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HOW TO CHOOSE A KILN

      Whether you are a:

  • teacher or student,
  • shop, studio or home,
  • school or institution,
  • hobbyist or serious potter,
  • dollmaker, china painter or glass artist.

     Will you need a:

  • manual or automatic kiln
  • top-loading or front-loading kiln
  • 120, 240 or 208 voltage
  • What are you going to fire?
  • How often will you fire?

Use these considerations when making your decision. . .
What Temperature?
Voltage
Size: Hobby or Studio?
Multi-sided or Square?
Top or Front Loading?
Firebrick or Fiber?
2 1/2" or 3" wall?
Model?
Furniture and Extras?

What Temperature?
1700 degrees F
2000 degrees F
2300 degrees F
2350 degrees F
Buy a kiln that will fire hot enough for the ware you will make. China painting or enameling kilns and most glass kilns, for instance, will not reach ceramic temperatures.

Voltage?
Will you need a new circuit installed for your kiln? This may affect which kiln you choose. Have only a licensed electrician install your new circuit and use COPPER wiring, not aluminum.
208 volt wiring is becoming common in strip malls and schools. 208 volt and 240 volt circuits use the same wall outlets so you can't tell them apart visually. Call your power company if you are not sure about your voltage. If you fire a 240 volt kiln on a 208 volt circuit, it will fire slowly and probably never reach maximum temperature. 240 volt kilns do not necessarily fire hotter than 120 volt kilns. 220 is for European, Mexico and some Canadian wiring.

Size: Hobby or Studio?
Generally, the larger the kiln, the lower the cost per cubic foot of interior. The 8-sided kilns are the most popular hobby size, because the cost per cubic foot is low. These kilns are large enough to fire most greenware, including Christmas trees.
One of the most popular sizes for dolls is the 6-sided S-11-9-3. Doll makers also like a 7-sided kiln or the 8-sided
S-1613-3 or TnF 1613-3.
The larger the kiln, the more efficient your commercial operation. Loading time and electrical cost per piece of ware is lower in a 12-sided kiln than in an 8-sided or 10-sided.

Multi-sided or Square?
On a per cubic foot basis, the multi-sided kilns are less expensive than the 4-sided because they are easier to build. Ceramists usually buy the multi-sided models. Schools and potters sometimes buy the large, square, top-loading kilns because they are especially durable and slow cooling.

Top or Front Loading?
The popular multi-sided kilns are top loading. Front-loading kilns are preferred for enameling where pieces are removed from the kiln at 1450 degrees F. This would be difficult in a top-loading kiln since the heat rises when the lid is opened. Ceramists use the small front-loading kilns for testing and firing small pieces.

Firebrick or Fiber?
Insulation for ceramic kilns is refractory firebrick or ceramic fiber. The firebrick outlasts ceramic fiber while ceramic fiber heats and cools faster. So, each material has its advantages.
Heating elements are easy to replace in a firebrick kiln, because they are exposed in firebrick grooves. Most ceramic fiber kilns use elements embedded into the fiber. These elements are more expensive to replace along with the ceramic fiber.

2 1/2" or 3" Wall?
Most ceramic kiln walls are either 2 1/2" or 3" thick. The 3" wall kilns take slightly less energy to fire due to the extra insulation. However, their main advantage is that they reach a higher temperature than their 2 1/2" counterparts. They also cool more slowly, important when firing heavy pieces. If you intend to fire stoneware or porcelain, buy a 3" wall kiln. 3" wall kilns model numbers end in "-3"

Model?
S-Series or KS Manual Fire
SnF Series Automatic
TnF Series or KM Automatic Digital
For most firings, the heat in a kiln is turned up gradually. This prevents the heat from shocking the ware and gives gases in the clay time to escape. The S, SnF, KS and KM and TnF series differ in the way they control the heat.
S-Series
S-series and KS manual fire kilns operate without electronics or timers and they use infinite control switches to adjust heat output. For most firings, the switches are set on low to begin with and then turned up to higher settings.
Dawson Kiln Sitter ® with a Limit Timer comes standard on the S-series. With all Skutt KS kilns, Limit Timers are now automatically included as of 2014 models ordered. A small pyrometric cone is positioned in the Kiln Sitter (Pyrometric cones are small clay pyramids placed inside the kiln which bend to indicate when ware is fired to maturity. They are rated by number.) When the cone bends, it releases a trigger in the Kiln Sitter that shuts the kiln off. The Limit Timer is a safety backup that shuts the kiln off in the event of a malfunction when the timer runs out.
SnF-Series
SnF series kilns use switch-timers to change heat settings. A Dawson Kiln Sitter with Limit Timer shuts the kiln off at the end of the firing. The top switch of an SnF kiln adjusts the heat setting during the first phase of firing. The second switch is a timer that controls the firing time of the first stage. The third switch (if the kiln has one) is a timer that regulates timing on the second stage. As timers run out, higher heat settings are automatically switched on.
TnF-Series
Owning a TnF or KM Series digital kiln is like hiring someone to watch your kiln for you. After the first few firings, you will wonder how you ever got along without one. Results are repeatable and consistent.
The heart of the digital kiln is the Sentry or DTC Programmable Digital Controller board, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Replacing or upgrading one takes only minutes. It is backed with a reassuring warranty.

