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nancylee

Should I buy a kiln, and if so, which one?

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Hi all,

I am doing pottery for almost two years, and I have a shop in which I sell local artisan's goods. I do sell some of my simple stuff, such as small garden markers and wind chimes, easy stuff that I cannot mess up! I have a wheel and just bought a slab roller, because that small stuff does sell, and it is fun to make. I bought an old kiln that I asked about here a few weeks ago, and while it will bisque my work, it won't get to Cone 6. My pottery teacher looked at my stuff and the celadon-glazed bowl almost got to what it should look like and said the glaze we use is Cone 4, so my kiln is getting to around Cone 4. My witness cones of 5 and 6 never bent over, and I kept the kiln on for something like 18 hours. Supervised, of course.

 

I just missed a L&L kiln at my local ceramics shop, used, perfect shape, with a kiln sitter, for $800. The next least expensive model they have is about $1900, a Skutt 1018. Others are on order, but won't be in for a while. I like to buy locally, because the owner is great at troubleshooting. Questions: do I need a computerized kiln, I do work outside the house, but don't think I would ever put a kiln on and leave it. I did like learning about how a kiln works, and the glazes,how much time, at what temp, etc. I don't know that if I had a computerized model from the start, if I would have learned anything, and I do like to learn. I do want to fire to Cone 6, because I make a lot of bowls, mugs, plates for my family and friends as presents. (Poor people! I have been experimenting on them for two years now!)

 

I do feel I need a kiln, as I make a lot, and sooner or later my pottery teacher is going to ban my filling up her kiln with my stuff. It is for me, and some for sale, so I feel I should use my own dime, although she has been very generous about it all. The biggest things I make are platters, and some toad houses at this point, but I do love to throw big bowls!!

 

Any suggestions or advice would be gratefully accepted - thank you!

Nancy

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There are a lot of discussions on this forum about what to look for in a kiln. Do a little searching and you'll find a ton of information.

 

As for your kiln, is it supposed to get to cone 6 and just needs new elements, or is it a low fire kiln? Take a look at the serial plate on the control box and see what it says. They typically list the maximum temperature for the kiln. If it is supposed to get to cone 6 but isn't, then new elements may do the trick. If it's just a low fire kiln, then you'll need to invest in another kiln if you want to fire cone 6. New kilns are nice, but used kilns are easy to find and will save you a lot of money, as long is it's in good condition.

 

When buying new, digital kilns are not that much more expensive than manual kilns. It's only about $300 different, and well worth the money in my opinion. The digital controllers will give you much more control, and more options like preheat, delayed start, and controlled cooling.

 

Any brand of kiln that says it will get to cone 6 will do just that. The main difference is in durability and ease of maintenance. Email me if you want specific recommendations. All kiln have their good points and bad points, some more bad than good.

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Depending on where you are, there are used kilns- good, bad, and ugly!- on craigs list every day. Prices are all over the place, so buyer beware. I recently bought a 7 cu ft L&L (not digital controlled) for $150, because I explained to the seller that 6 new elements would cost $240. It wasn't hooked up, and he saw it my way. I have fired it a dozen times to cone 6- with the original elements.

On an L&L find out the serial number- that is the date (day/month/year) it was built. MOST kilns are owned by "hobby" potters and have only been fired to cone 06/04. Take a flashlight on your visit and look inside the wiring boxes for corrosion, etc.

The L&L site (hotkilns.com) has lots of info and pictures of older models- as well as parts. Information is power.

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Hi Nancylee, I am looking every day on Craigslist and I have seen quite a few kilns for sale. One that I just missed by minutes was owned by a mans mother who passed away. She only turned it on once and got scared so she never used it. It was a really nice Skutt for $200. But I just keep looking, ready to jump at the right one. I do a google search for all the ones that look interesting using the info they give in the ad. So I'm getting a good education in what kind of cone 6 electric kilns are out there. Although I notice that some people are asking very high prices, close to new, so it is good to do the research.

