Building an Onggi Style Kick Wheel

Grand Ideas and a Plan

Loay is a great friend and pottery mentor and she had a dream to build a kick wheel. I had taken a class with Loay to learn how to hand build bigger pots and her excitement was infectious. Though she be little, she dreams of making big pots! Soon Loay had shared blueprints for the build, an inspirational video, and a shopping list for the lumber store. I roped in my favorite accomplice (Adrian), the kids, and my father-in-law. While Loay found fly wheels at the junk yard I found a friend who welds and we were on our way.

Woodworking and Pottery

When I was working at a community art center everything was provided and I had little understanding of how fortunate I was.  When I built out my own studio I learned quickly how self sufficient potters must be and what a gift it is to have a partner as capable and generous as mine. We built shelves, a wedging table, ware boards, and now the most complex bit of woodworking – a kick wheel.

Our first task was to stack and center the weight of the pine table tops. I was thankful for a Shimpo banding wheel for this process. I was shocked at the differences in shapes of the round table tops we bought. Once they were stacked and the weight was as equal as we could get them, they were glued and weighted. This project did double duty as a weight lifting workout. Once things were dry, we hauled the very heavy tops and bottoms to my father-in-law’s work shed.




We used his drill press to create the holes to support and connect the tops and bottoms.







The ball bearings, wood supports, wheel head, and kick plates miraculously connected.







Finally, the wheels were ready to finish.








Coats of varnish brought out the grain of the wood. Rope covered the working bits to add a measure of safety.







I’ll never forget the joy of delivering a piece of a dream to Loay.

The onggi wheel sits proudly in my studio and has the most satisfying spin; long and even, slow and steady. It is the perfect way to build big pieces and is most often put to work when I make lamps.









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