Kiln Recommendation - WarmGlass.com

Kiln Recommendation

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Matthew900
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:55 am

Kiln Recommendation

Postby Matthew900 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:25 pm

Hi, currently we are doing cold working using old liquor and wine bottles. We would like to expand into making beads, slumping, and fusing but I am having a hard time figuring out what kiln we should get.

We want to do some slumping with the bottles but we also want to try our hand at making other things with the leftover glass remnants. I know it will take allot of experimentation with the glass since it's all unknown and it will have to be sorted by brand since each manufacturer's glass will have a different COE. I also expect we'll expand to making things with new glass as well.

I know that long term I want Kiln that is big enough to make large bowls and vases or large runs of smaller items. Electricity isn't an issue since I already have 220 set up for our other tools. I want something with the digital controls that I can set and not touch again till it's finished because I know I'll mess up the timing if I have to do all the changes during the firing cycle.

The issue I am having is that normally I go with the buy the right tool first, not the cheep wrong tool. My standard strategy is the find the right tool used but I am not seeing allot of used glass kilns out there in the size range I think I need. Most appear to be close in price to a new one and there a ton of really cheep ceramic kilns. Based on my research so far it doesn't seam like a ceramic kiln would be the best way to go but would it be pretty much the same if install a new digital controller?

If a new glass kiln is my best option what brand and size would you all recommend for what I plan on doing? Who has the best prices on new glass kilns? I'm in Las Vegas so I was wondering if there was a company with good prices based here I should look at to save on shipping or one in the LA/Reno/Phoenix area that I could drive to?

Sorry to write such a long post and ask so many questions but I want to make sure I get the right kiln on the first purchase. Thanks!!

Matt

linn keller
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby linn keller » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:58 pm

Hi Matt,
Read your request and would like to make a few suggestions. Let me emphasize these are only my opinions.
First, I don't think of a "big" fusing kiln as a good annealing kiln for lamp working ( bead making), because it would require a tremendous amount of space to be heated for some little beads. I would think you might just want to think about getting a small kiln with a bead door for the bead making, esp. If you aren't really doing a lot/any now.
Secondly, because not all kilns are all things to all people, imo you need to make a few decisions before you can expect " good advice " on a kiln purchase. What do I mean? Well...what's a big kiln in your terms? Saying you have 220...are you planning to plug/unplug to accommodate other tools or ? Top loading, front loading , clamshell? Preference and space available? Fiber or kiibrick? Learning, much less Filling up a kiln with production takes time to - during "learning phases" might you want to fire more frequently so you can see what works? IMO these are the kinds of questions that only you can answer, especially if you're going to be happy with whatever you choose. Where to buy? How much to spend? Once you have a prime candidate or two for your kiln, then start looking around... Local can give you things like support and local assistance, web sometimes good, sometimes not so much.
You might want to consider something smaller than huge now, and get a second kiln later when you need it.
Once you make some basic decisions I think any suggestions we might make will be better targeted for your evaluation.
Good luck,
Linn
linn in deep deep south texas

Matthew900
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:55 am

Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Matthew900 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:58 pm

The bead part is something the wife wants to try but I think it will be the minority of the usage. I do expect we'll make big runs of the large round beads made from the necks of the bottles.

Size wise I want to be able to make vases and bowls so my big concern was depth. A vase could easily be a foot or more tall and it seamed like that was unusually large for the glass kilns. I was thinking internal dimensions of at least 20" x 12" or more.

I know I'll be spending more time firing up and cooling down a larger kiln during learning/testing but my thought was also that every kiln is different so I didn't want to put a lot of work into testing in a smaller kiln then go to make a large run of product and have to do all the testing again.

My concern is that I really don't know what I'm doing yet when it comes to choosing a kiln but I also don't want to spend $1000 and find I need to buy another one.

For instance this one looked interesting:
http://skutt.com/products-page/glassmas ... s/gm-1014/
or
http://skutt.com/products-page/glassmas ... s/gm-1018/

But I had questions like do I need the one with the element in the top or not? Is there a different brand that's better or cheaper? I'm assuming I would want a fiber top since I read some posts saying the brick drops stuff sometimes so are fiber tops available on these?

