Introduction: Pocket Sized Pottery Wheel

About: I am an 18-year-old student in 12th grade, I enjoy baking, running, programming, 3-D design, photography, and nature!

Making pottery is a really fun and rewarding form of entertainment. The only problem with pottery is that it required a lot of supplies and a large studio so you can't do it anywhere, until now! In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make a pocket-sized functional pottery wheel.


To build the pottery wheel, you will need the following supplies:

- 5"x5" plywood board, 3/8" or 1/2"

- wood dowel, 3/8" diameter

- 9-12v dc motor, I used this one

- ball bearing

- 5/16" bolt, 1-1 1/4" long

- jar lid, 2-inch diameter, must have an overhang like the one pictured

- 9v battery

- 9v battery connecter/holder

- copper wiring, I used single-stranded so I could bend it

- small switch

- thick rubber band

You will need the following tools to make the pottery wheel:

- jigsaw/band saw/scroll saw

- drill

- drill bits, one the width of the bearing(7/8"), the motor(1 1/4"), and the dowel(3/8")

- paintbrush


- super glue

- wire cutters

- soldering iron kit

- sandpaper

- hammer and or mallet

- awl

- pencil

- printer

Step 1: Trace the Outline

The first step in making the wheel is to create the frame, in order to do this, you must print out the template. When printing, make sure to print at 100% scale on standard letter paper. Once you have printed the template, check to make sure it printed correctly, it should be 3.25" wide and 4" tall. Once you have the printed template, use scissors to cut out the shape. Place the shape on the plywood and use a pencil to trace the outside of the shape. Next, use an awl to puncture holes in the centers of all five crosses.

Step 2: Cut and Drill

Start by cutting out the outline made in the last step. Use sandpaper to round off any edges that shouldn't be there. Next, drill a hole at one of the three outer marks, these holes should be about as wide as your dowel but they shouldn't go all the way through the board, about 2/3 through. Use your dowel to test that they are the right size, the dowel should go in snuggly. Next, drill a hole for the bearing, if you are using a standard bearing it should be 7/8". The bearing hole should be at the inner mark closer to the point of the triangle and it should go all the way through the wood. Test your bearing in the hole and make sure it fits, if it is just bearly too small, use sandpaper or a file to make it larger. Next, drill a hole for the motor at the lower mark for the motor, if you are using a different type of motor, measure and make a hole accordingly. If you are using the same motor, it should measure 1 1/4". This hole should also go the whole way through. Put both the bearing and the motor in to make sure both of them fit, then take them out.

Step 3: Add Feet

Use a saw to cut the dowel into four sections, three should be 3/4" and one should be 1/2". Set the 1/2" one aside for a later step. Flip the board over so that all five holes are showing. In the outer three holes, add the 3/4" sections of the dowel adding super glue to the dowels prior to pushing them into the holes. Use a mallet to force them completely into the holes. Repeat with the other two pegs until all three corners have feet.

Step 4: Paint

Next, paint the pottery wheel however you want! You can also add wood filler and sand down any rough edges before you paint. I painted mine white, but you are welcome to get more creative. The only thing to be careful about is not getting paint into the motor and bearing holes, if you do, they may not fit.

Step 5: Add the Motor Attachment

Next, you will need to make an axle for the rubber band to spin on. If you have a 3D printer, I highly recommend 3D printing this with the included design, however, I do not have access to one right now, so I'm going to make mine out of wood. To make it out of wood, take the 1/2" piece of wood from before and use an awl to make an indent in the center of the top or bottom. Put the wood on the motor so that the motor axle is going into the indent in the wood. Now carefully use a mallet to pound the wood piece until the axle is completely embedded in it.

Step 6: Install Parts

Once the paint is dry, you can install the bearing and the motor. Start with the bearing first, if it is tight, flip the wheel so the feet are sticking up and use a mallet to pound the bearing in. Next, add the motor. If either the motor or the bearing feel loose, take them out, add super glue and reinstall them in place.

Step 7: Add the Wheel

Next, you will add the wheel itself. The wheel is made up of the jar lid, and a bolt. First, I wanted a silver wheel, so I sanded the polish off of the jar lid, this is optional. Next, apply super glue to the end of the bolt, then hold it in the center of the bottom of the lid. Hold it in place following the guidelines of your superglue. Once it has dried, you are welcome to add hot glue to reinforce it, this is optional, but it will increase the durability of the wheel. Once all the glue had dried, it is time to mount it on the bearing. To do this, insert the bolt into the bearing, then add a placeholder in between the wheel and the wood. I used some extra wiring as a placeholder, but this can be anything: cardboard, folded up paper, all you want is something to create a gap between the wheel and the wood so that the wheel isn't resting on the wood. Next, making sure the placeholder stays in place, flip the wheel over so it is resting on the jar lid. Add super glue to the bolt so it adheres to the bearing, make sure NOT to get glue in the bearing, it will no longer function. Allow the glue to dry, then flip it over and remove the placeholder.

Step 8: Attach the Battery and the Switch

Next, you will attach a 9v battery to the back of the wheel. If you have a battery holder, you should glue that in the notch in the back, however, I don't have a holder, so I am going to glue the battery directly so it won't fall off. If you are gluing the battery directly, first attach the connector, then apply a strip of glue to the wider side of the battery. Hold the battery against the wheel so that the bottom is resting on the ground. Allow the glue to dry, then flip it over. If the battery feels a little wobbly, add more glue to the bottom seem. Next, attach the switch to the middle of one side on the bottom using super glue.

Step 9: Add the Rubber Band Belt

Next, you will add a rubber band from the lid to the motor to function as a belt. Before I did this, I added some black paint to the wheel and motor axle, this is completely optional, but it does make things look nicer. If you add paint allow it to dry, then stretch the rubber band around the lid and then around the motor axle. You want a rubber band that is thick and about the size of the perimeter of the lid, by stretching it you will give it a little tension which will prevent it from slipping. Use your hand to spin the wheel, if the rubber band seems like it wants to come off, move it lower on the axle so that it is slightly under it, this will prevent it from rising.

Step 10: Wire the Circuit.

To wire the circuit you will need to set up a soldering iron and heat it up. First, strip a small section from the ends of the wires. Turn the wheel on its side so you can see the top and bottom. Touch the wires to the motor prongs and note which way the wheel is spinning, if you are right-handed you want it to spin counter-clockwise and if you are left-handed you want it to spin clockwise. If it is spinning the right way for you, make a mark on the motor which wire should go to which prong on the motor. Now trim the wires to that one goes to the correct motor prong and the other goes to the switch, strip a small amount off of each wire. Now use a soldering iron to attach one wire to the motor and the other to one side of the switch, if you have it, I recommend adding heat shrink to the switch solder point. Now attach a wire running from the other motor prong to the center prong of the switch. You can remove the third switch prong if you want, you don't need it. Test the switch and make sure everything works normally.

Step 11: Make Some Pottery

I have barely touched clay over the past few years so it would be a stretch to even call be a beginner, however, my mom is a very skilled potter so I asked her to test out my wheel. All you need to throw on it is some clay, a few tools, and a container of water. After playing on it for a few minutes, my mom had already made some pocket-sized pottery pieces. I included a video I shot of her throwing on it just to demonstrate that it is fully functional. When you are done, just clean it off and put it in your pocket! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge

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Pocket-Sized Speed Challenge