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tcermak84

Can You Double A Wood Burning Oven As A Kiln?

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So... I'm at the beginning of the great backyard renovationproject. I plan to put in a modest sized brick oven and am wondering if it could also double as a pottery kiln or perhaps even get hot enough to slump glass.

I even have the option to make it gas fired if necessary. Would this make a difference in the temperatures I could achieve?

What are the basic differences in design/construction of traditional pottery kilns and baking ovens?

Are there any nasty toxins released when firing pottery or slumping glass that would make dual use contraindicated?

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What are the basic differences in design/construction of traditional pottery kilns and baking ovens?

 

ones for food the others are not

its like a sports car or a truck-one will not do both things

 

welcome to the forums

Mark

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What are the basic differences in design/construction of traditional pottery kilns and baking ovens?

 

ones for food the others are not

its like a sports car or a truck-one will not do both things

 

I just wasn't sure if perhaps you could have a dual function on something like that. Or even separate chambers. I want to build my own kiln to save money but not sure how to. I don't have money for a kiln and where my property is there aren't any clay stores/kilns for two hours. Would be a little excessive to drive every time I wanted to fire something. Not only that, maybe there are kilns that don't require the 250amp plugins? A regular plugin? I'm not really sure. I've built the insides of kilns before but never really got down to the nitty gritty/detail/design/spec parts outside of the brick and elements. Thanks for the welcome!

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Pizza ovens have a opening and you build a small wood fire on fire bricks (low temp ones for chimmneys work)

Pottery kilns are gas or electric

electric come in all sizes from very small (plug into a 20-30 amp circuit) to larger 50-90 amp curcuits

50-60  amps seems to be average for many kilns

two hour drive to store can work fine as long as you get what you need every now and then.

Mark

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What are the basic differences in design/construction of traditional pottery kilns and baking ovens?

 

ones for food the others are not

its like a sports car or a truck-one will not do both things

 

I just wasn't sure if perhaps you could have a dual function on something like that. Or even separate chambers. I want to build my own kiln to save money but not sure how to. I don't have money for a kiln and where my property is there aren't any clay stores/kilns for two hours. Would be a little excessive to drive every time I wanted to fire something. Not only that, maybe there are kilns that don't require the 250amp plugins? A regular plugin? I'm not really sure. I've built the insides of kilns before but never really got down to the nitty gritty/detail/design/spec parts outside of the brick and elements. Thanks for the welcome!

 

Might I recommend "The Kiln Book"?  I think it might answer your questions and get you on track for building a kiln.  It's a bit expensive, but worth every penny.  Another series to check out is "The Self-Reliant Potter."  It's a little old and doesn't always go into depth, but it's got a lot of cool ideas in it.

 

Also, are you sure you're not confusing a 250 amp outlet with 240 volts?  It's really not too hard to get an electrician in to wire in a 240v outlet.  250 amps is a lot of juice--like small cast iron induction foundry power.

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Yeah I was definitely wrong.lmao I knew it was 2/something! haha Yeah, Well, i'm pretty certain too regarding the wood burning oven comment that there ARE potters who do wood burnings, that don't rely on electricity for their firings. They're probably rare with the accessibility these days of kilns but they're there.

 

I'm almost certain I just checked that book out last year from the Library and went a little crazy on it.lol It's been a while though so i'll have to check it out again and see what I got. My problem was I don't want to drive two hours every time I want to fire something. It's probably not hard to get an electrician to do it but I don't want it in my house. I want something outside that's nice and easy to hide. I'm in a cabin in the middle of the woods and i'm not sure i'm comfortable with the idea of the kiln being inside despite how small/safe they're said/proven to be.

 

I'm building an outdoor kitchen and attaching a self made wood burning oven at the end hence my original question wondering if it could double. If not i wouldn't mind building something else but i'm not sure I can get a kiln to match it and I don't have storage or anything and i'm sure electric can't just sit outside without being properly protected. My location in the mountains I do get wind storms and they can get pretty crazy since we're so high up. The rest of the kitchen outside is built in between wood and stone veneers so i was trying to incorporate it somehow.

 

Any more suggestions/ideas are very helpful. Thanks for the replies so far! 

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Anything kiln/oven that fires pots should not be used for food. Too much potential contamination. Very different requirements for creating and holding the heat, as well. Getting to 600 degrees is simple. 2400 degrees is a whole other ballgame.

