Thursday, April 15, 2010


One of the many tasks in my kiln building class is learning how burners work and how to build/maintain them. We have a pair of Ward Burners on our reduction kiln and they perform wonderfully but they're about $2000 for the pair. When building your first kiln, or any kiln for that matter you may not always have that chunk of change to shell out on burners. If you have natural gas your options can be fairly limited so I think it's important to know how these things work and then more importantly you can build them yourself for a fraction of the cost. Plus it's fun to talk about things like btu's, cfm's, and orifice sizes...makes you sound more intelligent than you really are.

We had to come up with a solution for the salt kiln, the space was tight so we couldn't have burners sticking out and being primarily hardbrick we needed a hefty btu output. The burners had to have safety systems as well. So here is the solution we came up with. This burner(s) is capable of about 700,000 btu/hr. The blower and the valves are mounted vertically, the blower above, the valves below. I decided to split off one larger blower rather than 2 seperate blowers. Why? We got that blower for $20 brand new. The specs called for 100cfm to each burner so this one is rated at 200cfm. We also got most of the harder to find parts brand new off ebay (pilots, heavy duty thermocouples, baso valves, speed controller.) I was trying to show that there is a cost-effective way to build these things.

The only part I don't like is the duct pipe from the blower to the burner, but it was the only cost effective solution for making a 4x2" rectangle meet up with a 2" circle. It will work just fine, I just think it's ugly. One of the things I stress is craftsmanship, things should look clean and well made. An ugly kiln and burner system may fire just fine but it's a matter of taking pride in you craft.

As you would see it if looking at the kiln.

Here is a cost and source list:

Flame Retention Nozzles from Ward Burner: $70 X 2
Baso Valves, brand new off ebay: $15 x 2
Pipe, fittings and valves from local hardware store: approx. $100
Honeywell Target Pilots from ebay: $20 x 2
K16 Husky thermo couples from ebay: $10 x 2
Dayton Pole Blower from ebay: $20 + 10 shipping
Solid state speed control from ebay: $10
Misc: $30

Total: $410



Ron said...

Good stuff man! Thanks for posting. Helpful to many.

floydpots said...

Great post! Love to hear how it fires. The craft of words!

Mr. Young said...

Wish I could build that big right now.
Since you know gas.... how many btu's would you recommend for a 55 gal. drum kiln? I have found the kaowool, and the pyrometer, have even found the burners, just need to know how many btu's to get it up to ^6. This "newbie" would appreciate the help.

doug fudge said...

Those kids are lucky to have you as their teacher! Good job man.

MudStuffing Pottery said...

Tee hee... you lectured on orifice sizes, snicker! Wish I was taking the class, having the confidence to build your own burners is huge!

Mr. Young's Art - You should be able to use the formula on the page below to figure how many btu's:

Or give mark ward a call and he'll figure it for you.

brandon phillips said...

ward's page has all that good stuff you'll need to figure it out. if you order your burners from him he'll figure it all out for you and build the burners.

Mr. Young said...

Thanks for the info! I may need it for next year's ceramics class I will be teaching. It appears I may need to build my own kiln to fire the student's work. Such fun, I am sooo looking forward to it.