How to Build a Small Wood Fired Kiln

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Build a wood fire kiln to fire your pottery.
Build a wood fire kiln to fire your pottery. (Image: pottery image by Raimundas from Fotolia.com)

A kiln is a special oven you use to fire ceramic or glass pottery or art pieces. One of the sources of heat for a kiln is wood. You can buy a wood fired kiln from pottery supply stores or you can build a kiln in your own back yard. You may have some of the supplies on hand to build your own kiln, or you may need to make a quick trip to your local hardware store to pick up the items you need.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Dirt
  • Small hand rake
  • Bricks
  • Metal grate
  • Kiln shelf
  • Thin piece of sheet iron

Identify the area in your yard where you want to build your kiln. Choose a location that is far enough away from trees and brush that the smoke from the kiln can escape from the top without directly hitting the trees, bushes or other flammable items in the area.

Measure a space that will accommodate the width and the height at which you want to construct your kiln. The size of the kiln should be large enough to fit the size pottery or glass pieces that you will be firing in the kiln. The width should also be wide enough for you to fit the kiln shelf you have into the space.

Remove the grass in the area to expose the dirt where you are building the kiln. You can use a small hand rake to till the area where you are building the kiln. Pour dirt onto the area you just tilled and level the dirt out with your hands or a small hand shovel. You want the dirt to be about two inches thick and level across the area. The dirt protects the ground where you will place the firewood to light the fire in the kiln.

Lay the bricks to create the side walls of the kiln. Place one layer of bricks around the perimeter of the area where you are building the kiln. This will be the first layer of the walls of the kiln, so you will have two side walls and one back wall. The front will be left open as the entrance to the kiln.

Stack another layer of bricks on to the first layer of bricks to increase the height of the two side walls and the one back wall of the kiln.

Lay a metal grate on the top layer of bricks this will act as the screen between the kiln and the firewood so that the ashes can fall into the fire and dirt. The metal grate should be a dimension that is wide enough to set on top of the brick walls.

Build two more layers of bricks on the three walls on top of the metal grate.

Place the kiln shelf so it sits diagonally across the top of the kiln. When you look down on the kiln shelf it will look like a diamond. If you need to support the front corner of the kiln shelf, remove the kiln shelf and place a strip of sheet iron on top of the kiln bricks toward the front of the kiln. This will act as a support for the front when you place the kiln shelf in its diagonal pattern on top of the kiln.

Build a chimney on top of the kiln shelf with bricks. Place two more layers of bricks on top of the edge of the kiln shelf to create a circular design that looks and works like a fireplace chimney. The opening in the top of the kiln bricks should be wide enough to allow smoke to blow through it.

Place the wood in the bottom of the kiln and light it to start the kiln. Place the pottery or glass piece in the kiln to fire it.

References

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