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Tcermak84, I would say, build your wood burning stove for food, and food only. Then, build a wood burning kiln, for ceramics. There are still plenty of potters, who do wood fire, because of the excellent effects it offers. However, it may be simpler to convert an old electric kiln, to fire with gas. There are plenty of how to's out there for doing exactly this. There are even some recent topics about it. Gas would allow you to have the kiln somewhat portable, and not require the running of electrical.

 

As a bonus, if you put and fired the kiln near the wood fire oven, you could eat, while firing the kiln!

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You might want to look into a "train" kiln. They are wood fired, small, easy to build and fire pretty fast.

Tony Clennell had one in his backyard in Canada and it worked very well.

No reason you can't have two things .., one for food and another for wood firing. Google it .., plus I'm pretty sure he wrote a chapter about it in Mel Jacobsens kiln book.

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Wood firing is the absolute most expensive way to fire ceramics. LABOR!

 

best,

 

................john

 

PS: Kilns and food in same chambers...... bad combination.

I've never done a wood firing John, but I have little doubt of this. A friend of mine heats his house with several different types of stoves, a couple of which are wood burning. It seems he is doing something related to preparing the wood all year long. He's buying the wood, splitting it, moving it, etc.

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You might want to look into a "train" kiln. They are wood fired, small, easy to build and fire pretty fast.

Tony Clennell had one in his backyard in Canada and it worked very well.

No reason you can't have two things .., one for food and another for wood firing. Google it .., plus I'm pretty sure he wrote a chapter about it in Mel Jacobsens kiln book.

 

Trains fire great, but they are actually more expensive to build than other tube kilns due to the additional bricks needed for the tall firebox. And they are more complicated due to the throat arch construction. If I was going to build a simple small wood kiln I would build a nice barrel or catenary arch cross draft.

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Yeah.... wood firing is a "labor of love".  You REALLY have to be willing to accept the huge labor factor.  It comes in many forms.

 

First there is the "getting the wood" factor.  Whether that is tracking down good suppliers of cut stuff (whick seem to constantly be changing), or going out and cutting it and hauling it.... it takes time.

 

Then once you have it "on site", there is the wood prep itself.  The wood needs to be in certtain sizes.  Some larger , some smaller, and having the right ratio of those kinds on hand for a given kiln.  So likely some chain saw work, and then either hand splitting or using a log splitter. Often...... appropriate amounts of differnt types of wood too.... hard wood  vs. softwood, etc.

 

Then there is the wood stacking and "drying maintenence" aspects.  Keeping track of the condition of the backstock of wood for future firings.  Covering it at the right times.... uncovering it at the right times.  And so on.

 

Then ...... moving the current firings wood to the area near the kiln if it is not already there.  You get to be a kiln pilot.......... or actually .... "pile - it".  LOTS of "moving wood".

 

Next we have the loading of the kiln to factor in.  It is WAY harder to load a wood kiln than say a gas or electric kiln.  Between "strategic placement" thinking time as you are in there thinking about flame paths..... and then all the wadding issues.  WAY longer to load.  WAY, WAY, WAY.

 

Then there is the firing itself.  You need to stoke 24/7.  SOMEONE does anyway.  With a gas or electric kiln.... you can be doing other things at the same time as occasionally going and turning up a burner or two.  Or in the case of an electric kiln....... making sure the controller is doing its job.  Not so the wood kiln....... pretty constant attention.  As the firing progresses....... focus goes up.  All else fades into insignificance.  Nothing else gets done.  So every hour of the firing is at least oneperson labor hour... often more then one person on a larger kiln.  If you fire for 2 days...... one person.... 48 hours of direct labor at $X per hour in addition to all the other direct actual fuel costs.

 

Then there is the "firing exhaustion" labor costs.  Wood firing is hard physical work.  After a firing, you are drained...... useless for a while.  In some cases you are just finally SLEEPING!  So no pottery work gets done or far less than normal.  So in that sense... more "lost labor".

 

Then unloading.  Again a much slower process than gas or electric firings.  Cleaning ouit dry ash from fireboxes and waiting for dust to clear before you can really get in there.  Sometimes stuff is stuck and requires carefull thinking and judicious use of chizels and hammers or grinder to get out.   Older kilns have sharp bits and bobs that require slow careful deliberate  movements inside.... or blood is shed.

 

Then there is the clean up of the work.  Wadding and stuff like shells and the like removed. Deciding how MUCH to grind off.  Lots of grinding and buffing and fussing.