 

One thing I notice is that some kilns require the wiring to be 220 which my garage does not have. That would have to be wired in. There are kilns that run on the regular 110 that houses have already. I am guessing that those kilns would take twice as much electricity to reach temperature. But I don't know if that is so. Maybe someone can help with this info. Thanks and good luck with your search

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If buying a used kiln from a potter, insist on seeing the kiln log. If there is no kiln log well I'd wait it out. Reconditioned kilns from an established dealership may not have one. Caveat emptor. Potters keep a kiln log for resale purposes, and for your own edification. Who doesn't keep one?

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Hi all,

I am doing pottery for almost two years, and I have a shop in which I sell local artisan's goods. I do sell some of my simple stuff, such as small garden markers and wind chimes, easy stuff that I cannot mess up! I have a wheel and just bought a slab roller, because that small stuff does sell, and it is fun to make. I bought an old kiln that I asked about here a few weeks ago, and while it will bisque my work, it won't get to Cone 6. My pottery teacher looked at my stuff and the celadon-glazed bowl almost got to what it should look like and said the glaze we use is Cone 4, so my kiln is getting to around Cone 4. My witness cones of 5 and 6 never bent over, and I kept the kiln on for something like 18 hours. Supervised, of course.

 

I just missed a L&L kiln at my local ceramics shop, used, perfect shape, with a kiln sitter, for $800. The next least expensive model they have is about $1900, a Skutt 1018. Others are on order, but won't be in for a while. I like to buy locally, because the owner is great at troubleshooting. Questions: do I need a computerized kiln, I do work outside the house, but don't think I would ever put a kiln on and leave it. I did like learning about how a kiln works, and the glazes,how much time, at what temp, etc. I don't know that if I had a computerized model from the start, if I would have learned anything, and I do like to learn. I do want to fire to Cone 6, because I make a lot of bowls, mugs, plates for my family and friends as presents. (Poor people! I have been experimenting on them for two years now!)

 

I do feel I need a kiln, as I make a lot, and sooner or later my pottery teacher is going to ban my filling up her kiln with my stuff. It is for me, and some for sale, so I feel I should use my own dime, although she has been very generous about it all. The biggest things I make are platters, and some toad houses at this point, but I do love to throw big bowls!!

 

Any suggestions or advice would be gratefully accepted - thank you!

Nancy

 

 

Hi,

I bought a kiln that is supposed to go to Cone 6. It is supposed to go higher, so it is not working properly. I have looked on Craigslist, that is where I bought my dud!! The L&L was just sold, so I would have to either find another used, or buy new. I have never talked to anyone who has kept a kiln log when I found them on craigslist, so I doubt I will able to see one when I buy.

Thank you for your information,

Nancy

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My first kiln had a kiln sitter. My current kiln (going on 8 years) has a computerized control. I recommend getting a computerized control. All of those things you enjoy learning about are still there, only now you get to control them with precision! I suppose if someone only uses the pre-programmed firing schedules, they maybe won't learn these things. But I have a feeling you won't.

 

Have fun!

 

Mea

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Hi,

I bought a kiln that is supposed to go to Cone 6. It is supposed to go higher, so it is not working properly. I have looked on Craigslist, that is where I bought my dud!! The L&L was just sold, so I would have to either find another used, or buy new. I have never talked to anyone who has kept a kiln log when I found them on craigslist, so I doubt I will able to see one when I buy.

Thank you for your information,

Nancy

 

 

It probably needs new elements, assuming all the connections are good. As long as the bricks are in good shape, there's no reason not to replace them. Just call the manufacturer with the model number and they can give you a price on a set of elements. If you buy another used one, you may get into the same situation.

 

I've never kept a kiln log on my electric kilns! Never had a reason to. I start it, and it gets to temperature. If it doesn't, I fix it. No reason to write that down....smile.gif

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My first kiln had a kiln sitter. My current kiln (going on 8 years) has a computerized control. I recommend getting a computerized control. All of those things you enjoy learning about are still there, only now you get to control them with precision! I suppose if someone only uses the pre-programmed firing schedules, they maybe won't learn these things. But I have a feeling you won't.

