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Heavy Kiln Shelves


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My SiC kiln shelves arrived this weekend, I’m so excited… but I accidentally ordered 3/4” instead of 5/8.”

After consoling myself with the fact that they’ll take a lifetime to warp at cone 6, I remembered watching Isaac Button load his kiln.

I feel better now. I encourage anyone with heavy kiln shelves to watch him load his kiln. Around the seven minute mark if you’re short on time. 

 

16568C23-2361-4CB2-97BF-76DA34D3F7EC.jpeg

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On 11/14/2022 at 7:29 AM, Pres said:

Wow, I would never get that in the bottom of the old L&L or the new one; my gut would bust on the second one!

 

best,

Pres

I just rewashed the shelves in my school L&L.  We have a full round shelf for the bottom layer.  Getting that thing in an out is a chore, as I'm hanging over the side.

So between gravity and the pressure on my abdomen, I get a rush of blood to my head, then an instant reversal of that as I pull the shelf out.

And if I have had anything to eat before doing it, then some heartburn is usually involved.

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5 minutes ago, Pres said:

Ben, I have missed you! I know what you mean! I hated that large bottom shelf. With my new kiln 28" I use all 1/2 shelves, and the kiln height is not so high! Front loaders do have their advantages, but I will do fine with a top loader.

 

best,

Pres

 

Awww, thanks Pres.  I haven't been avoiding these forums, I promise.  

Front loaders are definitely an attractive prospect.  My coworker and I wonder at what point that we won't be able to load that bottom shelf.  That's what students are for, right?

I have never talked to a colleague who has a front loader, other than those schools that have gas kilns.  I don't have space for a front loader, unless the kiln were moved.  

Can't say I'd want one, as my current L&L is great!

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1 hour ago, Benzine said:

Front loaders are definitely an attractive prospect.

I had a 10 cu ft front loader for a lot of years. Used 20" square shelves, it was easier on the lower back but harder on the upper back when putting the top shelves in. I'm vertically challenged too, when using my top loaders I stand on a little footstool to load the bottom shelf, really helps.

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ah the joys of electric kiln loading and unloading.

As a potter for 50 years now I thank my lucky stars I made myself a car kiln in 78-an electric would have killed me by now.

Nobody ever addresses this part of the electric kiln dilemma much-lower back issues

 

Edited by Mark C.
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Car kiln is the dream, the next iteration of my kiln building journey. Mine’s a front loader, low to the ground, load it on my knees. The top shelves are what get me.

 The kiln at school is a giant Paragon Viking. I don’t even use the bottom shelf, it’s too dang deep. 6” off the bottom is where I start. 

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There's always a block and tackle!!!

At least with top loader the weight is quite close to your body. I worked with a front loader at school, aside from the physical grunt I prefer looking down on my loading,so top loader it is.

The feet come off the floor a bit as I shrink.

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I believe that the shelf problem with the top loaders can be mitigated by seeking alternatives. Don't use full size shelves, use half shelves. Use lighter shelves, silicone carbide,  instead of the heavier high alumina shelves. Stack well making best use of your space for efficient use of kiln resources and less firings.

 

best,

Pres

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I only have one full round, and it’s in the bottom of my kiln. I don’t usually pull it out unless there’s been a glaze mishap, which I don’t get a lot of. If I’m testing, I don’t put them on the bottom layer. I’ve got joint hyper mobility in my shoulders, and I had SI joint issues (the attachment between hip and spine) in previous years.  I’ve had to make a point of keeping my core strength up, and strengthening some mid back muscles to compensate for that. Engaging your core while placing shelves goes a long way for me, as did working with a good physio to make sure that I was addressing my own body’s requirements properly. 

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On 11/14/2022 at 9:09 AM, Min said:

Brings up the physicality of working with clay doesn't it? Net gain, probably, but there are side effects for sure. 

