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Are you a kiln building expert? Can we link to your website or promote your design on this page? Please email us from http://digitalfire.com/services/about.html.
Nils is the author of "The Art of Firing" and recognized across North America as an expert in firing. He developed the Minesota Flat Top kiln design and sells a book with detailed information on how to build one. He has traveled extensively does workshops to build this design. His website has a great set of pictures on step-by-step construction. Visit http://www.linfield.edu/~nlou/ and click on the Clay Pacific link.
Luke was a master potter, sculptor and clay prospector and a contemporary of Peter Volkos and Rudi Autio. He lived about 200 miles north of their base at the Archie Bray foundation and he founded Plainsman Clays in the middle 1960s. By then he already had many years of experience in reduction firing from cone 04 to 10. He passed away in 2000. Luke built many kilns and drew very detailed plans and took many pictures. We are currently working on a project to make these available to everyone. Plainsman clays sells the burners that Luke used. Go here to see some of the pictures.
Visit http://www.r2d2u.com/ to buying various kinds of kiln building plans.
Note: We have lost contact with Mr. Lawrence and the links below are not working. We will rectify this problem as soon as possible.
This page is the hub of a special 'communal' project so we need your input. Jeff Lawrence will be the prime 'mover and shaker' since he has built three kilns and has enough computer expertise to create an electronic book and detailed plans on how to build a gas kiln. We want to provide a resource for potential kiln builders, not just a book but access to advice. We are at the early stages but this project has great potential. Thus if you can contribute to the plans or book, please email Mr. Lawrence, if you are willing to be listed on this page as a consultant so people using the plans can make their kilns work, please email Tony from http://digitalfire.com/services/about.html.
1. Air insulation underneath instead of heat-sinking brick. The steel framing in the plans is needlessly complex and if I build another I'll use thicker steel with many fewer cuts, but the idea is sound. It also (in untested theory) makes the kiln movable as a unit with a forklift.
2. Monolithic fiber panels for walls and ceilings still look great at firing 250. Not cheap but in vastly better condition than the IFB floor at this age. Put blanket gasket in the joints -- I didn't and that's the only part of the fiber that needs maintenance. The ITC 100 shows no wear except where it has been bumped hard.
3. The indexing of the door to the frame for a better seal seems to work well -- much tighter and durable than any brick doors I've seen.
I have problems with unevenness any time I try to fire fast, I think because my burners are too big for this size box (the flame torches the bottom door end). I've tried various bagwall gymnastics to cure this problem but my best solution is to fire slowly at low power.
-A "flame corral" two bricks long located right at the input port to thoroughly mix the flame and bounce it upward. All this did was move the hot spot from the door floor to the flue-side ceiling.
-A long low wall of soaps to make the flame trough contain the flame more -- all this did was make the bottom too cool.
-An row of splits like shark gills to compress the flame and agitate it. Also made the bottom too cool, though it did soften the flame impacton the door end.
-Now, I have settled on a large baffle/flame blocking arrangement at the door end of the flame trough. If anyone out there comes up with a solution short of new smaller burners, please let me know.
Best untested idea to cure unevenness on a new build:
Build the flame trough below floor level and diffuse the flame with a grating over top built from splits on edge.
The major flaw in the plans is that my flue is too big. I'd make the cross section more like 50 sq inches instead of 81, even at this altitude. Currently, I've got mine blocked down to about 45-50 square inches.
I'd go for a different shelf footprint if I ever do over -- square shelves have a poor post footprint to shelf area ratio. I also might make the kiln longer to give the flame a greater distance to diffuse before hitting the door.
Secondary air control:
I installed a cowling of fiber blanket around the burner and this helps me control reduction better.
Sun Dagger Design
Rt. 1 Box 394L
Espanola, NM 87532
Try the book section at http://axner.com. One visitor to this page wrote us and recommended the book How to Save Money for Building your Own Fuel-Efficient Kiln and Firing it Economically by Regis C. Brodie; Watson Guptil Publishing, 1515 Broadway, NY 10036.
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