TnF and KM kilns come with an improved thermocouple (temperature sensor) which is hermetically sealed in a protective metal sheath. Before updating, Paragon tested it continuously for months. According to test data, temperature drift is only a few degrees after firing for 1,000 hours at 2300 degrees F. The new thermocouple is so sensitive that when registering around 80 degrees F., it will show the temperature rising when you hold the tip in your hand.

Cone-Fire fires to a pyrometric cone number. You do not need to know cone temperature - just enter the cone number and firing speed (fast, medium, or slow.) New in Cone-Fire is the Fine Tuning feature. It matches the heat work of the controller to that of the pyrometric cone on the kiln shelf. For example, if you program the controller to cone 05 and the 05 shelf cone does not quite bend to maturity, you can adjust the controller to fire a little hotter next time.
The cone temperature of an actual firing will vary, however, depending on firing rate.

Ramp-Hold fires in up to eight segments. Each segment has an end temperature, speed, and hold (or soak) adjustment, so you can change the firing speed up to eight times in a single firing. Because each segment can control heating or cooling, even crystalline glaze firings are simplified.
Store up to four and even eight firings in memory (depending on kiln model) - programs are retained even if the kiln is unplugged. The kiln temperature displays throughout firing and cooling in your choice of temperature scales, F or C. A safety switch near the display window shuts off power to the heating elements. Use the audible temperature alarm to remind yourself to close the lid from the venting position or to check the kiln when firing is almost complete. Error messages report possible mechanical problems.
Use "Delay Fire" to start the firing later to suit your schedule. The display shows time left before firing begins. You do not have to be present throughout the firing, but it is important that you are near the kiln before the expected shutoff time.

Furniture and Extras?
When estimating the price of a kiln, include the cost of the furniture (the shelves and posts stacked inside the kiln.) With furniture, you can stack multiple layers of ware. Without it, you can fire only the ware that will fit in  the bottom.
If you will be firing low fire pottery glazes, you will also want to order stilts.

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MASTER DISTRIBUTORS FOR:
Mayco Colors and Bisque
Duncan Colors and Bisque - I Love to Create
Paragon Kilns     Orton Vents & Cones
Skutt Kilns   Thomas Stuart Wheels
Olympic Kilns
Creative Paradise  Lehman Ceramic Equipment
Royal Brushes   Shimpo Ceramic Equipment
AMACO/Brent Color, Wheels and Slab Rollers

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American Ceramic Supply Company has been selling and servicing ceramic kilns to the ceramic industry, schools, individuals and studios for 40 years. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, American Ceramic Supply Company services and supplies ceramic equipment and supplies to traditional ceramic shops, paint your own pottery studios, ceramic potters, art teachers and art educators, ceramic and pottery finished ware producers, ceramic and pottery home based hobbyists. American Ceramic Supply Company provides education, training and consulting services to traditional ceramic shops, paint your own pottery studios, potters, art teachers and art educators, ceramic and pottery finished ware producers and home based hobbyists. American Ceramic Supply also educates and assists the architects, contractors, builders and electricians for our customers as they create their ceramic shops, paint your own pottery studios, ceramic rooms in their new schools and buildings and in their homes.

American Ceramic Supply Company and American Glass Supply Company sell ceramic kilns including Paragon Kilns, Skutt Kilns, Amaco/Excel Kilns, Cress Kilns and Olympic Kilns. Paragon’s Kilns include the Touch and Fire electric automatic kilns such as the TnF 82, TnF23, TnF24, TnF27 and TnF28’s, the Ovation kilns, Dragon and Super Dragon kilns, Iguana Kilns, Caldera and Clamshell Kilns, Janus kilns, as well as the small kilns such as the SC series kilns, heat treating kilns, doll and porcelain kilns. Skutt kilns include the Kiln Master kiln series - the popular KM818, KM1018, KM1027, KM1218, KM1227-3 and KM1231 kilns, the Glass Master kiln line such as the GM814, GM1014, GM1214 - the very popular GM1414 coffin kiln, and the production glass kiln line - the GM818, GM1018 and the GM1227-3 as well as the Skutt Hot Start Pro Kiln and the new Firebox kilns - Firebox 8 and Firebox 14 including the clamshell kiln GM22. Through American Ceramic Supply Company, Olympic Kilns has fantastic gas and glass kilns, raku kilns, electric - manual and automatic kilns such as the Dual Media Kilns, the Champ kiln, the Freedom Series kilns, the Commercial Electric kilns, and the Torchbearer Gas kilns- both available as propane or natural gas kilns. Olympic also has truck kilns, commercial industrial kilns, custom kilns, DPF Cleaning Kilns and industrial kilns. Amaco kilns and Excel Kilns are very popular kilns with teachers and art educators. Front loading kilns, top-loading kilns, professional kiln line series, Fine Art kilns, Professional Kiln series, and metal enameling kilns are all part of the Amaco kilns and Excel kilns production series. Whether you need a pottery kiln, jewelry kiln, silver art clay kiln, glass fusing kiln, glass slumping kiln, knife heat treating kiln, clay tile production kiln, low fire kiln, high fire kiln, 120V kiln, 240V kiln, 208V kiln or even a 480V kiln! -
American Ceramic Supply Company can provide you with just the kiln for your very special needs and desires to last you for a very long time!

American Ceramic Supply Company continues to sell, service, educate and provide on-going marketing and technical support to the ceramic and pottery industry. Our goals are the best customer service we can possibly offer, generosity of information to our customers so that they can succeed and accomplish their ceramic dreams and desires and
doing the right thing by God and Country.

American Ceramic Supply Company, Inc. - est. 1975
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