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sawdust burner

updated thu 31 oct 96


William Amsterlaw on thu 3 oct 96

To Lowell Baker and others with an interest in sawdust burners:

On Wed, 2 Oct 1996 Lowell Baker wrote:
---------------------original message---------------------
The Alabama Clay Conference will be in Jacksonville, Alabama (northeast
alabama) February 26- March 2, 1997.
There will be a ... probable firing with the sawdust burner.

I know this is not the first time Lowell has referred to a sawdust burner.
For those of us who will be unable to attend the conference, I wonder if
Lowell or others could share some information about the sawdust burner. How
does it work? How do you light it? Where one can buy or find plans to make
one? What problems have you solved in getting it to work well? How much heat
does it generate? How much sawdust does it use per firing? Etc.

- Bill Amsterlaw (
Plattsburgh, NY

David G Brown on sat 5 oct 96

Bill Amsterlaw,

I met an artist who sagar sawdust fired in an old gas kiln. He used a metal
can with small holes in its sides. The pottery was placed in the can,
packed in sawdust and a lid placed on it. Then the burners were turned up
just enough to ignite the sawdust and keep it smoldering. That same
technique can be used in pit fires. Another artist just filled the kiln
with sawdust, pots and stratigically placed various chemicals around them.

Someone told me that the ash residue would damage the fire brick. Does
anyone know about that?

Redwood City CA

Don Sanami on sat 5 oct 96

Dear David,
In firing wood kilns in Canada,u.S. and in Japan,repeatedly and
using old wood-firing kilns,we do not recall any brick damage occurring.
Repeated wood firing at high temperatures does result in a coating of
glassy melt on the brick surface and between the bricks,which makes it
difficult to separate bricks for rebuilding. I expect this is especially
true of old salting kilns. Repeated firing at low temperatrures will
certainly coat the brick with a disgusting layer of soot.We still do not
recall any damage and we have several times been forced to discontinue
firing at low temperatures. Firing with CEDAR sawdust or chips is less
than desirable since Cedar is oily and leaves a geasy residue,especially
at low temperatures. We have always used soft woods for the long flames
produced rather than short flame hardwood. Even at higher temperatures,
cedar makes a sticky mess and also its introduction at high temperature
causes "snap,crackle and,POP!" good luck. Isao & don Sanami/Morrill.