As I mentioned before, I bought the wife a pottery kiln for her birthday. We had a “kiln doctor” come out and inspect it last year, and we test-fired it empty about a month ago, but we just got around to actually firing ceramics in it this past week.
This thing seems dangerous, but it’s actually a pretty simple set-up. It’s basically a brick oven with a coil element no too dissimilar than an electric oven. The precise adjustments are made with a “kiln sitter,” which is just a fancy word for an electric timer. You buy a ceramic rod/cone that weakens and droops at the maximum temperature you wish to reach. You slide it into this little mechanism here.
The whole thing works on gravity. This rod is for “cone 4,” meaning it’ll start to droop at around 2000°. As it droops, it slowly raises a latch on the kiln sitter. When the latch raises just enough, a weight drops, shutting off the heating element. This is the latch and weight mechanism.
This what the rod looks like when it reaches the desired temperature. As you can see, the metal shaft on top of the sunken rod has lowered enough to release the weight and shut off the machine.
There are other dials that adjust how hot the coil element gets and a safety timer that will shut the kiln down in case the rod fails, but all in all it’s a pretty simple process. And when it gets hot, it gets really hot.
If I could fashion a metal basket to lower into the kiln when it’s around 800°, I could make amazing pizza in this thing.