Thursday, 4 November 2010

Removing Glass from Kiln Shelf

Care is needed when removing glass that is stuck to the shelf. You need to protect your hands with thick gloves, as any slip will cut your hands deeply.

For mullite and other ceramic shelves you can use a variety of tools:

If there is a small amount of glass in one or more spots, you can use a scraper or lead knife. The wider the blade is, the less chance there is of creating a big divot beside the stuck glass.

If the stuck glass is large or thick, you can use a hammer and chisel. Care is needed to avoid creating a bigger hole in the shelf. Use very shallow angle, almost parallel to the surface of the shelf to chip out the glass.

Diamond hand pads are useful to get the last bits smoothed out. You need to be careful of creating a low spot by working only in a concentrated area. One way of avoiding that is to use a slurry of grit and grind with large sheet of float glass. The area being covered is large and so reduces the danger of creating low spots. Remember you can get away with smoothing the shelf, not all the glass has to come out of the shelf. If the bits of glass are only small, it will not reduce the life of the shelf much, although glass tends to be corrosive to kiln brick and ceramic that it is in contact with.

If removing the glass has taken a significant amount of the shelf surface off, you can repair it. A temporary repair is to fill the divot with dry kiln wash and smooth it with a plasterer’s float or a piece of float glass. A more permanent repair is to mix a small amount of cement fondue with or without a little vermiculite. Smooth this level with the rest of the shelf while wet, as it is very hard after curing, which occurs at about 600C. If the mix is of cement fondue only, it will tend to reject the kiln wash, as it is more dense than the shelf.


Removing glass from fibre shelves in some ways is much easier, as the shelf material comes away with the glass. This does mean that repairs are always necessary. This can be done with a temporary fill of dry kiln wash or more permanently with a mix of 1 part cement fondue to about 6-7 parts vermiculite. This makes a less dense filler than cement fondue on its own, which would be too hard for fitting with the fibre shelf.