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Mini burnout oven

I am floating a idea to have a “Mini Burnout Oven” produced. I have
had a very small steam hand casting oven for 20 years. There is
nothing out there now that is as small and portable for the small
custom shop. I do quite a bit of custom casting that the clients
need yesterday, wholesale and retail clients. The small oven is 40 to
50 years old and I have burnout many times a year. Heating up my big
oven for one wax I need today or tomorrow is a lot of electricity.
The mini kiln 4 to 5 hour burnout, little electricity, small 2 1/2 x
3 inch solid flask, Bam. There has been a question from a
manufacture about the need for something like this. The only reason I
have felt the need is my elements are giving up the ghost and after
many twisting back together repairs, the length is getting shorter
all the time plus time lost repairing my little friend I went
shopping for a replacement, not there. You can not burnout in a tiny
PMC kiln, the rest are way bigger then the little kiln and starting
at 300 USD plus. If anyone would like to give me feedback on their
thoughts I would be grateful. I need to know if I should pursue this
idea or not but I know it has gotten my butt out of the sling many
times on the job I have to swallow and come out finished. I have 2
hands and can not use my feet as of yet to set stones and carve

Carl E. Burris
Master Goldsmith, Graduate Gemologist (GIA)
CAD Designer, CNC Milling

Carl, how small is the kiln? Would it have a built in pyrometer? I
bet many of us would be interested in something like this. I don’t
have a ventilation system so move my ceramic fiber kiln outside for
burn-out. Something small would make this a lot easier.

Donna in VA

Hi Carl,

dental technicians have small burnout kilns although they probably
cost more than a jewellery one.

Do you feel that the wax has eaten away your elements? I was told
this would happen but mine are still OK after 25 years. You can get
them replaced, a potters suppliers would have contacts, they are much
harder on elements than casters. 1200Deg C is a tough environment.

What about a gas one? Like this

regards Tim Blades.

I did the same thing years ago with my neycraft kiln, 50 plus pounds.
This kiln I have now is 5 pounds, on a 12 inch soldering type hard
fireproof platform with a metal casing that is app 5 x 5 inch square,
8 to 9 inch height with lid, soft firebrick enclosed element which is
wound in ceramic holders. It just has a controller and I use a wax
catcher the first our of burn out, remove after one hour most wax is
gone, no element killer left. To test I bought the burnout pellets to
test temp, use only 2 settings, works like a charm. I am not guessing
a small shop or large needs these I know from my own 25 years at it,
it is a must to have. I think of all the electricity wasted on a
single flask in a big kiln is nuts. Next time any one has a burnout,
go check you electric meter on 1350F, it is spinning for all it is
worth, the marker comes around in microseconds. Like I mentioned it
is a test flag for a reasonable kiln cost and size for the job needed
casted by yesterday, those out there know what I’m talking about, “I
wanted to take when I go out of town”, her birthday is in 2 days, we
are getting married this weekend, etc. Loose the custom job, or have
a small backup kiln, no brainer, one job, paid for.

regards Carl


Take a look at the small kilns used for flameworked glass bead
making. Maybe one of those would be suitable for your purpose with
having to produce a whole new item.


Hi Tim,

I have looked in to the dental lab kilns and the are much bigger and
more expensive than the one I am thinking about. I have a small steam
"hand casting kiln" that is 40-50 years old, made circa 1966. It will
only take a flask 2 3/4 inch width, solid tube flask, max 4 inch
height. My work horse flask is the 2 1/2 x 3 inch. The “burnout” area
is 3 inch x 5 inch full ceramic element chamber with a simple 1 to 10
controller that I will not take above 5 in testing heat temps, about
1400F at 5. Burns out faster because the element is almost a glove
around small flask. Very simple, non complicated, quick to set up, 5
pound weight max. This type is not out their any more. I have no
problem getting an element and repairing it but when I went shopping
for the newer type like this, it was not out there. The research in
to making the prototype found the element is the most costly part. As
a custom goldsmith, I have used this thing many times for the single
job rush project. If any one is casting and has this come up, why
waste energy on the bigger kilns on a single flask burn out. I burn
out this puppy outside and even in the colder months, rain put it on
a brick and cover with a large planter pot. The element issue is very
simple to maintain, the user must use a small steel type can to
collect the first hour of wax melt, take out the flask, remove can,
reinsert flask and does not “kill” the element. 99% of caustic wax
gas and flames are prevented making the element last many years. Go
shopping for a small burn out oven 9 inches high, bottom platform
1/2 inch one foot soldering type plate with a 5 x 5 inch outer
chamber, enclosed the above small burnout setup. The kiln makers I
have talked to said they stop making these because they are not a
money maker, which means energy is spent on selling folks to much
kiln for the single rush flask burnout. Also public lake of interest.
With this you do not need vacuum or centrifugal to pour metal, hand
casting is plopping the flask on a fireproof clothe that has been
moistened and steam created negative force in the flask to pour metal
in and cast basic patterns. I would not throw metal this way myself,
I have a vacuum machine, but hobbyist in the jewelry market might,
they use too.

