The Dawson Kiln Sitter

The kiln I have borrowed has a kiln sitter. This is a mechanical control that fires your kiln to the required time and temperature by using a small pyrometric cone or bar. After being exposed to the chosen time and temperature, the cone or bar softens and bends, shutting off the kiln.


I’ve done a lot of research to make sure I know how to use it as I don’t want to damage the kiln or my work. I need a couple of spare parts; most importantly the firing gauge to ensure that the sitter’s shut off mechanism is adjusted properly. I’ve ordered some firing bars and also some witness cones to check the accuracy of the kiln sitter.

Starting with a computerised controller might make things easier. For me though, that would be like trying to run before I can walk, or be an artist without learning to draw. I feel that sometimes we can rely too much on technology to do everything for us; rather than understand why, and learn how to do things first. As a graphic designer I was taught, and taught others, to use a sketchbook to draw ideas. Only when those ideas had been thought out and discussed would you move to a computer to progress them. The result would be something with depth and longevity rather than a fashionable, quick fix. To be fair when I was a student at Central St Martins computer aided design was in its infancy; but typography, composition, mark-making and colour theory have been more valuable skills learned than anything else. Plus they are skills that are transferrable. It’s true that computers can do amazing things, but we mustn’t forget that they are tools. We have another tool that needs more exercise – our brain.

I’ll let you know how Ruby and I get on. I may have to eat my words.


6 thoughts on “The Dawson Kiln Sitter

  1. I use an almost identical kiln and kiln sitter. It’s a great little kiln, very versatile and easy to use. I wrote a longish reply which disappeared into the ether! If you would like to know how I use mine etc. Please feel free to drop me a line. Cheers, Debbie 🙂

  2. Hi, I’ve just bought an identical Kiln to yours ( with a red painted top and Dawson Kiln Sitter and the thermostat control knob on the side. Trouble is, I bought it off ebay without instructions and have no idea what make it is or how to set the thermostat- what do the numbers refer to? and what is the max temp it can reach? I assume it is only suitable for earthenware and know you have to increase the fire temp in stages- but what are those stages? I have found and downloaded the Kiln sitter instructions but have nothing for the kiln and there is no name or details written on it- Any help greatly appreciated please.

    • Hi Carl, shout if you need any more information. I found the instructions on the internet too, and found them helpful but not very detailed. The kiln I have officially can fire up to 1300˚C though I think I’ve never managed to get it past 1250˚. I think it would need new elements to do that. I’ll happily email you my firing schedules if you need them – just let me know your address. Good luck.

      • Hi Juliet,
        My kiln works off a domestic single phase supply so i think it is the 60a version which the manual say’s “is not particularly fast firing and will take longer to reach top temperature. It also says it’s max firing temp is cone 1 (1100-1150 C)” so i will only be firing earthenware but as it doesnt have a ramp timer, i would love some guidance as to what settings i put on the thermostat and how long it would be on those settings before i turn it up to full. It sounds a bit low spec but it is my first kiln and was a bargain!

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