View Full Version : HT kiln recomendations

04-19-2011, 07:49 PM
Iam looking a getting a HT kiln and would like some recomendations. I have been looking at the even heat kf in the 22.5 inch size. But was wondering if anyone had a better suggestion. I dont have alot to spend but need something good.

Rudy Joly
04-19-2011, 08:46 PM

I happened on a too good to pass up deal on the large Sugar Creek Kiln. In the last year it's behaved itself pretty well. It does everything I need it to, but the infinite control takes some fiddling with at first. The digital controler is going to be a definate in the future. I've had the temp right up to 2000 degrees although the instructions say it's a no no. If you don't mind babysitting a little, which I don't cause it's in the shop with me, it's a pretty good deal.
Prepare to spend some time unpacking it....pack a lunch.


04-19-2011, 09:55 PM
From what I have heard, the Evenheat KF is an excellent kiln.

If budget is a concern (when is it not?), get with BossDog and check out the Big Knife Kiln by Sugar Creek Industries. They offer it with the manual switch and the programmable controller (get the controller!).

Design differences:

The evenheat chamber is 22.5"L x 10"W x 6.5"H, or 1462 cubic inches. 3600 watts. Max temp 2200F.

The Big Knife chamber is 24"L x 8.75"W x 6"H, or 1260 cubic inches. 2530 watts. Max temp 2000F. (Actually, mine will probably go higher, but that voids all manufacturer warranties.)

Due to a difference in power of 1100 watts, the evenheat probably has the advantage of heating up faster. But remember that it needs the extra wattage due to overall larger chamber.

Largest differences between the two is controller options, which definitely has an impact on final price.

The basic controller on the Big Knife is manually controlled much like a kitchen oven, but has a pyrometer with digital readout to indicate temp.
BossDog's price: $468.00 + shipping

The Big Knife kiln is also offered with the Orton controller upgrade, allowing you to program for different temps, hold times, etc.
This is truly the way to go- it keeps you from "babysitting" the temperature.
BossDog's price: $703.00 + shipping

The Evenheat comes standard with the Set-Pro control, operating on the same concept as the Orton controller.
BossDog's price: $1035 + shipping

$80 extra gets you the Rampmaster controller, which, to my understanding, allows extra programs to be stored. I suppose if you're working with more than 4 different types of steel on a regular basis, that might come in handy.

So, to narrow it down, the Big Knife with Orton controller and the Evenheat with Set-Pro controller are in the same "class" regarding capabilities.
The Big Knife will take longer to ramp up to temp, but costs over $300 less.

So take your pick.

By the way, don't let the lower price of the Sugar Creek product fool you- it's a high-quality product. I have met these people personally (a few hours from me), and their knowledge and customer service will rival any out there.

Rudy Joly
04-20-2011, 04:52 AM
Don't let babysitting scare you....
After a couple uses, I marked the dial with a sharpy of my target temps and only have to glance over at it once in a while. I have an oven timer that I set just in case I get caught up in other activities. The bell wakes me up. After a while you get a feel for the time it takes to ramp up.


04-20-2011, 07:31 AM
So this one from suger creek ( http://www.usaknifemaker.com/index.php?main_page=shopping_cart ) is basically like the one from evenheat? I dont know much about them so I need as much info as possible.

04-20-2011, 12:40 PM
So this one from suger creek ( http://www.usaknifemaker.com/index.php?main_page=shopping_cart ) is basically like the one from evenheat? I dont know much about them so I need as much info as possible.

The link does not show the model to which you refer.

The comparison being made is between a).the Big Knife Kiln by Sugar Creek Industries, and b).the Evenheat KF 22.5

When discussing kilns, the first thing I look at is chamber volume, and the exact dimensions that make up that volume. Two different different kilns can have similar volume, yet completely different approaches to getting to that volume. A kiln suited for firing a tall vase would require different dimensional structure (and door access) than one more suitable for heat-treating knives.
But the chamber volume, no matter how it's formed, will give us an idea of the heating capabilities of the unit. Simply put, more volume requires more wattage, and the manufacturer will provide at least the minimum power to heat that particular size of chamber to a given temperature.

These two units are in the same category, meaning, for the most part, they have similar chamber volumes.

Since the chambers are close in size, you will probably wonder "will the Big Knife kiln still heat up enough?" Yes, it will, it will just take longer to reach that temp.
The only time this would make a dramatic difference would be for the person doing truly high volume and loading the kiln to the gills with every use. Then the power advantage of the Evenheat would begin to shine.

As I mentioned above, I have only heard the reports of others concerning the Evenheat (I don't own one, nor have I used one). But from those reports, the owners have been very pleased.

I know of at least three people on this forum who own the Big Knife kiln- Rex McClellan, Rudy Joly, and Robert Hosmer (myself).
We're all are very satisfied with it.

Regarding controllers, much depends on what you want/need. As Rudy mentioned, there are ways to deal with the basic thermostat, and I have went that route.
Such methods served me well until I wanted to make some dies out of H-13. The steel supplier informed me of the heating schedule, stating that annealing is needed after forging. But annealing this steel requires that the temp be brought down no quicker than 40F per hour! 1600F down to 1000F (the point that cooling could be increased) means that I had to adjust temps every hour for 15 hours! (By the way, I tried the old "bury" trick- it didn't work for me.)
After that project, I definitely went with a controller upgrade.