Thanks!

Morganica
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Morganica » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:08 pm

https://www.glasscraftexpo.com/

That might be a good starting point for you, since it would be a local show. You'll find a number of kiln manufacturers there, you can take classes and talk to a wide range of skill sets and experience levels, and find some pretty good show special deals. Frequently they also sell the class kilns at a discount, so you might be able to get a good price on a kiln.

As for which brand/type of kiln to buy, it sounds like you're still in the exploratory stages. I'd get a square/rectangular kiln if possible (the round/oval/bathtub kilns are less expensive but generally have less usable footprint), and get it at least 12-13 inches deep and 20x20 or thereabouts. But honestly? Don't worry so much about the kiln as long as it meets your minimum size requirements. I had a Skutt GM1414 "bathtub" kiln for almost two decades, nearly beat it to death before giving it to a student. She refurbished it with a new lid, a couple of new firebrick and new elements, and I expect she'll get another couple of decades out of it.

I think the firebrick kilns are a little more forgiving for people just starting out--they tend to retain more heat during the cooldown, which kinda saves you from yourself when you hurry the schedule too much (but that's just my opinion).

There are three main kiln styles--toploader, clamshell/bell, front-loader--and they all have advantages and disadvantages:
--Toploaders are usually the least expensive, and they're easy to use. The top lid makes it easy to open the kiln when firing (to peek and see if a slump is finished, or to rake the soft glass with a tool)...but it also allows a blast of hot air out into your face. And if you're not as young as you used to be, it can be a pain to drag heavy loads of molds, kilnshelves and glass down into and up out of the kiln.
--Clamshells and bells are like upside-down kilns--the elements and most of the enclosure is in the "lid" so that you have very easy access to a nearly flat platform to set up and remove your work, which can save your back. Most people who have clamshells love them, that's often the kiln people choose the second or third time around. When you have to open the kiln, the heat stays inside the top, so there's less reheat time, and you don't get such a nasty blast of heat. Downside--they're usually the most expensive, and harder to access from the back. And they can be really topheavy when opened, so you have to be careful.
--Front-loaders are nice for peeking to see when something's done, and they're great for raking and other manipulation because they don't let out much heat. They can easily support elements on all sides of the kiln, including the bottom, and they're nice and compact so you can put them at waist/chest high, which makes them nice for working. I frankly don't much care for them, though, because they force you to load/unload/adjust the kiln contents only from the front. If you can't reach it, or see it, from the front, you're out of luck.

If you're going to the show, try each style, talk with the reps there, and see which you like best.
Cynthia Morgan
Marketeer, Webbist, Glassist
http://www.morganica.com/bloggery
http://www.cynthiamorgan.com

"I wrote, therefore I was." (me)

Matthew900
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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:55 am

Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Matthew900 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:25 am

Thanks for the advice. I was pumped about the show when I found out about it a couple weeks ago but then I realized it was on a weekend when we're out of town.

I did have one question about the glass kilns versus the ceramic kilns. Is there any real difference between them? I know some of the ceramic kilns have a vent but I wasn't sure if there was any other difference other then the firing cycles programed into them. Thanks!

Morganica
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Morganica » Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:45 am

Matthew900 wrote:Thanks for the advice. I was pumped about the show when I found out about it a couple weeks ago but then I realized it was on a weekend when we're out of town.

I did have one question about the glass kilns versus the ceramic kilns. Is there any real difference between them? I know some of the ceramic kilns have a vent but I wasn't sure if there was any other difference other then the firing cycles programed into them. Thanks!

Inside, an electric ceramic kiln may (only may) have more elements in rows, more closely spaced, because it needs to deliver more heat than a glass kiln, and those elements may only be on the sides instead on on top and sides. If it does have more elements, it therefore may have higher power requirements.

The big difference, though, can be in the electronic controller: Not all ceramic kilns have them. A ceramic kiln may instead use a kiln sitter, where you put an Orton cone into a little electric receptacle in the kiln; when it melts, the kiln shuts off. Obviously, that would change the way you develop and use glass firing schedules.

