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Old 04-03-2019, 01:44 PM
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Randy Kaltenbach Randy Kaltenbach is offline
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Lampworking: thoughts on annealing kiln

I've been digging into what I need for a lampworking annealer.

I'd say that a unit like the Paragon F130 (photo below) might be about right for what I want to do (max. 12" goblets, small sculptures, etc.)

Of course, I'm not keen on spending that sort of cash. I think that if I build a kiln using 3" x 4.5" x 9" soft brick, I can get a 1 cu ft volume quite nicely, heat using Kanthal A1 in the sides and back, add a decent controller (e.g., Fuji) with thermocouple and SCR, and come out to under $1000. I might be able to get away with 15A, but I can bring in 20A if I need to.

I'm thinking of:
  • using an angle iron, threaded rod construction technique (photo of another person's similar build below)
  • open whole brick face for a door - maybe swing-up similar to F130
  • maybe have a single brick in door open up as bead door (I don't expect to make beads, but it would not be a major step to add this)
  • offset base and crown slightly from walls (~1/4" ea.) to get extra 1/2" height internally
  • no additional insulation or outer skin
  • build wheeled support table

Any thoughts about this approach would be welcomed!

.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg F130-Closed-July2014W1_x700.jpg (28.6 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg HomemadeAnnealKiln.jpg (45.1 KB, 37 views)
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:14 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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Hit up Joppa, Dudly's got some great designs and most of the materials you'll need. I really like the ceramic rods and doughnuts for side wall suspension if you don't want to route the brick.

If you don't mind having to manually turn it off after your anneal soak I'd go with the rheostat and remote thermocouple option, gonna be cheaper and reliable for what you are needing. That's essentially what is used in the second picture. Mountain should have what Dudley doesn't. Being made from brick, you're probably not going to need a true annealing cycle other than a .5-1 hour soak, then turn it off. Or you could use a timer.

Extra insulation shouldn't be necessary, but I do advise a skin. Brick leaves dust by just looking at it. Especially if your ever moving it.

Doors go by preference. Those Paragon doors are great, but are a bit of a feat of engineering. It's swing up, out, and counterweighted; you might need a more substantial frame to handle that.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:16 PM
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Just a quick safety note. The connections illustrated on the homemade kiln are really dangerous. I remember seeing something on Dudley's website that addressed this issue (with a recommended solution). I just looked for it, but it appears he took it down. I recommend contacting him about this.

A picture's worth a thousand words:
FLYWFLYIXLA2O3B.LARGE.jpg
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:33 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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I would not suggest you use the Paragon Kilns as mechanical design reference. The only thing they really have going for them is that they are relatively cheap. After years of working out of various kilns I eventually broke down and bought a Skutt Mini Scarab. Its fully solid state and has paid for itself many times over in the last 5 years. If your going to work with a lot of components as most do then the punty rest and door arrangement are critical. Skutt's design is pretty much universally recognized as the excelsior. I have 15 years of industry work as an electrical design engineer and could design and build my own but I want to spend my limited time left blowing glass instead.

https://skutt.com/products-page/flam...s/mini-scarab/

It also has the only controller I am aware of that was designed by a glassblower for Boro torch working. This is really is not an area where you want to cut corners.

Last edited by Larry Cazes; 04-03-2019 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 04-03-2019, 02:57 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I think this is what you were looking for, marinite board bottom of page.

That unit looks like it ready for fry you despite the superior installation of the ground.

Fyi, looks like Joppa stopped stocking the insulated wall tubes. Those were great, but he's got a work around.

Last edited by Shawn Everette; 04-04-2019 at 09:02 AM. Reason: wall tubes
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:40 AM
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Dudley does have the corderite tubing and also the doughnuts. Not cheap but the run through the walls needs a high temp tube that is insulated. I used thermocouple tubes on mine but I had a bunch extra that Victor Chiarizia scored from Grumman years ago.

