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Need advice on this kiln

McDesign's picture

DW's done various firing projects in the past, having others run their kilns.  Even built a pit kiln in our yard for her elementary school art class - it worked!

She has a great chance to get this one from a retiring potter.  Anyone with knowledge of this?  Price is likely under $500.

>Skutt Electric Kiln
>Model 181
>Serial 13274
>V.AC 3 wire
>Max. temp. 2250 degrees
>Cone 6

Thanks - Forrest and the DW

(post #174805, reply #1 of 22)


I am in the kiln repair game. A skutt 181 is a very old Kiln, but parts are still readily available from any Skutt dealer. A few things to check:

1. Are the bricks on the inside cracked or chipped. Is the lid or bottom slab broken or cracked.

2. Are the elements hanging out on the inside or are they all still in the element channels.

3. If you have an ohmmeter you can check the switches.

$500 is probably a little overpriced. Does the kiln come with any furniture (shelves and posts) or will you need to buy those. If the kiln is in excellent shape $500 would probably be fair, but if there are any problems the price should be reduced.

You can email me for more information if needed,


(post #174805, reply #2 of 22)

hey... is this site cool or what  ?

the "Answer Grape " for any question

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore


(post #174805, reply #3 of 22)

Mike, I have a neighbor who repairs electron microscopes.

Haven't had a question for him yet, but it could happen.

Joe h

(post #174805, reply #9 of 22)

Yeah - so - about the electron microscope thing...

I remember reading as a kid that samples that were going to go under the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) had to be covered with metal. Somehow metallized. Which seemed like a real pain, not to mention I would have thought it would corrupt the sample properties.

Do they still have to do that metalizing thing, or can you just grab a bug or somethin' and throw it in the machine to look at it? Kinda like what you'd do under a regular optical microscope.

(post #174805, reply #5 of 22)

Is the Answer Grape a YAHOO thing? HAve a link dude?


"Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit."
Abbie Hoffman



(post #174805, reply #6 of 22)

don't u remember , dude ?

the Answer Grape was a cereal charactar... he knew everything !

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore


(post #174805, reply #7 of 22)

HAHAHA...nah...I musta been drunk,,,don't remember but I did Google it and found a site that answers your questions called The Answer Grape...cept Google is better..


"Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit."
Abbie Hoffman



(post #174805, reply #16 of 22)

I too am continually amazed at the knowledge base linked to this web site. We've got people...medicine(ex doctors) to aircraft pilots, you name it we've got answers.

Take myself for instance, I've got answers to everything. Not always, or often, correct but I've gottem just the same.

(post #174805, reply #17 of 22)

NO SHID what did we do before the internet and all those tubes

(post #174805, reply #4 of 22)

Thanks for the quick response.  Mike is right - what a great site!  I'll have the SILs (they're getting this for DW) check those items, and maybe shoot me some pictures.

Thanks again.


(post #174805, reply #11 of 22)

Ryan - thanks for the advice - we followed it religiously!  Just posted some questions in the post above - any more free advice?

Thanks again -

Forrest and Ms. McDesign

(post #174805, reply #8 of 22)


the 181 is an older model Skutt it is now called an 818 but the 181 can be updated the main thing is if the interior is in good shape IE the brick and the elements I'm assuming the kiln doesn't have an electronic sitter so the DW hopefully knows about firing without one. also you need to place this where you can run an exhaust to take away some of the heat it generates. also it should come with shelves half & full and also the stilts(funiture) to put the shelves on. the 818 new is about $1500 +shipping + accessories
this is a link to site that gives pretty good info on kiln maint. & repair

I've also attached a couple of photos showing what a kiln in good shape looks like
also a picture of shelves & furniture
I hope this helps


(post #174805, reply #10 of 22)

Zeeya - thanks for the info.  We got the Skutt kiln home - seems in good shape;  all elements in their grooves.  Brick is dusty, but not crumbly - normal?.  Haven't fired it up yet.  DW's absorbing every pottery book in our town

She wants me to ask my BT buddies the following kiln questions -

1.  Good online ordering house for Skutt, for shelves, furniture, plugs, cones, etc?

2.  Is there a premixed soloution that should be sprayed on the refractory lining to extend it's life, or before all firings, and what's best?  Books talk about home mixes of stuff . . .

3.  We are near Atlanta; is this climate conducive to having the kiln in a garden house or garage (unheated/cooled, but safe and well ventilated)?

4.  What is a safe side clearance?  Stands on a 4-footed metal stand, but what under that against a wood floor?  Heard of bits dropping thru and setting the floor on fire, even with a metal floor sheet.  Pavers?

5.  Possible/safe to just fire it empty with cones to see if it's getting up to temp (cone 6)?

Got it for less than $250 - gift from her sisters.

