Follow these instructions to custom build a wheel table perfectly suited to your equipment, space, and needs using minimal materials and tools.
One of the most common problems in a pottery studio is how to situate the wheel and all the items needed for the process of throwing. Most wheels these days don’t come with a work area surrounding them. There’s not much space to place thrown work, tools, and a water bowl on the built-in work area. Even though there are many attachments that can be purchased for various models of wheels, they seemed inadequate for my throwing needs, from having tools at easy access to providing a place for thrown pieces coming off the wheel.
While attending a workshop, I saw the wheel-table configuration at Coastal Claymakers in Coffs Harbour, Australia. Their throwing area had the wheels inset into low tables, making great use of their space, while giving each thrower ample room for tools, a water bowl, and thrown pieces (1). This is exactly what I wanted, but for a single wheel. My husband came up with a design and built the wheel table. It met all of my expectations!
Items Needed to Build a Wheel Table:
- 2×4 pine lumber for the base (amount depends on size of table desired)
- ½-inch plywood, 4×4-foot square piece
- Wood screws
- Paint and/or varnish
Building the Wheel Table
Begin by placing a sheet of newspaper or other paper on top of your wheel, then draw a template of the shape of your wheel. With the wheel drawn, cut out the template.
Place your template on a 4×4-foot piece of ½-inch plywood so that it is center aligned and touching one edge of the plywood. This will ensure that the shape is easy to cut out, each side is the same width, and there is adequate material for the table surface in front of the wheel as well. Using a jigsaw, cut the template shape out of the plywood. Note: Make sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection. Continue using the jigsaw to round all four corners of the plywood to remove any sharp corners.
Next, using wooden 2×4s and wood screws, make three rectangular frames, with the height dictated by the height of the wheel and the length dictated by your tabletop. Using the wood screws, attach the three frames together and then secure the tabletop onto the frames. Sand the tabletop with a sander to smooth all edges (2–4). Finally, paint the table your desired color with a waterproof enamel or varnish (5).
The best feature of this wheel-table design is that it is adaptable and customizable for any pottery wheel and to the potter's needs as to height and amount of space desired (see 6). The wheel table we made is great and increased the efficiency of my workflow while also lessening my frustration . . . now where is that tool I need?
the author Marian Williams is a full-time potter living in Texas since her return from Australia, where she lived and worked for 15 years. Her functional pottery and figurative sculptures have been exhibited in the US and Australia, and most recently at the San Angelo National Ceramic Competition. Learn more on her website (www.marianwilliamspottery.com) and on Instagram (@marianwilliamspottery).