on a single plane. In that case you can have a top that is not parallel to the foot.

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Similarly, if you even out the top of the pot with your needle tool, that top will always be parallel to the wheel head, since the rotation of the wheel determines the plane of the cut.

 

This is only true if you hold the needle tool at the same exact angle of your wheelhead being off.

Neil is right. You hold a needle at a particular spot in the space at a certain distance from the wheel head. When the wheel head rotates, it moves your pot, and the needle cuts it at the same distance from the wheel head all around. So the rim plane of the pot will be parallel to its bottom and to the wheel head.

 

Naturally, it will be true only if your pot axis is perpendicular to the wheel head. And it will be even if the wheel head is not leveled. Simply because when you open or close the cylinder, your hand is also fixed in space as the above mentioned needle tool. So every portion of the cylinder wall that comes in contact with your hand will be forced to move to the same position relative to the wheel.

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I was just thinking yesterday that maybe I should check that, since wet clay and slippy-water migrate to one side of my splash pan. However, then I decided I was too lazy since the level (which was in a shed all of 20 feet away!). Everything I've been throwing is coming out all right, but I don't usually throw anything higher than maybe 9". Actually I did throw some taller bottles a few weeks ago but didn't notice anything. I am leaning toward agreeing with Marc about over-thinking this (or am I just rationalizing because I am still too lazy to go get the level?).

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Of course it it important to put your ware axis perpendicular to the wheel when your trim it. More precisely, the pot axis should coinside with the axis of wheel rotation if your goal is to trim straight and even.

 

So if the wheel is not leveled, the pot axis should be out of level to the same degree. However, since we don't have any easy way to measure and adjust the angle, the simplest approach, indeed, would be to use such a common and inexpensive tool as a bullseye (cleverly suggested by Marcia) and have both, the wheel and the pot bottom, leveled.

 

But, again, when you throw a pot (incl. use of needle tool, etc.), its axis will coinside with the wheel axis of rotation automatically regardless of the position of the wheel head in space.

 

So, for simple symmetric forms, the goal is really to return the pot you're going to trim to the same position relative to the wheel in which it was when you created it.

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I watched the video too: in that footage the thrower knows that the wheel is not level and therefore ensures that he's working perpendicular to the wheel.

 

If he wasn't aware that the wheel was out of level and just worked perpendicular to where a level wheel should be, then one side of the pot will be longer than the opposite side, and the base won't be parallel to the top.

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I watched the video too: in that footage the thrower knows that the wheel is not level and therefore ensures that he's working perpendicular to the wheel.

 

If he wasn't aware that the wheel was out of level and just worked perpendicular to where a level wheel should be, then one side of the pot will be longer than the opposite side, and the base won't be parallel to the top.

 

If the wheel was out of level but you were pulling straight up, the effect would be that the pot would get wider, not that you would get one side taller than the other. It's no different than if the wheel was level and you were pulling outward. Unevenness at the top is a result of poor centering or uneven pressure during pulling.

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