 

Have fun!

 

Mea

 

 

Thanks, Mea! I am convinced - I like to understand what is going on with the timing and the glazes and from what you said, with the computerized one, you can really be specific. It should be fun!!

Nancy

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You CAN find a deal, but you need to be informed. Figure out what you want, and what you're willing to pay. I decided if I had to put any more into it than 50% of the new price, I'd bite the bullet and buy new. So I figured out what brand and model I wanted, and calculated what themaximum buying price should be assuming I would need to change out all the elements, gas to go pick it up, and even a hotel (because some I saw were half-way across the country). Anyway, several weeks after I made my list, exactly what I wanted popped up on e-bay, with a 'buy it now' of my exact price. So I was able to make a quick decision, since I already knew what it was worth to me. And, buying used got me a lot of posts, shelves, and a vent that I didn't figure into my price. (Now if we can just get the wiring done, so I can use it!)

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Hi Nancylee,

 

I have to add my vote to the computerized models. I purchased a Skutt KM1018 3 years ago and just recently bought the larger L&L e23T. Both are computerized and both work wonderfully.

I did put in the wiring to accommodate the larger 60amp kilns when I bought my Skutt which only requires a 50amp breaker. This way I can switch between the two without worry.

 

I always have kept a log for both kilns along with my Raku kiln. Keeping one allows me to keep track of the number of bisque and glaze firings thus knowing when to replace the thermocouples and as

a firing reference for pieces and glazes for referring back to successes or failures.

 

New kilns are certainly pricey but for me, having heard some of the heartaches people here went through with used ones, I decided to bite the bullet and have never looked back..

 

Just my opinion......

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Some distributors will give you wholesale prices so it is good to shop around when looking at new kilns.

You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable and fit your productivity

and firing range.

Then do the comparing. And yes, the computerized assistance is very helpful. Also energy efficient will become more and more valuable as energy costs rise.

Marcia

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Some distributors will give you wholesale prices so it is good to shop around when looking at new kilns.

You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable and fit your productivity

and firing range.

Then do the comparing. And yes, the computerized assistance is very helpful. Also energy efficient will become more and more valuable as energy costs rise.

Marcia

 

 

 

 

 

Good Point, Marcia! wink.gif

 

I recall years ago, when I bought my first SKUTT I had shopped around utilizing the pricing of numerous ceramic suppliers across the U.S. What I found out was, regardless of where I purchased my SKUTT, most suppliers would have it sent to me direct from the manufacturer in Portland, ORegon. As I was living in Oregon, I actually thought it would be cheaper to purchase it locally, but was wrong. I ended up saving about $600 by buying it through a retailer in Ohio. The transportation charge was the same from all the retailers, from Portland to my home. The savings was apparently deducted from their markups on the resale.

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Marcia said something very important: "You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable....."

 

Be sure you can load the thing! I have 3 electric kilns, but one is too tall for me to load! I am going to be 5'1" when I grow up, and I have to wait for my husband to load the bottom half of the kiln. I am sure I would fall in and break everything!

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Marcia said something very important: "You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable....."

 

Be sure you can load the thing! I have 3 electric kilns, but one is too tall for me to load! I am going to be 5'1" when I grow up, and I have to wait for my husband to load the bottom half of the kiln. I am sure I would fall in and break everything!

 

 

LOL!! Right!!

 

Right now I am between the Skutt 1018, and an 18 inch width Paragon. The Paragon is in Vermont, they weren't able to give me the model # when I called, and they said it was 18 inches wide, but I don't see any exactly like that in their catalog. Does anyone know what model is automatic and 18 inches across, with a 50 amp or lower breaker?

 

Nancy

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Marcia said something very important: "You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable....."

