Friday, September 25, 2009

Pottery Classes

The Potters Place runs pottery classes for the Juvenile Assistance Corporation, who is in connection with the Clackamas County Social Services. We run these classes free of charge in hopes to help children build confidence, learn a new hobby and have a creative outlet. If you have any questions, or know of a child that could benefit from these classes please feel free to contact us.

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to make a home made electric potters / pottery wheel

Here is a potters wheel plan that uses an AC electric motor.
Now, there are two different basic kinds of motors you can use for a potters wheel (actually, there are technically several different kinds of electric motors, but these two are the most common) an AC motor or a DC motor.
The difference between the two (as pertaining to potters wheels) is that an AC motor is cheap but hard to control the speed. A DC motor is more expensive and harder to find (cheaply) but easy to control the speed.
We chose to use an AC motor at this point, we picked on up off of craigs list for $15.00. It is 3/4 horse power and 1750 rpm. Now, if you can find one with the same horse power with a lower rpm range, that is great! But if it is higher (something around 3000) this is way too fast, and will be hard to use on a potters wheel.

Once we have the motor here is a list of other things you will need;

Three pillow bearings.
One block bearing.

One 12 inch shaft (all the parts we used were 1/2 inch in bore).

One 6 inch shaft.

One dual pulley (this pulley will contain two pulleys in one, you will want them to measure any where from 3-4 inches).

One large pulley (8-9 inches).

Two hinges (we used v-shaped hinges, instead of door hinges).

One 1 inch deep and 0.5 cm thick and about four feet long, stick of aluminum. This will be used to make the pulley system for the wheel.

A desk top (or a desk, if you can find one that measures 15-20 inches high. Any higher then that, and it is difficult to use as a potters wheel.

You will need a wheel head. Either you can buy one (which they run about $45-65 on Brent's web site or you can build one out of plastic like we did). We picked up a piece of cheap plastic at the Portland Rebuilding Center that was used at one time for a counter top. We cut this piece with a normal saw and jig saw, making sure it measured 12 inches in width.

For a splash pan like ours (which is made of wood) you will want to also get a 1x8 that is about 10 feet tall.

A couple of 2x4's (you will need at least 2, 8 feet tall 2x4's).

An a series of screws (a couple 3 inches, 2 inches and 1 1/4).

3 feet of nylon rope or you can use metal cable (which is always a good alternative).

You will need caulk for sealing the splash pan area. You will also want to get some wood treatment of some kind, either a stain or a polyurethane.

Now your ready to build!

Build yourself a desk. Remember these things, it has to be very stable! No tipping or tilting of any kind, all legs must be the same length. On average the desks used are about 2 feet (sometimes smaller) in width and up to 3-4 feet in length (four feet is a stretch but at least 3.5.. this gives you room to put a bucket of water and tools).

If you are building the splash pan out of wood, you can build that next. Use the 1x8 and surround the front of the desk area with a box shape. Make sure that this box is screwed into the desk and is sturdy. You will also want to make sure your measuring is right on, because the gaps of the splash pan will need to be filled with caulk. Also one other thing to remember, is the wheel head is 12 inches wide and your splash pan will have to fit over the wheel head. So make sure it is larger then 12 inches!! Give yourself some room, maybe 3-4 inches all the way around..
There are other ways of making a splash pan, you can use a trash can lid (just turn it over, drill a hole and put under the wheel head) or if you find a good Tupperware piece that will fit, that too would work.

Once the desk is built and the splash pan in place (if you decided to build one) find out where the center of the wheel head will sit and drill a hole. Since we used 1/2 inch bore on all our pulley/shaft pieces we drilled a 1/2 inch hole.

You will be bolting down the block bearing on the top of this hole...

Right below the hole you will need to make a support for the pillow bearing. In the picture bellow it illustrates what will need to go bellow the hole you've created in the desk top

The shaft will go threw the block bearing on the top of the desk and down threw to the bottom of the desk and connect to the pillow bearing that will hold it into place at the bottom. The pulley on this shaft is the 8 inch pulley. This pulley also sits on the opposite side of the motor.

Once this pulley, shaft and the bearings are in place, you will want to work on the opposite side, where you will mount the motor.

At this point, you will want to put together the pulley system that will be on the hinges. The purpose of the hinges, is to give yourself speed control of the motor. The tighter the belts get, the more speed you will get. You tighten the belts by putting one of the pulleys on a hinge system that will swing and tighten the belt.

We created an open on one side, box out of aluminum and bolted it together. On the open side you will want to drill some holes and bolt in the hinges. Next to the hinges, drill a few more holes to fit the two other pillow bearings.

