earth oven building errors to avoid

Especially when building a larger oven, there are some clear earth oven building errors to avoid. (Building an oven is simple, but the truth is that nothing is quite as simple as it may first appear, especially when you build a fire in it.) Heather Coiner of Hat Creek Farm in Virginia (in photo) has generously documented some of the mistakes they made on a commercial-scale oven they built (and used successfully) on their farm — and which they recently took down after building their next oven — a full-scale brick oven built by Eric Moshier, of Solid Rock Masonry. Here’s the link.…

The Value of Water

The thirsty drink water from a bowl made of mountains, hills, and trees…

In the rural area where I lived for 20 years — and throughout Oregon, as well as elsewhere — “watershed management” has become a common term. Farmers and ranchers compete with urbanites and salmon for water to feed us all. The media call them “water wars,” but without water, no one eats and no one “wins.” If the salmon lose, we lose too. The issue looms ever larger: climate change, population growth, and an economy on the verge of collapse. Fear makes it hard to manage anything, but we try.…

Bill Coperthwaite & the Arts of Culture

A review of A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

I met Bill Coperthwaite in 2007. I had recently read his book, A Hand Made Life, and was deeply impressed by his stories and practice, and the way he was trying to live out an answer to questions that, by our denial of them, define our culture:

“Can you have ‘culture’ without violence?”

“Is beauty useful?”

“Are justice, democracy, and peace possible if most all of our technologies require violence?”

Like Gandhi, Bill figured that whatever he could make for himself meant less dependence on an imperial master, but where Gandhi lived with hundreds of others in an ashram in India, Bill lived alone on a couple of hundred acres in Northern Maine, at the end of a mile and a half footpath.…

2015 – Green-wood carving classes: make a spoon from a branch

Green-wood carving classes, spring, 2015. Carving green wood is much easier than carving dry wood, and in the days when most people didn’t have woodshops with power tools, vises, clamps, and hold-downs of all varieties, carving green wood was something you did in your lap while you were sitting around of an evening. So that’s pretty much what a spoon-carving class is all about. I’ve been teaching it mostly at primitive skills gatherings (this year I’ll be at Buckeye, and maybe Echoes in Time), but this year friends Charlene and Richard Murdock white invited me to teach at their wonderful home/garden, which they’re turning into an educational center called “Nana Cardoon.” For a class description and schedule (April and May), go here.…

Cabin Stove/Sidewinder Build Sequence

This photo-essay documents about 2 days of experimentation that resulted in a pretty stupendous new variation on Max’s “Cabin Stove.” The overall footprint of the stove determined the firebox size, and the geometry resulted in a rectangular heat riser that took hot gasses from a vertical throat in the corner of the firebox — unconventional, but it worked amazingly well. More to come! (Ed. Note: This stove, like so many others, is merely one more in a long line of innovations and adaptations, all based on the same basic principles: burn the fuel fast, hot, & clean, and extract and store as much heat as possible prior to venting.…

The Cabin Stove 2.0

Important update! This article still serves as an important archive piece in the design development. The most current Cabin Stove documentation is available at The Cabin Stove Page.

What is the Cabin Stove?

The Cabin Stove is a compact wood-burning stove for heating and cooking. It uses a mix of clean, efficient combustion, and heat exchange strategies, which provide both immediate heat via the cooktop as well stored heat through the channels inside the brick work. Effectively, it converts wood into warmth and good food.

This cookstove is a hybrid between rocket mass heater and masonry heater technologies that has precedents throughout the world, especially in Europe.…

Earth Oven builders in Ecuador (Manuel (10), Juan Carlos (6))

A builder in Alaska sent me this story about an earth oven she built in Ecuador, with two helpers. At the ages of 10 and 6, they are clearly competent. Margaret writes:

Winters in Kodiak were beginning to get to me. I had it in mind to snow goose it away in a warmer climate for the coldest, darkest part of winter. Alan and his girlfriend, Loretta were due to get married on their farm [in Ecuador]. They invited me to the wedding. And so I went.

I had always said to Allan that if I did ever get to Ecuador then I would build them an oven.…

Wood-fired, earth-oven pizza grows a family business in Cedar City UT

Wood-fired, earth-oven pizza grows a family business in Cedar City UT

The Murray family needed extra income to pay dad’s college tuition; he had already made a little backyard oven, and decided he could make a bigger one on a cart and run an outdoor pizza business. My favorite line from the video (below) is Jason expressing amazed gratitude for his wife Cindy’s support: “How many wives would let you make some stupid oven in your backyard out of mud and then put it on a trailer and go out on the street, you know?” They were so successful tho, making pizzas outdoors in every kind of weather, that after several years, they’re now opening an indoor restaurant!…