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Building the Kiln

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It would have been smart to make some soaps so that the bricks overlapped better. In the end, I buttressed this with rocks. In two firings I have had no problems but when the time comes to rebuild, I will do a better job.

Rob and I are pounding wedges into the mortar joints. I made the wedges out of recycled stoneware simply by rolling out 1/8 to 1/4 inch slabs and then cutting them up. I used a textured rolling pin so they would have a rough surface on one side. Starting at the top and proceding evenly down the front and back sides of the arch, these are pounded into the mortar clay to make the entire structure stable.

Carving the slope was a more difficult task than I had envisioned - not in the physical sense of difficult, but in an engineering sense (I was shooting for a 28% slope - I ended up at 30%). It does look neat though. The channels to the sides are for the foundation bricks. The strings mark the center (they are actually plumb with each other - though that isn't obvious in this photo.).

Here you see the first course of foundation bricks. I laid them in sand.

The next course was mortared in place with high temperature mortar. As an aside, my masonry supplier was selling me 50 pound sacks of dry mortar for $7.50 a sack. With Sairset being something like $55 a pail, I thought this was a great deal and I used it for all kinds of things - even painted it over bricks to seal cracks. Several months later, when I went in buy some more, they told me that real price was $30/sack. I wish I had bought a lot more in the summer!

The kiln foundation is finished. It is four courses tall and 13.5 in (34.3 cm) wide. Note: I used a level for all horizontal surfaces and they aren't bad. I didn't use a level when I took these pictures and it seems I have a natural tendency to slant the camera.

Here is the start of the arch frame. The wooden arches are made of plywood reinforced with "real" wood. The wood attached to the plywood also creates a nice surface for nailing the lath stringers in place.

The arches do not rest directly on the foundation. Instead, they rest on a support of bricks and bits of wood. That way, when the frame is ready to be removed, the bits of wood holding up the frame can be knocked out, the support bricks removed, and the frame will drop down, thus separating itself from the kiln walls. Then it can be disassembled and removed.

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