Like I mentioned this is an idea for people that might cast 1 or 2 a
week, one at a time. Just floating a balloon up to see if it might be
worth making or getting 10 or so made. I am going to make the first
one myself to see. One thing to is there is a ceramic element holder
made that the element is fully enclosed. The kiln maker I am in
contact with told me the biggest problem he has is people killing
there elements with in a couple of months, caustic wax fires (ouch)
element killer.

regards Carl


I, like so many of my compatriots, am a tool nut. If I understand
you correctly, you’re talking about developing a small burnout oven
for under $300 and making casting easier, cheaper and more
convenient. Hell yes I’ll take one.

Susan “Sam” Kaffine
Sterling Bliss

A ‘mini’ burnout oven and a ‘mini’ casting machine are long overdue.
Just a complete mini desktop setup… a tiny oven with programmable
temp control and a tiny casting machine at a ‘realistic’ price
should sell very well. Just the jewelry school student market alone
would be large.


Tuna can aside, it will be 110 and uses a little more electricity
then a halogen bulb but I will get a meter once made to get more
close to the rate. I have been using my 2 1/2 x 3 inch soild flask
for twenty years, cool one hour and leather hammer the investment and
they last many many years and are around 3 bucks. Muffler shops have
tail pipe ends that we use when needed. I will put you on a list when
I get started and it will change the way custom shops do quick turn
around casting.


Bob, They are not being made as of yet. Mine is old as dirt but is a
great single flask unit. every thing I have found is expensive and
not what I am looking for as a replacement. I found a small but not
a mini kiln.

I am floating the idea on Ganoksin to see if I should get a few made
for interest sake. My unit is about five pounds 5 inch square and 10
inch tall, basic control, no thrills but an awesome unit. If people
want it I will get them made. A bit of water has went under the
bridge when these first came out, a whole new market, casting, PMC,
enamel is coming back as well as bead making. any thought on what
you think the future will be on getting them produced, I would be

Carl E. Burris

A 'mini' burnout oven and a 'mini' casting machine are long
overdue. Just a complete mini desktop setup.... a tiny oven with
programmable temp control and a tiny casting machine at a
'realistic' price should sell very well. Just the jewelry school
student market alone would be large. 

I recall having just such a setup back around '68. I was fooling
around with jewelry while in high school, while working part time at
a local lapidary shop, and my boss there found this kit for me in one
of the catalogs. marketed to hobbyists more than pros, it was a small
oven with a preset burnout temp, not programmable, but it didn’t need
to be. About 4 inches square by around 8 inches tall, top loading…
The casting part of the thing was a pressure caster, not a
centrifuge. You’d pump up the pressure with what amounted to a
bicycle tire pump, though it was aluminum, built into the handle,
with a spring loaded pad on the front, lined with what was probably
an asbestos fiber pad. You were to invest your wax model using a
supplied sprue, a wax injection that looked a bit like a mini
pitchfork, the tines of which were about 12 guage wax wire.
Invested, you’d then carve a cavity in the top of the flask, exposing
the multiple small tines, so after burnout, that became the melting
crucible, and those times formed small enough holes the melting metal
wouldn’t flow in until forced. The kit came with small torch, by
Ronson, I think, that used disposable butane cartriges. You’d melt
the metal in that cavity in the top of the burned out flask, and
press the pumped up casting “handle” down onto the flask. Between the
steam from the pad, and the air pressure released when you pushed
down, it did a fine job of casting one ring at a time. The whole
setup wasn’t much bigger than a shoe box…