So your need (concerning controls) will largely be determined with the steels you primarily use, and what you're doing to them.
If you're using the kiln primarily for hardening/tempering of "common" steels, your controller needs are probably less stringent than the more complex steels with detailed firing schedules.

From what I gather, controller cost is directly related to capabilities.
A controller with more "step" sequences (expanded firing schedules) costs more.
A controller can also have more than one firing schedule program. e.g., schedule "A" for O-1, schedule "B" for 440C, etc. This prevents having to reprogram every time you change steels. The more programs the controller holds, the more expensive it will be.
As a general rule, even the basic controllers will hold 4 different programs.

Here are the links to the two models I've been comparing (hopefully the links work):

If you decide that you don't need a controller, here is the link to the manually-controlled Big Knife kiln:

Good Luck,

04-20-2011, 01:45 PM
Thanks Those are the two I need comaprisons for. I am not as worried about time as ease of use since I dont have much experiance with this.

Rudy Joly
04-20-2011, 05:14 PM
Rob is right on this one, plenty of good info.
I have the advantage of using my forge also. When forging, I'll heat treat in my forge primarily on 1095 or 1075. I use the kiln on the O-1 and stainless because of preheats and soaks. My main reason for buying the kiln was to get more involved in stainless steel because of customer requests. Some people won't look at a carbon blade as a sales prospect. Using the kiln is basicly like using your kitchen stove to cook on, it only does what you tell it to do. Using the kiln is pretty straight forward, you just need to stick to the recipe. I had never used one before buying mine, but had seen the process many times. Experience comes with use.


Airborne Steel
04-21-2011, 09:09 PM
Don't let babysitting scare you....
After a couple uses, I marked the dial with a sharpy of my target temps and only have to glance over at it once in a while. I have an oven timer that I set just in case I get caught up in other activities. The bell wakes me up. After a while you get a feel for the time it takes to ramp up.

How long does it take to ramp up to say 1500 deg? I'm seriously looking at this oven.

05-08-2011, 06:44 AM
just got mine the small 1 and i did not time it but it was not more then 30 min on my oven if that helps you

Rudy Joly
05-08-2011, 07:53 AM
How long does it take to ramp up to say 1500 deg? I'm seriously looking at this oven.

I just annaeled some o-1 last night and from cold start to 1425 it took 38 minutes. Thats with the infinite switch cranked on high and turning it back to my mark on the dial when it hit 1300. When new I timed it to reach 1950, that took 1 hour and 48 minutes basicly empty except the rack.



Airborne Steel
05-08-2011, 09:20 PM
Thank you both for the replies.

05-09-2011, 12:55 PM
air borne here is the sheet i got with mine shows times for both the small and large 1

Josh Dabney
05-09-2011, 03:45 PM
FWIW I've got the Evenheat 22.5 with rampmaster and have been 100% happy with the purchase.

It does hold 12 programs. Although it's so easy to program a HT program you could easily re-program it every single time I still use alot of my programs.
I've used it for 1095, 1080, damascus, 5160, and ATS-34. Not a big list but still
1950 degrees (I think) harden ATS-34 programmed to ramp up, soak, then ramp up to full temp and soak
1600 degrees- high temp normalizing
1550 degrees- 2nd normalization
1525 degrees- harden 5160
1500 degrees- 3rd normalization/ harden 1080
1475 degrees- harden 1095
1450 degrees- 4th normalization
Sub-Critical anneal- Ramp to 1300 soak 1 hour then drop 50 degrees per hour to 800 then shutoff.

You can certainly get by with much less in the way of the controller if you have to. I also don't see babysitting the kiln as much of a problem as I'm always out in the shop while it's running (Except for the annealing cycle which runs overnight). The thing I could see as a problem to babysitting is distraction by getting involved in other things like hand sanding.

The advice I got before getting the Evenheat was- Don't think just about what your making today, also think about 3 or 5 years from now. Who knows what you'll be making then. An oven is one of the BIG purchases of equipment that you'll likely have and use for a LONG time so don't fret about spending a bit extra on a better/bigger model. I can HT folder blades no prob in the big oven but treating a big bowie or kitchen knife in a small oven is impossible.

Thats what I've got in there and use regularly off the top of my head. I have a small dry erase board on the wall with my programs written on it.

I also keep #12 for re-programming to use for tempering. I typically run standard 2x2 tempering cycles (2 hours 2times) so I program to ramp up to 375 and hold for 5 hours to temper 5160. Put my blade in and watch the oven clock for 3 hours left in my cycle then take my blade out for an hour then back in for the final 2 hours.

For consistancy I also do things like put in a blade to normalize and set an egg timer for 15 minutes. This way I dont forget to take it out and soak for 45 minutes, which I have done several times in the past.

I've never really looked at the Sugar creek kilns so I can't really compare but I do give my Evenheat two thumbs up. And I got in a painfree transaction with good old Bossdog himself and UsaKnifemakers supply and can highly recommend dealing with them. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


Airborne Steel
05-12-2011, 12:13 AM
Thank you Franklin. Looks like my next major purchase.