The Front Loading Kiln
This is one of a continuing series on choosing a glass kiln for fusing and slumping.
Click here to go to the first part of the series.
The front loading kiln is similar to a microwave oven. It
contains a door which swings open to allow access from the front.
It also tends to be built in a rectangular box-shape. This
shape makes it a bit more expensive to construct than a
Things to evaluate when considering the purchase of a front
loading kiln include:
Most front loading kilns are rectangular. This is a more
efficient space than an octagonal or similar multi-sided kiln,
especially if you're firing tiles or other four-sided items.
2. Element placement
Front loading glass kilns tend to have elements in the top, with
the best models having elements in all four sides and the top.
Models with only side elements or with elements in three sides but
not the door are sometimes found in smaller front loading kilns.
These configurations are sub-optimal, but they can work if the kiln
is small. For larger kilns, look for elements in the top,
side, and door.
3. Door configuration
The best configuration is where the doors are hinged on either
the left or right and open like a microwave or refrigerator.
Some doors (especially ones without elements) have hinges on the
bottom and open by pulling down; if you buy a kiln with this type of
door, make certain that the door has some sort of support to keep it
from opening too far or damaging the bottom hinges. If
possible, get a kiln with a "kill switch" on the door that
automatically cuts power to the elements when the door is opened.
Front loading kilns are easier for combing or for other
activities where the door is opened while firing. This is
because the hot air tends to remain in the kiln, making it a bit
cooler to access and quicker to reheat when the door is closed.
On the downside, it's a bit harder to rearrange pieces once they're
initially loaded into the kiln, especially if they're placed toward
the rear of the kiln. This can make front-loading kilns more
difficult to use if your pieces have a lot of small pieces or
stringers that tend to move about when they're placed in the kiln.
Click here for information
on top loading kilns.
Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.
All rights reserved.
You can read more about
vitrograph kilns in Bullseye's TechNotes 2, available on