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jere

Building A Potters Wheel From The Ground Up How Would You Design It?

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So I am planning to pick up a treadmill today to start building a wheel. Any suggestions on the right dimensions or other features to incorporate into this wheel? My budget is next to nothing but I can build just about anything that should be needed, is electrical,metal, wood.

 

Any suggestions?

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Guest JBaymore

If you are thinking kickwheel, you might be able to find a decent one used for not a whole lot more than the cost of materials you'd beed to build one.  No one seems to want kickwheels anymore.  Look on Craigslist or in the local print classified books that show up in convenience stores.

 

best,

 

.......................john

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Very true John. I just basically gave two kick wheels away, from my classroom, because they were just too big and cumbersome. One (An Amaco kick that had some age and issues) was probably scraped, as I couldn't find a taker, and the second (An Amaco treadle) was sold for twenty five bucks, to an aspiring potter. I just wanted them gone.

 

If you are intent on building your own, do a Google search. plenty of how to instructions, and even videos. There was one I saw recently of a guy building a wheel for fifty dollars, out of a ceiling fan motor, a bucket, and some basic hardware. Look on Youtube for that last one.

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I built one and can say that it started with a 5/8" shaft on the wheel, and that was way too small

I then purchased a 1" trailer axel hub to use for the bearing holder for the main shaft. I have not seen it done this way, but I'm sure someone has, and it workes great. Trailer bearings are tappered,to keep things centered, and cheap. I mounted the trailer axel hub to a bench. I replace the lug nuts with normal bolts that fit the threads. I had a 1" piece of drill rod stock...you might be able to use an axel if it came with the hub?...im not sure. I threaded the pulley end for a nut and cut a keyway for the pulley. I drilled a place for the setscrew  on the other end to hold the wheel head. I attached the wheel head to the shaft with the set screw. slipped this into the greased axle hub. added the pulley then shimmed untill every thing was tight ( no slop but free to turn) when the nut was torked down.

 

The foot peddal made from a broken carpenders jointer plane, 1k potentiometer, three screws, a spring, waxed string, and a piece of sheet metal was a little more complicated to get correct.

 

The home made wheel heads, I made several....never seemed to work out. I have a metal lathe that has a 6" swing and it helped to make a decent wheel head. I gave in and purchased a nice Brent wheel head, but I here the Lockerbie is of good quality, fits a 1" straight shaft, has a set screw and is inexpensive.

 

I love the wheel that I made, but All in All if I did it over again, I would buy one, I would buy one, because I now see the value 100X over!

You can find a used electric one on craigslist for about 300.00 to 400.00. A kick wheel ( like the others had mentioned) you may find at $100 it will be worth it.

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I built a kick with 1" shaft and a pillow block bearing (I think that was the phrase 40+ years ago) for the base of the shaft and another bearing attached to a cross brace front to back for the shaft below the wheel. The fly wheel had pie shaped sections sandwiched between two circles of plywood. I filled those with about 100 lbs of pea gravel. This made a good weight for the fly wheel and it could be emptied to move it. I was transient at the time. I had that wheel for a long time. I let students use it when I first started teaching. It had some tough times after that.

 

Marcia

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If you are thinking kickwheel, you might be able to find a decent one used for not a whole lot more than the cost of materials you'd beed to build one. No one seems to want kickwheels anymore. Look on Craigslist or in the local print classified books that show up in convenience stores.

 

best,

 

.......................john

Very true John. I just basically gave two kick wheels away, from my classroom, because they were just too big and cumbersome. One (An Amaco kick that had some age and issues) was probably scraped, as I couldn't find a taker, and the second (An Amaco treadle) was sold for twenty five bucks, to an aspiring potter. I just wanted them gone.

If you are intent on building your own, do a Google search. plenty of how to instructions, and even videos. There was one I saw recently of a guy building a wheel for fifty dollars, out of a ceiling fan motor, a bucket, and some basic hardware. Look on Youtube for that last one.

I will have to keep an eye out for kick wheels thanks for the tip on those. They might be pretty easy to motorize. I haven't seen any motorized or not wheels on craigslist lately.

 

I have seen that video with the ceiling fan, but I think I will try to make a little more elaborate/ convention wheel if I do make one. I might try selling a few if they work out, especially if I can get half the money a new costs. I picked up the treadmill for 20 bucks and it has just about all the parts I will need aside from the seat and the tray to catch water. I will just have to cut it up and reweld it.

 

The stuff I am not so sure about is things like ergonomics, height, what parts should be adjustable, stuff like that. Things that make a really good wheel a good wheel.

