'Listen again. One evening at the close
of Ramázan, ere the better Moon arose,
In that old Potter's shop I stood alone
with the clay Population round in Rows.
And, strange to tell, amongst that Earthen lot
Some could articulate while others not
And suddenly one more impatient cried -
"Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?"
Then said another, "Surely not in vain
My substance from the common Earth was taken,
That He who subtly wrought me into Shape
Should stamp me back to common Earth again.'
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, 12th c, LIX-LXI
Translation by Edward Fitzgerald, 1859
The Evenheat GTS 23-9 Glass Kiln
Suppose you have decided to buy this kiln (for example) for its reputation for even firing. How do you set it up and put it into action?
Firstly, you look at the Evenheat website and download the data on it. This tells you the inside measurements, electrical characteristics, and some advice about where to site it. So far so good. However, I found this not enough. I wanted to know the external measurements so I could design the workspace ahead of its arrival. Here is my experience and comments after receiving the kiln and a bit of cut and try.
Everyone advises you to put the kiln on a concrete floor, a moderate distance from all walls (especially painted or combustible). I had a concrete floor and an unpainted concrete block niche, but putting the kiln on the floor was far too low to allow for comfortable loading or working in the kiln, not to mention crouching down to program the controller. My judgment was that the kiln needed to be 400mm up from the floor, which puts the top of the kiln opening about 900mm from the floor. This is a nice height to put assemblies for fusing into a cold kiln and to arrange pieces, though still a little low to program the RampMaster 2 controller. A small stool helps.
Useful data not in the data sheets
The kiln has an outside diameter of 770mm and a height of 500mm from the base of the stand to the top of the kiln proper. The lid is 55mm on top of that. The kiln stand has legs at the corners of a 500mm square and is 210mm high (included in the previous height).If the front legs are 230mm from the front of the base the kiln stands on, the kiln will not overhang the base. (In the USA, divide mm by 25.4 to get inches.)
In my case the concrete floor sloped downwards towards the back by about 15mm, so I built a steel frame to take up the slope. The girders go by the name of EasiAngle and are made for warehouse and display storage. Spaced exactly at the width of the kiln base (500 x 500mm) but not visible in the photo are two supporting angles to take the weight of the kiln. On top of this is a piece of the thickest fiber-cement sheet (non-flammable) that I could find. To make sure the kiln does not slip at all, I drilled a small hole through each of the front two plastic feet of the kiln base and bolted them through the sheet to the supporting girders. Total cost: around $A100 (say $US75).
If my floor had been level, I would instead have built a plinth from 16 concrete Besser™ blocks (200 x 200 x 400mm). It would have cost me about $A60 and would never have moved on its own. The concept is shown in the sketch below. In both cases everything around and under the kiln is (a) non-flammable, and (b) solid. The last thing anyone wants with a hot kiln is for it to fall over. Or cause a fire.
Useful tools and fittings
I made the simple kiln hook shown in the photo to help in lifting the kiln lid, especially when crash cooling. A threaded rod, two nuts, and a wooden crossbar. Cost: nil, since made from workshop scrap.
But the most useful feature of my set-up is a lid holder consisting of a steel chain bolted into the ceiling above the kiln, and two hooks (one big, one small) connected by a short piece of chain. The big hook fits the lid handle, while the small hook can be attached to any link but usually stays in one place. This lets me open the lid for crash cooling and hook it open a standard distance (about 25mm = 1"), making for repeatable firings. I usually crash cool to 580-600°C when firing System 96™ glass. I also use it to speed up post-annealing cooling from 300°C down to 55°C, when I consider it is safe to open the kiln and take the glass out, and then it can be useful to open the lid by 50mm (2") for the last 100°C.
Use of this information is strictly at your own risk. I disclaim all responsibility for injury to yourself or others, loss of funds, or damage to any glass product you may make.