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Benjinca

Kilns - new or second hand?

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HI there.  I've literally joined this group today as it seems like everyone is really knowledgeable and I was hoping you may be able to help me figure out whether you think it's worth it to buy a new kiln or take a chance on a second-hand one?  I've been looking on eBay as it's cheaper to buy second hand but being completely new to pottery I don't really know what I'm looking for.  I would like to have the option to fire porcelain eventually so it would have to be able to reach those temps, but apart from that there are so many options....it seems to be a bit of a minefield.  I don't reallywant to buy a white elephant and just wondered about other people's experiences?

 

Cheers

 

Benjinca

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@Benjinca If you are familiar with diagnosing and repairing kiln problems, then a used kiln can be a great way to save. If not, then you could easily buy a lemon and/or spend a bunch of money hiring a repair person to get it running. In general, if the bricks look good, then it could be a good deal. Be ready to replace the elements, though ($54 each), and switches could cost up to $75 each. Sitter parts could require another $75, and wiring could be $50. But if the bricks are good and you can get the kiln for $200, then it's a deal even if you have to replace everything else.

The other thing to consider is that you will have a hard time finding a digital kiln used. They're almost always manual kilns. Manual kilns are limiting in what you can do with firing schedules, but they work just fine. You won't be able to make changes to the firing to change the look of your glazes, though, like adding hold times or cooling schedules. You could add an external digital controller for the kiln, but by the time you've spent $700 on the kiln and parts, and another $700 on a controller, you can just about buy a new kiln.

So it all depends on what you want to do. If you just want something that gets hot, then a used manual kiln will work. If you want to have more control over your firings then I'd save up for a new digital kiln.

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Thanks very much for your message.  At the moment new kilns in the UK are at least £1500 and good used ones seem to be about £800!  They're not cheap but I will be keeping it for a long time so it's probably best to get a new one.  Thanks for your time.

 

Benjinca

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Hi Benjinca

I have been angsting over getting a smallish toploader kiln for over a year now.  I've scoured gumtree and ebay but any plug-in kilns that come up tend to be hundreds of miles from me in the south of England and a lot need repaired etc.  Being a relative newbie potter who has always relied on someone else to sort out the firing, I finally decided to quit procrastinating, bite the bullet and buy new.  At least that way I will know the thing works and comes with instructions and a guarantee!

And this very afternoon my shiny new kiln has arrived.  It comes with a controller (so no messing about with those cones that i don't understand) and was delivered and installed for me.  Not cheap at £1720, but no more than a lot of people I know spend on their annual holiday and it is supposedly quite economical to fire.  A couple of hours in, I have already encountered my first problem - the power cable is not long enough to reach the socket.... no doubt the first of many hurdles I'll need to overcome!

Good luck with whatever you decide.  Keep us posted.

  Pot B.  :D

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Hi, welcome to the forums.:)

You sound like me about six months ago. In the end I still would have had to pay for the electrical outlet work, for future supplies and maintenance, technical support since I knew nothing much at the time and don't intend to be a kiln guru at any point. All factors considered it made more sense to buy a well known new name brand than try to repair the thing (an ancient paragon which I'd still like to restore down the road, but will probably end up not) -I'd had dumped on me, even though new was a big expense, (Just under $5k dollars w/ kiln and an outlet with a dedicated circuit) regret over buying a new, digital, electric oxidation, kiln has not yet entered the picture. Also like neilestrick pointed out there is a big difference between old and new technology, manual vs digital. I love my digital controller and most of the feedback I've heard seems most other folks do too. 

There are nice bright white porcelains that fire at medium temps ^5-6, the temps most new home kilns get to easily. 

Good luck with your decision

Edited by yappystudent

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Thanks guys for all your feedback.   It will probably take at least another year of saving before I can buy a new one, unless I sell a kidney (LOL), but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait...

 

I also live in the north PotBeautiful - can I as where you got yours from?  Was it Northern Kilns by any chance?  And may I ask what type you chose in the end?

 

Thanks again for everyone's time - it's made my decision a little more clearer - I will probably go with new!

 

Benjinca 

 

 

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On 8/31/2018 at 2:36 PM, PotBeautiful said:

no messing about with those cones that i don't understand

This is not a criticism, just a bit of info: if you are going to work in clay,  understanding cones is essential, as is actually using them when the kiln is fired (sitter or not).  Not to do so is like saying I want to be a carpenter but I don't want to know/understand anything about saws and sawing, just gimme the tool and I'm good to go.  ;)

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When you get a kiln and start firing it you also need to learn what temperature it is by the color of the heat.   I know both of my cone charts also have a color heat chart.    I have been firing a manual electric kiln for 40 years,  I can tell what temperature it is at by the color.   It is  very useful information to have in case something goes wrong with your digital controller.    Many times my husband will check on the kiln and tell me it's about to click off,  it's color is yellow.   I go out and take a look and tell him it needs to be a whiter yellow so it will be another half hour.  Denice

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BTW as you wait to save up, it's a good time to educate yourself on the in's and out's. Taking a class or otherwise involving yourself in hands-on clay work is great. I have managed to get a lot of my questions answered via Youtube and all the free material (including youtube videos) on the other parts of the ceramic arts daily website. Pick up a few books (i've been slowly collecting a used library of things on Amazon) Learning what to do with cones is not hard, in fact ceramics is really as 'hard' as you want to make it past the basics. You don't have to learn how to repair your kiln or mix your own glazes, etc, but you'll probably want to do some of that eventually. 

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potbeautiful, if that new kiln is sitting in the exact place you intend to use it, i hope you have good fire insurance for the building it is in.    that appears to be a plywood wall within a foot or so of the kiln.   you will be heating the entire space, that wood will char and burn.    please EDUCATE yourself before something bad happens.

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On 8/31/2018 at 7:36 PM, PotBeautiful said:

 - the power cable is not long enough to reach the socket.... 

Do not use an extension lead.  Either move the kiln or get a qualified electrician to put in a socket direct wired from your fuseboard.  

Yes, I learnt that from experience, luckily I noticed soon enough that the plug/socket were melting together!

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Sorry for the delay in responding, Benjinca, I got my kiln from Alistair Kettles near Kinross - he's the Potclays distributor for Scotland I think.  It is a Fuego kiln which is imported from the US by Potclays (it's a model specifically made for UK electrics). 

Thanks to everyone for comments to me re siting of kiln, cones and not using extension leads - I am fully intending to learn about kilns and cones and everything, and I haven't even switched it on yet because safety is my primary concern... you gotta start somewhere though!  

Edited by PotBeautiful

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Yeah it's true so many people are put off because there's so much to learn, when sometimes yo've just got to go ahead and get your hands in some clay and make something or you lose the inspiration!

 

xxx

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yeah its easy to get side tracked with equipment.

My 2 cents is just put together what you can afford now and start making pots.

We prob have 20k in equipment and tools at this point and with $500 and some ingenuity (old kiln, used wheel, bucket of water, rolling pin, credit card and fishing line) you can make as good or better pots than I (or anyone here) ever have.  

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