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Choosing a Glass Kiln

Choosing a Glass Kiln

A glass kiln is a big investment for most people, so it is important that you buy from a supplier you can trust. 
There is no better place to buy your kiln than here at Warm Glass, the glass kiln experts. We sell kilns every day to glass artists worldwide.
 
  • We are here to answer any questions you may have about choosing your kiln, just call Veronica on 01934 756181.
  • Our service does not stop once you have bought your kiln. Whenever you need any assistance with using your kiln we will be on hand, for as long as you need us. Simply contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
  • We only stock good quality kilns and all our kilns come with a warranty for your peace of mind.
  • We give ongoing discounts on our products of up to 20% when you purchase a kiln from us.
  • We ship kilns FREE to Mainland UK and can deliver kilns almost anywhere in the world. 

To compare the different kilns we sell, take a look at our Kiln Comparison page.

When choosing a kiln, consider the following:

Size of the Kiln:

  • If you are primarily focussed on jewellery making or smaller pieces, then there’s no point in spending extra on a bigger kiln that will take up more room and cost more to fire. For jewellery makers, a small kiln like the Skutt Firebox 8 would suffice unless planning to fire large numbers of pieces at once.  If you are interested in bead-making then consider the Paragon SC2 with the optional bead door. This makes annealing the beads somewhat easier than in a standard kiln.
  • If you want to make large plates or bowls or bigger decorative pieces then you need a kiln big enough to fit the work into.  Also consider the volume of work you wish to fire. If you want to fire more than a few pieces each day then you will need a chamber big enough to take the work. Remember that pieces will be in the kiln for the best part of a day. In the mid-sized range, we recommend Kilncare kilns such as the ever popular Hobbyfuser for their size, usability and build quality.
  • Lastly, consider the logistics. Will it fit where you want it to go? Can you get it through the door? If you are looking at a large 3 phase kiln, you will need to make sure you can get it wired into your power supply.

Power requirements:

The larger the kiln, the greater the amount of power required to operate the kiln. Kilns up to 3 KW and 13 Amps will usually run on a domestic plug outlet and are listed in our Plug-In Kilns section.

Type of controller:

  • Infinite switches: These are controllers with dials which control how long the elements are on or off. Kilns with infinite switches are cheaper than ones with programmers but  need 'babysitting' as the settings usually need to be adjusted throughout each firing.
  • Digital Programmers: These controllers can be programmed to control the kiln firing automatically and/or have preset programmes. They make firing projects very easy, but the ease of programming varies according to make. Look for a controller that has pre-set firing schedules to get things started, but with the option of adding your own schedules.

Top or side elements:

Glass requires even heat across its surface to fire correctly. Particularly with larger kilns, look for one with elements in the top, allowing for the heat to distribute evenly over the surface of the glass. If the kiln is deep to allow for three dimensional work, then it should ideally also have side elements to help the heat penetrate lower into the chamber.

In the budget kiln market, square kilns with elements in only two or three sides (and not in the top) often suffer from uneven heat distribution and cold spots, especially front loaders.

Front load or top load:

  • Top loading kilns are excellent if combined with top elements. They are very easy to load and unload and allow excellent access to your work.
  • Front loading kilns are usually better than top loaders for use as bead annealing kilns.

Build Quality:

We recommended only buying a kiln built by a quality manufacturer with an established history such as Kilncare, Skutt or Paragon (that’s why we stock them).  Prices of kilns vary, but generally the more you pay the higher the build quality, the bigger the chamber and the more ‘extras’ you get like quartz elements or lid opening mechanisms.

After Sales Service:

If you buy a kiln from us then we are on hand to talk you through getting started with your kiln, programming it and looking after it, for as long as you need it and at no extra cost. We are kiln glass experts and are here to help you. Everyone who buys a kiln from us also gets up to 20% discount on products they buy from us in the future.

To compare the different kilns we sell, take a look at our Kiln Comparison page.

For more information, take a look at our YouTube video: Help Me Choose... Glass Kilns.

For our recommended kiln schedules, take a look at our Kiln Schedules page.

Table Top Kilns: Skutt Firebox 8 or Paragon SC2?

We often get asked by new glass artists which table top kiln they should choose, the Firebox 8 or Paragon SC2?

If you are looking to purchase a table top kiln, either of these models is a very good choice. Both are well made with easy to use programmable controllers. To decide which is right for you, consider what you wish to use your kiln for: 

Skutt Firebox 8

The Firebox 8 has a slightly larger chamber, allowing for a wider range of moulds to be used. It also has a top opening lid, making it easy to arrange your work in the kiln. The elements of this kiln are arranged on all four sides of the kiln which allows more even heating (an important consideration). So for straightforward glass fusing applications this kiln may suit you best.

Paragon SC2

If you are interested in bead making, then consider the Paragon SC2 with the bead door option. The window option is also very useful to keep an eye on your work as it fires. Even without the bead door option it is generally preferable to anneal beads in a front opening kiln to help preserve the heat as the door opens. The trade-off here is that the front opening door means that the elements are only arranged on either side of the kiln. 

Floor Standing Plug-In Kilns: Skutt Firebox 14 or Kilncare Hobbyfuser?

We get a lot of queries about the differences between two of our most popular kilns: the Kilncare Hobbyfuser and the Skutt Firebox 14. Here is what each has to offer:

Both the Hobbyfuser and the Firebox 14 are great starter kilns with easy to use controllers full of useful pre-set programs. They are both plug-in kilns and are well designed for all forms of warm glass work, be it fusing, slumping or casting.

Skutt Firebox 14

The Firebox 14 is built in the US by Skutt. It is a lower cost, more basic design than the Hobbyfuser, with a brick built chamber and lid with traditional (and reliable) resistance elements. It also has a slightly smaller chamber size than the Hobbyfuser but is still a good, solid kiln and comes with a 24 month warranty from the manufacturer. We use this kiln regularly in our studio and thoroughly recommend it as a starter kiln.

Kilncare Hobbyfuser:

Kilncare prides itself on building high quality, high spec kilns in the UK, and the Hobbyfuser is no exception. Although more expensive than the Firebox 14, the design and build quality of this kiln is unbeatable. Built with a stainless steel shell, refractory brick base and non-ceramic lined lid, this kiln heats evenly and provides a very clean firing chamber, without the risk of brick dust contaminating your work.  It is heated by premium infra-red quartz elements that allow the kiln to ramp up quickly and efficiently. The elements are also included in Kilncare’s extensive 3 year warranty. The optional stand also has the advantage of raising the kiln to a comfortable working height. We use this kiln every day in our studio and it has proven to be an extremely reliable and user-friendly kiln and we would not hesitate to recommend it for beginners, schools and serious glass artists alike.

For more detailed information on each of these kilns, please take a look at the product descriptions in our Plug-In Glass Kilns section.