02 March 2015

The Bad Back Syndrome and the Clamshell Kiln...

I used to experience back fatigue every time I loaded my kiln. It was a real pain in the.... neck! Last year I purchased a large 26" Clamshell kiln and the back discomfort went away. I now wish my other two kilns were clammys too! If you are thinking about a new kiln, take a moment to think about the following information...

If you have a challenge like I do with bending over, i.e. the dreaded "bad back" then a clamshell kiln might be just the thing for you. A clamshell kiln is configured to have the firing chamber (the top and sides of the kiln) lift off of the base on a hinge. The set up allows the user direct, easy access to the kiln shelf. The key to kiln loading back relief is the height of the base of the clamshell kiln shelf.

So what does this really mean? When you set up the kiln, make sure the base of the clamshell kiln is above your waist and below the height of your chest. Think about where you will place the clamshell kiln and whether you'll need to elevate the unit on a steel stand on the floor or on a table.  Because, like me, you are responsible for your own kiln loading fatigue destiny.

With that said, just about every kiln company has a clamshell model in a small, medium, and large size. The large size clamshell units typically have their own steel stands included. That's great, but we're not all the same size. I'm tall with long legs, so I looked for a kiln with an extra tall stand. You can also place the kiln on a platform to raise the base higher. The medium and small clamshell units have feet that act as stands. You can elevate these units by constructing a platform on top of your table table top. What ever you do, make sure the unit is level front to back and side to side. Some units even have leveling feet that adjust to help with this process.
Doesn't this look painful to load?

Here are a few of my favorites:
Paragon CS 19-S
Olympic Square 186GFETLC
Evenheat Studio Pro 17
Jen-Ken ProFusion Fiber 16

Remember, SAFETY FIRST! Whatever modification you need to elevate your kiln to the perfect comfortable loading height, make sure it's sturdy and heat proof. Most of the chain hardware "home centers" carry cement board, brand names include "Hardy Backer" and "Duraboard". Use these to protect surfaces that are not heatproof. Be smart! A hot kiln = a happy life! #olympickilns #pargonkilns #jenkenkilns #evenheatkilns #clamshellkilns

Your Kiln Gal - Gail