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How to Handle Kiln Shelves

Try not to let the shelf touch the kiln walls as you load and unload.


How to Handle Kiln Shelves

Recent Q&A: How to figure kilowatts

A Kiln Story: The Green Glass Face



The secret to keeping your kiln new looking is in the way you hold the shelves when you load or unload the kiln. At Paragon an employee named Shelia Collins has a Paragon kiln that is over 10 years old and still looks new on the inside. Here is how Shelia handles shelves:

1) First, work slowly and deliberately. Treat the kiln as if it were a piece of fine furniture that you didn’t want to scratch. Don’t touch the firebrick walls if you can help it.

2) Tilt the shelf as you lower it into the kiln. Center it so it doesn’t touch the kiln walls. At all times, be aware of the location of the thermocouple or Kiln Sitter tube so that you avoid bumping the shelf against it.

3) As you level the shelf into position, center it in the firing chamber. Top-loading kilns: Position your hands so that they are at the firebrick corners. This offers more space than straight sections of the walls.

4) If full shelves are too heavy for you to load, use half shelves. Not only are they lighter, but they are also less apt to touch the walls during loading and unloading.

5) Do not allow anyone to load or unload your kiln until you have trained them.


Q. How do you determine the kilowatts that a kiln draws?

A. Look at the kiln's electrical data plate. It is usually on the side of the switch box. The data plate lists the watts, amps, and volts. Divide the wattage of your kiln by 1000, which gives kilowatts.


At the Las Vegas Glass Craft and Bead Expo last March, a glass fusing teacher told me a story about one of her kilns. She owns a Paragon QuikFire, a small ceramic fiber kiln equipped with a pyrometer. The kiln can reach 1000 degrees F in only five minutes, so it requires undivided attention.

One time while firing her QuikFire, she was distracted and went into the next room to help a student with a glass design. When the teacher returned a moment later to the kiln room, she smelled something unusual—the smell of a clothes iron—and then remembered the QuikFire, which by then was glowing brightly. The pyrometer needle was all the way over past maximum temperature.

The next morning the teacher apologized to the little kiln, wiped it off, and hesitantly looked inside. A green glass piece had melted into a puddle on the bottom. What looked like two eyes and a down-turned mouth were fused into the green puddle. She turned the kiln on to test it, and it hummed to life. All was well with the kiln.

The teacher shows the green glass “face” to students and tells them that this is the kiln’s face when it has been overfired. “When you fire a kiln,” she tells them, “wear a timer around your neck.”


Last week my wife, Sandi, and I celebrated both Mother’s and Father’s Day by visiting our son, Patrick, and his wife, Leni. We drove from Mesquite to Camden, Delaware to deliver Patrick’s little Mitsubishi Eclipse. That took 22 hours including a four-hour stopover for a nap in the Smoky Mountains.

Patrick and Leni rent a two-story house that was built in 1870. While we stood under a huge, vine-covered tree in their back yard, we met their neighbor, whose house has been in his family since 1813. That is the house where his father was born. Imagine living in a house that was built long before the Civil War.

All of us at Paragon wish you a joyous Mother’s Day.

Thank you,

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 /

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