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Thinking of buying a small to medium sized electric kiln


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#1 Pugaboo

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 06:20 PM

I am completely hooked on ceramics at this point and I have joined a studio that has a large electric kiln but I am limited to only cone 04 and cone 6 firings, it's what they have all voted to do to keep things easier for the groups firing. I also have to wait about a week to get back any items I have fired, this means a week for bisque and another weeks wait for glaze. This isn't a major issue yet but it means its very slow for me to test something out before I can see if it worked or not and can move on to making the final piece or adjusting what I did and going through 2 more weeks before its results are known.

I am thinking of buying a small to medium sized electric kiln so I can test out stuff quicker here at home and then use their larger kiln to fire final pieces or larger items. I have done some reading on here and have not quite gotten all my questions answered so I hope you will bear with yet another series of questions about which kiln to buy.

1) Which brand do you recommend or have experience with in the small to medium sized kilns?
I am looking a something 7 cubic feet or smaller chamber size no smaller than 11x9 but preferably something I guess around 16x20. Nothing much bigger than that as i already have access to a very large kiln and want to be able to run small runs through more frequently than waiting to run large groups through. Electricity up to 30 amp breaker not an issue as I have a dryer hookup not being used that I can take over for the kiln. MUST go to at least cone 6 but prefer rated for cone 8 or higher so I am not overly stressing the coils by heating to maximum rating each time.

2) I live in North Georgia can you recommend a store or website to order one from? reasonable prices, good customer service, low shipping, etc.

3) Is there a better time of year to buy a kiln? Do they go on sale at certain times of the year, have new models come out a certain time making older models go down in price, etc.

4) what else am I not asking that I need to be?
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#2 Mark C.

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 06:58 PM

A few points
first 30 amps is not very much . This is a very limiting factor and the kiln will have to be very small.
Neil can answer what small kiln may fit this restriction
I would rewire to a 60 amp myself.Look online at how many amps kilns need.

As far as brands I recomend an L&L they last and are some of the best made.
Mark

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#3 OffCenter

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:06 PM

Olympic Kilns is near you. Call them and ask if they have any deals on the kiln size you're looking for. Their kilns are already cheap and as good as the average kiln, but if you can get one that has been on display or has a scratch or for some reason can't be sold as brand new, you'll get a great deal. If you can pick it up at Flowery Branch, GA you'll save a lot of money on shipping.

Otherwise, just shop around and don't limit yourself to Davens, Atlanta Clay and other places close to you. Usually kilns are drop shipped from the factory so it doesn't matter where you buy it. I've gotten good deals on kilns from Big Ceramic Store, but they have lots of good competition.

Know what you want so you will not be talked into buying stuff you don't need. A computerized kiln is really nice but is it worth the extra money when you don't really need to do complicated ramp downs, etc.? If your kiln is going to be in your garage or a shed or someplace where people will not be around it while it is firing, you probably don't need a vent system. Some kilns, like L&L as one example, are built a little better than the average kiln and are worth a little more money but not a lot more money.

Good luck.

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#4 Pugaboo

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:54 PM

I guess a few examples might help you to know what I am kind of looking for. These examples are not the only kilns I am considering but they do kind of give you the amp and size range I am looking for so you might be able to suggest others that might be better.

Things that are a must: cone 6 or higher, 30 amp breaker, no smaller than 11x9, digital controller so i can hopefully mimic the larger kilns cycles, not too super tall since I have realized I can't reach the bottom of the kiln at the studio so something small enough I can load myself, prefer kiln bricks rather than the fiber blanket ( not sure if I got that right).

This is one of the kilns I am looking at and considering: http://www.bigcerami.../BCSBLKKiln.htm
It says it needs a 30 amp breaker and comes with kiln furniture it's made for big ceramic store by Paragon Kilns. I can get digital controller for a very small increase in price. It's a cone 8 and has free shipping.

This is another one: http://www.clay-king..._doll_kiln.html
It also says it needs a 30 amp breaker, nice controller, cone 8, but furniture and shipping are extra. My teacher likes Skutts and their huge kiln is a Skutt he is not familiar with their small kilns though.

This is a ConeArt which some people on the forum seem to really likehttp://www.bigceramicstore.com/Supplies/kilns/coneart_small.htm
It's also a 30 amp breaker, and is actually a cone 10, but shipping and furniture are extra.

I also like the Paragon Xpress-1193 it's only 11x9 inches inside but can be run off 120 outlet. I think this is the smallest of the bunch I am considering.

