Korean Onggi Pottery Wheel


On July 29th the Honolulu Museum of Art requested help with creating a Korean pottery (onggi) wheel for a visiting artist.

Four members, David Chung, Brian Green, Kyle Iwamoto and Warren Naai accepted the challenge. They first met on August 2nd to plan out the project and 28 days later completed the onggi wheel.

Working from hand-drawn sketches from Korea which showed metric measurements, they converted the dimensions to English units and divided up the tasks.

David Chung volunteered to make the large turned parts: the wheels and axle. He was able to source previously-used rough cut fir at Re-use Hawaii and with the assistance of Warren Naai, planed down the surfaces to allow for glue up. Because the wheels were almost 21 inches in diameter and 3 inches thick, a large capacity lathe was required. David Chung turned the two wheels on his Vicmarc 24” lathe and also turned the center axle.

Brian Green volunteered to make the base cross pieces. He sourced some ohia, fir, and tauri and laminated them together. Kyle Iwamoto took the laminated base pieces and notched them for final assembly.

Warren Naai also sourced rough cut fir from Re-use Hawaii for the upright pieces that join the two wheels.

Final finishing was done with Watco Dark Walnut Danish Oil. Final assembly took place at David’s home on August 30th.

The wheel is a manually-operated kick wheel which is used to create both practical pottery for kim chee storage as well as true works of art.

Our visiting ceramicist, Lee Kang-hyo, is a world-famous artist whose works sell in galleries for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

This team of club members was honored to have this opportunity to provide their services to the art community.

The team would also like to thank Mr. Mark Hovsepian of Sako Electric Motor Rewinding Inc. for their generous donation of the wheel bearings.


Onggi ~ Korean Clay Pot
Onggi Wheel
Korean Traditional Wheel Design
Upright Starting Lumber
Upright Blocks Before Planing
Blanks for the Uprights
Uprights after 45 Degree Miter
Glued-up Sections for the Wheel
The Wheel Blanks
Turning of the Wheels
Upper and Lower Wheels
Lower Wheel and Uprights
Uprights in Place
Upper and Lower Wheel with Uprights
Block of Maple and Oak for Axle
Turning the Axle
New Maple and Oak Axle
Cross Pieces before Notching
Cross Piece Assembly
Completed Base
Close Up of Axle in Base
Final Fit Up of Cross Pieces and Axle
Base and Axle with Bearing
Finished Base and Wheels
Completed Onggi Pottery Wheel
Warren Naai, Kyle Iwamoto, Lee Kang-hyo, David Chung, and Brian Green
with the 6 Foot, 800 Pound Onngi Vessel
Photos courtesy of Warren Naai


Updated September 26, 2015