Watching Isaac Button (watched ‘em all, twice! How pleasant to see his smooth-running production.) it doesn’t appear that he’s having back problems when he moves and lifts and loads. He appears to be in his 50s or so. I think he has learned during a lifetime of pottery work how to use his body properly without straining. Too many of us are hasty with our young strengths and overextend, setting us up for years of doing it wrong. A good sense of balance and ‘centeredness’ surely helps too.

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When teaching at the HS, I had a full bottom shelf and several other fulls that I would use. Mostly these allowed for full loads of small pots packed very tightly in glaze loads. At crunch time at the end of a semester it was how to get things done. I would also have shelf pieces to break a layer in to two layers with small pots or platter/plaques. I also used this approach to firing in the old kiln.

These kilns would have the bottom full shelf removed every semester to have clean up and updating to the kiln wash.  BOTH of these kilns had no ventilation just a garage, or in the HS a fan overhead for draft. However, now that I have a downdraft vent in the new kiln it seemed more proper to use half shelves for best ventilation. I leave a 1 1/4 inch space between the bottom shelves, and all of the upper stacked ones.

As to core strength, never been a problem with the kayaking, push-ups, pull ups and Total Gym. Yet after the bought with Covid this Summer I find that all of my muscle mass is lacking and am just getting that back. It certainly can set you back.

 

best,

Pres

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well gang, i just finished firing the last load (actually it was also the first load since may, i think)  and i found myself using 9 shelves, thick,  full rounds.  it helps that i put a permanent bottom shelf in at 2 inches above the kiln bottom.   added a thick piece of lumber to the floor in front of the kiln.   found the hardest part was controlling the lid going both up and down.   it leans slightly against a metal  "handicap bath bar" attached to the wall.    finding space for my fingers is very difficult  since the shelves were purchased for a 2 1/2 wall thickness.  this kiln has 3 inch walls so i want to find a way to slice a 3-4 inch off opposite sides of each shelf for finger space.  one shelf is damaged a little on one side and i use it for deep down there.

anybody know how i can remove just a few inches without breaking the shelf?  somewhere, i have one of those 4 inch circular grinders, will that do it?  it would be great if i could take a bird's mouth bite out of 3 of them to fit around the thermocouples.
 

Edited by oldlady
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I suppose if you could center the shelf on the wheel and grind the edge with the wheel going slowly it would work. Any one have any better thoughts. Sticking the shelf to the wheel, maybe with a centered wet clay as in centering a bat on a wheel without pins. Just a thought.

Another answer would be to make two hand tools shaped like and "L" bracket with a handle on one end to lower the shelf with thus saving your fingers.

 

best,

Pres

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12 hours ago, Kelly in AK said:

I have a 4” angle grinder, with a diamond cutting blade (not a grinding wheel, a cutter) I can slice through regular kiln shelves pretty easily. 


+1

Working outside with the wind at your back if you cut them dry, it will make a lot of dust.  Wear a respirator. If you don't have the gear to do this I would ask a local tile cutter if they could do it for you with a diamond blade wet tile saw. Need to have about 2" clearance around the tc.

 

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I'm glad someone has answers about cutting a small part off a shelf. I have the same problem as @oldlady with my shelves fitting in my newer 3" brick kiln. My shelves are rounded, not octagonal, so I put my fingers on the shelf where the kiln bricks make a corner. It's a squeeze, but I can get them in and out.

My bigger problem is the square shelves I use as plate setters. I could get them two across in my old kiln. In my newer kiln, the corners almost touch the bricks. I just lopped off two corners to make it easier to fit them in! The other two corners can stay, since they are where I place the posts for the next plate shelf. Thanks to people who suggested using an angle grinder. We got one of those from a family friend who passed away, but I'd never used one before. I watched a bunch of videos, bundled myself in every bit of safety gear I own, and got the two corners cut off of all six shelves. I asked my husband to be nearby in case he had to rush me and a severed finger to the hospital, but I still have all my digits and limbs intact. 

 

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