I'd see if I couldn't find time for the show if you can; it'd probably be the best kiln education you can find.
Cynthia Morgan
Marketeer, Webbist, Glassist
http://www.morganica.com/bloggery
http://www.cynthiamorgan.com

"I wrote, therefore I was." (me)

Matthew900
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:55 am

Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Matthew900 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:55 pm

Unfortunately I'll be at the grand canyon that weekend or I would be taking classes.

I found a Skutt KM818 locally. It's fairly new with the digital controller. Will it have firing scheduals for glass built in or would I have to manualy program everything if I bought it? It's only $750 but it comes with furniture and a ton of pottery stuff I won't use.

Valerie Adams
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Valerie Adams » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:59 pm

Most kilns (to my knowledge) have pre-programmed firing schedules, but you'll want to toss those out anyway. My larger kilns store up to 12 of my own schedules so I don't have to manually enter them each time; I've got a cheat sheet that says Program 1: slump; Program 2: single layer powder work, etc. I've entered the schedules and then just run the kiln by choosing the corresponding number.

Morganica
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Morganica » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:19 am

The Skutt may have preprogrammed glass firing schedules, depends on its primary purpose at the time of purchase. I wouldn't discard the stuff that comes with the kiln until you know what it's for--kiln furniture can be useful for damming, elevating reservoirs for pot melts, etc.

Firing schedules aren't one-size-fits-all, so a kiln controller's preprogrammed schedules can be dangerous. They usually have something like a "fast fuse," "slow fuse," "slump," etc... The problem is, there are generally enough variables between the way your kiln fires, the project you're doing, and the effects you want to achieve that the kiln winds up under- or over-firing.

Personally, I think that if you're just doing smaller, 2-layer pieces there's most likely nothing wrong with using the kiln's pre-programmed glass firing schedule. (assuming those schedules are reasonable to begin with, which isn't always the case) That's because--especially in a firebrick kiln--there simply isn't enough glass there to get you into trouble. If you're a beginner and a bit overwhelmed by all the glass tech bombardment, it's not a bad way to get going.

You'll start running into trouble when your work gets bigger and deviates from the standard symmetrical, 2-layer (6mm) dish that's fused flat, then slumped. At that point, I wholeheartedly agree with Val: Stop using the kiln programs, figure out the best schedules for your setup and the kind of work you do. As Val said, the controller can store your most commonly-used firing programs so that you can easily call them up.
Cynthia Morgan
Marketeer, Webbist, Glassist
http://www.morganica.com/bloggery
http://www.cynthiamorgan.com

"I wrote, therefore I was." (me)

Stephen Richard
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Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby Stephen Richard » Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:06 am

I have recently produced an item on selecting a kiln. It is available from http://shop.stained-glass-supply.co.uk/ ... uctID=1880
It may be of some help
Steve Richard
You can view my Blog at: http://verrier-glass.blogspot.com/

LindaO
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:43 pm

Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby LindaO » Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:52 pm

Valerie Adams wrote:Most kilns (to my knowledge) have pre-programmed firing schedules, but you'll want to toss those out anyway. My larger kilns store up to 12 of my own schedules so I don't have to manually enter them each time; I've got a cheat sheet that says Program 1: slump; Program 2: single layer powder work, etc. I've entered the schedules and then just run the kiln by choosing the corresponding number.


Would you provide me with the firing schedule you use for single layer powder work please. thank you.

David Jenkins
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Location: Cypress, Texas

Re: Kiln Recommendation

Postby David Jenkins » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:53 pm

Also: There are controllers, and then there are controllers - 12-key, 3-key, touch screen, etc. Find some samples of each and enter a few schedules. Modify a few schedules, too. Interrupt the operation of a schedule to make a change in real-time. Google for reviews.

Ask some fusers about their controllers - what they like and what they don't like. I, for instance, come from the IT world, and find the 3-key controller that came with my first kiln to be maddeningly cumbersome and unelegant. You may find others who feel as strongly in the other direction. But go see what you'll be dealing with in the flesh before buying.
Dave Jenkins
Glass at Harbor Gates
Cypress, TX


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