I just had quite a new connection fail on my annealer and it was the result of not going back and retightening the split bolt connector after it had been run for a month or so. Those exposed connectors in the photo are just unacceptable. I got 4x4 boxes with no backs and installed my connections in those and put a solid cover plate over them.

Use the fiberglass coated wire for your connections. It's quite easy to find on Amazon. I went with 10 gauge and was glad I did. Finding it was a bit more work. 25 foot rolls.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:53 AM
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There was a separate tube that had stepped diameters to keep it from going past the wall, that's what was discontinued. Apparently most of the doughnuts are on the way out too. Old themo tube is a great idea.

Noalox can also be your friend.

A set up like that is just begging for a bad thing to happen. I feel sorry for the cat in that studio.
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Old 04-05-2019, 04:13 PM
Rick Kellner Rick Kellner is offline
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Just to get the ball rolling, what about picking up a used 120v kiln from Craigslist or wherever?

Then you can focus on only the controller aspect of the project (anther vote for Dudley, especially his pamphlet for DIY).

Your total cost will drop immensely, relative to the grand figure that you tossed out there. You might not have the fancy vertical doors, etc. but maybe those can wait until you are ready to upgrade.
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Old 04-05-2019, 10:24 PM
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Probably not the cheapest place ever to get it but it's so convenient and I never need a whole roll. I use the high temperature braided wire for ovens.

https://www.mcmaster.com/high-temperature-wire

Check the amperage rating chart on this wire too. It can carry a much higher current than regular wire.
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:25 AM
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Eric used neodymium magnets on the front loader he built here. You just get close and it closes itself. With the found objects we had here in white board, almost new soft brick, two elements all the stuff from Dudley five years ago and the used love controller and the steel, I think the lehr cost about 40 dollars and that was for stainless steel screws and four new split bolts yesterday.
It should retail at around 5K.
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Old 04-06-2019, 10:02 AM
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Please don't misunderstand - I agree that the electrical on that sample photo I posted is crap. I merely wanted to give an idea of the general structural construction technique I am considering.

Used would be a great start, but in our market people try to sell this kind of stuff at nearly-new prices.

Pete, what were the magnets for?
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Old 04-06-2019, 11:42 AM
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it's a front loader with a set of kiln shelves inside and the base of the lehr is about 34 inches. The doors are hinged left and right. The magnets are mounted on both of the doors and also just below the floor height where the door closes firmly against the hot face. The magnets prevent the door from not being closed completely. Once they make contact, it holds the door closed snugly. It takes about 12 of those little 1 inch round magnets.I like it since I can sometimes not close the door completely.

So, if you agree that the electrical portion is crap but you wanted to give a general idea of the construction technique... um... just what are you sorta kinda saying? I'm becoming mildly amused here.

These things really are pretty easy to build. I've seen them done old refrigerators and we just retired one that was built in a stainless steel dishwasher. I took that one to 1500F regularly and it still works. It was just about 20 years old. I just hung white board in it, hung two elements from Dudley and attached the mess to a love 16A controller plus thermocouple with a forty amp relay. That's all it needs.
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:40 PM
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At 176f permanent magnets lose magnetic ability permanently. I found this out using them on a kiln I built for lampworking. Anyway keep them away from the heat and your ok. Any front loading kiln door can easily be turned into a guilotine style door. I have revamped several muffle furnaces in this way. I like the muffles for the reason the elements are sealed into the fiber and no chance of touching them with some metal tongs or tweezers.
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Old 04-07-2019, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
So, if you agree that the electrical portion is crap but you wanted to give a general idea of the construction technique... um... just what are you sorta kinda saying? I'm becoming mildly amused here.
Always happy to spread some joy

I was referring to the - perforated angle iron and bolts to hold it all together - approach.
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Old 04-07-2019, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky Campbell View Post
At 176f permanent magnets lose magnetic ability permanently. I found this out using them on a kiln I built for lampworking. Anyway keep them away from the heat and your ok..
******
Ah, I lost my magnetic ability around my fiftieth birthday. I miss it. So living vicariously, I enjoy the magnets on this annealer which are well away from the heat.
Its controller went AWOL today after serving on various tools for 30 years. The internal relay now sticks. Sad.
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Old 04-07-2019, 05:28 PM
Larry Cazes Larry Cazes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Kaltenbach View Post

