Instructables

Pt. 1 How to build a potters wheel with a treadmill motor!

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Picture of Pt. 1 How to build a potters wheel with a treadmill motor!
This tutorial is pt 1.  the quick version of how to build a potters wheel using parts from the scrap pile and parts from a $10 treadmill.  I've searched high and low on the web to get information regarding this subject, but it all seems so confusing at times.  Too many questions left unanswered.  I have failed enough experiments to finally get this information out.  Hopefully this will come in handy for someone who doesn't want to pay full price for something you can make yourself from salvaged goods, while spending just a little money.  This version will be fairly rough, but I promise I will do another that covers all the little details about wiring, foot pedals, speed control, etc...  This is just to give you an idea of what's possible for now.  I made this version out of wood which will be covered in resin at the very end to waterproof.  Oh yeah, I'm not liable if something here does not work as planned. Experiment for yourself, find out what works for you.  It's kinda like kiln building. 
 
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Step 1: Supplies

I'll try to remember everything, it's been a while.  If I forget something, I'm sure whatever it is will show up in a later step.

Materials:
  • Wood or Metal for the body/chasis of the wheel (in this case I chose wood)
  • Tools to disassemble treadmill to remove motor
  • HDPE plastic -High Density Polyethelyne for wheel head
  • rubber sheet for feet
  • wood lathe to turn legs
  • various bolts and nuts to assemble wheel
  • 2 pillow block bearings - to true up shaft from motor to wheel head
  • variable speed foot pedal from an old wheel, or some type of speed control that wont get burnt up
  • I used a 7/8" rod for wheel shaft from motor to wheel head
  • 1 v belt from local auto parts store
  • glue
  • pencil
  • tape measure or ruler
  • clamps
  • vacuum clamping system (not necessary, i used this to laminate wood for the legs. Plain clamps will work)
  • motor controller for whatever type of motor you have(the one that came with my industrial treadmill was too complicated to figure out, so I bought a smaller, more functional model)
pillclerk1 year ago
can you tell me something about the foot pedal - I'm at that stage of building my own potters wheel and would rather not use the treadmill slider control.
sleasia2 years ago
I also used a "small" cement mixing basin (home depot $5) for the splash pan. I glued a round 4-5" diameter plastic container in the center of the splash pan and drilled a hole in the center of this through the container and basin for the wheel shaft . This way the basin has a central "hump" or elevation which will prevent water from dripping down the wheel shaft and into the motor.
sleasia2 years ago
also I forgot to say that though the plastic wheel head is probably far better, I was too lazy to do it...I found IKEA has 12-14 inch wooden lazy susans which are hardy enough to use, if you put bat pins and a bat on top, waterproof the wood. They are already perfectly round!!!! If you want a thicker wheelhead you can bolt the together with glue...they are only $7
sleasia2 years ago
Thank you so much...one idea . I mistakenly used an AC motor in a very similar design with a foot pedal i bought from ebay (which smokes a bit over time) so now i'm building with DC motors... I figured out a way to allow for adjusting belt tension. I mounted the motor on a board which on one side is attatched to a leg with hinges and on the other side has one long bolt attatchng it through the other leg. The bolt has a wing nut. So you just loosen or tighten this bolt and it pulls the panel the motor is attatched to either tighter or looser. This way you can adjust your belt tension or loosen it to remove and replace the belt without having to disassemble anything
The holes drilled in the side of the flywheel were probably to balance it.
MattG8052 years ago
I'm currently building my own wheel using this instructable (thank you). I had a question, how did you suspend the shaft? Do the pillow block bearings accomplish this? I was also wondering where you got a foot pedal? Just purchase online? Thank you.
tgall672 years ago
This is a "Thank You" in advance from my wife who is going to scream when I give this to her as a present. Thank you for a great instructable.
is this in t he uc davis art building?
Awesome! I have been looking for something like this.
rasro24 (author)  mutantpoptart3 years ago
Cool man, good luck!
amvedere3 years ago
Thanks for doing this! I got hung up on what to do for a wheel head, and until I knew that and what size the shaft would be, I couldn't really move forward. This helps me a lot.
rasro24 (author)  amvedere3 years ago
Good. let me know when you complete yours.
rimar20003 years ago
Very good work!
rasro24 (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Thank you sir!