This swinging arm is pictured bellow;

As you can see from the photo's, there are two pillow bearings on either side of the aluminum box and in between is the shaft and dual pulley. One of these pulleys will be connected to the wheel head and the other pulley connected to the motor.
Now, the pulley on the motor will need to be verily small, the smaller on the motor side, the slower the speed and the large on the pulley system side the slower the speed. Any motor that you pick up that is over 1000 rpm's you will want to slow down (and actually, most potters wheels that come stock from a factory max out at 250 rmps).

In the picture above, it illistrates the two pulley systems that are put together and who the belts are connected to them.

Once you have the pulley systems together, you will want to make a foot petal of some kind that will pull on the hinged pulley system.
We bolted an eye bolt in the aluminum hinge system, so that rope or cable could pull on the hinge. Once the rope was in place we added a self contained pulley (that can be purchased at any home improvement store, such a Lowes or Home Depot and most are found in the cable/dog cage areas) this kind of a pulley can be bolted down or to the leg of the potters wheel where the cable/rope will go threw it.

Once this is done, get out the 2x4's and create a foot petal station. Cut two 2x4's a foot long and screw them together side by side (this is going to be used for the base, which is located under the petal) the petal it's self can be 7-8 inches in length, so cut two 2x4's into 7-8 inches in length. Screw these two together side by side.
Cut two more 2x4's about 4-5 inches tall. Screw these two pieces together ontop of one another. This will be a stand for the base, which will hold the other self containing pulley needed. Cut two more 2x4's, these will need to be 5-6 inches tall and do not do any thing more to these. Leave them single.
Take the base and take the stand and screw the stand in the center of the base at the top (so on either end, which ever you deem the top end) the stand should be standing on the base. On the top of the stand, screw in the self containing pulley.
Now, from the base of the base, measure 1-2 inches in and screw in the two single pieces on each side. Make sure they are directly across from each other.
With a 1/2 inch drill bit, drill a hole threw the petal (you will need to drill one side and then the other, most bits will not go threw 8 inches of wood, which is what the petal will measure when it's screwed together, side by side).
Also drill a hole in each of the single pieces you just attached to either side of the base. These holes have to line up with one another.

Get a 10 inches tall and 1/2 inches in width bolt (and a nut that fits this bolt) you might also want to get a few washers that fit this bolt also.
Force this bolt threw the holes you've made in the side stands and in the petal. Make sure it goes all the way threw and once it's out on the other side, go ahead and put the nut on it and tighten it. The tighter you make it, the harder it will be to force the petal down (or make it move at all). This is the point!!!
When you're throwing a piece on the potters wheel you will want to be able to press down on the petal and just adjust the speed once and then throw. Instead of having to constantly having to press down on the petal.

Using some L brackets you can screw the foot petal into the frame of the potters wheel, or you can leave it loose. I screwed in the petal to the frame, so that the petal would not be moving around.

And that is it!! You should have a working potter wheel.

If you have problems with the belt falling off of the pulley when it has too much slack, grab some nails and nail them near the pulley, to block the belt from falling out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Video on how to build a potter's wheel

How to build a home made pottery / potter's kick wheel plan

Here is a simple way to build a potter's kick wheel and a very inexpensive way!

Here is a list of things you will need and places you can get them from;

First you will need your hard ware;
1.pillow bearing (we used 1/2 inch bore) purchased from Grainger
2.a block pillow bearing (again 1/2 inch bore) purchased from Grainger
3.a shaft (this can vary in size, material ect.. but what we used was a 1/2 inch shaft purchased from Lowes (home improvement) so it would match all of our bearing sizes). Your bearings must be able to fit smoothly over your shaft!! If your shaft is too loose, then you will end up not being able to use the bearings or shaft.
4.a wheel head. This is the metal round piece that fits ontop of the shaft where the clay is thrown. Y
ou can find wheel heads for sale online for $45-65 or you can search your local pottery studio sales. We have found several at studio sales (costing only $10-25 a piece). But if you're unable to find one, you can make one out of wood or out of plastic. Wood wheel heads are very easy to make and all the parts could be found between Lowes (or another home improvement store) and Grainger. You will need a shaft holder that could be bolted or screwed onto a round piece of wood. Lowes sells pre-cut round wood pieces that are 12 inches around (perfect for a wheel head size). You will need two pins and place them 10 inches apart from each other (one on each side exactly across from one another). 10 inches is a standard measurement for most bats (these are the wood things that go ontop of the wheel head where you place the clay).
5. you will need a good selection
of screws (2 inches 3 inches and a few that are only 1 inches) and try to get all wood screws (some can be dry wall).