Used would be a great start, but in our market people try to sell this kind of stuff at nearly-new prices.
Haha! Actually.....No. Theres loads of used torch working equipment for sale on the FB Glassified group as well as on Talkglass.com at very reasonable prices. Turn over is quite heavy in the pipe and bong world right now. GTT and HA torches are really the only markets close to retail pricing used.
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Old 04-07-2019, 06:01 PM
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quality tractors are the same way. Also , used condoms.
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Old 04-08-2019, 08:39 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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It's the neodymium magnets that are the issue with heat. Ceramic, while weaker, perform much better at higher temps. I've got a UV filter on my glory shield that's hung with magnets, I learned about the neo's the hard way.
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:14 PM
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You can pick up a nice used F130 for $1000-1200 (I saw one for $800). Why go through all the hassle to build your own when you can buy a proven product? Or save $1500 for a new Paragon or used Scutt Scarab which is really the best in the business.

You're not saving any money, and my guess is you'll screw something up and unless you can build it perfectly the first time.... more $$$.
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:21 PM
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There is an F130 for sale on Facebook for $800 right now but the guy won't ship and he's in Miami... doesn't help you I know.
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Old 04-09-2019, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Epstein View Post
You can pick up a nice used F130 for $1000-1200 (I saw one for $800). Why go through all the hassle to build your own when you can buy a proven product? Or save $1500 for a new Paragon or used Scutt Scarab which is really the best in the business.

You're not saving any money, and my guess is you'll screw something up and unless you can build it perfectly the first time.... more $$$.
Max you have to understand We are the ones that built the equipment that even if you had the fat wallet couldn’t buy. I take offense that just because you think you might “screw something up” that someone else with dedication and passion couldn’t build something better and less expensive then you can buy. I have several things in my shop that I built but don’t care to market that I know is better then anything available. At one time being the truck drivers of the art world actually had meaning and I’m sad to see that go.

Last edited by Sky Campbell; 04-09-2019 at 12:51 AM. Reason: Those that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of the one’s doing it
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Old 04-09-2019, 08:14 AM
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At one time being the truck drivers of the art world actually had meaning and Iím sad to see that go.
******
Well, for a long period of time, there were not enough glassworkers to be able to support businesses supplying tooling to the trade. The early period supplied us with necessity being the mother of invention.

It strikes me that the real transition to a tool friendly a supply chain really kicked off pretty well when the original teachers i the university system began to retire in droves in the '90's. Their replacements simply were not the Renaissance men that the early movement cherished. Money was driving that. Glass artwork was selling at very high prices and the schools were hiring based more in art field reputation and success more than anything based in "I can build that".

As the ability of the glassworker shrank and went in the direction of very small scale operations, it brought the ceramic kiln people into the fray and they largely added a controller to a kiln and called it a glass furnace. You can see why it works when Wetdog, or Correll or Malcomb sell units for $40K +. I can't conceive of buying that stuff but there it is. I'm old school and can weld.

So, Sky, I miss it too but it for the most part is gone. Craftweb provides a link to that time but everytime I see a question about a color rod number, I'm pretty sure it's on life support.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:23 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
******
Glass artwork was selling at very high prices and the schools were hiring based more in art field reputation and success more than anything based in "I can build that".
I've actually got the feeling that things are starting to ebb back into the other direction with everything going the adjunct route and programs hemorrhaging cash. Recently I've seen higher profile artists give up seemingly decent positions to go back to personal studios. And several get canned for, reasons? There also seems to be a vacancy of graduate "techs" that have skills needed to run a shop in an educators absence.

While I'm not going to consider myself part of the old guard, they've had significant influence on how I understand a studio.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:37 AM
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you're only part of the old guard if you have tin snips on your bench.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:47 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I prefer bonzai.
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