I actually like all of the Olympic brands on this page just having a hard time choosing between them. http://www.bigcerami..._small.htm#1414
This company might rise to the top since maybe I can go down and see them before deciding.

These are just a few that I am trying to educate myself on, I guess I would say that the first one attracts me the most but it's kind of an off brand made especially for bigceramicstore so not sure if that would be a problem or not.

Plan to place it in a ground floor garage under the main living floor. It will have easy access to the breakers and outlet as well as a side door I will be able to open and even the main garage door to open if needed to. The garage is right next to my studio without being IN my studio. If the garage is a no go the only other option I have is on the covered porch outside the studio. But then it would be sitting in the elements more and that can't be good for it.
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#5 Mark C.

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:19 PM

These are all very SMALL kilns and this may be all thats needed.
Doll kilns tend to be for small items only.
If you are putting this kiln next to breakers like you mentioned then maybe 30 amps is not an issue as a larger breaker can be added.
Just think what size you need and get that one.
Mark
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#6 Strelnikov

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:53 PM

Nothing lasts forever... so you also have to think about customer service and tech support.

Personal experiences with Skutt and Paragon have been great.

#7 Pugaboo

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 09:15 AM

I am leaning towards the bigceramicstorestore specially built kiln for them by Paragon it's called the Biggest Little Kiln. I want to stay small since as I have said I already have access to a larger kiln when I am ready to do final and/or larger items. This kiln will be used to fire tests, small items like windchimes, ornaments, mugs, vases etc. i am justing out and think it would take me a very long time to fill a larger kiln and know that even as i get better/faster etc i will most likely still need a small kiln for running tests and trying out new techniques. Once I get the test or samples fired to.a point I am happy with I will make to final form and have it fired in the big Skutt at the group studio.

I keep ending up back with Paragon kilns even though I have looked at all the brands. Olympic is probably Number 2 but mostly because they are close and I can see what I am buying before doing so. My 3rd choice would probably be a ConeArt kiln but they don't seem to be as common as the other 2 brands. I plan to ask my teacher next week which brands actually have people locally that can service them if needed since I am in a very small town so options are limited. I like the L&L brand as well but they seem to be a bit higher in price.

I have looked at used kilns but don't know enough about them to feel comfortable getting one off Craigslist. Don't want to get stuck with something that either doesn't work properly or costs more than a new one to get working.

BigCeramicStore.com's Biggest Little Kiln Specs:

240V, 28 amps, 6720 watts
Biggest Little Kiln with Sentry 12-key Controller
Cone 8 (note)
9 ft power cord
Interior size:
3" brick; 16.5" octagon x 22.25" Deep (That's over 4" deeper than most competitors kilns!)
Requires 240v, 30 amp fuse (comes with 6-30 plug)
2.9 cubic feet
Shipping weight 260 lbs kiln and furniture kit

Available with a Sentry 12 Key Digital Controller
AND
Furniture Kit 3x full shelves and 1x half shelf (5/8" thick, 15" diameter), 4 each posts: 1/2", 1", 2", 3", 4", 5", 6", 1 lb kiln wash)
+ free ship

I also have the option of adding Orton Vent Master Kiln Vent to it provided I do so when I order the kiln.

I am thinking of doing up a cardboard model using the dimensions listed to be able to "see" better what this kiln looks like size wise and what type items I will be able to fit in it.
Does anyone have any experience with this kiln?
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#8 bciskepottery

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:20 AM

When doing your "mock up" be sure to include sufficient space away from walls, etc. or you'll not end up with an accurate view of the size of space needed. That info should be in the manufacturer's user manual.

#9 CKPottery

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:37 PM

I just purchased an Olympic kiln from Clay-King. I was originally looking for a Skutt or an L&L but the price difference was the deal breaker. The "Freedom" series comes with the vent, stand, furniture, spare thermocouple and element, kilnwash, firebrick repair stuff, and even the wire tools to replace the electric elements if needed. The 2327 is approx 7 cubic feet and requires a 60 amp breaker (single phase). The biggest problem I had was that our house was remodeled at one point and the fuse panel is MAXED out. It was a very expensive lesson... my advice is to get an electrician to come look at your capabilities before you decide on anything.

