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.…

Increase wood stove efficiency with a Heater Hat: Free plans!

Free plans to increase wood stove efficiency

Lovely friend Erica Wisner (she’s the cute one on the right w/out the fuzz) put the heater hat details down on paper and gave them to us to share — and I’ve finally figured out how to post them as a new “product” in the bookstore — available as a free download, here. If you wonder what the heck I’m talking about, a masonry heater hat is a smallish amount of masonry (300 lbs or so) that you can add to a conventional metal box stove to improve performance, reduce wood consumption, and increase your comfort.…

Improving woodstove efficiency: Rocket Stoves & Masonry Heaters

Improving woodstove efficiency: Rocket Stoves & Masonry Heaters:

Editor’s introductory note: Masonry heaters, many of them self-built, warm millions of homes in the former USSR, where Alex Chernov grew up. Now working as a certified heater mason in Canada, Alex designs and builds heaters and ovens, and consults on projects all over the world through his company, Stovemaster (his website offers a wealth of background info). In the article below, he combines his professional expertise with his own background and experience in a culture where most people have long experience heating with wood, and where building one’s own heater was not unusual.

Combining Earthen and Masonry Techniques in Wood-Fired Oven Construction

Is it made of earth or brick? This is a common distinction in the world of wood-fired ovens and comes with a whole slew of assumptions. “Earth ovens are cheaper, easier to build but less durable.”  “Brick ovens are expensive, harder to build but more professional and will last longer.” The oven build documented below is an exploration of the combination of these techniques to leverage the advantages of each. We use earth where its sculptural quality allows us to perfectly mold it to the shape that we desire. We use brick where it will give a good durable surface for cooking and in the entrance way to withstand the abuse of heated and passionate cooking.…

Mass Heater for a Greenhouse Using a Wood Stove

Introduction Visiting in the Winter Time Step-by-Step Photos of the Construction Process Analysis and Suggestions for Improvement A Call for Support Additional Resources

Kiko Denzer and I were hired to build a heater in a greenhouse for some very avid gardeners. They had experimented with using a wood stove but there simply wasn’t enough heat retained for the stove to heat the greenhouse from one day to the next throughout the winter. Our task was to incorporate the old wood stove, mostly taking advantage of the glass door and firebox it offered, and plug it into a system with channels and enough mass to absorb sufficient warmth to heat the greenhouse with one firing a day.…

Cob oven ‘zine from Jorie Kennedy and Lizzy Rieke

Below notes and gifts from Jorie Kennedy, who I met when she was apprenticing at the North American School of Natural Building, last year (2011). You don’t need a book to make an oven. Best is a friend who’s built one, but for friends she hasn’t met yet, Jorie put her oven love into this “hot-n-dirty oven lovin guide.”

Here are the notes she sent about it:

“My beautiful friend Lizzy (Rieke) and I (Jorie Kennedy) wrote this zine on how to make your own basic cob (earthen) oven.

“We dream of offering natural building, carpentry, and metal working skills to communities that don’t have easy access to them.…

Paper from Vegetable Fiber

This is one example of many projects found in the book The Best of Making Things – A Hand Book of Creative Discovery. Find out more about the book!

You wil need: 8 strips of wooden lath (or cut a wooden yardstick) – small nails – hammer – window screening – staple gun – dry vegetable fibers (such as corn husks, onion skins, celery strings, sawdust, weeds, or straw) – scissors -blender – paper towels, napkins, paper bags, newspaper or tissue – dishpan – newspaper – sponge – iron.

Make 2 wooden frames the same size (any size that fits in a dishpan).…

Guest Article: An Earthen Oven Odyssey by Joe Kennedy

I have been making earthen ovens for over twenty years now. I made my first one in 1991 when I was working with architect Nader Khalili at CalEarth in the Mojave Desert. We were making a lot of adobe bricks at the time (friendly Persian-sized ones – 8”x8”x2”) and also building domes of regular fired bricks. I’m not sure what got it into my brain to make an oven, probably an old picture of the ovens at Taos Pueblo. One day I made a round foundation of adobe bricks in a mud mortar bed right on the ground, then hammered a string in the middle and used that as a guide to lay up a dome of the half-sized bricks.…

School murals / the joys of mud

Murals offer a quick and dirty way to introduce a school to the joys of mud. Unlike play sculptures and benches, they require no foundation, minimal prep, and not much mud, either.

The typical approach to murals demands a narrative theme — on my first one, I suggested “creation and the four elements” (we were working with earth, air, fire (sun), and water, after all…).

It worked fine with the kids, who made something that looked much better than the industrial brick wall under it. Some parents got a bit worked up, but by the time I heard about it, a creative volunteer had welcomed them to teach an impromptu unit on comparative religion.…