 

All in all........... HUGE amounts of labor.

 

For a lot of the labor above..... you can often contract it out.... but that still factors into the "wood firing is expensive" part.  When you need a "firing team" ..........and if you don't pay them cash to do so........... the expense there comes in the form of trading away part of that expensive kiln space (that you could have used yourself) for the firing labor others provide.

 

Yeah.... now that I've said all that.... I'm nuts.  Think I'll go get a couple big L+Ls with nice computerized controllers.  Sounds REALLY good to me right about now.  ;)

 

best,

 

.................john

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I've never done a wood firing John, but I have little doubt of this. A friend of mine heats his house with several different types of stoves, a couple of which are wood burning. It seems he is doing something related to preparing the wood all year long. He's buying the wood, splitting it, moving it, etc.

They say a wood-burner warms you three times: collecting, chopping, burning!

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Yeah.... now that I've said all that.... I'm nuts.  Think I'll go get a couple big L+Ls with nice computerized controllers.  Sounds REALLY good to me right about now.  ;)

 

best,

 

.................john

 

Give me a call. I accept Visa, MC and Discover.

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I'm bisquing later in week and going to cook a few turkeys and pies in  gas kiln -any suggestions on basting them so they can hold up to cone 08?

Foil wrap or should I use ceramic fiber?

I thought about the electric kiln but the drippings will stain the bricks and I'll have to sponge it off every fire with water.

I just could not help myself on this one.All in jest

Mark

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[quote name="JBaymore" post="59881" timestamp="1401802821"

 

Yeah.... now that I've said all that.... I'm nuts. Think I'll go get a couple big L+Ls with nice computerized controllers. Sounds REALLY good to me right about now. ;)

 

best,

 

.................john

 

John, they do make some great oxidation glazes, that mimic wood fire effects.......

 

I'm bisquing later in week and going to cook a few turkeys and pies in gas kiln -any suggestions on basting them so they can hold up to cone 08?

Foil wrap or should I use ceramic fiber?

I thought about the electric kiln but the drippings will stain the bricks and I'll have to sponge it off every fire with water.

I just could not help myself on this one.All in jest

Mark

 

Mark, what you are going to want to do is stuff the chicken with a beer can, to help keep the meat moist up to cone 08. If you go any hotter, you need to contact TJR and get some of that Canadian beer, which will better be able to handle the higher temperatures.

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You might consider doing a low fire alternate in your wood burning oven.  I have talked with a resident of the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico about how he fires his work in his horno (wood burning oven) inside his living room.  Now he is not using glazes or the like, but still gets lots of character in his pots from the "fire clouds" formed when part of the pot is reduced and part oxidized in the firings.  This looks particularly nice on micaceous clays like he uses.

 

I can imagine doing some pit fire effects as well, but then metals get introduced and toxicity becomes a problem.

 

John

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John, they do make some great oxidation glazes, that mimic wood fire effects.......

 

I'm bisquing later in week and going to cook a few turkeys and pies in gas kiln -any suggestions on basting them so they can hold up to cone 08?

Foil wrap or should I use ceramic fiber?

I thought about the electric kiln but the drippings will stain the bricks and I'll have to sponge it off every fire with water.

I just could not help myself on this one.All in jest

Mark

 

Mark, what you are going to want to do is stuff the chicken with a beer can, to help keep the meat moist up to cone 08. If you go any hotter, you need to contact TJR and get some of that Canadian beer, which will better be able to handle the higher temperatures.

Don't bring me into this! You guys are on your own. We are polite in Canada, remember.

TJR.

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John, they do make some great oxidation glazes, that mimic wood fire effects.......

 

I'm bisquing later in week and going to cook a few turkeys and pies in gas kiln -any suggestions on basting them so they can hold up to cone 08?

Foil wrap or should I use ceramic fiber?

I thought about the electric kiln but the drippings will stain the bricks and I'll have to sponge it off every fire with water.

I just could not help myself on this one.All in jest

Mark

Mark, what you are going to want to do is stuff the chicken with a beer can, to help keep the meat moist up to cone 08. If you go any hotter, you need to contact TJR and get some of that Canadian beer, which will better be able to handle the higher temperatures.

Don't bring me into this! You guys are on your own. We are polite in Canada, remember.

TJR.

 

So what I'm taking from this is the best thing to do with American beer is put it up the back end of a chicken?   :P

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