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Kiln Firing Gauge

How to use one.

A kiln firing gauge is used to make sure that your kiln sitter is working properly. If it isn't the kiln will not shut off at end of firing cycle and damage the kiln and its load or worst yet start a fire.

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It is a simple little disc made of metal that is slipped over the sensing rod of the kiln sitter to center it.
Kiln firing Gauge 1

Kiln Firing Gauge

If your kiln is digital, you probably don't have to worry about this procedure. Digital kilns rarely include a kiln sitter.

Many people have never seen a firing gauge, because it is often thrown away, but the gauge is important. If you don’t have one and your kiln has a kiln sitter, you should order a firing gauge. The cost is about $4.75 plus shipping, and your ceramic supplier may have them in stock.

A firing gauge usually comes with every new kiln equipped with a kiln sitter.


not fire

the kiln with the gauge on the cone supports, because the gauge would prevent the kiln sitter from shutting off.

Use the gauge to adjust the actuating rod after every 20 or so firings. Place the gauge on the cone supports, sliding the actuating rod through the center hole in the gauge.
Kiln firing Gauge 2

With the firing gauge in place, swing the weight up against the guide plate. Pull the claw forward, leaving a slight play in the swivel pivot assembly and check for a 1/16th of a inch clearance between the inside tip of the claw and the face of the trigger as shown below. The set screw on top of the claw may be loosened if an adjustment of the claw position is needed. Make sure to tighten the set screw tightly when you are done.
Kiln firing Gauge 3

When the weight swings forward, the trigger should just clear the tip of the claw as shown on the left. The set screw in front of the weight can be loosened to raise or lower the trigger which is shown on the right. The set screw must be firmly tightened or the force of repeated falling of the weight may cause the trigger to creep out of adjustment.
Kiln firing Gauge 4 Kiln firing Gauge 5


make sure that your kiln is level

, if it isn't it could cause your weight to not fall when it is released and your kiln would not shut off and could cause a fire or major damage to the kiln itself.

The firing gauge should be removed now, but kept for future adjustments. The sensing rod is now free to move vertically in the center within the tube cavity without touching the sides at any point as shown in figure 5 an 6.

Kiln firing Gauge 6 Kiln firing Gauge 7

The sensing rod can be centered by loosening the two guide plate screws in front of the kiln sitter and moving the guide plate right or left as needed and as shown in figure 7. Make sure that the guide plate screws are firmly tightened. When you have made these adjustments, you are ready to test fire your kiln.


Firing tests are made with the kiln empty.

Two small size cones which melt at a relatively low temperature are provided with the kiln sitter for test firing. If you have gotten a used kiln you can get cones for this purpose from a pottery or ceramic dealer.



Mix a high fire kiln wash with water to a creamy solution and apply a


coat to the cone supports and the sensing rod where they will come in contact with the cone. A nail polish bottle and brush is ideal for this. Do not apply kiln wash to the cone or to the end of the porcelain tube. Allow wash to dry thoroughly.

Do not let the kiln wash accumulate.

Always remove the old kiln wash before adding new.



INSERT CONE While holding the claw down over the trigger, carefully place one of the test cones flat on the cone supports with the inside edge of the number circle even with the outside edge of the cone support which is shown below. The cone should be back against the metal step of the cone support with the center of the cone parallel with the end of the tube.

Kiln firing Gauge 8

Since the softening and bending of the cone shuts off your kiln, its correct positioning is very important for proper firing. If the cone is dislodged by accident or allowed to come into contact with the porcelain tube, an over firing may result which could cause very serious damage to your kiln. The cone now holds the claw engaged so that the weight is supported and your hands are free. You are now ready to close the kiln and begin the test fire.



In about one hour the kiln sitter weight will drop, shutting off the kiln. When the kiln is cool enough to handle you can open it and inspect the cone. If all adjustments have been made correctly, the cone on the kiln sitter will be bent to about a 90 degree angle shape like the picture below. Now, if it is bent like the over fired picture, reduce the kiln switch settings. This will increase the firing time and reduce the rate of climb and allow the cone to melt like it is supposed to.

Kiln firing Gauge 9

The best way to verify that your kiln is reaching a certain temperature is by using witness cones. These are valuable and inexpensive items that reliably measure actual firing performances. Witness cones are not actually required, but are recommended during test firing and also once in a while during normal firings to make sure that the kiln is firing consistently.

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