How to Build a Ceramic Kiln

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Making a ceramic kiln is a thrifty way to fire clay or ceramic items. Ceramic kilns are able to withstand temperatures up to 1,400 degrees Celsius. The cost of making a ceramic kiln is less than $5. Artisans can create at least 250 firings inside the kiln before it begins to show wear or loss of heat.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron bucket 1 foot tall, and 1 foot wide with a lid.
  • Clay
  • Sand
  • Graphite
  • Wood or cork measuring two inches in diameter, and three inches long
  • Thick paper
  • Metal or iron pipe 1 inch in diameter and 2 feet tall.
  • Cylinder shaped wood measuring 8 inches long and up to 8 inches wide.
  • 2-inch wide strip of sheet iron
  • Power drill
  • Heat source for kiln: Bunsen burner, open fire or plumbing torch

Building the Kiln

  • Use an iron bucket for the top of the ceramic kiln. Iron buckets can be purchased at home improvement stores or kitchen supply stores. The bucket needs to be 1 foot tall and no larger than 1 foot across. The iron bucket must have a matching cover, which fits snugly on the opening.

  • Cut a 2-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket with a power drill.

  • Cover the hole with a removable piece of wood or cork. Cut the word or cork to fit snugly in the bucket hole. Cut the wood long enough to protrude at least 2 inches into the center of the iron bucket.

  • Cut or purchase a piece of wood in a cylinder shape measuring 8 inches long and 8 inches wide. This will be the core of the ceramic kiln.

  • Mix a combination of clay, sand and graphite. The mix ratio required is 60 percent clay, 25 percent graphite, and 15 percent sand. Knead the mixture together until thoroughly combined.

  • Line the interior bottom and sides of the bucket thick paper. Cover the wood core piece with thick paper.

  • Layer the bottom of the bucket with the mixture. The layer of mix needs to measure at least 2 inches thick.

  • Center the wood core inside the bottom of the bucket. Press the core firmly into the soft clay mixture.

  • Fill the inside of the bucket with clay. Firmly pack clay around the core, completely filling the interior of the bucket.

  • Cut a 1-inch hole in the top of the cover with a power drill.

  • Encircle the bucket cover with a 2-inch strip of sheet iron.

Allow Project to Dry and Prepare for Kiln Use

  • Allow all pieces to dry for two days.

  • Make a container to hold ceramic items for glazing. Create a 2-inch cylinder-shaped hollow clay piece and allow it to dry. The glazing cylinder is referred to as a "muffle." The cylinder will keep dust away from firing items during the kiln process. Mold a piece of clay to create the cylinder. The clay cylinder walls need to be 1/2 inch thick. One inch of space between the cylinder and kiln walls is required for proper flow of heat. Allow the clay to dry for two days.

  • Remove the wood or cork plug from the bottom of the ceramic kiln.

  • Attach a pipe 1 inch in diameter over the cover hole. The pipe needs to be 2 feet long and serve as a chimney for the ceramic kiln. This step is optional, but allows for higher firing temperatures.

  • Place the kiln above the desired heat source. Sit the kiln on bricks over an open flame, placed over a Bunsen burner or a plumbing torch. Add heat gradually to prevent cracking inside the iron bucket.

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