This little heater hat continues to work superbly! I think it’s a great do-it-yourself option for anyone interested in turning their box stove into a much more efficient, cleaner heater for their home or shop.
That said, a heater in the home poses serious risks — potentially much greater than what you’d expect of an outdoor oven. But it’s not rocket science; masonry heaters were developed and designed by amateurs — people who work for love, not money (for the whole story, look up David Lyle’s Book of Masonry Stoves: Rediscovering an Old Way of Warming).
I’ve been reluctant to publish formal plans or how-to info as I consider this to be an experimental prototype, but rocket goddess (and Sketchup artist) Erica Wisner was inspired to draw up some basic plans, and convinced me that they should be published. So, if you’re inspired to try something of your own, please feel free to download the plans (free! through the bookstore; they include clarification of a discrepancy in the video); also, take good care; design/build a better clean-out, and send photos!)
The videos below show how it goes together. In addition, I’d recommend you look up the Masonry Heater Association, and Alex Chernow’s website. Alex has been developing bell stove designs, and has links to a Russian heater builder who makes brilliant sense of the theory, which is really just flow — think funnels full of water, then turn ‘em upside down and re-envision the water as hot gases. Everything goes from there.
The big trick, I think, really has to do with getting bricks and mortar right, especially if you’re only building a heater that’s a single brick thick. The goal is to limit (even prevent!) cracks in the masonry that could compromise function and/or safety (I do have some cracks in mine, but they don’t seem to be causing harm. I’ll be able to say more after I open it up for maintenance/examination — after (another!) heating season is over.)
If you build something like this, again, please do take notes and pix, and please share! I would love to publish a collection of stories from folks who have successfully done it themselves — that’s authoritative in a much more important way — taking responsibility for one’s own experiments, as well as one’s own heat…