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Shimpo VL Lite vs Speedball ShimpClay Boss

If you’re looking for a low priced potter’s wheel you’ll find the Shimpo VL Lite and the Speedball Clay Boss among others in the under $1000 price range. When you look at the specs you might start to wonder which would be the best value for the money.  I’ve used both and have some thoughts on them that might help you make a decision.

Both wheels are pretty light weight for a pottery wheel. The Shimpo is about 50 pounds while the Clay Boss is 66. So if you can pick up a box of clay you can pick up one of these wheels.  This is a nice feature if you have a reason to move the wheel frequently. If you do demonstrations at multiple locations or if you need to move it for cleaning or storage it’s a great feature. If you don’t need it to be light weight then it’s just nice when you first take delivery.

 Both wheels have a 1/2 horse power motor.  The Clay Boss claims a 100 pound centering capacity vs 25 on the Shimpo. I can’t center that much clay all at once. Honestly, I’ve never tried and have no desire to do so. Ten pounds is about the max I’m comfortable working with. The funny thing is that the Shimpo seems to handle that amount of clay with ease where the Clay Boss seems like it’s laboring under the strain.

Lori Buff of Future Relics Gallery testing the Shimpo VL Lite pottery wheel
Testing the Shimpo VL Lite

The Shimpo  has a 12” alloy wheel head that is drilled to accommodate bat pins. The Clay Boss has a 14” composite wheel head that will also accommodate bat pins. I prefer the alloy but I haven’t found anything really wrong with the composite. Both are fine for throwing off the wheel head with the composite having the advantage of not getting your slip black. I know the color burns out in the kiln and washes off your hands so it’s no big deal. The larger wheel head is also nice if you plan to make large platters on this wheel.

Shimpo makes the quietest electric wheels I’ve found. The VL lite is super quiet which is nice when teaching or listening to music or podcasts. The Clay Boss is about as loud as most other wheels that are working properly.

The foot pedal on the Clay Boss that I have used is a bit sticky. I’m not sure how easy it would be to adjust it. The Shimpo pedal worked well right out of the box.

The Clay Boss has a small and shallow splash pan. This doesn’t bother me, I throw pretty dry but not everyone does. Many new potters may find themselves flooding the pain quickly. Shimpo includes a full size splash pain with the VL Lite.  You can still fill it up, it just takes longer. Both are two piece, removable splash pans.

The Shimpo usually costs a couple hundred more than the Clay Boss but to me it feels like a more solid wheel that will last longer. However, it’s really hard to find a used VL Lite but it is pretty easy to find a used Clay Boss. So if you have to think about the cost, the Clay Boss may be the more affordable option. If money isn’t a great concern I’d recommend the Shimpo.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Comments

  1. background noise really bothers me so if I had the money I'd choose the quiet one.

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