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suggestions for good reference on how to build a wood-fire ki=

updated mon 8 mar 10


Beth Donovan on sun 7 mar 10


Thanks, Eric,

You have given me some really good advice. I have never even *seen* a
woodfire kiln, except in pictures. I do not need something humongous at
all. It's just me playing with clay here.

I think maybe the ground hog kiln would be great here in Leavenworth County=
Kansas (just one county North of KU).

I have lots and lots of hills made of clay here! Well, clay and limestone -
it's not easy to grow much in the way of anything but hay for my critters o=
this land.

Don't have a backhoe, but my dh is really thinking about getting a DR
towable backhoe that we can tow behind our ATV for post hole digging,
digging the darn Osage Orange roots out, etc. I also have the use of some
young friends with stronger back than ours, who like to come out and hunt
for morels in the spring.

Thanks very much for all the information.

From: Eric Hansen []
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2010 11:16 AM
To: Beth Donovan
Subject: Re: [Clayart] Suggestions for good reference on how to build a
wood-fire kiln?

Beth: I'm very familiar on burning osage orange. You have a very hot but
very short flame. Whatever you do you won't want to build the long anagama
type kiln unless it is of a Tamba or Dragon type kiln with side stoke holes
every few feet.

Joe Zeller built a kiln at KU which has been dismantled now - sort of a
square or rectangular footprint - catenary arch about 6 foot high - fire bo=
inside the chamber - no bag wall - firebox oversized, almost 1/3 of the
chamber with checker built into the wall to give lots of adjustable air. Th=
exit flue begins in the floor then goes into a mixing chamber before up the
stack. It would fire to cone 10 in less than 24 hours and was wonderful wit=
glazed work.

Another design that comes to mind is the "Smokeless KIln" of which there ar=
plans originating in Japan and Australia or New Zealand.

A third design that comes to mind is the "ground hog" kiln which uses earth
for floors as well as side wall support. Traditionally this is either a con=
6 salt kiln or a cone 10 studio potter kiln

The temptation that most potters fall into is building a large kiln that
ideally needs 7-10 days of firing, but then very few firings happen like
that - mostly the kilns sit idle. One design parameter is how much brush yo=
have to burn and it what form it comes - and incorporate that into the fire
box design. I'm kind of sick of backdraft coming out of the firebox while
stoking - this really limits the intimacy with the kiln. If you have plenty
of small straight wood that could be cut to 3' lengths then side stoking or
noborigama chamber comes to mind. But the downdraft firebox would handle
most of the big stuff with a minimum of risk to the potter. Two designs -
the hob and the Bourry Box have been proven to be the best. The hob require=
a particular length of wood to work best so if you just want to burn
anything and everything the Bourry Box is the way to go.

Chamber design could be cross draft or down draft - down draft chambers hav=
the best overall consistency of temperature. They can still be strongly
directional however.

If you have a good slope for a kiln site, say 20 degrees, and if you hit
clay when you dig it out, and have access to a back hoe maybe the ground ho=
would work out. The problem is that the fire box design of ground hog and
single-fire ox anagamas is less than ideal, they can be a pain to load, and
unless side-loading is made possible they only work well with smaller

For loading purposes, the tall arch downdraft chamber is probably the best.
Anyway I am sure you will get lots of feedback on this - GOOD LUCK

h a n s e n

On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 9:07 AM, Beth Donovan wrote:

I got to thinking, here I am with our 80 acres, goats, horses, chickens,
ducks, guineas, peafowl, bunnies, etc., and a zillion osage orange trees I'=
trying to cut down before they take over all of flyover country, that maybe
I should build a kiln. (Good Lord, that was a ridiculously long sentence!=

Osage Orange is a very hot-burning wood, and rather than just building a
big bonfire every month or so to burn the darn things, perhaps I would be
better off burning them for a good reason - a kiln!

Of course, since all I have is an electric kiln, I have no idea what is

Can any of you recommend a book with fairly simple and complete instruction=
on how to build a wood-fired kiln? I need something that is very complete.

Thanks very much in advance,

Beth Donovan

Castle Argghhh!! Farm

Easton, Kansas