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Choosing a glass kiln

 

This is part two of a multi-part series on choosing a glass kiln for fusing and slumping.  Click here to go to the first part.

 

Small kilns (roughly under half a cubic foot) are appropriate for people on a limited budget (under $600 US) or with limited electrical capabilities (household 120 volt outlets in the US). They're also good choices for those who only want to make small items such as jewelry and coasters, or who want to purchase a test kiln as an additional kiln to complement a larger one.

 

Small kilns typically come with a pyrometer that indicates the temperature inside the kiln.  In most cases they do not come with a controller.  This is because a bottom end controller for a 120v kiln will cost around $250 to $400 US retail, so by the time you add a controller to a basic small kiln the list price tends to be over $600 and much closer to the cost of a larger kiln with a controller.  (In recent years several manufacturers have introduced 120 volt kilns with a built in controller.  These models tend to retail for just over $600US.)

 

Kilns tend to fall into four main categories: 

 

1.  Bead annealing kilns -- small kilns only, these are made primarily for annealing lampworked beads, but sometimes also useable for fusing and slumping;

 

2.  Segmented kilns -- usually three part, with separate base, lid, and element sections;  they tend to be either small kilns or large pottery kilns that can be adapted for glass;

 

3.  Front loading kilns -- with a door that usually opens like a microwave;

 

4.  Top loading kilns -- usually six or eight sided, with a door that opens like a lid on a box.

 

The advantages and disadvantages of each of these types of kilns will be discussed separately in upcoming tips. 

 

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Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

Thanks to posters on the Warm Glass board for their suggestions. 

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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