Years ago I built the burnout kiln described in Sopcak’s book. I
enjoy making tools as much as creating jewelry. It is even more
satisfying to me, to see if I can build something out of found
material. It’s a challenge to do it make something as cheaply as
possible and FREE sounds good to me. Since the materials called for
in this plan are very common, I was able to build the kiln without
buy anything. How much cheaper can you get. However, I did decide
that, rather than using a heating element from an old hot plate, I
would buy a new one, since that was the one item that would
deteriorate from use.
There was one major problem I encountered. I was so proud of how well
everything fit together, after carefully cutting the sheet metal and
bricks. There were no gaps anywhere (I only wish my joints in silver
were as tight). Once it was assembled, I decided to turn it on to
make sure everything was connected right. The result was that it got
so hot, in a short time, that the heating coils collapsed and shorted
out. The coils actually welded themselves together.
After carefully studying the plans again to figure out what I had
done wrong, I found on the last page, a reference to vent holes in the
back of the oven that could be used to put a thermocouple through.
Upon closer inspection of the photos, I did discover what appeared to
be two holes in the back of the oven. If my memory is right there was
no mention of making these event holes in the instructions.
I was not planning to buy a pyrometer at that time, so I had not paid
attention to the section on how to install it through vent holes. I
also had not installed the power control. I wanted to check to see if
everything was connected correctly first.
Since I have worked with kilns for many years, I should have known
better, but I suppose I just didn’t think the little oven would be
that efficient. With the tight joints that I created, the heat had no
where to go, so it just kept getting hotter and did it really quick.
I got busy with other things in my life after that and never went
back to correct the problems. Even though I had problems it
demonstrated that it had the potential to being a very usable, small,
and cheap kiln, if you vent it and use a controller.