Forrest and Ms. McDesign

(post #174805, reply #12 of 22)

1. Since you are in GA Davens Ceramics is a good supplier:
Davens Ceramic Center
5076 Peachtree Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341
Phone: 770-451-2105
Toll Free: 1-800-695-4805
(I have no interest in Davens)
Also Try and check out
(My company)

2. You can buy a product called ITC 100 that is meant to be sprayed on the inside of the kiln, but we don't recommend it. None of the manufacturers that I know of coat kilns at the factory and we have never seen an advantage to it. The idea is to keep the brick from deteriorating as fast, but we see more problems with the ITC coating than it prevents. It is really not necessary. You should buy some Kiln Wash, which is a refractory coating that is brushed on the kiln shelves and on the bottom of the kiln to protect it from glaze drips (do NOT brush it on the side bricks).
3. You can put the kiln in a garden shed or similar if:
It is well ventilated
You can run sufficient power
You can have a minimum of 18" clearance on all sides
Kiln are not sensitive to temperature, unless they are computerized. Humidity is an issue just like with any other electric device. The more humidity the faster metal parts will corrode. Never cover the kiln with a tarp because that causes condensation.
4. Side clearence min 18". We put Durrock or other cement board on wooden or combustible floors to help prevent and chance of a fire. There are some mechanical code requirements, but I am not sure what they are in your area. I have only seen one fire caused by an electrical kiln, and it was caused by a plastic bag being blown against the kiln while it was firing, so it is important to keep combustibles away from the kiln.
5. Empty test fire is a very good idea.

$250 is a very fair price, especially if it is in good condition.
Hope this helps,

(post #174805, reply #14 of 22)

Ryan -

Kiln is set up and ready to test fire.  All elements work on all settings.  Sitter works.  Seems happy on a 240/30-A breaker.  Cord had been hot near the plug end; conductor insulation was brittle underneath all the glass(?) fiber; I cut the cord back to good stuff and put on a new NEMA-30 plug for an extension cord I'd made for my 5 HP planer.  Didn't rewire it back to the box; wasn't sure what temp requirement wire is used.

No furniture yet, but a local kids pottery place gave her some cones today.

SILs wound up getting the kiln for $150; maybe get re-imbursed for the plug and time to repair it, the lady had said.

We'uns are fixin' to fire that sucker up!


Edited 8/25/2007 3:56 pm by McDesign

(post #174805, reply #19 of 22)

Looks good! Kiln would be nice to have!

Many years ago, friend of mine bought a kiln and I helped her husband move it into the basement. I thought he knew that the bottom is like Styrofoam only ceramic--very fragile ceramic of some sort with lots of air entrained. Anyway, we get the thing out of the truck and he is trying to set it down on their gravel driveway and I'm not letting him set it down and his wife is screaming at him not to set it down! After a struggle, we continue without setting it down and bring it to the basement and put it on the stand. Then we explained all about how setting it on gravel would have crushed the bottom and imbedded gravel in it. Then he understood. Would have been better to have explained it before we started!

(post #174805, reply #20 of 22)

Ordinary THHN wire is rated for 90C .... which ought to be enough. It would be nice if there was an instruction on the inside of the wiring compartment.

Higher rated fiberglass insulated wire is available at appliance repair shops.

Either way, you're looking at a metal raceway of some sort, until you are away from the kiln. MC, flex, something like that.

The only "joker" in the deck is that this looks like a temporary set up. If so, you're also going to want to set things up so you aren't tripping over, or walking on, the cords. I've seen concrete blocks, formed to make troughs when laid end-to-end, that would make a very good heat resistant cover for the cords. There is also a fiberglass electrical tape, with a heat-activated adhesive, that would be a good protective wrap for what cords must be exposed to heat.

(post #174805, reply #21 of 22)

Yes - this was temporary for the "test firing"

Tueday night the Town Planning Committee will review my permit app. for a little "smokehouse" I'll build for it.  Vertical B&B Hardiplank over metal studs, and a pyramidal metal roof. 

Should be pretty - I'll post a build thread in a few weeks when the rest of the family is traveling - want to surprise her!


(post #174805, reply #13 of 22)

Design & DW

here are a couple of good supply houses online
(they're in atlanta or nearby)
(they're in atlanta or nearby

also here's a list of Georgia Pottery supply places you'll have to see how they are price wise


Castaway Ceramics, Inc.
3689 Peach Orchard Rd
Augusta, GA 30906
Phone: 706-798-6493

Davens Ceramic Center

5076 Peachtree Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30341
Phone: 770-451-2105
Toll Free: 1-800-695-4805

Allison Ceramic Supply
931 McBride Drive
Columbus, GA 31907
Phone: 706-561-1349

BLICK art materials

Town Center Oaks
2615 George Busbee Pkwy
Kennesaw GA 30144

BLICK art materials
1117 Alpharetta St
Roswell GA 30075

Allison's Southside
Ceramic Supply, Inc.
4843 Alexander Street
Union City, GA 30291
Phone: 404-969-0096

here are a couple of web sites the DW might like to look at for resources

Ryan gave you some real good advice to follow we have 3 kilns at the art assoc on wood floors we installed envirovents

the link below is the skutt home page if you click on the ceramic kiln it opens a page that will have a list on the right side there is an accessory called envirovent 2 click on it to see what it looks like

with all the pictures you post of your work you probably can make this yourself

ps: the fire brick inside the kiln absolutely don't like moisture any other questions feel free to e mail me direct at

Edited 7/16/2007 1:34 am ET by ZEEYA

(post #174805, reply #15 of 22)

Thanks for all the links - DW talked to Skutt; they're sending her a manual for it.  She's going to Atlanta next week to one of those places for furniture and cones and who-knows-what-all, if this test firing today works.


(post #174805, reply #18 of 22)


I would think the DW must be in full production mode by now. I'd like to see some of her work if you can send me some pics at Attached is a teapot I threw it shows a before and after it was glazed

Thanks in advance



skutt 181 kiln (post #174805, reply #22 of 22)

I just brought a 181 kiln skutt and it has 3 chipped bricks at the bottom that were covered up by kiln furnitur when i paid for it --will I be able to use it  they are 1 -2 inches long about 1/2 inch in height