Of course, you can do the same without the pumped up pressure
caster. A wet newspaper pad inside a jar lid nailed to a wood handle
works just as well, since the steam pressure is quite enough to cast
a flask invested this way. After college, I couldn’t afford a pro
casting machine, so at first a cast things the same way that little
kit had showed, It, by then, was long gone somewhere…) Burnout was
over the kitchen stove. either a gas or electric stove worked fine.
The flask goes right on the burner, and over it a clay flower pot,
lined with a layer of furnace tape and aluminum foil. Takes a couple
hours to burn out, then pressure cast with that home made handle.
Very low tech indeed, My mom still has a couple pieces of jewelry I
made back then with this method. No claims on quality at this point.
She’s my mom, and would have kept it no matter how bad the casting or
design… (grin) but memory suggests the castings were actually
reasonably good…

And you can’t beat the cost of such a steam casting setup. The whole
affair probably can be put together for a few bucks. Mostly, you’ll
need investment, wax, a decent flask a flower pot, etc… Oh, and
some sort of torch. A plain old propane plumber’s torch was what I
was using back then.

Home made setups like that can work fine. My next attempt, trying to
get more sophisticated, was to try and build a centrifugal casting
machine. I mounted a wood cross arm directly to the shaft of a
vertically mounted old washing machine motor. Fitted it with a
crucible holder and a counterweight, and bracket to hold the flask.
Melt the metal, flip a switch, and voila, I’d have a casting. Or so I
thought. The whole thing was mounted inside an old wash tub, so I
figured it was safe. Bad guess. I clearly hadn’t thought through the
engineering of such a thing. Such as the stress on the support plate
backing up the flask when spinning. I’d made it out of a sheet of
brass. Looked good. But I’d forgotten about the whole centrifugal
force thing… When I hit the switch, the thing spun up quickly, and
that brass back plate bent right back. That allowed the hot flask,
hot crucible, and molten metal, to exit the whole machine at fairly
dramatic velocity. The flask proceeded to land on, and burn it’s way
all the way through, the living room’s cheap vinyl covered couch. The
crucible left a chared mark on the hardwood floor. And wouldn’t you
know it, this first attempt was trying to cast a gold ring, so I was
picking up tiny balls of gold from all over the living room and
kitchen for a week… Fortunately, gold was still not much more than
35 bucks an ounce, though then ('74), that was still a bit of money
on a limited budget…

Ah memories…

Peter Rowe

Carl, For years, I did ‘steam casting’ using the simple process of
covering the flask with a piece of pipe (with a handle) filled with
wet asbestos. This was very successful for me and I refined it to a
very high success rate. Of course, that was before the asbestos
scare. Then I changed to simple wet (very damp actually) paper
towels. At that time, I was using a large kiln for burn out and it
cost me a bunch just to burn out one or two flasks. I have always
hankered for a small burn out device.

Later, I went to a larger oven and centrifugal casting though I
haven’t done much the past couple of years. I would though, if I
could find a small burn out device that doesn’t take so much room in
my very small studio area and wouldn’t cost so much to operate. I
could then still use the ‘steam’ procedure. Bottom line is…I
think a lot of people would love to have such a device available.
Cheers from Don in SOFL.

I am in the process of getting quotes from several companies that
make the different parts for putting this together. I spoke with a
kiln company that at first said there was not a market. Most small
kilns sold to the glass bead and ceramic makers and a few with PMC
metal clay. I was very opinionated that the small custom shop has a
need for this. My 50 year old steam hand casting kiln weighs at most
10 pounds, 12 inch platform, simple dial knob control, oven with
insulation and casing 10 inches high, 5 x 5 box with 1 inch insulated
lid, will burn out plugged into an extension cord if you need to
burnout the first stage wax melt outside. I have used if for 20 years
after getting it used at a rock swap trading event $15.00 and had
not been used for years, I’ll give it a shot.

When I went to get one for the shop that I work part time at, it is
not made any more??? The only thing out there is eBay sold lab and
dental kilns and they average $100 and are old as dirt and sold by
people who have no clue. Any help and advice and I will make ten (10)
and get a test market going with CLEAR instructions on keeping people
from killing the element. The kiln maker said that the biggest reason
they stopped making them is Customers would burn the element out in
months and be angry and think they have a bad kiln. The element needs
to be protected from caustic gases and wax flames in the first stage
of burnout. Instead of steam dewaxing just buy an egg timer, set one
hour, pull your flask that you have a steel canister under the gate
of the flask, pull out canister with 99% of wax, put flask back in,
element last 20 years, viola. Simple, easy, small, fast, 3 to 5 hour
cycle. I have started a burnout in the morning to having the job
completed by late afternoon or early evening.