~Cheryl
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#10 Pugaboo

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 05:05 PM

Having an electrician out to check out the panel is on the list. I did look at my panel, well panels, since I have 2 and the one that runs the downstairs has 5 open slots in it. This is also the panel that has the unused dryer line on it. I am actually seriously considering having the electrician install a bigger breaker, is there a reason not to go to 50 if I can even though the kilns I have been looking at only state they need a 30amp breaker? When I have the breaker and the wiring installed I have read its better to run the wire in a metal conduit on the surface of the wall rather than inside the wall that way if wiring problems happen its really easy to catch rather than having a fire smolder in the wall. I also want to run the line through a shut off switch, like i have on my water heater, to easily turn off all power to the kiln without unplugging the kiln each time since I have read this can damage the plug and cause arcing. I am also looking to do new even though its more expensive I just don't feel comfortable enough with my knowledge to buy a used kiln off Craigslist, I have read too many horror stories of additional expenses to get a "cheap" used kiln working and ending up costing more than a new one.

I spoke with my insurance agent today and they have no problem with a kiln as long as professionally wired and I don't have people, clients, students over to the house. I can make and sell stuff offsite like in craft shows or galleries just can't sell or have people to the house which I am 100 percent okay with. If i teach classes it would be at the studio i am a member of anyway and they have a gallery there for me to sell stuff as well. I am trying to cover my bases since this will be a major buy for me.

I don't want to get too big of a kiln that will take me weeks to fill, I want to keep it under 7, around 4 but more than 2 cubic feet, that way I can run smaller groups of stuff to see if I am doing it right to get the look I want and if not I haven't just wasted almost a month just to figure out I did something wrong and none of the stuff I made for an entire month is any good. Once I have tested at home when I do larger items I have access to a huge kiln at the studio where I am a member. For me this seems to be a good compromise small at home to test, learn and play and The Studio for the final pieces.

I think I have it down to 4 different brands:
1) Paragon, like several of their kilns so I need to whittle down the list to the features that are most important to me.
2) Olympic, they are close to me so I can check out the kiln ins person which is a bonus, but someone said they are cheaper quality?
3) Skutt, my teacher likes them and the studio uses Skutt
4) ConeArt, have heard good things
I guess I should add back in L&L but they tend to run higher in price but then maybe they are worth it?

The hunt continues!
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#11 neilestrick

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 05:22 PM

I sell L&L kilns because I think they are the best built kilns on the market. Years of doing repair work has confirmed this. If you have questions please feel free to call or email me directly.

One thing to watch out for is the actual breaker size required for the kiln, not the amperage draw. The breaker size is calculated at 25% more than the actual amperage draw. A 28 amp kiln should be on a 40 amp breaker.
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#12 Pugaboo

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:49 PM

I just purchased an Olympic kiln from Clay-King. I was originally looking for a Skutt or an L&L but the price difference was the deal breaker. The "Freedom" series comes with the vent, stand, furniture, spare thermocouple and element, kilnwash, firebrick repair stuff, and even the wire tools to replace the electric elements if needed. The 2327 is approx 7 cubic feet and requires a 60 amp breaker (single phase). The biggest problem I had was that our house was remodeled at one point and the fuse panel is MAXED out. It was a very expensive lesson... my advice is to get an electrician to come look at your capabilities before you decide on anything.

~Cheryl
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Cheryl- Are you happy with your Olympic Freedom kiln? I am looking at their Freedom 1823HE which is around 3 cubic, I think you said yours is 7 cubic? I plan to stick to the smaller one since not sure if I have enough extra amperage to handle anything bigger.

Everyone else-
I think i have it down to just a couple different kilns.
Olympic is like an hour and a half from me so I plan to go down and check out their kilns. I called and they have the one I am primarily interested in in stock so I can see it. They also have a couple others that are solid maybes that i can check out. I want to see the size i am looking at before i order one just in case i get there and realize it just wont do. My teacher said the studio is getting one of their huge oval kilns and to mention that he sent me their way and maybe they will give me a bit of a discount, can't hurt to ask anyhow.

My 2nd solid choice the the Biggest Little Kiln by Paragon it's about the same size as the Olympic Freedom 1823HE and in the same price range as well. It might come down to whichever one I can get for the best price including shipping and tax.

I decided i really can't afford an L&L or some of the other brands right now since my budget is around $2500 for kiln, vent, furniture, digital controller and electrical work to upgrade the breaker and a dedicated outlet (have 30amp unused outlet need to upgrade it and the wiring to a 40 which i am fairly confident i have the extra current to the house to make up the extra 10amps i need) I might not make that amount but need to try to keep it as close as possible to it. Am waiting to hear back from an electrician for a day to have him out to check out my situation then I'll know for sure and don't plan to buy anything until he's given the thumbs up. I do plan to have the specs on the couple of kilns i am considering ready for him to check out to make sure its possible to do.

