[Clayart] Small kiln

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Thu Feb 27 10:32:47 EST 2020

> On Feb 25, 2020, at 10:05 AM, Kathy Forer <kef at KFORER.COM> wrote:
> ...Would probably need an electrician to bury a wire for the twenty feet away from the shed house. Does a garden shed even work for a kiln in the Northeast? …

As for burying the wire:

Get the proper kind of cable for burying. The supply store will be able to tell you. (Among the ‘big box’ stores, I find that Home Depot hires more competent electrical professionals than Lowe’s and Menards, but this may vary locally. You can also go to a specialty supplier.)  You can rent an easy-to-use trenching tool from an equipment-rental company for a reasonable price, and get it done a lot faster and more neatly than using a shovel. Bury to 18” depth, minimum! 

Since this is a short-term rental situation, you could probably get away with treating it like an extension cord instead, and roll up the cable and its receptacle when not in use, and you could more easily take it with you when you move again. However(!), burying it is required by code everywhere I know of.  I am not inciting illegal behavior or unsafe practices here, but for an intermittently used tool like a kiln, which will also be removed fairly soon, leaving it above ground (or only shallowly buried) seems reasonable. If you do this, though, and don’t want to roll it up every time you use it, protect it from damage by foot traffic and lawnmowers by running it inside conduit, and mark its location very well with fluorescent paint and survey flags. If you do roll it up between uses like an extension cord, cap or wrap the receptacle(!) to prevent accidental contact between slots, even if you plan to shut off the breaker every time. It’s too much amperage to take risks with, and I recommend not doing this at all. Permanent placement underground is much safer, even if you have to abandon the wire when you move. 

Y’all know how cheap I am, and sometimes I advocate less-than-ideal choices because they cost less. (We all have to allocate our own resources as best we can.) My first studio was an un-electrified windowless garage/shed behind a rental house. I started out using extension cords run out a back window for lights, but when I got my first kiln ($75 at a storage locker auction), I ponied up for a sub-panel and cutoff, proper underground #4 cable, and trenched the yard with a shovel to get it down to code depth. It took two days and cost more than the kiln did, but it was worth it, even though I left it behind when I moved. (I wound up staying in that 'short-term' rental for eight years, and I showed in New York with the sculpture I made in that crappy shed. You never know what life will bring.)  But even at my cheapest, I don’t mess around with electricity and fire risk. 

Snail Scott
claywork at flying-snail.com

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