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VladCruceanu

Wood kiln types - Pros and cons

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There are several types of wood kilns for firing clay, the most used seems to be:

- Anagama

- Manabigama

- Train style

- Down-draft 

- Smokeless kiln type - Don't know if it is having a particular name.

- If others, write them.

Is someone here that can explain why should I pick one over another? All of them can hit 1300 C temperature? How large is each? Can be sized to fit a particular space in the yard? How many people should operate each type of kiln? 

Why a kiln should be fired for 24-72 h and others only for 9 h? It's a matter of kiln size? 

 

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Do a quick Google of those terms and you'll quickly realise which types are not for You:-))))

Having narrowed the field somewhat will make your choice easier.

Then what is permitted in your area will further narrow the field.

 

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15 minutes ago, Babs said:

Do a quick Google of those terms and you'll quickly realise which types are not for You:-))))

Having narrowed the field somewhat will make your choice easier.

Then what is permitted in your area will further narrow the field.

I did searched the internet, quite a bit in fact, and I didn't found the answers for these questions.  

Such a topic will be helpful for anybody interested in wood kilns, having all the info well structured.

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At top of  this page is an icon like a magnifying glass. Type in anagama there

This will lead to a number of posts. A guest, John Baymore used to post regularly on anagrams and other Woodfired kilns. You should even find plans there as he posted the progress whilst building a kiln.

I just googled anagrams and brought up heaps of images and websites

Edited by Babs

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9 hours ago, Babs said:

At top of  this page is an icon like a magnifying glass. Type in anagama there

This will lead to a number of posts. A guest, John Baymore used to post regularly on anagrams and other Woodfired kilns. You should even find plans there as he posted the progress whilst building a kiln.

I just googled anagrams and brought up heaps of images and websites

Autoprompt   John would be amazed to read he builds anagrams.......

How productive you are would help you select also

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There's a lot to cover here. Wood firing is a more varied type of firing than any other. I would take a look at Jack Troy's wood firing book for starters. Lots of good info there. Quickly, though, different types of wood kilns give different effects. Some are made to be fired for a long time and build up a lot of runny ash effects, some are made to fire quickly and primarily just provide heat like any other kiln. Some can do both- fire quickly and give lots of ash. Some are old designs that are not very efficient and require long firings, and others are modern, efficient designs that can get the job done with less wood and less time.

Types of wood kilns to search: anagama, noborigama, cross draft, train, bourry box, catenary.

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I ordered yesterday 3 books recommended by lots of people. The internet is not full of info for this topic, as some are saying. Nobody is detailing the types of wood kilns, the temperature they reach, why you should choose one over another and so on.  What can be found, is that many people built different types of wood kilns based on their knowledge, books or based on simple plans they have found. My personal opinion is that you need to know what type of wood kiln you want, what size, what temperature to reach and in how many hours, and many other important aspects. Taking a basic plan from the internet and reproduced it it's not something that I would do.

We can centralize all the info in this thread and make it a resource for anybody interested in this subject. This is a forum, this is what we are supposed to do. 

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Think it needs to start with an assessment if your needs.

How productive are you?

How much time do you want to spend firing?

What are the laws re. Woodfirinf in your area. How much wood can you source

What storage for wood do you have?

Have you property on which you can build

Do you have a team of helpers.

If you figure some of that out then folk here can help or point in a direction.

It is a big ask for someone to describe fully the various woodfirinf kilns around and lay down their specifications.

Living and using a wood stove  various woods put out a different amount of heat when burning....

So lots of info. Wood types vary over continents...

A huge amount of info to gather.

What Wood Do you have access to?

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Any wood kiln will get as hot as you want it to get. Some folks fire as high as cone 14, but you need at least cone 9 to melt ash. This is generally knowledge passed down through experience. It's very difficult to write down specifics on how to fire a wood kiln, because every kiln fires differently, and every firing is different. The amount of wood you stoke, how often you stoke, the size of the logs, air intake, damper settings, etc, all depend on what's happening at any given time, how hot you plan to go, how much ash you want, how the kiln is behaving, dryness of the wood, weather, etc. There are a ton of variables that must be dealt with at each stage of the firing, and ton of ways to deal with them. There are not standard settings like there are on gas and electric kilns.

Also, there just aren't many people active on this forum who fire wood kilns. Your best bet is to find some kilns in your area and participate in some firings. That's how people learn to fire wood kilns.

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@VladCruceanu, I agree with @neilestrick here. Reading about wood kilns is a good start, but the only way to pick the right kiln for yourself is to fire the different styles of kilns. Look around for workshops where you can bring pots and participate in the labor. Look for art centers and colleges with wood kilns. There are wood kiln owners who are not offering workshops per se, but if you write to them and express a sincere and humble desire to work and learn, they might allow you onto their crew (but be prepared to take no for an answer without thinking he potter is ungenerous, wood kilns are a very personal space). Your preferences will emerge: long firings, short firings, big crew, small crew, type of wood, etc. Be willing to travel in order to experience the variety. Wood kilns are an expensive venture overall, be prepared with capital to invest. 

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My first wood firing was a large, privately owned anagama. I called the owner and asked if I could participate, and he said yes. I spent 3 days helping to load the kiln. It was an 8 day firing, and I couldn't stay the whole time, so I helped with the first day and the last 2 days. Then I went home for a few more days and came back to help unload. In that kiln were pieces by Peter Voulkos, Don Reitz, and Ken Ferguson, all of whom were still alive at that time. And Voulkos came to the unloading. Quite an experience.  As a young pottery student it blew my mind. That's the beauty of wood firing- it's a community event. Even with a small kiln that fires quickly, it's nice to have some help.

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There aren’t any wood firing kilns in the country I live or I coudn’t find them for the moment. 

I will start with the books so I can be more documented and continue from there. Hopefully the next year I will ask a buiding company to do one for me. There are people selling plans on the internet like manabigama.com but they are not answering my emails for the moment.

 

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On 10/30/2018 at 10:16 AM, VladCruceanu said:

There aren’t any wood firing kilns in the country I live or I coudn’t find them for the moment. 

I will start with the books so I can be more documented and continue from there. Hopefully the next year I will ask a buiding company to do one for me. There are people selling plans on the internet like manabigama.com but they are not answering my emails for the moment.

 

Perhaps instead of searching for wood firing kilns you can search for pottery that is wood fired, then ask those potters about their firings. 

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