Topic: Articles

Subscriber Extra: Control at the Top

Throwing really large pots, and trimming them, is hard work. This is especially true when your pot gets to be several feet tall and you need to keep your arms and hands steady as you stand to finish your pulls. Here’s a more advanced tool to lend you a helping hand.

I like to throw very tall pots and this means I need to steady my hands while finishing the top. So I created an armrest to steady my arms and gain more control at the top of my taller forms.


The armrest is made from a maple futon frame purchased at a second-hand store. The uprights are drilled with ½-inch holes, 2 inches apart on center (1). Two boards on each side of the wooden crossbar that extends over the wheelhead secure it front to back, and a ½-inch bolt on each end pins it vertically (4).The way the uprights attach to the pottery wheel will be different for each type of wheel (2–3).


The length of the crossbar will be different for each type of wheel. The crossbar has two holes on each end and uses half-inch bolts and the two holes for the bolts (4). One is in the center of the wood. If these holes are used, the crossbar cannot be moved up or down. The second hole is a half hole on the bottom edge in the shape of a slightly extended, upside down U (5). This hole allows quick adjusting and removal by lifting up.

The center hole on the left end can be used as a hinge so that the crossbar can be pivoted up or down in smaller increments. The crossbar will be slanted if this is done. Coat the crossbar ends with Parowax so it will easily slide in the uprights. Set to a specific height, the crossbar can be used to steady your hands as you work on taller forms (6).

Live Center

I use a modified blender blade bottom (blades removed) attached to a wooden slider (7–8) that can be clamped to the crossbar as a live center for glazing (9). I then put my pot in a drip pan on the wheel with the live center/wooden slider clamped to the crossbar so that the pot is in between the wheelhead (or a chuck if needed) and the live center, similar to wood on a lathe only vertical (10).

Arranged this way, the pot can spin and slip or glaze can be poured on the pot with your free hands to maneuver the glaze or do additional brushing.


There are many variables associated with the armrest and the attached live center, including: the widths, heights, and lengths specific to each potter’s preference and wheel style and the numerous ways to fasten a live center to the crossbar. A potter wanting to make a contraption like this will need to ask some questions before designing their own. The design shown here is a starting point for that adventure.

To see more from Jim Wylder, check out



Comments are closed.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image
Send this to a friend