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Kiln Pointers

How to Reach Down into a Tall Kiln

Adelaide, in customer service, loads a half shelf into the TnF-27-3. This kiln is especially easy to load, because the firing chamber is only 22 1/4” deep.


How to Reach Down into a Tall Kiln

Reader Response: Applying glass separator to a shelf

Recent Q&As: Drying leather-hard greenware in a kiln

A Kiln Story: How a Kiln Owner Solved a Low Voltage Problem

Memorable Quote

News: Paragon Opens Print Shop in Factory



With a laugh, people have told me about falling into their tall kilns as they attempted to lower ceramic ware into the firing chamber. Tall kilns can be awkward to load. Here are ways to make the job easier:

1) Stand on a cinder block or small step ladder to load your kiln.

2) Open the kiln lid. Lay a piece of 1/2 - 5/8” thick plywood across the top of the kiln wall. Cut the plywood to the curve of the wall so you can lean against the plywood as you load the kiln. The plywood will reduce the damage to the firebricks by distributing weight over a wide area of the wall.

3) Place a shelf in the bottom of the kiln on top of 1” or 2” posts. The shelf may improve the heat distribution at the bottom of the kiln, and you won’t have to reach all the way to the firebrick bottom to load the kiln. Leave the shelf in the kiln between firings.

4) Place tall pieces on the bottom kiln shelf so you won’t have to reach far into the kiln.

5) Place a small table next to the kiln. Pick up ware from the table while you are leaning into the kiln. Move the table out of the way before firing the kiln.

6) Load half shelves. They are lighter and easier to lower into a kiln than full shelves.



In the last Kiln Pointer, someone asked how often a kiln shelf should be recoated with glass separator. Hugo Gavarini of Patagonia, Argentina wrote, “Sodium or potassium migrate from the glass to the separator. In nature, things tend to migrate from where they are abundant to where they are scarce.

“Glass has around 14% of sodium and potassium. Both have weak chemical bonds to the glass,” Hugo explained. “At over 1350F (730C), atomic mobility is sufficient to cause the release of sodium and potassium, which migrate to the starving shelf primer. This causes the deterioration of the shelf primer. Depending on the temperature and the type of glass being processed, the shelf primer becomes sticky and no longer useful as a separator. For this reason we remove COMPLETELY the shelf primer every time we see it start to stick to the glass.”

Joe Spitzer of Cave Creek, Arizona wrote, “Kiln wash contains kaolin, which sticks badly to glass (especially opals) if it’s taken over 1300F (704C). I lay down a new very thin layer on top of the old wash until it becomes chipped or has divots I can’t work around. Then I remove all the kiln wash by scraping with a single-edge razor blade and start over.”



Q. Does drying leather-hard greenware in the kiln on a long pre-heat adversely affect the kiln’s bricks and elements?

A. This is an expensive way to dry greenware. However, it is okay to dry greenware in the kiln as long as the temperature gets no higher than 200F (93C) and the kiln is well vented. Do not raise the temperature until the clay has dried out.

The kiln must be vented during the drying period, or the firebricks will absorb moisture. An indication of moisture in the firebricks is water dripping from the case.



David Snyder, a kiln technician, has a customer who lives in the country six miles from the main electric transformer. The customer’s house was at the end of a line of chicken farms.

In the summer, the farms run fans to cool the chicken coops. Hundreds of fans running in the hot summer lower the voltage in that area from the normal 240 down to 190. To compensate for low voltage, David’s customer installed a bump-up transformer, which raises the voltage in the summer to 230.

The winter after the bump-up transformer was installed, the farms stopped running fans, and the voltage went back up to 240. The customer’s bump-up transformer raised the 240 voltage to 290. This burned up the relays in the customer’s three kilns. After that, he had an electrician install a switch so the bump-up transformer could be by-passed in the winter.



“The deeper I get into the high-tech world of my career, the more I need to do something useful, beautiful, with my hands.” –Carl D. Cravens, potter



For the last 10 years, our printing department has been dormant because we sent our printing to a local shop in Mesquite. Two weeks ago we hired a printing press operator and have reopened our printing department. Jim Fugitt, the new employee, will print kiln manuals on a two-color A.B. Dick 360 offset printing press.


Yesterday I heard the steady, rhythmic clattering of one of our two printing presses through my office wall. It was the sound of blank paper becoming two-color firing guideline posters. A well oiled, properly adjusted printing press sounds like music.

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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