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Guest JBaymore
 Things that make a really make a good wheel a good wheel.

 

 

Get 10 potters together and you'll have 97 opinions on this.  ;)

 

best,

 

.....................john

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I built one and can say that it started with a 5/8" shaft on the wheel, and that was way too small

I then purchased a 1" trailer axel hub to use for the bearing holder for the main shaft. I have not seen it done this way, but I'm sure someone has, and it workes great. Trailer bearings are tappered,to keep things centered, and cheap. I mounted the trailer axel hub to a bench. I replace the lug nuts with normal bolts that fit the threads. I had a 1" piece of drill rod stock...you might be able to use an axel if it came with the hub?...im not sure. I threaded the pulley end for a nut and cut a keyway for the pulley. I drilled a place for the setscrew  on the other end to hold the wheel head. I attached the wheel head to the shaft with the set screw. slipped this into the greased axle hub. added the pulley then shimmed untill every thing was tight ( no slop but free to turn) when the nut was torked down.

 

The foot peddal made from a broken carpenders jointer plane, 1k potentiometer, three screws, a spring, waxed string, and a piece of sheet metal was a little more complicated to get correct.

 

The home made wheel heads, I made several....never seemed to work out. I have a metal lathe that has a 6" swing and it helped to make a decent wheel head. I gave in and purchased a nice Brent wheel head, but I here the Lockerbie is of good quality, fits a 1" straight shaft, has a set screw and is inexpensive.

 

I love the wheel that I made, but All in All if I did it over again, I would buy one, I would buy one, because I now see the value 100X over!

You can find a used electric one on craigslist for about 300.00 to 400.00. A kick wheel ( like the others had mentioned) you may find at $100 it will be worth it.

Very creative thanks for sharing, that trailer axle/bearing is a good idea.

 

I am going to try to use the bearings and shaft from the treadmills drive roller,pulley, flywheel. Then just figure out the slop tray, bench, controller location (or maybe pedal control?) and a few other small things. But then the small things seem to be the hardest to get right.

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Things that make a really make a good wheel a good wheel.

 

 

Get 10 potters together and you'll have 97 opinions on this.  ;)

 

best,

 

.....................john

Oops typo, that's what I get for trying to type with a touch screen.

 

97 opinions is what I could really use right now, but I see your point. I don't have any other input on the subject so I am going to take my chances

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[quote name="jere" post="54801" timestamp="

I will have to keep an eye out for kick wheels thanks for the tip on those. They might be pretty easy to motorize. I haven't seen any motorized or not wheels on craigslist lately.

 

 

The Amaco I got rid of, has an attachable motor, you can buy. In fact, a previous district I taught at, we had the motorized version. All it is, basic small electric motor on a mount that pivots. Push the pedal, and the motor either raises or lowers, depending on the set up, and a spinning rubber puck touches the wheel to cause the spinning.

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I need to move to where y'all are at; the only wheels I can find for sell are 10 year old electrics for $800 dollars or home-made kick wheels for $400.

 

 

I want to give a kick-wheel a try, but can't find anyone with one to give it a spin.

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Come to the Midwest. Kickwheels are pretty easy to come by, for a decent price. If you want one, Govdeals.com or Publicsurplus.com, are good places to look. Schools and institutions post things there, that they are trying to unload.

 

I still have one Brent kickwheel in my classroom, we use for some throwing, mostly trimming.

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I need to move to where y'all are at; the only wheels I can find for sell are 10 year old electrics for $800 dollars or home-made kick wheels for $400.

 

 

I want to give a kick-wheel a try, but can't find anyone with one to give it a spin.

That really makes me wonder how many people are in the same scenario. There is an endless supply of free or cheap treadmills out there.

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I just posted pictures of my AMACO with the treadmill motor added in my post about the old Wheel being made new again.  I think this is the way to go because you don't have to re-engineer a whole bunch of stuff.  Truthfully, I think you could almost hook the motor directly to the head and have a working wheel as far as torque goes.  Not sure the motor would live with all the down force associated with centering etc.  I have been playing with this for about a week now and I am thrilled so far.

http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/5849-old-potters-wheel-is-new-again/

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To answer original post....

 

Dual direction wheel head, precision feel, quiet,direct drive, inexpensive, Wait a minute I'm describing the shimpo whisper ( except foor inexpensive)

 

Second google plans for treadle wheel!!!,

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Ergonomics... I looked at all of the best wheels that are made. Picked out the good ideas.

