search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - misc 

advise on buying my first kiln

updated mon 31 mar 97


GLENDA WILSON on tue 18 mar 97

Hello Clayarters:

I have recently begun to make porcelain jewlery. I have a couple of local
potters who allow me to use their kiln and so I've never actually done any
firing myself. I'd like my own kiln but it would have to be very simple to
use. I know nothing about turning the temps up and down so I need a kiln
that will do everything for me. I'm asking for advice on what kind of kiln
to buy.
It doesn't have to be big but it needs to be easy to use. I don't want to
buy a kiln and then in a couple of months when I'm more experienced wished
I'd gotten another kind of kiln. I'm thinking about an AIM "bullet" and
adding the automatic timer or a Skutt KM 614-3. Does this sound like a
sensible choice for a beginner? Thanks for any help you can give me,
from Glenda in Minnesota, where there's no sign of spring yet!

Patsy Catsos on wed 19 mar 97

Hi Glenda:

My first kiln was a very old one that I bought used for $150.00. Things kept
breaking on it, and I had to learn how to fix kilns, since it was hard to
find service for it in my area. Although that part was difficult, I now view
it as a real learning experience--how to replace coils, switches, rewire,
etc. I made all of my mistakes on a crummy old kiln, instead of my new,
beautiful one. So consider buying an old, used kiln for your first one,
with a new one planned for a few years from now.

One thing I did that was very helpful: I bought an hour of time from an
electrician that I knew. He taught me how to use a volt/ohm-meter, and how
to troubleshoot the various parts of the kiln. I took a lot of notes and
photographs, which I now use as a reference.


Carl Ross on wed 19 mar 97


I suggest you go with the kilnmaster kilns from Skutt. you can probably get a
good price on it from Continental clay out of Minneapolis. That's where I
bought mine and am pleased so far. all I need to do is type in the cone I
want to fire to and press the speed button I wish to fire at and it does
everything else. All I do is keep an eye on it so it doesn't overfire my
peices. I also suggest you look at an envirovent, also made by skutt. It
simplifies the firing process and provides for a more consistant firing temp
through out the kiln as it produces a downward draft. All I do is turn on
vent before I fire and let it do it's thing. You don't even have to prop open
the lid in the beginning because you drill 3 small holes in the lid and in
the floor which allows it to breathe for itself. It's kind of scary drilling
holes in something you just paid a huge chunk of change for though.

I hope that helps,

Carl in Phillips

Judith Enright on thu 20 mar 97

Carl, you're right -- drilling holes in a pristine new kiln is scary
stuff. But Skutt will drill the Environvent holes for you at no extra

-- Judith Enright @ Black Leopard Clayware & Pottery