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updated fri 23 jan 98


David Hendley on wed 21 jan 98

----Original message----------------------------
>There are three kinds of kilns, the one you build yourself, a cheap one
off the
>shelf and a good one off the shelf.
>You can try building one if you have the strength and time, sure you learn
>about firing, the hard way.

When I read this yesterday I had to restrain my twitching index finger
from hitting the 'reply' button.
I'd just spent several days last week defending myself for disagreeing with
a CPA and others, for having the audacity to suggest that it is well within
for a common, everyday potter to study the subject and then prepare
her own tax return.
Now, here's another expert, a kiln expert, warning how hard it would be
to build your own kiln, what with all the strength and time required.
Well, I couldn't quit thinking about it today, so I've given in to that
twitching finger.
Thanks to Vince for his excellent response today.

Building a kiln is no big deal, in spite of what various 'experts' would
like you to think.
There are just a handfull of principles to follow if you want to design
your own, and there are dozens of good, tried and tested, plans for
just about any kind of kiln you'd like.
Do a little studying. Read a book. There are three that I have,
any one of which would give you all the information you'd need.
Better yet, get all 3. You'll be saving such an incredible amount of
$ by building your own, you can afford all 3. The books:
'Kilns' by Daniel Rhodes
'The Kiln Book' by Fred Olsen
'The Art of Firing' by Nils Lou

Mel Jacobson came down to Texas and built TWO kilns in a day
and a half. Yes, he had help, and yes, he has experience, but even
if you spend 5 hours thinking about it for every hour spent actually
building, you can build a kiln pretty fast. Especially a 'flat top',
which requires no math more complicated than addition, and no
stength greater than stacking bricks into a cube shape.

So, what's the worst than could happen if you build your own?
(Please, no one tell me "It could explode". You've studied the subject.
If you're the careless forgetful type you purchased safety cut-offs
for the burners, the same as a factory made kiln would have).
Well, it could not fire evenly or hot enough.
So you adjust it.
What if it's STILL not right after several adjustments? (highly unlikely)
Well, you could unstack it and try again.
Big deal. And you've learned a lot.
That's the WORST. I've never personally known someone to have to do it.
Every kiln I've ever built, including my first, fired fine from
day 1. With silght adjustments and learning the kiln, the firings
rapidly went from 'fine' to 'very good'.

The greatest benefit of building your own is not the economy, but the
sense if empowerment it will provide.
We are conditioned to think we need experts and professionals to
do everything for us.
We don't.
And each new thing you do for yourself will make you realize
how much you CAN do for yourself.
And, you now have knowledge in a new field.
Before you know it, it all starts snowballing.
More confidence.
More knowledge.
Try another new area.
Before you know it, your life will be great.

If you need someone to help you get started, to say, "You can do it,"
I'll volunteer.
I still appreciate the people who, many years ago, put the notion in my
mind that I could do just about anything, and I trust you'll remember
me fondly many years from now.

As for the contention:
>We will list the best, #1 manufactured kiln, A.R.T., Alpine. #2, HED
>Industries, Unique/Pereny. #3 Geil Kilns.

I would like to give my opinion of the #1 rated Alpine kiln.

When I go into the creamics room at a college and see Alpine kilns
I immediately think, "An administrator, not a potter, was responsable
for buying the cermics equipment here. Someone who had no experience
with kilns, but was very concerned with 'safety' and a neat and tidy
appearance. And had a big budget."
If I were visiting a working potter and saw that he had Alpine kilns
(which has never happened), I would think one of 2 things,
"Well, this guy was on a very tight budget and found some old
Alpines from a college at give-away prices and decided to 'make-do'
with them," or,
"What planet did this guy come from to go out and buy Alpine kilns?"

David Hendley
Maydelle, Texas
See David Hendley's Pottery Page at

KLeSueur on thu 22 jan 98

In a message dated 1/21/98 10:48:20 AM, you wrote:

<from hitting the 'reply' button....................

Now, here's another expert, a kiln expert, warning how hard it would be
to build your own kiln, what with all the strength and time required.
Well, I couldn't quit thinking about it today, so I've given in to that
twitching finger.>>

Ditto!!! I can't understand why anyone would buy a gas kiln when building one
is so easy. Here in Ann Arbor we have our own unique design. No chimney.... no
bag walls. It's just a box made of brick. Two forced air burners on either
side of the front bottom. Two mid-high on either side at the bag. A three
brick opening left out of the center bottom of the door. Simple. Everyone
outside of this area says it can't work. But it does. Even reduction, dead
middle 1/2 cone hotter than the rest of the kiln.

I know of at least 20 kilns of this design within the city of Ann Arbor.

Build it yourself. If the burners worry you, buy the burners with all of the
safety equipment. That's really what will be questioned by the authorities.

Kathi LeSueur