PURCHASING A KILN
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW AND QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK:
Q. WHAT TYPE OF KILNS ARE AVAILABLE ?
THERE ARE TWO SHAPES OF KILN.THESE ARE COMMONLY KNOWN AS TOPLOADERS OVAL AND ROUND AND FRONTLOADERS-SQUARE OR OBLONG
There are two methods of heating - ELECTRIC or GAS. Most kilns are electric for convenience of use. Gas is used usually by very experienced potters. Using gas fired kilns enables the potter to produce 'special effects' to their ceramics.
A TOPLOADER is basically a large tin can with a hinged lid on top. This 'can' is lined with bricks and hold the elements that provide the heat. There is a chamber fitted to one side that contains all the wiring and switchgear. A cable runs from this chamber to an electronic controller that provides all the information to fire the kiln. Think of the controller as the 'brains' with the kiln as the 'brawn'.
A FRONTLOADER is a large metal cubed box with a door to the front. It is constructed basically the same way as a toploader with bricks, elements, etc with the wiring and switchgear contained within the back chamber. The electronic controller is connected in the same manner. This type of kiln is always more expensive due to the much heavier materials used and will always outlast the life of a toploader.
ANYONE OTHER THAN A HOBBYIST OR SOMEONE USING A KILN FOR LIGHT USE SHOULD ALMOST ALWAYS OPT FOR A FRONTLOADER. SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES USUALLY USE FRONTLOADERS.
Q. WHERE ARE THEY MANUFACTURED?
Most kilns are made at Stoke on Trent, England. Some manufacturers are well known whilst others are less so. Being based in England, all spare parts are readily available and it is for this reason we recommend buying an English made kiln over a foreign make.
Q. KILN SIZE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.
How large should the kiln be for my needs? Remember, the firing chamber is only small relative to the overall size of the kiln. You should ask yourself: How large are the items that I will be firing? How many of these items can I fire at one time and what temperature will I be firing to?
Q. WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL SIZE KILNS?
We are able to supply a kiln to suit most needs, short and fat or tall and thin. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org with your requirements...we are here to help.
Q. WHERE WILL THE KILN BE POSITIONED?
Ideally it should be in a room of its own and should have a minimum gap of 12 inches from the wall on each side and at the back with obviously enough room at the front to open the door. There should be a minimum height of 3 ft between the top of the kiln and the ceiling. Always try to have your kiln positioned on the ground floor. The reason?....think of carrying all those bags of clay up flights of stairs. A pallet truck or wheelbarrow can carry many bags but cannot take then upstairs.
Q. WILL THE KILN FIT THROUGH ALL DOORWAYS AND PASSAGEWAYS AND ARE THERE ANY STEPS IT MUST NEGOTIATE ?
Should you buy a large front loading kiln and propose to have it positioned on any floor other than the ground floor it may have to be built on site. This is not a problem but would add appreciably to the final cost. Given the size of the kiln, you must ensure that there is sufficient room for the kiln to go through the openings.
Q. IS THE GROUND OR FLOOR SUITABLE TO TAKE THE WEIGHT OF THE KILN ?
Obviously any ground floor location should be fine for either frontloader or toploader however if it is floorboards the kiln should be mounted onto flagstones or similar for a toploader. The reason for this is that there is always a certain amount of heat radiated from a toploading kiln base.
Q. DO I HAVE SUITABLE ELECTRICAL POWER FOR THE KILN ?
Some very small kilns just plug into a 13amp socket, larger kilns can operate off of single phase electricity like a cooker socket or similar. Very large kilns require a 3 phase electrical supply. If your kiln is to be located at your home it is doubtful that you have 3 phase electricity.
Q. IS THERE SUITABLE VENTILATION IN THE ROOM WHERE THE KILN IS TO BE SITED ?
Obviously should you have an extractor fan fitted this would serve a purpose. However with a small toploader a window left open during the firing should suffice. This is a situation that you should look at during the firing of the kiln. Some clays and glazes give off undesirable fumes that can be hard to live with. Should the kiln be located in a classroom, you WILL REQUIRE VENTILATION.
Q. HOW DO I CONTROL THE TEMPERATURE OF THE KILN ?
This is usually done with Electronic Kiln Controllers that are easy to use.
WE WILL BE PLEASED TO GIVE INITIAL TRAINING WITH YOUR NEW KILN AND SHOW YOU HOW TO CONTROL IT.
Q. HOW LONG SHOULD A FIRING TAKE ?
You should allow a whole day (24 hours) for a complete firing...that is heating to fired temperature, then cooling to a temperature whereby you can open the door.
Q.WHAT MAINTENANCE WILL THE KILN REQUIRE ?
As long as you take care of your kiln, vacuum it out, are careful with the elements...do not allow glaze or glass to come in contact with them. Be careful with the shelves when loading the kiln...some shelves are heavy and can easily damage the sidewall bricks or snap the thermocouple located at the back of the kiln.
IF YOU DO REQUIRE IT WE FULLY MAINTAIN KILNS FOR YOU.
Q.WHAT IS THE DELIVERY TIMES FOR KILNS ?
Usually the larger the kiln, the longer it takes to manufacture. Large kilns can take 6/8 weeks, smaller kilns 4/5 weeks. Some kilns are kept in stock and are immediately available. Phone us for availability. Please remember that kiln manufacturers busiest time by far is during school holidays where schools and colleges order their kilns and want them delivered and connected during the holidays.
WE ALSO KEEP KILNS IN STOCK FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY.
IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS ON KILNS OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH POTTERY...PLEASE CONTACT US.
EMAIL OR PHONE US ...WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO ANSWER ALL YOUR ENQUIRIES.