Time for a new barrel kiln. One of them is snowed in at the back of my friend's property, one is just plain old and rusted out, and the other one was run over by a wild man on a skidsteer. And No, that wildman wasn't me. Anyway, I threw some vases and some other pots last weekend and I thought a winter barrel firing party was in order. Planned it for this coming Saturday so I had to get cracking on the new barrel.
I have discussed the making of the barrel and my method of firing several times before on this blog but have learned a couple new things that make things a bit more easier and more efficient.
First of all, drilling holes was a pain in the butt on the last three barrels. Even though I used a brand new metal drill bit, I had to use a punch, create a mark, and then start drilling. It was a chore and it was hard on the drill batteries. On the next barrel I used another brand new metal drill bit but used an electric drill. It was still a chore. The end result was I did not drill all the holes that I wanted to. Tip #1---use a "Uni-bit" or a stepped up MultiCutter bit. This type of bit is the cat's meow, the bee's knees, and makes drilling into a brand new barrel a breeze. As you can see in the photo I drilled holes 5/8-inch in three spots on the barrel spaced 4 to 5 inches apart. I didn't measure. I just eye-balled it and drilled.
Tip #2---Don't drill holes in the bottom or the floor of the barrel. The reason I say this is because I believe that it creates too much draft or air into the base of the kiln which tends to cause the saw dust to burn up too quickly. I like the sawdust in the bottom because it seems to give better blacks and better flame patterns on the pots. I'm not positive on this but it just seems so.
Oh, one last thing. If you need to cut the lid off the barrel a sawzall works great. It rattles you around a bit but works really well.
I'm going to soak-up the left over oil in the barrel with some sawdust, dispose of it "properly," and light a small fire in the barrel to burn up any left over slime. Will be firing this kiln this Saturday.