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Hello all! 

Been following the community for the last few months and I have a question that I'd like to get your input on. 

I've been doing ceramics as a hobby and while I have access to a large potter's studio nearby where I can get larger pieces fired I'd like to buy my first kiln that I can use in my work studio for small batch pieces. I like to explore both handbuilding/carving/throwing for tablewares for personal use and make small non-functional sculptures.

As my studio is a rental, I can't really install 240v circuits which limits to a few options. 
What I'm working with is a dedicated 120V, 30 amps circuit for the kiln. 

I'm currently debating between Olympic MAS 129E and Skutt KM 614-3
I like the Olympic over the Skutt because it can fire up to cone 8 (vs. cone 6 for Skutt) whereas I like the Skutt because it's slightly bigger (0.8 cf vs 0.56 cf) and I've been reading that Skutt in general has better user experience over Olympic.

If you were to choose between the two, which one would you choose? What matters more? 

Thank you so much!

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2 hours ago, Lindsay K said:

Hello all! 

Been following the community for the last few months and I have a question that I'd like to get your input on. 

I've been doing ceramics as a hobby and while I have access to a large potter's studio nearby where I can get larger pieces fired I'd like to buy my first kiln that I can use in my work studio for small batch pieces. I like to explore both handbuilding/carving/throwing for tablewares for personal use and make small non-functional sculptures.

As my studio is a rental, I can't really install 240v circuits which limits to a few options. 
What I'm working with is a dedicated 120V, 30 amps circuit for the kiln. 

I'm currently debating between Olympic MAS 129E and Skutt KM 614-3
I like the Olympic over the Skutt because it can fire up to cone 8 (vs. cone 6 for Skutt) whereas I like the Skutt because it's slightly bigger (0.8 cf vs 0.56 cf) and I've been reading that Skutt in general has better user experience over Olympic.

If you were to choose between the two, which one would you choose? What matters more? 

Thank you so much!

Hmm,

Both are nice..... whoops! Had to change this the Olympic is only cone 6 so likely ok for lowfire work. The Skutt at cone 8 is still considered under powered for cone 6 work but you will get a decent amount of firings at cone 6 out of it before an element change. An insulated kiln rated to cone 10 would be the Cone Art below and would likely give the most firings before element change but definitely more expensive. More efficient though as well.

I am not a fan of cone 8 kilns and even less of a fan of cone 6 rated kilns. ........ for cone 6 work that is. Of the two, I would say the Skutt would be my preference if I could not afford a cone 10 rated kiln.

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Edited by Bill Kielb
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@Lindsay K 120V 30 amps is a really odd setup. As I'm sure you've found, there are not many kilns out there set up for that service configuration. If/when you move, you're not going to have that setup at your next house, but you may have a 120V 20 amp circuit, especially in the garage. If I were you, I would get a kiln that is set up to run on a 20 amp circuit, and will go to cone 10. It will give you longer element life, and the most flexibility for future use. Something like the Olympic Doll/Test E would be good. In these little kilns any brand is fine, as they don't have the same stresses as the larger kilns.

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On 4/27/2020 at 6:20 PM, Lindsay K said:

I'm currently debating between Olympic MAS 129E and Skutt KM 614-3

I'd get the Olympic if you are not low fire, at cone 8 it is 2 cones over mid-fire 6 and I've always had the rule of thumb as two cones higher that you intend to fire. We fire to cone 5 and have a 20 minute hold on all the kilns so the heat work is cone 6 but a cone 8 would be 3 rated 3 cones higher than we fire. More might be better in a strict sense but firing a cone 8 to 5-6 I bet doesn't make that much difference in how many firings you get on a set of elements (maybe its 125 versus 150) and that kiln is 16 amps on a 20 amp breaker and should work in any rental place you get. The kiln is already small and if you get it in oval its going to really limit even more the pots you can fire. Obviously if you can fine a cone 10 that is the same size that runs on 16/20 thats a good thing but I think you will have to sacrifice size. I would get the biggest one I could get. Have fun!