I decided to buy new since I don't feel knowledgable enough to buy a used kiln and not get stuck with something I have no clue on how to fix if it doesn't work. Also my insurance agent mentioned they would prefer a new kiln and having the electrical done by a professional is a requirement as well.

I think that's all an improvement on knowing what I want down from a dozen to just 2! I'll keep you posted and if I am forgetting to take something into consideration give a shout out. Thank you everyone for all your input, this is a major investment and there are so many variables to consider.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#13 neilestrick

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:27 PM

Once you figure out how much the electrical upgrade is, you can decide what you can actually afford in a kiln.L&L, Skutt, etc may be within your budget once you know for sure.
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#14 Pres

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:55 AM

Once you figure out how much the electrical upgrade is, you can decide what you can actually afford in a kiln.L&L, Skutt, etc may be within your budget once you know for sure.



Ohhhh marketing! I always get turned off by fancy deceptive names/terms for items for sale. Chrysler and the "not cute ute" because it was %$#&^ugly, or the biggest little kiln. . . what does that mean? In the end, give me a good reliable manufacturer that sells a product line with simple name, and great reliability, even though I may pay a little more for it. 3 series BMW, Mazda 3, L&L, or Skutt, and these days even a Bailey. To not pay the little extra, and then find that after a few firings you are not satisfied because it doesn't reach temp, is not big enough, suck up a ton of electric or all of the cords and boxes heat up. . . well you get what you pay for.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#15 OffCenter

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 10:57 AM

...you get what you pay for.


The above is as meaningless as "biggest little kiln". More often you get less or more than you paid for because you're either a smart or stupid consumer. You seem reluctant to consider Cone Art because it isn't as popular as some other kilns. Don't let that influence you. (The best wheel, in my extremely humble opinion, is a Soldner but they don't advertize and you hardly ever hear of them.) I have a large Cone Art and have used it for several years and like it. I've used but never owned an L&L but, nevertheless, think they're the best built kiln on the market and well-worth maybe 15 or so % more. Bailey make all kinds of stuff and usually copies other companies. The interesting thing is that when they copy they usually improve, too. Olympic makes a good basic, no thrills kiln and are therefore usually cheaper. Here's what I am guessing is the deal with them. They can't sell directly because of their dealers but they slyly get around this by selling through an out-of-state dealer who handles their seconds. Their seconds aren't really seconds at all but are called that to get around competing with their dealers. Obviously, don't let them know you know this and just innocently ask if they ever have any display models or mark downs on whatever kiln you're interested in. Chances are they will say yes and you'll get a brand new kiln at a huge savings. If you go this route don't forget to thank me.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#16 Diane Puckett

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

Make sure you figure in delivery and sales tax, as these could vary. If you order from someplace outside of Georgia, you may not need to pay sales tax. I was warned to make sure delivery would be to inside my garage by a friend whose new kiln was left at the curb. I also got a discount for paying by check rather than credit card.

I am wondering if you see yourself staying in that studio long term or hope to have your own studio. A kiln can be a lifetime investment, so consider getting what you will want in five or ten years.

For what it's worth, I have an L&L Easy Fire. I have been very happy with it.
Diane Puckett
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#17 Pugaboo

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:03 PM

Neilestrick- yes I am awaiting final decision until after the electrician tells me what it's going to cost. I am even planning to ask him how much more it would be and if I have the extra amperage to wire a 50 amp breaker to give myself more choices.

Pres- I am actually not in love with any particular brand I am focusing more on the size and features rather than brand name. I have been trying to find people that have the different brands to see which are happy and would buy again and which are not.

OffCenter- thank you for your input. The biggest little kiln is made by Paragon which is a good company with many happy clients from what I have read. I also like a couple other Paragon kilns without the catchy name but that one is in the dimensions I am currently focusing on. I haven't focused on ConeArt because their similar kiln is much higher priced and the kiln repairman in the area has never dealt with one so I was kind of trying to stick with brands I know I can get an experienced repairman out to fix it if I need to. I am in a very small town so that could be a major issue for me. I have not considered anything from Bailey as I was trying to stick to major brands that I can research and find reviews on as well as the repair issue again. I know several people in the area that have Olympic kilns and all are happy with them. However I am not completely sold on any brand of kiln. Now that I know the size kiln I THINK I need I can drive down to Olympic kilns and look at this exact size to verify that it is indeed the size I want. After that I have to make the final decision on a particular brand. In case you are wondering I have done up a spreadsheet with about 2 dozen different kiln models with each of the kiln features I am interested listed. This allowed me to pick out which features mattered, which I could afford and which I didn't need.

