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Efficient use of a Front-Loading Studio Kiln

Marian Baker with her Dragon kiln. Try to organize the ware so you can leave the shelves in a front-loading kiln between firings.


Efficient use of a Front-Loading Studio Kiln

Reader Response: Digital controller voltage; blowing up a controller

Recent Q&As: Frequently moving a small kiln

Memorable Quote



This pointer is for front-loading pottery kilns; it could also apply to large top-loading glass kilns. The idea came from David Snyder of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Shelves are usually the heaviest items loaded into a kiln. If you fire the same types of loads repeatedly, you can save yourself time by leaving the shelves and posts in a front-loading kiln between firings. After the kiln has cooled, reach into the firing chamber and remove the fired pottery. Then load the next batch of ware onto the shelves that are already in the kiln.

If you need to change the height of the posts to accommodate the next load of ware, try to organize your ware so that you have to change only the posts under the top shelf. That way you don’t have to remove all the shelves in the kiln--only the top shelf.



The last Kiln Pointer was about an intermittent problem caused by a transformer wired for 240 volts in the 120 volt kiln. Tony Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas wrote, “Perhaps you should identify the voltages as alternate current (AC) and direct current (DC) when addressing the transformer output and the relay input.”

The transformer in a digital kiln sends 24 volts AC to the temperature controller, and the controller sends 12 volts DC to the relays.

Dave Coggins of Queensland, Australia wrote, “Your item about misconnected transformers reminded me of a similar problem I used to encounter during my kiln repair days. Unlike the US, here in Australia our only single-phase voltage is 220/240 volts. Occasionally I would find a US kiln wired for 110 volts connected to 240 volts. As you have mentioned, many controllers are quite tolerant of being hit with twice their normal input voltage. Luckily, no lasting damage occurred.

“However,” David continued, “it was a different story when a three-phase kiln was wired incorrectly. As you know, in a three-phase system, the active-to-neutral voltage is 240 volts, and the active-to-active voltage is 415 volts. If the mains power active and neutral wiring are mixed up, it is possible to feed 415 volts to the controller circuitry. One particular commonly used programmable controller did not appreciate the extra input and responded with a loud bang and a puff of smoke. As everyone knows, electrical devices don't work any more when you let the smoke out! A new printed circuit assembly was required--an expensive mistake!

“Moral of the story: When you are connecting three-phase circuits, always double check the wiring polarity. Don't trust anybody.”



Q. I need a small kiln that will need frequent moving. Do you recommend a ceramic fiber or firebrick kiln? I've read that moving a brick kiln could damage the elements and bricks.

A. Since you are going to move the kiln frequently, I would choose a ceramic fiber kiln. This is because they are lighter than firebrick kilns. The fiber kilns also cool down more rapidly than the firebrick ones. So, you would have to wait longer before moving a firebrick kiln.

However, you can frequently move a small, tabletop firebrick kiln without damaging it. Whether you get a fiber or firebrick kiln, save the carton and foam packing that the kiln was shipped in. The packing is designed to protect the kiln during UPS shipment, which can be pretty rough. Be sure to place a sheet of foam packing material between the kiln body and door whenever you move a kiln.



“One of the things I love best is thinking of the folks who have one or more of my pots in their home and they think of me when they use them. It is a wonderful sense of connectedness. Like the young woman who realized, with delight, ‘You're the Dorothy who made the pots I loved in our home when I was a little girl!’ What could be better than that?” --Dorothy Parshall


Pallets of firebricks and corrugated cardboard are being moved from the kiln factory into a new storage building this week. When I step into the factory, I hear a forklift as it moves past a kiln assembly line or out the back door.

This morning long before dawn, thunderclaps lit up my windows like flash bulbs and set off car alarms. Rain drummed hard. Storms to our west move past Mesquite on their way to Denton and then on further north to Oklahoma. I love thunderstorms--except, of course, when they turn deadly.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

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 2013, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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