Edited by Stephen
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lindsay,  if you have been following the forum for awhile, you may have noticed that most of the prospective small kiln buyers have been advised to consider a larger kiln.   still small in size but bigger than the tiny ones you are considering.   you have not said where you would install the kiln, nor where in the world you live.   i assume somewhere in the usa.

yes, in a rental you might want to avoid adding power for a kiln.   however, if you have room for a larger kiln, maybe interior 18x18 inches, and the capacity in the breaker box for additional amperage and contact an electrician about the cost of adding a cord long enough and heavy enough to handle that kind of kiln.   removing  one breaker from the box when you leave  should pose no problem.   of course, you must have your landlord agree to this and the kiln must go reasonably close to the breaker box.

if you buy either of the ones you are looking at, you will be spending close to or more than $1000.    you can get a lot more for that amount of money than the tiny capacity of those models.   used kilns are available almost everywhere.

Edited by oldlady
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  • 3 months later...

I'm in a similar boat.. However I was looking at the Olyympic 129E from soul ceramics (looks very similar to the one from CLay-King) except the Clay king one says its cone 8 and soul ceramics says cone 6. So confusing how different and similar these are. 

I've been debating the Olympic 129E and the Olympic doll kiln. I want to fire to cone 6. From reading this thread, I'm thinking I need to stick to the doll kiln since it fires to cone 10. BUT the 129E looks bigger. The photos and dimensions are so confusing. 

Edited by Denadesigns
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You raise an interesting question about the Clay-King 129, but let's look at all of them so you can see the differences.

Starting with the smallest of them, the Doll kiln, the inside of the kiln is rectangular 11 1/4"L x 7"W x 9"H, or 0.3 cu. feet. Since you need to leave some space around your work in the kiln, the largest you can fit in there will be smaller than a piece of regular letter paper and no taller than the span of your hand. It produces 1800 watts of heat and needs to be on a 20 amp circuit (heavier than a regular 15 amp household circuit). But because of its very small size, the concentrated heat (6000 watts per cubic foot) it can reach a maximum of cone 10. This would be fine for continuing work at cone 6, but for very small things.

The larger 129E is a hexagon 11 1/4" in diameter and 9" high, or .58 cu. feet, about twice the size of the doll kiln. Again, because you need to leave some space around the work in the kiln, the largest you will be able to fit here is 9" wide and 6-7" high. The elements in this kiln will produce slightly higher heat at 1920 watts (still needing a dedicate 20 amp circuit), but when you calculate the ratio of heat per volume, this one only generates 3310 watts per cubic foot, or about half the performance of the smaller doll kiln, and that's why it is rated to go to only cone 6. Something that is rarely mentioned in the kiln company advertisements is that the maximum rated cone assumes very good conditions. Elements tend to degrade over time, so the maximum rating is only appropriate with a new kiln or with newly replaced elements. For continuing use, you should expect a kiln to keep running well at 2 cones below maximum rating. So, if you want to work at cone 6, this one won't do in the long term.

The Clay King special MAS129E built exclusively for them confuses me. It is $27 more than the list price of the factory 129E, but has a down-graded 3 button controller vs. the better 12 button one on the factory 129E, and includes free shipping that would cost $149 for the factory model. So the total delivered price is $122 lower, but the controller is a lower model (that when pricing repair parts at retail, the 3 button controller is $85-$100 cheaper depending on where you buy it). Finally, the electrical specifications are exactly the same, so I don't know how they get a cone 8 rating out of it. Bottom line, lower price and lower value, and disbelief of the maximum rating. The only possible benefit of this one is they probably have them in the warehouse and can ship right away, vs. months of waiting for the factory delivery. But even with that, your desired cone 6 is going to be tough to maintain over time.

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Thank you so so much, this is the most helpful site I've come across and i've been researching for months now. I love working with porcelain so much, which is why I need cone 6. If I could get away with low fire, I'd have so many more options. I do work really small in general, however, most potters all say to get as large of a kiln as possible to be able to allow for flexibility. Sometimes I make mugs or larger plates, but I'm ok with firing some things at a larger studio, if I can get away with firing majority of my own things. I also do luster fires, which I'm so excited to have a small kiln for.

I have a 20amp circuit and a studio. I'm unable to to make any electrical changes, so that is my current limitation. I currently fire at a studio and just pay their firing rate. So my thought was to buy a small kiln for my studio, since I think most of what I make will fit. The doll kiln has been the largest cone 6, 120v, 20amp circuit I can find.  Is this a good decision to purchase this kiln? 

 

If you're super curious, this is what I make.

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