Place a spirit level on either the kiln floor or a shelf inside the kiln.
How to Level a Kiln
Reader Response: Moved a kiln with a shelf in the bottom; advice from a technician on spare kiln parts
Recent Q&As: The kiln that suddenly took longer to fire; 3 phase explained
More About Frances Darby
News: We Are Adding a Plain Text Option to the Newsletter
HOW TO LEVEL A KILN
The kiln stand should be steady and level. A kiln that rocks when you lean against it can develop cracks due to uneven stresses against the firing chamber. If the kiln is unlevel, glass projects such as certain types of slumping can become distorted.
1) Place a spirit level on the kiln floor, checking the level from front to back and side to side. Adjust the kiln until the bubble is centered between the two lines in the spirit level.
To check the accuracy of your level, place the level in the kiln and note the position of the bubble in the glass tube. Turn the level 180 degrees so the side of the level that was on the left side of the firing chamber is now on the right side. The bubble should be in the same position as before.
2) To level the kiln, place a shim under the appropriate leg or legs and not between the kiln bottom and the stand or table.
If your kiln has leveling feet, turn the adjustable leveling bolts with a box-end wrench to change the height of the stand legs. Adjusting the screws will lift one or more casters off the floor. But you don’t need to remove the casters. Once the kiln is level and steady, tighten the leveling feet lock nuts.
If the floor of the kiln room is already level, you won’t need to use the leveling screws. In that case, lock the casters if your kiln has them.
If your kiln has casters but no leveling feet, place a shim under the appropriate caster or casters to level the kiln. The shims should be large enough to keep the kiln level should the casters move. The shims should be sheet metal of about 8" x 8" (203 mm x 203 mm) in size.
Q. How important is it to level a small tabletop kiln such as the 8” x 8” (203 mm x 203 mm) Caldera or SC-2?
A. The smaller the kiln, the less critical that it is level.
In the last Kiln Pointer, I suggested placing a shelf on 1” or 2” posts in the bottom of a tall kiln for easier loading. Marty Cooper of Cary, North Carolina wrote, “Arnold, regarding leaving a shelf in the bottom of the kiln: I drove many hours to purchase a well cared for Duncan kiln. Unfortunately, I moved it with the shelf in the kiln on 1" posts. The shelf cleanly broke all the kiln element brick retainer sections. If you use this method, please remove the shelf before moving kiln.”
Jerry Foster, a kiln technician in Dallas, Texas wrote, “You might remind folks to keep an extra element or two for their kilns. That way, your technician can get you up and running in one visit. The technician will usually have relays, thermocouples, etc. with him, but it's a trip back to the factory to get a new element. That means another service call the next day. Saves money too.”
Q. My kiln usually takes 10 hours to fire. I’m wondering why the last firing took 15 hours. The only difference between the last firing and previous firings is that I loaded more shelves this time. I fired tiles on shelves that were spaced an inch apart.
A. Loading a kiln more densely can increase the firing time. The extra mass inside the kiln requires more energy to fire the load. If the slower firing causes a digital controller to flash an error message, then program a slower firing rate.
Q. Your price list shows a 3 phase option for $50 extra. Does that have to do with programming times?
A. The 3 phase option is for a type of circuit wiring. Many industrial buildings are wired for 3 phase power, because 3 phase motors are smaller than single phase motors. Households are wired for single phase.
MORE ABOUT FRANCES DARBY
Paragon was founded in 1948 by Frances Darby and her husband, J.J. She believed that parents who worried about a sick child could find temporary respite through kiln-fired artwork. Frances understood difficult times--she had lived through World War II. She knew that loved ones who worried about sons or husbands in wartime could turn to their kilns and forget, if even for half an hour, that constant strain.
Over the years I have discovered that Frances was correct--people do forget their worries when they make things with a kiln. I know of a medical technician and a surgeon who have made jewelry and pottery to relieve the pressure of their jobs. A heart surgeon told me that he had always wanted to be a potter, and when he retired, he finally fulfilled his dream.
Frances Darby was sensitive to the suffering of others. That is why she could not watch the TV series “Holocaust.”
"What one skill, if you developed it, could have the greatest positive impact on your career? This is the key to your future." --Brian Tracy
NEWS: WE ARE ADDING A PLAIN TEXT OPTION TO THE NEWSLETTER
Starting with the next issue, you will be able to get the Kiln Pointers as either a plain text email or as an email with pictures and graphics. We made a mistake and sent out both versions of the email last week. I apologize for the error.
Some people prefer plain-text emails, because the text version reads more like a personal letter than a brochure. Plain text emails also load faster. And if you get the plain text version and you want to see the picture, you can visit the Kiln Pointer archives.
Do nothing and you will automatically continue to receive the newsletter with graphics. To select the plain text format, go to the bottom of the next newsletter and click “plain text.”
I laugh when I think about the time Frances Darby saw a sign that a teenage employee had on her desk: “It is difficult to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys.” Frances told the employee, “Take that home and don’t ever bring anything like that to work again.” Frances had a great sense of humor--but not always.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd., Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 / email@example.com / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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