I still can not believe they do not make this type of kiln any more.
The kiln manufacture said they had to aim at glass bead and ceramic
market, What about the backbone of the jewelry industry, the mom and
pop and repair and custom shops? We are still here doing what the BIG
guys farm out and FedEx to the repair mills at “repair Centers”.
Thanks Big Guys for all the customers you sent my way because of what
you can or will not do and all the repairs you have butchered.

Sorry for my rant, we were talking about a kill, right.

Carl E. Burris

Hello Carl, I’ll buy one. Let me know when. Not to rush you, but is
mine ready to ship yet? Seriously, I had one back in the day and it
was great.

Tom Arnold

I am floating the idea on Ganoksin to see if I should get a few
made for interest sake. 

I’d be interested if such a thing comes to happen.

Kathy Johnson

I am getting the parts together as we speak (write). The response
has been pretty good and after pricing the parts in the components to
make it, I do not understand the factories for not making them. So
many had them years ago, they went off the market for some crazy
reason that I think is lack of teaching or telling people the proper
way to burnout small flask without killing the element. The companies
were losing money on warranty repair work because of element killers.
The element market has changed with newer hybrid steels that do not
corrode like the older ones, you can buy 100 feet at a time very
inexpensive. The mini oven I have I use 90% of the time for customs,
you have to deliver the job before you can collect the $$$$ and it is
hard to wait on getting a group together for a mass burnout.

I think of all the electricity wasted on a single flask in a big
kiln is nuts. 

For burning out one flask you can consider to make a DIY kiln out of
a paint can. Insolate the inside with kiln fire blanket, hole in the
bottom and top and fired by a normal propane torch from underneath
(eg torch handle can be secured into a small vice). You will need to
install a ceramic shelf slightly above the bottom hole, so that the
gas flame, hitting the shelf is directed to the sides of the
insolated paint-can. A colleague friend made a paint-can kiln, with a
hinged door (from the lid) many years ago. His is positioned on its
side. He still uses it successfully for his mokume gain making: works

The design is based on a gas fired enamel kiln we use in our course
for flasks’ burnouts. The gas kilns are still in operation after 25
years of student abuse (contemporary jewellery course). They look
like nothing, but still go very strong. The only thing we had to
replace is a cracked bottom shelf, some of the door lining and some
other parts of the hinged door. I am aware what the books are saying
about wax and open flames, but I have not the slightest evidence of
any danger or insufficient results after all those years… Somebody
might tell me different?

Peter Deckers
Wellington, New Zealand

I’d like to know the price when they are available. I have looked
around for a “home casting” kit. They were available years ago but I
suspect the liability issues are why we don’t see them any longer.

I remember making lead soldiers with a little kit when I was a kid
but I don’t think those are around either. Gee, it’s a wonder I
survived after handling that toxic stuff! ;>)


Hey, put me down as interested in one of your small kilns.

I’ve been considering building my own, the controller being the thing
I would find most difficult. For the element, I know a lot of
flintknappers who have rehabilitated old pottery kilns for heat
treating rock. What they do is wind coils of stainless steel wire
used in welders to make replacement elements. They tell me that this
works well and is inexpensive and long lasting.

Ben Brauchler

Thanks for your thoughts Peter

I am trying to get the thoughts for the small custom shop/jeweler
who burns out single flask 10 to 20 times a year. Our problem is the
custom job due yesterday. We have had to use the large kilns in the
past to burn out a 2 3/4 x 2 1/4 inch flask with only 1 inside. 6
hours of electricity being wasted. It is 15 to 20 USD to do it like
this. The paint can is a great idea for an emergency burnout but not
practical for a shop with leaving it unattended. The mini kiln I own
and trying to remake for the people who might be interested is so
simple that the big kiln companies will not waste time on the little
fish that might get away. The DIY is where we are now in the US and
around the world. If you can carve your own wax, burnout with out a
big oven, Viola, it will happen. Most small craft type jewelers and
custom shops many time go it one at a time.

I am not trying to change the casting world but make it easy as
possible for my sisters and brothers in the metal smith world
something to save time and hard earned money. Repairs and customs
are at 300% increase and new sales are few and far between, cookie
cutter jewelry is not for those who want to spend money on fine
jewelry. Wal-Mart has their customers who want to spend as little as
possible on their jewelry, but when it breaks or the collect all the
broken jewelry for a custom they come to the ones (goldsmiths and
custom jewelers) who have been hanging in there offering a rare treat
in having something that only they have that is valuable and made to
order for them or a loved one.