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Pottery/3 Knob Kiln Firing Schedule

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Question
I basically have the same question as this lady but my kiln has three knobs and I am not using my sitter.

I am hoping you can tell me how to properly fire my kiln.  I haven't used it in a year and have lost the user manual.  I am firing low fire bisque to an 06 glaze firing.  The kiln has 2 knobs and a kiln sitter.  It is a Skutt manual model 181.  I am wanting to do a medium fire.  I  usually fire kilns with a control panel so I am just a little uncomfortable starting the kiln since I can't remember the firing schedule.  I think I  turned both knobs to  low for 2 hours, then turned both knobs to medium for 2 hours and then both knobs to high until the sitter shuts off the kiln.  Does this sound right?  I appreciate your input and experience.  Thanks!

Answer
   Thank you kindly for your question. I will give you instructions for firing the kiln for bisque ware and glaze ware to cone 06. As always, the first time you fire using the schedule, keep a log of the firing, watch the internal cones for maturity, and make any changes you need to make to the schedule once you have a good idea how your kiln fires.

   Remember that even if two kilns of the same model are being fired, each will have their own firing schedule. This is because each kiln will fire according to how well their elements work, how loaded the kiln is, and even how dry the pottery is and how thick the ware is. The schedules listed below should be used only as a guide. Your cones are the true test of what is going on in the kiln.

   Although the kiln has a cone sitter, please use stationary cones inside the kiln until you know that the sitter works appropriately if you choose to use it. Also, although you use the maturity cone as a stationary cone inside the kiln, use a cone 1 cone higher in the kiln sitter if used. This is because the rod that sits on top of the cone puts some pressure on the cone. When firing, the cone will begin to bend prematurely if the cone is the same as the stationary maturity cone, therefore, underf iring the kiln.

   Now that we have the essentials down, let's get to the firing schedules.

   For convenience, the knobs will be labeled as follows:

   B - Bottom
   M - Middle
   T   Top

   Bisque Fire Schedule Cone 06

   Insert a cone 05 into the kiln sitter if used.
   Place a cone 06 on the center shelf in the center, aligned with a peep hole for viewing.
   Leave all peep holes open and prop the lid with a fire brick or one of the cone plugs.
   
   Hour          Ramp Up or Down
   0          B1 - M1
   2          B2 - M2 - T1
   4          B5 - M5 - T2
   6          B7 - M7 - T5         Close lid - Plug Lower Peep Hole
   8 - Finish          B10 - B10 - T10      Plug Upper Peep Hole
   10 approximate          The stationary cone should be bent and the cone sitter should turn the kiln off. At hour 10, look at the          
         cone inside the kiln and see if it is beginning to bend. If so check every 15 minutes until the cone  
         bends to the correct maturity. If the kiln sitter does not shut off within 5 minutes of the stationary
         cone bending, manually turn off the kiln.

   Glaze Fire Schedule Cone 6

   Insert a cone 7 in the kiln sitter.
   Place a cone 6 on the center shelf in the center, aligned with a peep hole for viewing.
   Leave all peep holes open and prop the lid with a fire brick or one of the cone plugs.
   
   Hour          Ramp Up or Down
   0          B1 - M1 - T1
   2          B2 - M2 - T2
   4          B3 - M3 - T3
   5          B6 - M6 - T3          Close lid and plug lower peep hole.
   7          B10 - M10 - T10       Plug upper peep hole.
   11-14 approximate          The stationary cone should be bent and the cone sitter should turn the kiln off. At hour 11, look
         at the cone inside the kiln and see if it is beginning to bend. If so check every 15 minutes until the          
         cone bends to the correct maturity. If the stationary cone bends and the kiln sitter does not shut off     
         within 5 minutes of the stationary cone bending, manually turn off the kiln.

   During both of the above firings, stay with the kiln beginning at hour 10 for bisque and hour 11 for glaze so that you can get a good determination as to when the stationary cone begins to bend. From there, the cone will continue to bend quickly and could be matured in as little as 15 minutes. So watch carefully and record the number of hours it took to reach maturity so you have something to go by the next firing.

   As you learn your kilns disposition, you will probably adjust the firing schedule to meet the characteristics of the kiln itself. You will also probably change the firing control for different types of glazes and techniques. This is perfectly fine. Just remember that during a bisque firing, the crucial period for breakage is temperatures below about 1150 F when chemical waters are still in the bisque. After the kiln slowly reaches this temperature, you are safe to bring up the kiln in just about any manner for the pieces in the kiln, i.e. thin or thick pieces require different ramp procedures.

   During a glaze firing, it is good to bring the kiln up to the same temperature standards as the bisque firing so that the glaze can release chemical waters also. It also helps the glaze spread over the surface of the clay during the first part of the melt. There are many other reason too lengthy to list here, but if you find that you need more information on glaze firings, you can contact me again.

   I hope this helps you. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. At your service and good luck!

Sincerely,
Ti Phillips
Earth Stoke 'N Fire Pottery Studio and Artist Retreat
www.earthstokenfire.com  

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Ti Phillips

Expertise

Will answer any questions on hand building, wheel, glaze, firing. Speciality questions to include those in glaze calculation and development, firing techniques. Please do not send questions on identifying pottery. Although I would love to add this to my question topics, I have a retreat to run as well as the studio and volunteering on AllExperts, and therefore do not have the available time to research indentification and marks. Thank you for understanding.

Experience

Experience includes 30 years in pottery design and education. Have taught online and studio classes worldwide for the last 20 years. Own a pottery retreat specializing in firing techniques. Have 12 years solid experience in glaze calculation and formulation as well as problem solving in glaze chemistry. I am the first potter in the United States to have developed a complete package of pottery equipment blueprints for a studio. The blueprints include wheels, kilns, studio furniture, wedgeboards, raku kilns, slab rollers, ball mills and studio tools.

Organizations
Alliance of Pottery Artists Worldwide Association

Publications
Ceramic Industry - PPP Wyndstryder Press - Pottery Journal

Education/Credentials
University of Sciences and Art's of Oklahoma, studied under Professor Jaymes Dudding.

Awards and Honors
Potter of the year with APAWA, various awards for showmanship and design.

Past/Present Clients
Available upon request.

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