Wildcat Creek Brick Company

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bricks in three days

Saturday I came up with a bold idea. To see how quickly I could make a dozen bricks from start to finish. From digging up natural clay all the way to a finshed ready to use good product. It took me two days. Thats it. Three if you want to count cooldown and inspection.

Here are the steps involved and the outcome.

1. Dug up a wheelbarrow load of Flora clay straight out of the ground behind my barn. The clay was already damp from a previous days rainfall. No water will be added.
1:00 pm Saturday

2. Removed all obvious twigs, rocks, and non clay looking dirt material from the load to be formed into bricks. Flora clay at my location is nearly free of roots, rocks or sand. Unusually clean and ready to use for this area of Indiana farmland.
2:00 pm

3. Load brick press and press out 12 bricks. Used all three of my frog logos just for the heck of it.
3:30 pm

4. Load into the electric kiln to begin the drying out. This is really tricky. Too fast and they crack. Too slow and the wont dry for a month!
4:00pm to 9:00pm Saturday.

5. Fire in the electric kiln to at least 2000'F.
7:30am to 9:00pm Sunday

6. Cooldown , unload and inspection.
4:00pm Monday



  1. great job!Even have your trademark on it.
    You fired the electric kiln at 2000F for 13.5 hrs,
    i wonder how much that will cost?

  2. Your bricks are great - got me thinking about the amount of high iron clay I have around me and wondered how well they would go. Clay from a waterhole here is exposed in the dry and dries out in large dry lumps (kids usually pull it out) which tinker when hit. Its also pretty free of roots etc - would it make a good brick?

  3. Thomas, I reached 2000'F and held that temp for only about 1 hr at the end of the firing. Most of the firing was slowly climbing up to the final temp. I will let you know the expense to me when I get my electric bill for the month. lol

  4. Mudheart, These bricks came out hard and ring well when I tap on them. So I think they were fired to a good temp. If they have a soft thud sound, then they are underfired. I spent very little time preparing the clay for this intentionally. Wanted to see if it would actually work with little effort working the clay first. It did. It depends alot on the clay to begin with I think. Maybe a little sand mixed in would lessen the cracking. but it may raise the needed firing temp too. Your clay does sound promising for a brick expirement. Bricks are thick and dry out slow. They crack easy too. They fire slow because they are so thick. Good luck! Let me know if you do.

  5. Hi! I'm curious to that electricity bill... on average, how much electricity do you use per brick? (to be detailed: how many kw/h do you need to get one finished brick in hand?)

    I'm soooo tempted to make my own bricks just like you. But high energy costs kind of scare me... //Robert

  6. Robert, I haven't sat down and calculated the exact cost per brick to electric fire them. I will say that for the month of may my electric bill went up about $30 from previous months. That would be from the electric kiln. I will look into it more and try to come up with better figures. But hey, you can always try it once and see what happens. That would give you some idea without excessive expense. Let me know if you do try it!

  7. One more thing, I dont think that the final temp has to be as high as I claimed before. Ive made good bricks since out of the same Flora clay at around 1850 to 1900F. Just slow down the drying out time to avoid alot of the cracking. Hold the final temp for an hour or so before cool down begins. Maybe even 1800F would work if I held the temp there for like 3 hrs or so. Really will depend on the clay you have to work with. The clay from near Cutler wont work below 2000F.

  8. Wanted to share one more thing if you search for your own natural clay to use. In my examples Ive learned that the clay from the town of Flora is sticky and fires at a lower temp than the clay gathered from near Cutler.
    Why? Flora is on a flat plain. Its wet almost swampy farmland with poor drainage. Cutler has small creeks nearby and lots of rolling farmland with more sand and gravel in the clay. At least where I get it from. So that must be related to how the clays act and fire.

  9. Have you ever tried to build your own wood fired kiln from your own bricks? I would like to know if home made bricks, fired up to 2000F, will stand up to this type of work.

  10. @ anonymous, yes I have used some of my fired bricks in kilns I have made. They do well. I am still working on a 'fire' brick to go with my red bricks. It is made out of a different clay dug out of local creek banks.


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