How to Center Wheel Thrown Pottery Clay

Centering clay on the potter's wheel can be difficult. It's not as easy as it looks! Centering your clay on the wheel is the first step in making something beautiful. Remember that the key is to always keep your clay on centre throughout the throwing process.


  1. 1
    Make it Round. If you have prepared your clay by wedging it first, you are ready to begin! The first step (and the easiest of all), is to make your clay into a perfect round ball. This will make the entire centring and throwing process much easier.
  2. 2
    Toss it. Throw your perfectly round ball into the very centre of your wheel-head. Push it into place to make minor adjustments. The wheel head should have circular markings to help you out.
  3. 3
    Shape your clay like a Hershey's Kiss. Spin your wheel head at the very slowest speed, depending on the kind of wheel you're working on, this might mean with your foot pedal or a hand lever. With clean and dry hands, slap the clay down with both hands with an even and consistent motion to stick the clay on the wheel. Keep doing this until you've formed something that looks almost like a Hershey's Kiss chocolate (without the swirl at the top!). It should not look like a pancake! Continue this step as many times as necessary. Do not stop and start the wheel, keep it a consistent speed. Hands should be slapping quicker than the wheel is spinning.
  4. 4
    Begin coning. Now, speed your wheel up to medium-fast. Wet your hands and start gathering the clay from the bottom to form a cone shape. To avoid making an "ice cream swirl", count slowly to three at every section (bottom, middle, top) as you move the clay up. Brace your left elbow on your knee for extra stability. Again, avoid making a spiral shape.
  5. 5
    Make a hockey puck. With the inside of your right hand, push the top of the cone downward to form a hockey puck. Your left hand is on the outside, catching the clay that your right hand is pushing down. When you've pushed half-way down with your right hand, flip it to a Karate Chop position and use the fleshy part to flatten the top of your hockey puck. The left hand is still catching what the right hand is pushing down, but now it is creating the straight side of your hockey puck.
  6. 6
    Mound it. Your hockey puck should be centered now. If it's off, you can repeat steps from coning, or with extremely strong and steady hands try to adjust where it's off centre. With your hands in a symmetrical position now, round out your puck to form a mound shape. Now you are ready to begin throwing!


  • Always keep wheel at a steady Medium-fast pace, do not start and stop and start and stop.
  • Keep hands quite wet for centering. Sticky, dry hands can snag clay and pull it of centre.
  • Don't let clay push you around. If you are feeling like that is the case - strengthen your hands and hold steady to show the clay where it needs to go (and that's on centre!).
  • Put a block (yoga block, brick, piece of wood) under your left foot so it's even with the pedal side foot. This will help with discomfort and give you extra leverage to brace your left elbow while trowing.


  • Never touch your clay when the wheel is stopped. This will set the clay off centre. Only touch the clay when the wheel is already spinning at the right speed.

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Categories: Clay Projects | Hobbies and Crafts