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Kiln Help - Can I build one?


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#1 porcelainsculptor

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:22 PM

OK, so I am finally moving to a place where I have space for a kiln - YAY! But I do not have a kiln and can not afford to buy one. What is the least expensive way to build a kiln? Any help greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

#2 JBaymore

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:45 PM

What are you planning to fire IN the kiln? That is the starting point in answering any and all questions about it.

I can make a guess from your forum username... but I don't want to assume. :)


best,

.......................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#3 porcelainsculptor

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:49 PM

You would have been safe assuming ;) Porcelain it is but I use a very nice cone 6 porcelain. Does that help?

I should probably add that I have absolutely no experience firing and don't know anything about kilns.

#4 Cass

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:32 PM

are you in a good sized city?

#5 porcelainsculptor

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:15 PM

<br />are you in a good sized city?<br />

<br /><br /><br />

No, less than 500 people in this town. LOL I will be about two hours away from a good sized city - why?

#6 Cass

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:17 PM

i asked about size of city only to gauge the resources you may have nearby....so....my advice would be to save for a small, used electric kiln to get you going, make sure it is at least a cone 6 kiln of course

self-built kilns can be quite costly in materials alone, and you need some specialized tools and skills to build them

someone may have other suggestions, but for having no experience in kiln-building, that is the first option that comes to mind

#7 sawing

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 08:29 PM

Check craigslist for used kilns. I got a great deal on one there!

#8 Essaily

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 02:56 AM

I saw someone make one for $70 using gas and wool blanket insulation. (I'd be a bit worried about the asbestos though). Another kiln idea I saw that was almost free was a Rocket Kiln - made of cob and clay and the clever inventors not only cooked tonnes of pizza and turkey but fired a kiln shelf and bricks. Just search 'DateFarmer and Rocket Kitchen' on youtube. I guess it depends on what kinds of effects you like to create on your pottery.
Attached File  FXMZJQ8H673BZMW.LARGE.jpg   11.64KB   9 downloads

#9 TJR

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:18 AM

I saw someone make one for $70 using gas and wool blanket insulation. (I'd be a bit worried about the asbestos though). Another kiln idea I saw that was almost free was a Rocket Kiln - made of cob and clay and the clever inventors not only cooked tonnes of pizza and turkey but fired a kiln shelf and bricks. Just search 'DateFarmer and Rocket Kitchen' on youtube. I guess it depends on what kinds of effects you like to create on your pottery.
Attached File  FXMZJQ8H673BZMW.LARGE.jpg   11.64KB   9 downloads


Essaly;
Do not EVER fire pots and eat out of the same kiln/oven. One of my former art teachers used to cook garlic sausage in his electric kiln for lunch. He died of cancer of the asophagus. That is THROAT CANCER. Very bad idea.
TJR.

#10 TJR

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:22 AM

PORCELAINSCULPTOR;
I BOUGHT AN ALMOST NEW KILN FROM A LOCAL HOSPITAL ONCE FOR $200.00.oops, caps lock on again,sorry. Put the word out to craft schools, potter friends,churches. You would be surprised at how many people have kilns sitting in their basements.
TJR.

#11 porcelainsculptor

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 09:50 AM

Thanks for all the ideas. I will look up that $70 one. I have a friend that's an electrician and he said he'd help me build one. I read about a guy that built his own kiln years ago and it looked like it was just a big fire pit. I have the room now to do something like that but can't find the article.

I am a little worried about buying a used kiln because I know so little about them - how do I even know if it works? I did find a few on CL that I'm looking into.

#12 JBaymore

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:28 AM

Thanks for all the ideas. I will look up that $70 one. I have a friend that's an electrician and he said he'd help me build one. I read about a guy that built his own kiln years ago and it looked like it was just a big fire pit. I have the room now to do something like that but can't find the article.

I am a little worried about buying a used kiln because I know so little about them - how do I even know if it works? I did find a few on CL that I'm looking into.



You'd be better off buying an existing unit. Find a nearby potter to help you choose the right one or post stuff here for us to help.

I'm a professional kiln builder. Building electric kilns from scratch is not easy. If you have an exact set of plans to follow...... that makes it a little more accomplishable. But designing the electrical stuff to get items like the Watt Density correct for the elements, routing out decent element groves without destroying many bricks, and other calculations and fabrication is not "a piece of cake". Even for "an electrican". Fabricating simple fuel fired kilns is actually easier.

