Category Archives: kickwheel

In the hot seat

A couple of days ago I sat down with my newly acquired kickwheel to see what I could do. I’ve used my homemade kickwheel frequently for handbuilding and paddle work, not as much for throwing, because it is quite tall and the flywheel is quite high from the floor.

The new kickwheel is craftsman made, and shorter, making it easier to use without a special seat. In the two days of throwing, I discovered two things: 1. my homemade wheel spins better making it great for coil and paddle work, and 2. The new kickwheel is easier to throw on because the fly wheel is so much closer to the ground.

I decided to throw with a difficult body to keep things interesting. Stamped Izumiyama porcelain stone that had been levigated and filter pressed, with the removed large particle material re-added as 30% of the body. This makes for a pretty short body but it does have more backbone than straight filtered Izumiyama. I started with small, simple shapes for the first day, and moved to larger bowls on the second, sort of a cross between an Ido form and a wider more open shape typified in a lot of Ri period Korean work.

My goal was to keep things as light as possible off the wheel, and requiring as little trimming as possible.

I waited a bit too long with the small cups, but they trimmed with some very nice texture even though a few had some of that soft porcelain tear-out. Since they are sake ware, I’m hoping this will add to their landscape in the firing.

Very happy overall with the texture of the interior of the feet. When I first discovered that porcelain would trim like this, it was a major discovery for me, and prompted me to start working with it.

Coil and paddle

I have been working on coil and paddle pots these last few days. This is a sequence of photos from a jar I made today. It’s not very big, probably about 36 cm across.


  
  
  
  
  

Kickwheel Conversion Finished

The kickwheel conversion is finally finished. Here are some pictures of the flywheel getting put together:

Douglas Fir beams glued up and drying.  After drying, knocked the corners off with a chainsaw, then knocked off corners again to get a basically round shape.
Douglas Fir beams glued up and drying. After drying, knocked the corners off with a chainsaw, then knocked off corners again to get a basically round shape.
Corners knocked off, planed the edge to soften and round.
Corners knocked off, planed the edge to soften and round.
Planed and sanded, ready to go on the frame.
Planed and sanded, ready to go on the frame.
Placed on the frame, spun, and centered. Then, clamped on in place, turned over and screwed in (not shown)
Placed on the frame, spun, and centered. Then, clamped on in place, turned over and screwed in (not shown)
Reassembled and ready to go!
Reassembled and ready to go!

And it was just as easy as that.  Many thanks again to Yamaguchi kun for making the flywheel armature!

And here I am taking it out for a spin:

Snagged a new wheel!

I managed to get my hands on a used wheel, cheap. It is a gigantic banding wheel: wheel head is 50cm across and the whole thing assembled weighs 60kg. It looks like it might have been someone’s homemade wheel, made from acquired parts and put together.

It is an oddly constructed wheel, no bearings at all. The top of the shaft accommodates  a pin in the wheel head like my kickwheel, but there is no bearing in the bottom, just tapered sleeve on the shaft that engages the bottom of the wheelhead shaft, heavily greased. It requires a very fine setting of the tapered sleeve. Engage it too much and the wheel doesn’t turn well, not enough and there is a waggle in the wheel.

It arrived pretty rusty and dirty, looks like it saw a lot of use at some point, then got left in a corner somewhere for a few years. I got a wire brush disc for my angle grinder and spent quite a while getting the accumulation of clay, gunk, paint, and rust off.

Removable wheel head shaft
Removable wheel head shaft
Base shaft
Base shaft
wheel head
wheel head
tapered sleeve
tapered sleeve
The whole shebang, still dirty.
The whole shebang, still dirty.
wheel head assembly oiled and ready.
wheel head assembly oiled and ready.

Finally got the wheel head assembly cleaned up and oiled, and with some experimentation found the ‘sweet spot’ for the tapered sleeve when engaging the wheel head shaft, and the wheel spins quite nicely. Click on the link below to see it spin:
Wheel spin test

My plan for this wheel is to weld arms to the base of the wheel head shaft and mount a wooden fly wheel, and add a wooden wheel head onto the current steel wheel head. The resulting kickwheel should be great for onggi style coil and paddle work.

Kickwheel Redux

I get periodic requests for Korean/Karatsu style low momentum kickwheel plans, so I thought I’d throw this out there again.

The pictures below are a mix of my kickwheel and the one I based it on, both are based on the traditional pin and receiver type, rather than the modern wheels which use bearings.  Having had the chance to use both, I am of the personal opinion that the pin and receiver version responds to a lighter touch and is more suitable for thin and/or small diameter coil and paddle work.

These are not plans per se, but drawings of the various parts with some pictures thrown in. Hopefully, altogether they will give one a good idea of how to put one of these things together. I will be putting another one together in the near future, and will post again at that time. You will notice I do not put measurements in the drawing. This is because based on the wheel size, most or all of the parts could be smaller or larger, depending. It is mostly just common sense. To give a sense of scale, my kickwheel shaft is 40mm diameter.


The biggest thing to influence your wheel size/height is you body and throwing position. There is no hard fast rule about how big the wheel should be. I screwed up when I made my wheel and the wheel head is taller than I had anticipated, requiring me to make a special seat to elevate my tuckus. Make sure you sus out how high you want your kicking/treading foot and how that compared with the height of the wheel head, then figure out how long this will make your stretchers, don’t forget to take into account the thickness of both wheels minus the distance the stretchers will be recessed into them. Also, how much height the tapered sleeve adds between the fly wheel and the bottom steel plate.

Having a drill press to drill the holes for the stretchers is a big help to make sure the holes are straight. I used a little drill stand that was pretty iffy. If you or  a friend is good with chisels or has a mortising machine, you can use rectangular stretchers.

I used a lathe to round the wheels. I imagine this is not really necessary. With a good saw and some elbow grease you could start with a square and start cutting off the corners 4,8,16,32…. just stop when you feel the wheel is round enough not to tear up your thighs and knuckles.

It is a fairly simple tool to build if you have a good blacksmith nearby. Oh, the pin and pin receiver were traditionally made from porcelain. That might be a fun alternative to metal…That’s about all I can think of for now. I may post addenda to this if I can think of anything.

Pictures from the latest firing

Below are some pictures from the latest firing (of the gas kiln). There were a few nice pots in the firing, enough to fill in the gaps with the show next week. Lost most of the chawan and guinomi, but got a couple of each that I like.

Chosen Garatsu (the runny white over brown) constantly reminds me that I need more practice. Just when I think I’ve got it down, it shows me just how much I don’t know.