Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letters, I Get Letters

Just as I hate to have a blog post with no pictures, I also dislike having nothing but ugly pictures to post. So I started this post with a favorite of mine (from a Chieftains album cover).

I got a letter from a blog reader, Ron Ball. Ron is a Canadian who snowshoed his way in from the tundra (Summer -- mid July -- is long past) where he had been milking his herd of Canadian reindeer, eh? Anyway, Ron logged onto his propane-fired computer to write and tell me that he needs to rebuild the soft brick door of his kiln. Ron noticed pictures of my kiln posted here and said to himself, "Eh, that looks like a fiber door on that kiln, eh?"

So he asked me, "Is that a fiber door on your kiln, eh?"

I told him that it was. And then I explained to him the simple, inexpensive way that I built a fiber door on my kiln (a kiln that I too had originally built with a soft brick door). But, at the time of the explaining, I had both kilns in use with firings so I couldn't take any pictures to illustrate to Ron what I was talking about. I've got the newer kiln in use again, but, though the old kiln didn't come out as nice looking (I learned on it), pictures of it will still give you an idea of how I did it.

First, I took inswool ceramic fiber. I chose 1.5 inch -- not very thick -- so that it could most easily be folded.

Working across the bottom of the door first, I folded the wool accordian-style, stabbed the completed folds with these metal cleats, and then fastened the cleats to the door with stainless steel screws and nuts.

So I folded an accordian of wool, stabbed it with a cleat and fastened the cleat to the door. Then I'd make my next accordian, stab it onto the cleats that were then already fastened to the door (the ones holding the first accordian in place). Next, I'd stab the loose side of that accordian with a new set of cleats and fasten those cleats to the door.

This door came out pretty ugly. But the value in showing it is that, ugly as it came out, it's worked well for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of firings.

This is the old kiln from the outside of the door. In this case, you can see where the cleats were bolted to a stainless "skin" that is in turn bolted to the door frame.

On my new, improved kiln, I put angle iron crossbars to fasten the cleats to. It made the door a little neater looking.

To make the folding go a bit easier, and to make sharper folds, I went to the scrap metal yard and found some 4" X 1/8" steel. I forced the steel into each crease and made each accordian a pre-folded unit before I ever tried to stab it onto the cleats.

This morning, instead of our usual run with the dogs, we walked with our friends, Patty and Cecil and their Shar-Pei, "Tank". Tank is rather smitten with Ariel.

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