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Best kiln

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Chris Lowry
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Best kiln

Postby Chris Lowry » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:48 pm

Can you help me choosing a kiln... I'm a glass blower wanting to fuse some furnace made parts together into larger thick panels.

I'm looking at kilns like the Paragon Pearl 44 or Skutt GM1414. They both seem great but I don't understand the big difference in price. Is the Pearl that much better? Does the Skutt suck? Is it really just your preference of opening style or would one type be better than the other?

Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.

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Re: Best kiln

Postby Brad Walker » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:57 pm

Both manufacturers make good kilns. But your comparison is somewhat apples to oranges -- those are two very different kilns, not only in shape (the Skutt is more oval, the Paragon is rectangular), but also in the way they're made. Any clamshell design will be more expensive than a top loading design. Also, Paragon tends to sheath their kilns in heavier metal than most other US kiln manufacturers, adding to the cost.

The advantage of a top loading design is that it's cheaper to make than a clamshell design. The disadvantage is that it's a bit harder to load and unload because you have to bend down to reach into the kiln.

The main disadvantage of the Skutt is that it's not rectangular, this is a limiting factor if you want to make larger rectangular pieces. On the other hand, the Skutt actually has more square inches than the Paragon, which is useful if what you're making can be fit into the shape of the kiln. Neither kiln comes with a single shelf that size of the inside of the kiln, so that's an issue if you want to make larger panels; you'd need to use fiber or a similar material as your shelf, rather than the ceramic shelves the kilns normally have.

If you want to compare similar kilns, compare the Skutt 1414 to Paragon's Ovation 1013 Oval. Almost every other major kiln manufacturer will make a similar kiln -- they're generally called "coffin kilns".

Skutt doesn't make a comparably sized kiln to the Paragon Pearl 44, but several other manufacturers do make comparable kilns.

Chris Lowry
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Chris Lowry » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:36 am

That is a lot of good information... It's so hard to decide on where to start with this adventure. Besides deciding on what style of kiln to get I'm trying to decide on how big to get, or how much money to spend.

Bert was giving me some great advice in the newcomers forum on heating zones, made a ton of sense. I guess the thicker I make my objects the more even I want the heat. Man there is just to much to think about, I guess I just have to buy something and try it.

The coffin style kiln seems like it would have great even heat but they are so much cheaper it makes me feel like they are not any good. Is that true or are they still good kilns?

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Re: Best kiln

Postby Brad Walker » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:21 am

Chris Lowry wrote:The coffin style kiln seems like it would have great even heat but they are so much cheaper it makes me feel like they are not any good. Is that true or are they still good kilns?


Coffin style kilns can be very good kilns. They're less expensive because they cost less to make, not because they're made more poorly. For the most part, the kilns we're talking about are all made from the same brick, use the same elements, the same kind of controllers, etc. The differences are mostly in shape and in opening configuration (top loading, clamshell, front loading, etc.).

Bert Weiss
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Bert Weiss » Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:56 am

Every kiln has it's plusses and minuses. Coffin kilns suck if what you want to do is comb.

The good news is that you can do most kinds of work in most kilns, with adjustments for what is happening inside them. If you have side elements exposed to the edges of the glass, you have to slow down. If you are doing drop slumps, you have to be able to evacuate the heat enough to stop the drop. There is a wide range of what you can get to work for you.
Bert

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Morganica
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Morganica » Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:37 pm

Coffins are also called "bathtubs," so if you hear that term, that's what it means. For fusing, i.e., sticking sheet glass or frit into the kiln, firing it until it flows together or slumps into a mold/form, and cooling it, any kiln that will keep the elements at least a couple inches away from the glass and allow you to control the temperature going up and down the firing program (whether manually or through a computer controller) will work.

I used a bathtub/coffin kiln (the one you're considering) for years, and it was an excellent kiln, no real complaints. I fired it nearly continuously, beat the heck out of it, and did some pretty ambitious work in it. I wouldn't buy another one, mostly because I usually wound up heating and managing a lot of cubic I really didn't use much. Those "wings" on the side not only have to be heated to maintain the heat evenly across the kiln, they also push the elements farther away from your piece on those sides. It's not a big deal, certainly didn't bother me once I realized I needed to compensate in my layup and schedule, but it needs to be taken into account.

Also, you might not use those wings, but the lid covers them, so you'll be lifting up the extra weight every time you peek into the kiln. In my case, I didn't have the lid lifter and it meant that I never really lifted the lid up evenly on both hinges and eventually the right hinge--I'm right-handed--pulled loose.

Rectangular or symmetrical kilns tend to give you more usable space even though it doesn't look like it when you're buying them.
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Chris Lowry
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Chris Lowry » Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:51 am

I ended up buying the paragon gl24adtsd... It seems to fire real nice but it's been hard to load. We are figuring out ways around the front loading but one of these days I'll get a top loader.

JestersBaubles
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Re: Best kiln

Postby JestersBaubles » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:24 pm

I have the GM1414 and LOVE it.

My only complaint is that I don't like to fire an empty kiln, so I try to make sure I have a full load before I fire. Preparing a full load of projects that need to be fired at the same schedule can take me a while (day job gets in the way!). My pieces, on average, are 9 to 12 inches, and at that rate, can require a lot of pieces to fill it up.

If I could only have one kiln out of my four (see above, day job), I would have the GM1414.

Dana

Bert Weiss
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Bert Weiss » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:27 pm

I believe the best kiln configuration is the bell kiln, followed by the clamshell. I don't like it that clamshells only open up on 3 sides. I would set up the hinge sitting well behind the kiln, so when it swings open, there is air flowing 360º around.

I have a front loader that is 35 years old. I don't like to use it because I can't get my nose over the glass to see the setup.

I never owned a top loader, but I have used them in other studios. The lid warps and rust rains down. Not my favorite setup.
Bert



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Mark Hall
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Mark Hall » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:48 am

Regardless of the configuration used, I believe the best kiln is the one you build yourself.

Brad Walker
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Brad Walker » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:52 am

Mark Hall wrote:Regardless of the configuration used, I believe the best kiln is the one you build yourself.


Maybe the one you build, Mark, but that certainly wasn't the case with the one I built. :D

Chris Lowry
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Chris Lowry » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:49 pm

So now I want to build a small oven, what type of board are good?

Kevin Midgley
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Re: Best kiln

Postby Kevin Midgley » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:37 pm

your questions are answered here:
http://richardlalonde.com/books/


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