Here is an example of just a few of the kilns I researched with their price including the features I want. All of the prices shown include in the price; the kiln, a vent, furniture kit, 12 key digital controller, 3 inch brick, aproximately 18x22 inches inside, optional rolling cart if available and shipping when I could find an exact price as some said to contact for shipping costs.
L&L e18T-3 $2677
Skutt KM1018-3 $2731.88
Skutt 1822-3 &1948 +shpg
Paragon Biggest Little Kiln $2084
Paragon TnF82 $2049.88
Olympic Freedom 1823HE $2155
Olympic S1823 $2023.88
Evenheat RM II 1822 $1787.88
ConeArt BX1822D $2375 + shpg

I have a bunch more on the sheet in different sizes but kind of decided to focus on this size as it seemed about what I want and this is one of the things I'll be checking out when I go down to Olympic. Evenheat I haven't been able to find a lot of reviews on or anybody that has one, L&L everybody likes but is on the higher end, Skutt very well liked, repairman familiar with teacher familiar with but one is too high and other have to call for shpg quote, Paragon well respected, repairman familiar, prices good, read several reviews on the biggest little kiln and people were really happy with it, Olympic most people that have seem to like them, repairman familiar, teacher familiar, group studio has one, local so can see and pick up and save shpg might also get a discount due to studio buying another one from them as well, ConeArt newer brand harder to find reviews on people seem to like them but more expensive and have to add shpg to price.
I also looked at the prices at several different websites but if you know of a better place to purchase a kiln I would be interested.

I think I am doing as much research as I can and I hope I am taking into consideration all of the things I need to. I am not going to jump and buy the first kiln I see I am going to weigh all my options and try to make the best most informed decision I can. The variables are overwhelming so I tried to take into account all the things people said they liked about all the different kilns and find kilns that include those things. I also recorded how many amps each pulls, the breaker size needed, the power cord configuration, floor space needed, I have even downloaded as many manufacturer catalogs and spec sheets as I can find.

I'm not trying to dis any one manufacturer or say one is the best I am trying to learn and research as many kilns as I can so I can make an informed decision. I live in a very small town and do not have access to many ceramic shops to look at all the different brands models. By asking the question here I am hoping people that have experience with the various kilns can educate me on why a particular kiln is good or bad. It's kind of like trying to research and buy a car everybody says their favorite model is the best but I have to figure out if that particular model is best for me. Not trying to step on toes honestly!

Terry
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#18 Pugaboo

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:14 PM

Make sure you figure in delivery and sales tax, as these could vary. If you order from someplace outside of Georgia, you may not need to pay sales tax. I was warned to make sure delivery would be to inside my garage by a friend whose new kiln was left at the curb. I also got a discount for paying by check rather than credit card.

I am wondering if you see yourself staying in that studio long term or hope to have your own studio. A kiln can be a lifetime investment, so consider getting what you will want in five or ten years.

For what it's worth, I have an L&L Easy Fire. I have been very happy with it.

Diane- great suggestions! I will make sure to find out about sales tax, I've already figured in shpg where I could. I did find out with shipping I need to allow for lift gate service for delivery and NOBODY delivers to my door in a truck it's a one lane dead end road so I always have to drive down to the end of the road and flag down the driver and unload and bring big stuff up in my pick up myself. I will also ask about paying by check thank you.

I do see myself staying at the group studio long term. I am also a painter and they have asked me to teach some classes there as well as teach some classes in some of the things I am doing in ceramics that nobody else there is doing and have told the director they would like to learn how to do. That said I have also read that even people that have large kilns say having a small one around to run tests and stuff through is helpful so the size I am focusing on could in the future become my test kiln if I decided I am successful enough to need a large kiln to keep up with my out put. Be nice to be so successful I ned another kiln LOL.

Do you mind my asking which model you have? What is it that you like about it?

Thank you again for your suggestions and really appreciate your input.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#19 oldlady

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:23 PM

please read all of the posts under "kiln options" if you have not already done so.
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#20 Pugaboo

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 06:49 PM

please read all of the posts under "kiln options" if you have not already done so.

Thanks oldlady ( it really bothers me to call you that it seems rude lol) I have been watching that topic as well gathering as much data as possible.

Terry
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