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Kiln Pointers

Repairing Cracks in a Firebrick Lid

Making brick lids in the Paragon factory.

A firebrick lid is surprisingly strong. A ceramics teacher told me about the time he came in early to class one morning to find the maintenance man standing on the lid of the kiln. He was trying to reach something overhead.

On the other hand, the lid can crack the very first time you close it too hard. Handle the lid with the same care you would use when lifting a computer or a television.

Dust sometimes falls from cracks in the lid. This does not affect ceramic greenware. However, dust can ruin glazed ware and glass. Before a glaze or glass firing, vacuum the lid cracks. If dust still falls onto the ware, then load the kiln so that ware on the top shelf is away from the lid cracks.

The easiest way to repair the lid is to stuff the cracks with kaowool. Press the kaowool into the cracks with a small stick or putty knife being careful not to damage the firebricks further.


If you have a moment, please look at our recommended reading list:

(Or go to and select “Products,” and then “Books and Videos” from the drop menu.)

Have we left out any important books? I would appreciate your opinion.


In last week’s Kiln Pointer I included an emergency room story about eye safety. Luanne Bushart of Elbridge, New York wrote, “Thank you for pointing out the importance of safety glasses. No one ever thinks it could happen to them, so sometimes a personal story makes an impression. Thank you for sharing yours.

“Nine years ago my husband and I were adding boards to a horse fence. I was NOT the one with the hammer--I was standing behind him with the measure, level, etc. The nail must have hit a knot in the board, because the nail popped back and hit me in the eye. It was not an air-driven hammer either, but it pretty much destroyed my left eye.

“I can relate, after five or six eye surgeries, to the part in your story about ‘now hold very still’! When the doctor removes sutures from the surface of my eye, he uses a pointed #11 blade and tiny microsurgery forceps. You can bet I am going to hold very still!

“I spoke to a high school art class about fusing,” Luanne continued, “and the first thing I talked about was the importance of safety glasses. One of the teenage boys just sighed and rolled his eyes...did one of those teenage "Yeah, yeah, lady" kind of things. So I got even with him by relating some of the gory details. And since I was both an eye trauma victim and also worked in an operating room as a surgical tech, I was able to make them very gory indeed.

“You need both eyes to have depth perception. Your brain triangulates the difference in distance between what you see with each eye, like your own personal GPS. Not being able to tell how far away something is complicates life in ways you would never imagine. I figured the driving part would impress the teenage boy, so I told him how I could no longer drive at night, because everything looks to me as if it were painted on the windshield.

“I have had to make lots of little adjustments, too, like making sure the pitcher is over the rim of the glass when I pour something. And when someone hands me something small, like change from a store clerk, I have to hold my hands out cupped together like Oliver Twist with his porridge bowl. (‘Please sir, may I have some more?’)

“A lot of things become more difficult and frustrating. Even walking. It is hard to walk over rough terrain. We went hiking in the mountains, and the trail was all rocks and boulders. Imagine never being quite sure just how far that next step is! Same with the depth of stair steps. Driving a car during the day is possible, but I almost have to unscrew my head to turn and check the ‘blind spot’ alongside the car.

“One fun side note: I now have a new part-time career as a lightshow director for a local classic rock band. I program and run a big light board with between 16 and 20 lights, 10 of which are movable. It is a time-honored tradition that the sound guys are deaf, so I think it only fitting that the light person is half blind!”

Thank you, Luanne, for sharing your difficult experience. I am glad you have retained your sense of humor.

Reminder: Wear clear safety glasses when cutting glass and firing safety glasses when looking into a hot kiln.

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /

Feel free to email this Kiln Pointer to friends. To read back issues Click here or go to, select “Support,” and then “Kiln Pointers” from the drop menu.

To respond to this Kiln Pointer, press Reply. Your email will go directly to Arnold Howard.

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2006, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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