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How to Reach Down into a Tall Top-Loading 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 Top-Loading Kiln

Reader Response: The difference between kiln coating and kiln wash

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

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

Memorable Quote



Laughing, 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) Cut a piece of 1/2” - 5/8” (12.5 - 15.8 mm) plywood to the curvature of the kiln wall. Open the kiln lid. Lay the curved plywood across the top of the kiln wall and 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 1” or 2” posts. The shelf may improve the heat distribution at the bottom of the kiln, and you won’t have to reach down as far to load the kiln. Leave the shelf in the kiln between firings.

4) Load tall pieces on the bottom kiln shelf.

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, I wrote that kiln coating helps to prevent erosion of firebrick surfaces. Someone wrote, “By kiln coating do you mean kiln wash, the stuff you put on the kiln shelves?” A second reader asked, "I was wondering what kiln coating is and where I would buy it.”

Kiln coating is a light mixture of kiln repair cement and texture. We use kiln coating to seal and protect firebrick surfaces such as peepholes, the inner lid surface, and the area of the sidewalls that touch the lid. Kiln coating should not be used on kiln shelves or steel surfaces. It is available from Paragon and other kiln manufacturers.



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

A. This is an expensive way to dry greenware because it uses electricity. Nevertheless, it is okay to dry greenware in the kiln as long as the temperature gets no higher than 200F (93C) during drying, 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.



Kiln technician David Snyder has a customer who lives in the country six miles from the main electric transformer. The customer’s house is 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


Two weeks ago I arrived at the Kansas City airport to attend NCECA, the pottery convention. As I waited for a shuttle to the hotel, I realized that I was surrounded by potters. In spite of sleepy expressions, they talked and laughed. A young woman sitting with us wore a towering backpack. “I just flew in from a camping trip to the Grand Canyon,” she said. “I still smell like a campfire. I’m here for NCECA.”

“I’m coming to NCECA too,” another woman said. “I’m here for inspiration.”

“You’ll get inspired,” the camper said. “After I get home from NCECA, all I want to do is stay in my studio for 72 hours and make pots.” We boarded the shuttle. Joined by others attending NCECA, we talked about kilns all the way to the hotel.

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 2016, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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