Introduction: Band Saw to Pottery Wheel

About: Over the past few years, I have found great satisfaction in tinkering in various crafts/ trades/ fields thats I was not exposed to earlier in life. Now I feel my way through projects with the help of reference…
In this instructable I show how I turned an bench top band saw into a electric pottery wheel. As with most instructable I've read, I worked primarily with what I had laying around the shop rather than off the shelf items, so your result may vary. Regardless of how you get there I hope my process may get you started in your own scavenger hunt to turn junk into something useful.

Step 1: Strip Down and Frame Up

I began with a perfectly good 1/3 HP Delta BS100 band saw gathering dust in the corner of my shop that I just didn't currently have a use for it. My plan was to build a frame around the saw, mount it horizontal and use the wheel that was directly connected to the motor. I'd place the seat at the other end of the frame to save space and add some vibration reduction with one's body weight. The wheel/saw would be operated via a variable speed pedal.

The frame ended up being 34in x 18in and I use some salvaged water bed lumber for the outside of the frame which had a nice groove pre-cut to keep the deck/seat nicely in place.

Step 2: Vibration Reduction

I stripped off the unneeded bits (front cover, blade, upper wheel, guides, table, etc) and began to think of how to get a nice sturdy wheel that one could throw a pot on attached to this lovely mechanism. I decided to use U bolts instead of drilling out mounting holes, in case I ever wanted to reverse the process and sell the saw. I used bits of tough foam from some furniture moving sliders to keep the U bolts in place and to provide vibration reduction.

Step 3: Mounting Plate

I rummaged around the shop and turned up a couple mounting plates left over from some ceiling fan kits that matched the saw wheel's diameter. After drilling holes corresponding to the U bolts I cut 6 sections of threaded rods (about 7in long) to transfer the motion up to the desired level.

When it came to getting the U bolts to line up correctly with the corresponding plate holes, I had to do a bit of persuading. I began enlarging the needed holes with a rat tail file by hand, then I got lazy and just chucked the file in my 12V DeWalt DW980 and sped the process up a bit.

Note: use the reverse setting when doing this, other wise the file will get a bite and ruin your fun.

Step 4: Making the Shroud and Leveling/balancing

With all things lining up I had a moment of concern for safety. Six spinning bolts could be a bit of a bother if one's fingers slipped while molding a work of art. I decided to employ a used printer drum to do duty as a safety shroud.

Then after throwing the shroud and top plate on to the wheel I measured and adjusted to be nice and level. Balancing everything out is key since even a slight wobble can be quite harry once the motor hits it's stride. You've been warned.

Step 5: Top Plate and Decking

To finish off the wheel, I used a little wooden stool top. After marking everything out to be centered I chiseled the bolt holes below grade.

I cut some ply wood salvaged from my kitchen remodel to serve as the deck and to handle the run off water I cut a 4in hole in the bottom of a plastic container and screwed it to the deck.

Step 6: Seat

And made a seat out of an old sweat shirt, pillow and kitchen cabinet door from the same kitchen remodel

Just slide the door and pillow in the shirt, fold it over and tack away.

You could screw the seat to the deck but I opted to just set it in place for now.

Step 7: Throw Down Time

Throw it all together and slap a variable speed pedal on it (I swiped the one from my router table) and you have a nice little pottery wheel.

Now I just have to get some practice in to be able to throw some nice tableware... that might take awhile.
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