 Roughly scaling the pictures with a vector art program will give the approximate dimentions. You could use a picture and scale rule instead. I used 1 1/4" black pipe for the legs, and 1" tubing together to make slip fit parts that were height adjustable. Building the legs in this way I could make a standing or sitting pottery wheel, and add adjustable shelves.

 

Tarheeler, I think you have more active potters. Pottery wheels on ebay sell for more than I would pay. In our depressed area, I guess we are lucky up here, we have people who buy them then they sit in a corner untill they get tired of them. It may take a month or two to find one, but you could find one. They currently have one listed on Akrons Craigslist for $225...I would wait for a better wheel, because I have seen them.

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To answer original post....

Dual direction wheel head, precision feel, quiet,direct drive, inexpensive, Wait a minute I'm describing the shimpo whisper ( except foor inexpensive)

Second google plans for treadle wheel!!!,

The whisper sounds like a good mark to aim for.

 

Have you or anyone here, had bad experience s with a belt or gear driven machine? What is the advantage of direct drive?

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Pro craigslist tip.  (i CL a lot)

 

Search for "kiln -lumber"  many posts for kiln will usually have pottery stuff and then you can ask about a wheel.     I find it hard to search for pottery wheel, or throwing wheel, or any other some such name.  I have had some luck with name brand search "shimpo" or brent etc.

 

 

FYI there was a Shimpo wheel on st louis CL a couple of months ago for $200.    I called about 1 day after it was posted and it was already gone.

 

 

As to the OP,   If i was building one out of a treadmill motor,   Id forgo the complicated foot pedal and go with a three postion toggle switch on the side of the machine.   Low - adjustable med-  high.     you might have to hack the treadmill electronics, to figure out what resistances you need to send the control board to adjust the speed,  but fixed low (generally a high resistance)  a rotary potentiometer to set the mid speed,  and a fixed high (generally low resistance) speeds.   This setup would be similar to the old AMACO wheels with a toggle for just high and low speeds.

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Ergonomics... I looked at all of the best wheels that are made. Picked out the good ideas.

 Roughly scaling the pictures with a vector art program will give the approximate dimentions. You could use a picture and scale rule instead. I used 1 1/4" black pipe for the legs, and 1" tubing together to make slip fit parts that were height adjustable. Building the legs in this way I could make a standing or sitting pottery wheel, and add adjustable shelves.

 

...

Good idea I haven't considered making height adjustable.

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What is the advantage of direct drive?

 

The belts don't slip,  the belts don't wear out.  Commercial direct drive units seem to have some of the highest load ratings for how much clay you can stack on them.

 

not the easiest to copy as youll need a worm drive reduction gearbox and unless you have one sitting around,  they will be several hundred dollars to purchase.

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A wheel head attached directly to the motor. Would be more apt to stall under load.

a DC electronic controller can compensate for this, but the motor would have to be Higher HP.

A worm drive is a greared reduction...usually expensive...occasionally you can find these in a surpluss store at a reasonable cost used. A belt drive or worm drive will add some tork.

You are aiming to get 0-150 rpms... counter clockwise if you are a righty, clockwise if you are a lefty, I'm I righty who works lefty.

Example... My DC motor turns at 1750 rpm....you want to reduce that to make 150rpms or as close as you can to make the most use of the given motor.

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A wheel head attached directly to the motor. Would be more apt to stall under load.

In addtion, unless the motor is purpose built,  they arn't designed to take thrust load (load in the same axis as the motor shaft).  You can compensate for this if you use a thrust bearing (such as taped cone bearings) for your wheel head, but you need to take that into account when designing/building.

 

As a reminder,  pulley reduction (or increase) is determined by  large diam over small diam.   (D/d)   so most wheels have like a 9" wheel head pulley and about a .75" drive (motor) pulley giving you a (9/.75) about 12:1 reduction.  (for every 12 revs of the motor, the wheel head goes around once)   or 1750rpm/12 = 143 rpm top speed

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Oh one more note about direct drive.    If you use an AC motor (instead of DC) you can use a variable frequency drive (VFD).  These have gotten really cheep these days.  20-30 years ago they would have cost you several thousand dollars, but now you can pick one up that will drive a .5hp motor for like a hundred bucks.

 

The advantage of a VFD is that the motor still retains max torque at low speeds because it has max voltage still.  (torque output in a motor is relative to the strength of the magnetic field generated by the voltage flowing through the windings, which is why low voltage DC motors have a tendency to stall at low speeds) 

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