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Danilyn22

Buying New Kiln. Need Recommendations

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Yahoo...I have saved enough for a new kiln and am ready to start shopping.

 

I have been using a manual kiln where holds and ramping etc are not a choice so I am excited to move forward...

 

But there are so many choices and this kiln has to last forever and fit my needs.

 

I fire cone 6 and generally make small functional ware. But I want something that will grow with me, maybe cone 10 someday.

 

I have saved enough for the best.

 

So what are your recommendations and features I should look for

 

Thanks

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I'd say a good size for an individual doing functional ware would be 27" diameter. Unless you make platters, then go wider. How often to you fire? Are you doing lots of production? Should it be large to fit your production schedule

 

Look for kilns that have the bells and whistles you want. Consider good wall thickness and insulation. 

Read reviews by others. And consider shipping. Bailey's was having a sale. May still be on. Skutt is on the West coast. bailey in Kingston, NY. Others will chime in. I like Bailey products. I have 2 Axner super kilns though. Super in that they are well insulated and elements coated because they are actually hybrids. They don't make these kilns anymore.  Also check the archives. This has been asked before and you may see some ideas you haven't mentioned.

 

 

Marcia

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I prefer the L & L kilns for the element holders. These help to hold the elements into the brick, protect the brick when changing elements, and have much less sagging of elements out of the holders. Hated to use pins to keep elements in place in the older kilns, but tech has changed where that is not needed as much. In the long run, I would opt for the kiln size you want, always over buy, as when you get started you will use all of the space. Larger kiln, longer turn around also. Options, I would have the thicker lid to save on energy, the programmable kiln controller, and some form of vent system. Money spent now will save you later. Oh, you might look into a furniture set while at it as you can usually get a set of shelves and stilts at a lower price when buying the kiln.

 

 

best,

Pres

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I am an L&L devotee. These are the features that would make me buy another one:

 

Three zone controller. Even firings from top to bottom.

 

Ceramic element holders. Makes changing the elements much easier, and they protect the brick inside the kiln. My 13 yr old L&L looks pretty new on the inside.

 

Ceramic thermocouple holders. Keeps the spalling crud from landing on your pots.

 

Great customer service. I've gotten excellent tech support from them when needed. And whenever I need a part, the people who answer their phone are friendly and responsive and the part arrives asap. They will overnight ship if you're on a deadline.

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Go for one that fires to cone 10; that way you will have no problems firing reliably to cone 6.

Go for 3" of insulated fire brick (or equivalent); retains heat better and cools slower.

Go for an automatic controller.

Go for multiple zones (not single zone); you will get even firings with three thermocouples.

 

Think about service and maintenance. Will you do your own element replacement? Etc. You can get terrific prices on the internet, some with free delivery. But are you okay with setting up the kiln once it arrives? Buying from a local shop keeps you dollars in the community and builds a long-term relationship. I chose a local shop . . . and his final price with installation was not much higher than a drop shipment. And he walked me through all the controls, etc. We want people to support local artists/potters; potters need to support local suppliers, too. Works both ways.

 

My kiln is an L&L, 6.7 cu. ft. No regrets. Others I looked at were Cone Art and Bailey. Very seldom do you see these brands on the resale market; other brands, more likely. Main reasons for L&L were the element holders for easy changing, solid construction, and it was the brand I learned to fire on at the community studio (also fired some other brands, but the L&Ls were the workhorses).

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Guest JBaymore

Congratulations on the new kiln venture.  Exciting.

 

Something to really consider in a "forever" kin.... that we tend to forget..... is that the kiln gets older with each firing..... AND so do we.

 

Loading deep top loader electrics can be really hard on the back.  Seems like all of pottery making is pretty hard on the back.  I don't know too many older potters that don't have some form of back issues.

 

So I'd strongly suggest that you consider a front loader as a potential choice.  YES... they will be more expensive than top loaders.  And you likely have to get a "jobber" to move them into the location (or some good friends who are younger and still have good backs they can work on ruining  ;) ).

 

Front loaders are very easy to load.  A big added benefit on front loaders is that they are often FAR more sturdy in the way they are constructed and they are often much better insulated.  This kind of unit truly could be a "forever" kiln almost no matter how old you are now.

 

I am very partial to the Fredrickson electric kilns.  Very solid construction, well insulated, multi-zone control, lots of "bells and whistles", and so on.   Not sure if your "buy the best" budget considered this kind of expense or not.

 

best,

 

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

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Front loaders are expensive in general, but there are some that aren't as pricey as others. L&L has their new EFL series which are moderately priced for front loaders. They've figured out how to turn a round kiln on its side so the construction requirements aren't as complicated as a typical front loader.

 

If a front loader is out of your budget, rather than getting a 27" tall kiln, think about getting one that's 18" tall. The most popular size kiln is the 23" wide by 27" tall version, which is about 7 cubic feet in volume. You can get a wider but shorter kiln, 27" wide by 18" tall that's the same cubic footage but much easier to reach into. Plus the wider diameter will have less wasted space when loading.

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Yes, front loaders are much easier on the back:

 

Nerd Man

 

You can take breaks more often.

Keep 80 gallons of coffee hot.

Roast a pig- whole!

Bake 90 loaves of bread.

Post impressive pictures on ceramic forums.

and........... plan your own cremation.  Save $$$$

 

Nerd

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Wow, thanks so much for all your recommendations, especially being able to roast a pig and plan my own cremation!!  

One of my old kilns now is super big and I can barely reach over it to get stuff in. I actually have a stilted floor, about 4", just to make me reach it and it takes me forever to load. My other kiln is super small but manageable for quick turnover but it cools down super duper fast.  Size is important. I don't live that close to any place that sells them so its difficult for me to figure out size but I will try!  

I do plan on buying a forever kiln with all the bells and whistles now so your advice is really helpful. Looks like its down to L&L and ConeArt which are the two I have been looking at.  I had not thought about front loading so I will do some research on that as well. Anything that makes life more convenient is good enough for me!!  

Now to go shopping!!

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One other advantage with a front-loading kiln, is that, depending on the mix of pots, you might be able to set the shelves up and load and unload without having to remove all the shelves.  Something you just can't do with a top-loader.

 

Only disadvantage I see with a front-loader is the whole weight of a shelf is dangling from your fingertips while placing it.  I use both, and just slightly prefer the front-loader.

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