Getting to Know Your Kiln

" Getting to know your kiln…it's as simple as that!"

Each kiln fires differently and it is important to get to know your kiln. Although kilns might look similar, they are unique and distinctive. There are always requests for firing schedules, but each kiln fires in a different way and finding out how your unit reacts is very important in glass fusing success.

After you have it set up, run a test fire. This doesn’t require that you actually fuse a piece, the kiln can be run empty. Find out what settings will give different temperatures. Use a fire log to record when the firing started, what the reading was, how long it took the unit to heat up to a certain temperature, and what setting was used to hold the temperature at a set point.

Keep in mind that as you are reading the temperature on the pyrometer, you are actually seeing the air temperature inside the kiln. There is no way to actually read the temperature of the item being fired.

Know Your Kiln

The temperature will never be consistent. A kiln will cycle on and off to maintain a temperature. It might even cool off quite a few degrees before it cycles back on and there is a rise in the reading. This is a normal process for all kilns. There could even be a variance of 20 to 50 degrees on either side of the targeted temperature. Since each kiln is unique the variation can be dissimilar with each unit. That is why it is important that you know your kiln and how it fires.

Explore and note how long the unit takes to go from room temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, then how much more time before the pyrometer reads 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. This step will help determine how much time passes before you need to hold the temperature, especially if you are using a manual kiln.

There will be a lot of times that pieces will need to be held at this temperature. This is especially helpful when doing a bubble squeeze on your piece. Keep in mind that since kilns vary, the bubble squeeze might be different for this individual kiln.

Record how much more time elapses before the temperature reaches 1325 degrees Fahrenheit, and then again to 1450 degrees Fahrenheit. Noting these times and temperatures will help when doing tack fuses and full fuses in the unit.

Next, jot down the amount of time it takes the kiln to go from 1450 degrees Fahrenheit down to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the dial and see what setting is needed to hold this temperature.

Notice how long it takes the kiln to go from this temperature to around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust and move the dial until the kiln can be controlled to hold and drop temperatures. The final step is to write down how long it takes to drop the temperature from 500 degrees Fahrenheit to room temperature.

If beginning glass fusing, this information might not make much sense at the moment. But, having these notes will help in the glass fusing process.

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