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fast fire wood kilns (long)

updated fri 29 jun 01


Valerie Johnson on wed 27 jun 01

I've been away, but busy as hell. Making pots, making willow
furniture...and now a fellow potter and I are looking into building two
wood fired kilns. I have Olsen's book and was wondering if anyone out
there has experience with building and firing the "Fast Fire Wood Kiln" he
describes in his 2nd edition. Suggestions on fire and insulating brick
sources? Foundation? Has anyone bought his kits? His plans? Keep the
faith. Andy

I'm in the process of building the same kiln, expect to first fire in the next week or two. I revised the plans in a few ways, as follows:
~I built the interior of hard firebrick laid on its side (so it's 2 and 1/2" thick), then put G-26's laid flat on the outside of this shell (total thickness is 7"). I did this to slow down the cooling rate and to allow me to use salt/soda if I decide.
~I laid the top course of bricks on the firebox with a 1/2" overhang into the kiln so there is a ledge inside the kiln to hold the shelves used for the floor so they can be replaced when they crack--this is something that I found on the Clayart archives.
~I braced with wire rope and turnbuckles wrapped around angle iron on the four corners so I can tighten or loosen as needed & so I didn't need to weld
~I have created a double venturi flue box as shown in Lou Nils' The Art of Firing and made the inside of the chimney larger (13&1/2" square)
~I am making the chimney out of refractory boards 2" thick and braced by angle iron at the four corners b/c it was given to me by my brick supplier (who also gave me the hard straights out of which I laid the inside arch, which was doable)
~I poured a foundation out of castable refractory (although I bet I could have gotten away with a few layers of hard brick over cement)
~I created a 1/2" ledge 9" inches up in the fireboxes (which are 15" high) so I can lay pieces of rebar across the entire inside span of 16" without drilling holes

I obtained all of my materials from a supplier in town I found under "refractories" in the yellow pages. He has an interest in pottery & sold me ifb at $1.77 each & has given me many leftovers (kaowool, etc). He has been very helpful in design assistance as well. I called all 3 local suppliers & he was the only one who seemed interested in a "hobby kiln".

Here's a picture as it looks now, still need to finish outside ifb layer and chimney. I'll report back after I fire it to let you know whether it works! Good luck,
Valerie Johnson
in Eads Tennessee where the blackberries are almost ripe and the skeeters are biting