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The Front Loading Kiln


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


The front loading kiln is similar to a microwave oven.  It contains a door which swings open to allow access from the front.  It also tends to be built in a rectangular box-shape.  This shape makes it a bit more expensive to construct than a front-loading kiln.


Things to evaluate when considering the purchase of a front loading kiln include:


1.  Shape


Most front loading kilns are rectangular.  This is a more efficient space than an octagonal or similar multi-sided kiln, especially if you're firing tiles or other four-sided items. 


2.  Element placement


Front loading glass kilns tend to have elements in the top, with the best models having elements in all four sides and the top.  Models with only side elements or with elements in three sides but not the door are sometimes found in smaller front loading kilns.  These configurations are sub-optimal, but they can work if the kiln is small.  For larger kilns, look for elements in the top, side, and door. 


3.  Door configuration


The best configuration is where the doors are hinged on either the left or right and open like a microwave or refrigerator.  Some doors (especially ones without elements) have hinges on the bottom and open by pulling down; if you buy a kiln with this type of door, make certain that the door has some sort of support to keep it from opening too far or damaging the bottom hinges.  If possible, get a kiln with a "kill switch" on the door that automatically cuts power to the elements when the door is opened.


4.  Practicality


Front loading kilns are easier for combing or for other activities where the door is opened while firing.  This is because the hot air tends to remain in the kiln, making it a bit cooler to access and quicker to reheat when the door is closed.  On the downside, it's a bit harder to rearrange pieces once they're initially loaded into the kiln, especially if they're placed toward the rear of the kiln.  This can make front-loading kilns more difficult to use if your pieces have a lot of small pieces or stringers that tend to move about when they're placed in the kiln.



Click here for information on top loading kilns.


Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

You can read more about vitrograph kilns in Bullseye's TechNotes 2, available on this page.

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

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