How to Salvage Damaged Kiln Shelves
Recent Q&As: Enameling kilns
HOW TO SALVAGE DAMAGED KILN SHELVES
Cordierite ceramic shelves are used to stack layers of ware inside a kiln. Shelves and posts together are called kiln furniture.
If a kiln shelf breaks or warps, you can sometimes salvage it. Suggested uses for damaged cordierite shelves:
1) Support posts with small shelf pieces on the kiln’s firebrick bottom. This transfers the weight of the kiln load to a wider area, reducing the stress on the brick bottom. This is especially useful if the bottom is uneven.
2) Saw the damaged shelf into strips, and use for glass box casting. Cut the shelf on a tile-cutting wet saw with diamond blade. You can rent one from a home improvement center or have a tile center cut the shelves for you. (Note: Please wear safety glasses when cutting shelves.)
3) Place a small shelf piece on top of a post to elevate the witness cones. This makes it easier to silhouette the cones behind an element and to line them up with a peephole.
4) Suppose the lid of your kiln has a crack where firebrick particles fall onto glazed ceramic ware. Place a shelf strip a couple of inches under the lid crack to catch the debris. Use two posts to hold up the shelf strip.
5) Save warped shelves for use with small projects that won’t be affected by the warpage, such as jewelry, cups, etc.
6) Use a broken shelf section to load smaller ware around tall objects.
7) Saw a cracked shelf along the crack to make smaller half-shelves.
8) A warped shelf can cause glass bubbles on larger glass fused pieces. To salvage the shelf, drill a small hole through the shelf in the low spot. Do not press downward as you drill. Use a diamond bit and water or a masonry bit. As an alternative to drilling a hole, fuse glass on the reverse side of the shelf. --------------
Q. What is the difference between a kiln for enameling and a kiln for glass fusing?
A. An enameling kiln should be front-loading instead of top-loading. This is because the enameled piece is inserted into the kiln at around 1450 degrees F, fired for a couple of minutes, and removed while red hot. It would be difficult to do this with a top-loading kiln.
The kiln should be digital, because the enameling temperature is held for extended periods. You can also hold the temperature using an infinite control switch and pyrometer, but a digital controller does this automatically, which simplifies enameling.
Buy a kiln large enough for the largest pieces you plan on making. Before selecting a kiln, decide if you will use an existing electrical circuit or if you need to have a new one installed.
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With best wishes,
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