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Spacing Inside the Ceramic Kiln

Keep shelves 1" away from the thermocouple or Kiln Sitter tube.


Spacing Inside the Ceramic Kiln

Recent Q&As: Glass stuck to a thermocouple; where to place a bead kiln; lid gap on an oval kiln

Announcements: Annie Chrietzberg handbuilding class; Kiln maintenance seminar October 17 – 18, 2008; 9 programs in the 12-key Sentry controller



Cliff McCrea, a kiln technician in Austin, Texas, has seen elements burned out lately due to contact with glaze. He reminds customers to keep glazed ware at least 1” away from heating elements. Glazes may bubble and land on an element if the ware is too close. When firing a piece that is so large that a tip of it comes closer than 1” to a kiln wall, place that section of the piece between elements and not directly opposite an element.

The minimum spacing between shelves is 2 1/2”. You can achieve this minimum 2 1/2" height by stacking a 1/2” post on top of a 2” post. Shelves must be stacked so there is at least one row of heating elements between any two shelves.

The posts used with each layer of ware should be at least 1” taller than the ware. Keep a ruler near your kiln. As you fill a shelf with ware, lay the ruler across two posts to make sure the ware is not too tall.

Keep all ware and kiln shelves at least 1” away from the side, top, and bottom of the end of the Kiln Sitter tube or digital thermocouple.

Make sure at least one element groove is between the top shelf and the top of your kiln. The top of ware should be at least 1” lower than the lid. If the ware on your top shelf is over- or under-firing, try using two half shelves instead of a full shelf. Stagger the height of the shelves.



Q. I have an SC-2 kiln (I love it!). A very small piece of glass is stuck to the thermocouple, which seems to be working. Should I try to remove the glass?

A. Scrape the glass off with a small knife. The glass could melt with the next firing and embed into the floor of the kiln if the glass were left on the thermocouple. After you scrape off the glass, the thermocouple should work as before. But even if you break the thermocouple, a new one is only $18.

Q. I have a Paragon BlueBird XL bead kiln. It is okay to place it on a table, or should it be on a cement floor?

A. Yes, you can place the kiln on a table. The kiln surface should be heat-proof, such as a metal table or a ceramic kiln shelf on top of a table.

Q. Why does a gap form on the left and right side of the lid on my oval kiln?

A. A firebrick lid does not remain perfectly flat at high temperatures. The inner lid surface expands more than the outer surface, resulting in what we at the factory call "oil canning." Since the inner lid surface expands more than the outer, the lid bows downward toward the firing chamber. The outer surface becomes very slightly concave, and the inner surface becomes convex. The change in shape is not enough to notice except around the edges of the lid, where you will see a line of light.

The change in shape is more pronounced on the oval kiln than it is on the "round" 10- or 12-sided kilns. The oval lid bows upward about 1/4" from the kiln body on the left and right side. When the lid cools down again, it flattens out. This is nothing to be concerned about.

Q. In a recent issue of Kiln Pointer you state that Paragon sells rods to fire beads. Could you please tell me where to buy them? I want very short ones to fit in the Xpress-Q11-A kiln.

A. The rod for your kiln is the SR-5: 10 gauge, 5" (12.7 cm) long, $2.00 each. It should be available through your local distributor. If not, please send an email to



HANDBUILDING CLASS Annie Chrietzberg is teaching a class on handbuilding functional pots with textured slabs and templates. Place: The Creative Art Center in Dallas, Texas. Time: Friday, August 1, 2008, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please call 214-320-1275.

PARAGON BASIC KILN MAINTENANCE SEMINAR Paragon Industries will hold a 1-1/2 day Basic In-Plant Kiln Maintenance Seminar in Mesquite, Texas on October 17 - 18, 2008. Mesquite is 30 minutes east of Dallas.

The seminar includes two lunches, one restaurant dinner, and a 3-ring notebook of maintenance data on Paragon kilns. Ask about Paragon’s airport and hotel pickup schedule. You do not need to bring tools.

For more information call Paragon’s customer service: 800-876-4328 / 972-288-7557 or send email to

FIVE PROGRAMS ADDED TO SENTRY 2.0 We have just upgraded the Sentry 2.0 12-key controller. It now has nine programs in Ramp-Hold mode instead of the four programs of the previous version. The first program has 20 segments; the others have 10 segments each.

The newest controller operates the same as the earlier one. The only difference you will notice is that the extra programs are available.


Carole Dwinell of Martinez, California wrote, “We now have more than 500 wildfires blazing, and rain would be a miracle. We're looking closely at what to grab if we're evacuated. It is a major concern.”

I empathize with all of you near the fires. When I was eight years old, a fireman rescued my six-year-old brother, Lawrence. The fireman found him trapped in a brush fire and carried him out. That was near Calgary, Alberta.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable weekend,

Thank you,

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

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

Copyright 2008, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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