KILN BUYING GUIDE
There is a lot to think about when buying a kiln...the first question is what material do you work with?
If you want to do ceramics we offer many styles and sizes of pottery kilns suitable for studios, schools, and technical ceramics.
If you are a glass artist you may need a crucible kiln, or an annealer, or a torch-work / beading kiln, or perhaps a clam shell style for slumping and fusing.
Metal workers will find a huge array of offerings including specialized kilns for blade smiths.
We also offer Dual-Media kilns that have side-fire elements for firing ceramics and top fire elements for flat glass projects.
Tip: The words kiln, oven, and furnace are all synonymous here. Potters tend to call them kilns, metal workers tend to call them ovens or furnaces. Pottery kilns fire the hotter than most glass or metal kilns so if you have a pottery kiln you can fire most glass projects as well. However most glass kilns do not get hot enough to fire ceramics. More on that here :
Yes Virginia, you can fuse glass in your ceramics kiln... an article from Skutt Kilns
How big are the things you want to fire?
We offer everything from kilns the size of a breadbox to large capacity from-loading kilns.
Do you have the electricity required for the kiln you want?
For most people an electric kiln is the way to go. The amount of available amperage you have will be the determining factor to the size of the kiln you can install. We will have you confirm your electrical requirements via a quick online checklist after you place your order. Click Here to see the Checklist.
NOTE : the most common size for potters would be a 7 cubic foot kiln and these require a dedicated 60 amp breaker on 240v/single phase power which is normal residential service. Talk to you electrician to find out how many amps they can give you for a dedicated kiln circuit.
We are happy to help you find the largest size you can get given the amperage the electrician says that you have available!
Are there kilns that run on a regular household outlet ?
Yes there are small kilns that plug into a regular 120 volt 15 amp outlet. These kilns are very small but are quite useful for small projects, learning, and as test kilns. Shown right is Paragon Caldera kiln : it is only 0.25 cubic feet but fires to Cone 10 on a regular household outlet. If you want anything bigger than that for high temperature you will need to have an electrician install a more robust 20 amp circuit and special 20 amp outlet but those kilns are not much bigger. At that point it is advantageous to have them give you a 240 volt outlet so that you have a lot more available sizes!
We also offer a couple of kilns such as the L&L Liberty Bell that can be used on an existing electric clothes dryer outlet!
Is a gas kiln a good option?
Traditionally a gas kiln is desired for reduction effects. Today's cone 6 glazes for electric kilns can get a lot of those effects with a lot less work. Gas kilns for raku are great because they are used outdoors and many can fire with propane. Ultimately an electric kiln is easier, more versatile, and safer in hobby or a school clay studio.
For the experienced user we offer a complete selection of excellent gas kilns by Olympic, Laguna, and more!
Kiln Furniture Kit
For any kiln you need to also order the kiln's "furniture kit". This is a set of shelves and posts to stack your wares on inside the kiln. We can customize most furniture kits to suit special requirement but for the most part the furniture kit option on the kilns we offer are a perfect place to start and will cover most needs.
Kiln Venting Systems
If your electric pottery kiln is in your home you definitely need a kiln vent. There are fumes that are created especially during the bisque firing that you don't want to breathe. Even if your kiln is in the garage or an outbuilding, a vent is still a good idea as the extra oxygen they provide makes for a better, cleaner bisque fire, as well as some brighter glaze colors. They also help remove all the moisture that is coming out of the clay.
All of the kiln makers offer a downdraft vent option that work very well. In some special circumstances, you may want an overhead hood vent (shown right) instead of the downdraft or in addition to the downdraft vent.
Note: Glass and metal firings very rarely would need a vent.
What are "Cones" for ?
Pyrometric cones bear witness to what happened in your firing. Cones bend when certain amounts of "heat-work" are performed. When you do a cone 6 firing for example, having sets of cones for 5, 6, and 7 will show you after the firing if your kiln-fired correctly. The cone 6 cone should be bent from 3 o'clock to tip touching the shelf. If you have a bad firing the cones will tell us if there was a kiln problem or a clay/glaze problem so they are essential for troubleshooting!
Note : we offer a "Cone 6 Starter Kit" that has all you need for cones, stilts, and kiln wash to get up and running!
What Brand of Kiln should I buy?
The good news is that there is no wrong answer. All of the kilns we offer are top-quality and will serve you well for years to come! Some may have details that may suit you slightly better than others and we are happy to help you find the best for your needs!