 

Be sure you can load the thing! I have 3 electric kilns, but one is too tall for me to load! I am going to be 5'1" when I grow up, and I have to wait for my husband to load the bottom half of the kiln. I am sure I would fall in and break everything!

 

 

LOL!! Right!!

 

Right now I am between the Skutt 1018, and an 18 inch width Paragon. The Paragon is in Vermont, they weren't able to give me the model # when I called, and they said it was 18 inches wide, but I don't see any exactly like that in their catalog. Does anyone know what model is automatic and 18 inches across, with a 50 amp or lower breaker?

 

Nancy

 

 

Nancy, keep in mind that the the bottom shelf is sitting on 1" posts and is approximately 3/4" thick. This reduces the usable height by roughly 2"...... :-(

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Marcia said something very important: "You need to determine what your needs are, what dimensions are comfortable....."

 

Be sure you can load the thing! I have 3 electric kilns, but one is too tall for me to load! I am going to be 5'1" when I grow up, and I have to wait for my husband to load the bottom half of the kiln. I am sure I would fall in and break everything!

 

 

LOL!! Right!!

 

Right now I am between the Skutt 1018, and an 18 inch width Paragon. The Paragon is in Vermont, they weren't able to give me the model # when I called, and they said it was 18 inches wide, but I don't see any exactly like that in their catalog. Does anyone know what model is automatic and 18 inches across, with a 50 amp or lower breaker?

 

Nancy

 

 

 

Nancy, keep in mind that the the bottom shelf is sitting on 1" posts and is approximately 3/4" thick. This reduces the usable height by roughly 2"...... :-(

 

 

 

Thank you - good point - I hadn't considered that. They have a TNF-82 at the Paragon place, I don't know if that is tall enough. I have to go home and measure the one I have,

Nancy

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Hi all,

I am doing pottery for almost two years, and I have a shop in which I sell local artisan's goods. I do sell some of my simple stuff, such as small garden markers and wind chimes, easy stuff that I cannot mess up! I have a wheel and just bought a slab roller, because that small stuff does sell, and it is fun to make. I bought an old kiln that I asked about here a few weeks ago, and while it will bisque my work, it won't get to Cone 6. My pottery teacher looked at my stuff and the celadon-glazed bowl almost got to what it should look like and said the glaze we use is Cone 4, so my kiln is getting to around Cone 4. My witness cones of 5 and 6 never bent over, and I kept the kiln on for something like 18 hours. Supervised, of course.

 

I just missed a L&L kiln at my local ceramics shop, used, perfect shape, with a kiln sitter, for $800. The next least expensive model they have is about $1900, a Skutt 1018. Others are on order, but won't be in for a while. I like to buy locally, because the owner is great at troubleshooting. Questions: do I need a computerized kiln, I do work outside the house, but don't think I would ever put a kiln on and leave it. I did like learning about how a kiln works, and the glazes,how much time, at what temp, etc. I don't know that if I had a computerized model from the start, if I would have learned anything, and I do like to learn. I do want to fire to Cone 6, because I make a lot of bowls, mugs, plates for my family and friends as presents. (Poor people! I have been experimenting on them for two years now!)

 

I do feel I need a kiln, as I make a lot, and sooner or later my pottery teacher is going to ban my filling up her kiln with my stuff. It is for me, and some for sale, so I feel I should use my own dime, although she has been very generous about it all. The biggest things I make are platters, and some toad houses at this point, but I do love to throw big bowls!!

 

Any suggestions or advice would be gratefully accepted - thank you!

Nancy

 

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Yes, you do need a kiln. I would suggest to my students who are taken with clay to purchase a kiln first! You do not need a wheel nor a slab roller. Clay and a kiln seems to me to be the most important. I suggest a front loading kiln with a kiln sitter that works well. I have been making pots for 45 years with out any computer. You have to turn on the switches yourself but you ought to be around when firing any how. My kiln is 24 by 24 inches on the inside and I always fill it up before firing. linda rahl nadas

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