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raku kiln


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We are adding a Raku kiln to the studio. Trying to decide what. Laguna and Olympic seem to be most common. Only use propane ones in past but see electric options. I get I can build one but just don't want to deal with it as it does not really seem to be production going that way. We have done raku so don't need to experiment with it, Just trying to decide which kiln and looking around for used as well as new.

I am also not clear on size I see the Olympic 18" as a 3 cubic feet and the 23" as a 7 cf but can you stack shelves in raku in the same fashion as a standard kiln? I have always dealt with single shelf load where you then pull the pots every half an hour or so as kiln reaches 1000-1200 f and then load another round. Is the cf size just to indicate putting in large pots?

Edited by Stephen
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hey those look nice, thanks!

Events are fun but mostly just adding a raku for production so would prob roll out once every few days and do a series of firings. 

trading text right now with someone a few hours away that has an Olympic 23 that is set up for natural gas and I need propane. They seem to think I can just switch over to propane easily, need to verify with Olympic. 

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Peter Pugger makes a really nice clamshell kiln.  I've not used it myself, but I know people who have one and they love it. Any type of kiln that is quick to open will give you better results. I don't like the type that crank up the kiln body, because it's a slower process, and you have to stand relatively close to the kiln while you do it, which is less safe. See HERE for other ideas.

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great thread, thanks!

In looking at the PP (I have their pug mill and its great) I have to wonder where the dough is though. It looks like a neat design but they want $350 for the propane burner setup and $2600 for what looks like a metal enclosure lined with ceramic blanket. Not meaning to dis it at all and looks like it works great just seems like a lot of dough for what it is. Looking at this I have to wonder if just lining a BBQ smoker enclosure would work just as well.

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Just now, Stephen said:

...for what looks like a metal enclosure lined with ceramic blanket.

Yep, that's all any raku kiln is. If you've got a welder and some sheet metal or expanded steel mesh you could build it in a day. I was just putting it out there since you said you didn't want to build one. It's a good design, and relatively safe compared to others. You could probably build something similar to the Cooper kiln with a 55 gallon steel drum and some weldable hinges.

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Yeah, I did say that and meant it but the Olympic ones seem much more substantial for the dough. I does make me maybe re-think just building one. I have so much going on it just always seems counter productive to be building tools when that time can be spent making product but paying 3k for essentially a BBG grill body lined with a blanket and kiln shelf may be a little silly.

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Marcia has some really nice homebuilt ones check hers out-the drum lifts off with a cable. They are easy to make with fiber and a wire mesh-no need to buy one really. The fiber can be 4-6# and is cheap

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3 hours ago, Stephen said:

trading text right now with someone a few hours away that has an Olympic 23 that is set up for natural gas and I need propane. They seem to think I can just switch over to propane easily, need to verify with Olympic. 

Just an FYI, propane has a little more than twice the btu of natural gas ....... and is delivered at higher pressure so going from natural gas to propane is almost always doable. Going the other direction though, from propane to natural gas often it is difficult to get the amount of natural gas to the kiln for a burner designed for propane even with an orifice change. In fact even though I had 2 pounds natural gas (medium pressure) for that very same barrel kiln I  just couldn’t get enough natural gas to the kiln to replace the propane bottles.

if you are handy and can weld a bit, it’s super easy to build that kiln .......... given enough time to do it of course.

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Posted (edited)

oh one thing I was going to ask you guys. I recently bought a new pellet grill and gave away to old char grill I had which was on wheels and cast iron.

In reading a lot of how to's last night I did not see anyone suggest using an old cast iron smoker or grill lined with ceramic blanket to make a raku kiln.  Has anyone ever seen a conversion doing this? Plenty of them are on wheels and even new only cost a few hundred and used are often free, Smokers in particular usually have a large rectangle box and swing door.

Edited by Stephen
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13 minutes ago, Stephen said:

using an old cast iron smoker or grill lined with ceramic blanket to make a raku kiln

If it's big enough and the correct shape, it would work. I would say a typical grill isn't the right size or shape, unless you were just doing 1 small pot at a time.

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12 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

If it's big enough and the correct shape, it would work. I would say a typical grill isn't the right size or shape, unless you were just doing 1 small pot at a time.

ha ha, this is Texas. We have some damn big ol grills and smokers. I think I will look around. Thanks! 

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