Now you will also need fram hard ware (this is the rest of the potters wheel).
We purchased most of our framing pieces from the Rebuilding center in Portland (downtown right off of F
reemont and Mississippi Ave.). Here is a list of things you'll need.
1. you will need a large round piece of wood or it can be made from another source. As long as it is heavy and flat and round. This piece is being used as the section that will be kicked in order to turn the pottery wheel head.
Our's is made from a table top we purchased at the Rebuilding Center for only $3.00 . it weighs over 60 lb's being perfect for a good kick bottom.
2. a counter top, or a large chunk of wood for counter top (you can use other materials as well). We purchased ours at the Rebuilding center for only $4.00. This piece will support the wheel head and also house a pillow bearing, so it must be made of a durable product. If you chose to go with wood, do not pick a piece that is made of particle board. Also make sure that the front of the counter top (the lip that will be facing you while throwing) has a 1 inch to 2 inch width from top to bottom. Again, you will have to bolt the pillow bearing to it.
3. a bench. this again can be made of any kind of material, we just found wood to be the cheapest. And purchased our ''bench'' (which really was an old shelf at one point) from the Rebuilding Center for only $2.00

4. you will need a good selection of 2x4's. I suggest purchasing the 2x4's from your local hard wood store (so they are straight and not wa
rped, however if you have found some that you can recycle, great!!). I also suggest spending the extra .20 cents per 2x4 to spring for the ones that have been pre-sanded.

Now it's time to build your pottery wheel!

First off you will want to build a frame for the bottom. Measure your kick wheel (which is the large round piece of wood, cement or metal that you found for the bottom). You will want your frame to fit around this piece (so it has to be larger (at least from front to back) then the round piece).

What I did was put two 2x4's next to each other (same length) with a cross 2x4 sitting on top exactly in the center. take a look;

On the top of the cross bar, you will want to drill a hole the size of the shaft that you purchased (and sometimes even larger then the shaft, so it has a small amount of play).
Also, you will want to put a hold in your kick wheel the exact size of your shaft. If using wood you will want to get a holder for your shaft that sits just above the bearing that bolts into your kick wheel and at the same time creates a holder for the shaft (so the shaft moves with the kick wheel).

This piece you can find also at Grainger. There will be different applications for different kick wheel objects (whether you've decided on a round piece of wood or cement, metal ect.. ).
Once your frame is put together on the bottom, place the pillow block bearing on top of the hole (in line with it) and screw it into the cross bar. Then screw your kick wheel holder into the kick wheel it's self. Connect the two parts by placing kick wheel onto the frame and tightening the pegs that hold the shaft tight (there are pegs on the pillow block bearing as well as the kick wheel holder).

This picture shows the pieces together.. the kick wheel is to the left, where as the frame is on the right. In between is the pillow bearing and the kick wheel holder, each connected with the shaft in the center.

From here you will have the frame bottom finished.

Now you can start the frame work for your counter top.
On the bottom of your frame, add another cross member 2x4 that will allow you to make the counter top frame (in the pic, you can see the counter top frame crosses the frame underneath).
From here you can build a counter top frame where your counter will sit on. Not all potters wheels have a proper counter top, but it is very nice to have one where you can place tools and a pale of water (you will need lots of water when throwing).
Make sure that the front of the counter top has a good space to bolt the other pillow bearing !! This means the front of the counter top must be at least 1 inch to 2 inches in width and able to support a bit of weight.
Now that you have the counter top up on the frame, remember the other pillow bearing ??
This pillow bearing needs to be bolted to the front of your counter top.
Here is a photo' of that bearing and the way it is supposed to be bolted or screwed to the counter top front.

Once you have the counter top all finished, the pillow bearing bolted it's time to make the frame for the bench.
Once again, it is easiest to make another cross member bare on the frame to start a frame for the bench. Here is a pic' of the bottom of the frame and what it should look like by the time you're done.

The bench height depends on who you think will be using the wheel (whether you're building it for yourself or someone else, make sure that it is comfortable for someone to sit on).
Now here is a picture of the finished wheel.We will updated our blog and add a link at the top for a video of the finished product and on that video I show a board that I added just below the bench frame (this board is to create a foot resting place, instead of having to place your feet on the kick wheel constantly or spreading your legs out to the side of the frame). Depending on how big your wheel is, you may want to add this food stool. And I also forgot to add, that between the framing of the bench and the counter top, remember to add a 2x4 and create a frame that bolts the two pieces together. This add's a lot of stability to the wheel.