There is one book that goes into electric kiln construction VERY well......... and for the life of me I can't remember the name of it right now (senior moment). It might be "Electric Kiln Construction". I THINK it is by a guy named Frazier.....but I could be not remembering that correctly either. I'll post the ISBN for you later... but I am off to teach all day at the college in a few minutes and will not be home again until almost 11 PM.

best,

.................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#13 JBaymore

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:31 AM


I saw someone make one for $70 using gas and wool blanket insulation. (I'd be a bit worried about the asbestos though). Another kiln idea I saw that was almost free was a Rocket Kiln - made of cob and clay and the clever inventors not only cooked tonnes of pizza and turkey but fired a kiln shelf and bricks. Just search 'DateFarmer and Rocket Kitchen' on youtube. I guess it depends on what kinds of effects you like to create on your pottery.
Attached File  FXMZJQ8H673BZMW.LARGE.jpg   11.64KB   9 downloads


Essaly;
Do not EVER fire pots and eat out of the same kiln/oven. One of my former art teachers used to cook garlic sausage in his electric kiln for lunch. He died of cancer of the asophagus. That is THROAT CANCER. Very bad idea.
TJR.




TJR is DEAD ON on this one (no pun intended). The unfortunatelty too common habit of cooking in kilns is generallly one that should not be encouraged unless there a "total separation of pots and food" devised. uI t can be done,safely, but it requires an understanding of keeping the "bad crap" out of the place thwere the food will be. Isolation of gases and fumes.

best,

............john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#14 Cass

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:05 PM

so, potatoes in tinfoil on top of woodfire stokes is a bad idea too?

uh-oh, i'm in trouble

#15 dee kat

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:41 PM

OK, so I am finally moving to a place where I have space for a kiln - YAY! But I do not have a kiln and can not afford to buy one. What is the least expensive way to build a kiln? Any help greatly appreciated!

Thanks!


Making a gas kiln I would think would be easier than an electric but much harder to fire. Simon Leach has taken an old electric kiln and turned it into a gas kiln (propane). You can usually find old electric shells that people want to get rid of because the controller has died.

If you do go the route of rebuilding an electric kiln then you are going to have to control the temperature. For the old kilns before computer controllers that was done by turning different numbers of elements on to either low, medium or high heat. So you would start out turning the bottom element on to low for a given time - for greenware you would often candle overnight so this would be on low with the lid propped open an inch or so. The next morning the lid would close and you would turn the second element on to low and run like that for an hour then the top would be turned on to low. Each hour would turn one switch up one level of heat until all were on high for all three elements. You would have a shut off switch that was kept open with a cone of the temperature you wanted to fire to and when that cone bent the setter would fall and the switch would flip to turn the kiln off. There would be a timer that turned the kiln off after a maximum number of hours as a safety measure. Any sane potter would know the timing of the firing and would check at regular intervals to make sure the kiln had not shutdown prematurely or failed to shut off when it should (so there were always witness cones on the shelves that you could look at the check your firing heat work (something close to temperature but not really).

So other than the shell you are going to need 3 sets of electric coils that will fit your kiln and a means of turning them on and off. You will need cones for monitoring your temperature. If you are going to do ramping or soaking then you are going to need to learn more than just turning on the elements and firing at high until you reach temperature. There are many posts on doing this with an electric kiln without a computer controller but you will need a pyrometer.

Youtube is good for this type of information. Somewhere I have the one on rebuilding an electric kiln but I can't find it at this time.

http://www.youtube.c...c.1.6iocYTycIL8

#16 Essaily

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:22 PM

Thanks for the warning, much appreciated!:) Actually they only did a bisque fire for their bricks, no glazes.

#17 Essaily

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:25 PM

Just found the link for $70 gas kiln! But just found a couple links - Ian Gregory's flat pack kilns look interesting. They use propane to fire and ceramic fibre. This fabric though is irritating to skin. Otherwise seems to work great. Also search on flickr someone put up Build Easy Propane Kiln from bricks. There's step by step pictures and you can contact the builder. He says he fires to cone 10 easily.

#18 Mark C.

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 09:41 PM

OK, so I am finally moving to a place where I have space for a kiln - YAY! But I do not have a kiln and can not afford to buy one. What is the least expensive way to build a kiln? Any help greatly appreciated!

Thanks!


With zero experience on kiln building I would suggest finding a used one-As you spoke about an electrician a used electric should be easy to find.
The best advice I have is read up on kilns and learn about them then shop for a used one as price seems to matter a lot in your above statement.
Building one is not the cheapest way to go. A used one is the least amount of money and time.
Mark
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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#19 JBaymore

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 11:18 PM

This fabric though is irritating to skin.


It is far more than that. Please see the stuff I posted on refractory ceramic fiber (RCF) here in this thread: http://ceramicartsda...ln/page__st__20

best,

..............john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#20 DAY

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 07:38 AM

It is possible to build a car- and some folks do!- but it is cheaper and quicker to buy one. New or used.
"Craig's List Kilns" are a great source of kilns, but you do need to have some experience. Don't even bother on clicking there are no photos!
I have bought a number of L&L kilns- some 30 years old- from Craig. Look at the wiring, for corrosion/rust, and plan on replacing the elements, @$40- each. If the kiln is hooked up, then you can see it "work". If not, then offer $100, and haggle from there.




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