Sheffield Pottery is an authorized retailer of Paragon Kilns, Olympic Kilns, L&L Kilns, Amaco Kilns, Skutt Kilns, Cone Art Kilns, Fredrickson Kilns, Alpine Kilns, Evenheat, Geil, Laguna, and Nabertherm Kilns.
Top Loading or Front loading?
Most of the kilns we offer are top-loading. These kilns are economical and easy to move and install. Front-loading kilns tend to be much more expensive and require special handling for delivery and installation. Front-loading kilns are easier to load especially for large sculptural work.
Kiln Controller Options
The most common kiln controller is the 12 key digital controller. Some small kilns have a simplified 3 key controller that has the same functions but is not quite as easy to use. All of our manufactures now offer an upgrade option of a Touch Screen Controller. These include wifi connectivity so the kiln can be monitored from a free smartphone app. The touch screen controllers have better diagnostics onboard making troubleshooting a breeze. All of these digital controllers have useful preset firing curves as well as several slots to save your own programs.
The old-fashioned Kiln Sitter shut off is available from some makers but they are not recommended: the digital controllers are easier, safer, and more versatile!
Building a kiln
For the kiln builder, we offer refractory fire bricks, castable refractories, kiln cement, kaowool, and insulation as well as books on the subject. Click here for our KILN BUILDING Products.
Can I fire pottery my kitchen oven?
The oven in your kitchen goes to 550 F. This is not nearly hot enough for the temperatures required for pottery or glass which at a minimum need 1800 F to 2350 F depending on the material. Air-dry clay is an option for kids but air-dry clay cannot be used for anything functional for food or anything that needs to hold water.
When stoneware clay and porcelain are fired to their maturation temperature they are considered vitreous which means that they will hold water without leaking even without a glaze.
How will my kiln be delivered?
Small kilns ship UPS but for the most part kilns will ship via a freight carrier. It will be a "curbside delivery" meaning that they will get it to at least the mouth of your driveway. Frequently the driver will be happy to come up your driveway if it is wide and paved without a lot of overhanging trees. A driver may roll it into your garage if it is smooth and the pallet jack can roll there. They are not required to do this though: it is up to the driver's discretion so you need to be prepared to move the kiln yourself once it is dropped off. Most top-loading kilns are sectional so that they can easily be taken apart and moved ring by ring (2 person job). This is how you can get your kiln into a basement or upstairs. When you select the "Lift-gate delivery" option the truck will be equipped with a lift-gate to lower the pallet to the ground. This is not needed if you have a loading dock or forklift at your location.
In many parts of the northeast, we offer our professional "inside delivery". We do make connections or install a venting system: this is simply an inside delivery. Contact us to see if this is available in your area. For more information on our kiln set-up services see: " Services"
I have my kiln picked out, now what?
Go ahead and place the order on our website. We will send you a link to the quick online checklist regarding your delivery and electrical service. Once that is complete we ship your kiln if it is in stock or we will order it to be made from the manufacturer.
Note: Due to covid some kiln makers have extremely long lead times. We do have some kilns in stock and more on the way. Let us know if you are in a hurry and we can find something that fits your needs and time line! Discount Kilns: Glass and Pottery Kilns For Sale: Many with Free Shipping!
We offer electric and natural gas/propane kilns.
You will find a pottery kiln for every budget from the smallest test/PMC kilns to industrial-sized car kilns.
We offer pottery kiln parts, service, and installation.
You will also find all manner of firing accessories including shelves, posts, stilts, Orton cones, and venting systems: Here.
Electrical Service and Electric Kiln Ordering:
Electric Kilns are available for household and commercial electrical service. Some of the smallest kilns are available only for the home and some of the largest only for commercial locations.
Voltage and phase of your electricity.
- With rare exception household, electrical service is 240 volt, single phase. (This is often incorrectly referred to as 220 volt.) You will confirm with your electrician what the voltage and phase of your electric service and make sure that you can accommodate the amperage (dedicated breaker) for the kiln you want.
Since it is expensive to ship a replacement for a mis-ordered kiln, we have a quick and easy checklist that you will submit.Click Here to see the Checklist
Click here for electrical outlet and plug configurations: NEMA Standard Configurations for General Purpose Nonlocking Connectors
A Great Primer On Electrical Service
Feel free to call or email with any questions you have about electrical service for your new pottery kiln..