Get Your Hands Dirty: How to Build a Pottery Kick Wheel

  • By: homeshacks
  • Date: March 27, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Whether you’re an aspiring potter, a seasoned producer or just looking for a rewarding DIY project to try at home – building your own kick wheel is the perfect solution! With minimal materials and tools required, this traditional pottery tool will be up and running before you know it. Get ready to craft beautiful pieces of art with foot power as we take you through the simple steps needed to build your very own sturdy and effective kick wheel.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Pottery Kick Wheel

Before we dive into the building process, it’s crucial to understand the anatomy of a kick wheel. A kick wheel typically consists of three main components: the base, the wheel head, and the pedal.

The base is the foundation of the wheel and should be sturdy and stable to ensure stability during use. It’s best to make the base from heavy-duty materials like wood, metal, or stone.

The wheel head is where the pottery will be shaped and is the most critical component of the kick wheel. It should be smooth and well-balanced for consistent and smooth turning. The wheel head is typically made from heavy-duty materials like metal or stone and is attached to the base using a bearing system.

The pedal is the component that powers the wheel and should be ergonomically designed for comfortable use. The pedal is typically attached to the wheel head using a drive shaft, which transmits the energy from the pedal to the wheel head.

Tools and Materials

Before we begin building the kick wheel, let’s take a look at the tools and materials you will need. The tools and materials you’ll need include:

  • A wheel head (can be purchased or made using a large pottery wheel motor or a treadmill motor)
  • A base (can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, or concrete)
  • Pedal mechanism (can be purchased or made from metal)
  • Drive belt (can be purchased from a hardware store)
  • Wood screws and bolts
  • A drill and drill bits
  • A saw
  • A drill press (optional)
  • A metal cutting saw (optional)
  • A metal file
  • A metal grinder (optional)

Building the Base

The first step in building your pottery kick wheel is to create the base. A sturdy base is crucial to the functionality of your kick wheel. You can make the base from a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, or concrete.

For a wooden base, you will need to build a frame using 2x4s or other sturdy lumber. The frame should be square and level, and you can attach cross beams for added stability. Once the frame is complete, you can attach a piece of plywood or MDF to the top, using wood screws.

For a metal base, you will need to cut and weld metal pieces to create a frame. A metal frame is more durable and long-lasting than a wooden frame, but it will also be more difficult to build. If you have metalworking experience, you can follow a metalworking plan to build a metal base. If not, consider hiring a professional metalworker to build the frame for you.

For a concrete base, you will need to mix and pour concrete into a mold. A concrete base is the most durable and long-lasting option, but it also requires the most time and effort. If you’re not confident in your concrete-pouring skills, consider hiring a professional mason.

Installing the Wheel Head

The next step is to install the wheel head onto the base. If you purchased a wheel head, it will come with instructions for installation. If you made the wheel head yourself, you will need to attach the motor to the base using bolts and nuts. Make sure to secure the motor tightly to the base, using a drill and drill bits.

Attaching the Pedal Mechanism

The pedal mechanism is what makes the wheel head spin when you use your foot. You can purchase a pedal mechanism from a pottery supply store, or you can make your own. If you make your own, you will need to have metalworking experience and the necessary tools, such as a metal cutting saw and a metal file.

To attach the pedal mechanism to the base, you will need to drill holes into the base and use bolts to secure the mechanism in place. The pedal mechanism should be positioned so that the drive belt is tight when the pedal is depressed.

Installing the Drive Belt

The drive belt is what connects the pedal mechanism to the wheel head and allows the wheel head to spin when you use your foot. You can purchase a drive belt from most hardware stores.

To install the drive belt, first, thread it through the pedal mechanism and then around the wheel head. Once in place, you should adjust the tension on the belt using a drill press or metal grinder (if necessary).

Follow these steps to successfully fit your drive belt:

  1. Locate the drive belt tensioner. This is usually a small pulley or mechanism located near the pedal mechanism.
  2. Thread the drive belt through the tensioner, making sure to keep tension on the belt as you do so.
  3. Attach the drive belt to the wheel head by wrapping it around the wheel head pulley and securing it with a belt tightener.
  4. Make sure that the drive belt is tight enough to turn the wheel head easily, but not so tight that it causes the wheel to slow down or stall.
  5. Adjust the drive belt tensioner as needed to get the perfect tension on the belt.
  6. Test the wheel to make sure that it turns smoothly and easily with the power of your foot. If it does not, readjust the drive belt tension until the wheel turns smoothly and easily.

With these simple steps, you can have your pottery kick wheel up and running in no time.

Putting it All Together

Once all of the components are in place, you can put your kick wheel together and give it a test run. Make sure to check all of the bolts and screws to make sure they are secure. If everything seems to be working properly, you can begin using your kick wheel to create beautiful pottery.


The process of building a pottery kick wheel may seem daunting, but with the right tools, materials, and instructions, anyone can build their own kick wheel. Learning how to build a pottery kick wheel is an excellent way to hone your craft and create unique pieces of artwork. With a little patience and perseverance, you’ll be well on your way to making beautiful pottery. Happy spinning!


Can I use a pottery kick wheel if I have never made pottery before?

Yes, a pottery kick wheel is a great tool for beginners and experienced potters alike. With some patience, practice, and creativity, anyone can start making beautiful and unique pots.

What materials do I need to build a pottery kick wheel?

You will need a wheel head, a pedal mechanism, a drive belt, and a belt tensioner. You may also need additional tools and supplies such as a pottery knife, rib tool, sponge, and kiln.

What type of clay should I use with my pottery kick wheel?

There are many types of clay to choose from, including earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Experiment with different clays to find the one that best suits your projects.

What types of glazes should I use?

Glazes can be divided into two categories: glossy and matte. Glossy glazes are generally used for decorative pieces, while matte glazes are usually used for functional pieces. Additionally, you may want to experiment with different colors and texture combinations to create unique glazes.

How do I clean my pottery kick wheel?

Cleaning your kick wheel is an important part of maintaining it and ensuring that it will last for years to come. The most common way to clean a pottery kick wheel is with a damp cloth, followed by drying the wheel off with a dry cloth. Additionally, you can use a pottery knife to scrape off any dried-on clay or dirt from the wheel head. Finally, be sure to oil and lubricate the pedal mechanism regularly with light machine oil.