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.…

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.

How to Make a Rocket Powered Kiln of Clay and Sawdust

Jon and Flip Anderson have been working with stoves and ovens for some years now (HPP regulars may remember their rocket powered oven design.) Last February, they helped teach at the Winter Stove Workshop put on by Aprovecho and InStove. Aprovecho Research Center (ARC) was consulting for Mercy Corps in East Timor, who had sent their Program Manager for Renewable Energy, Will Baron, who has responsibility for all programming related to energy, poverty, lighting, electricity, appropriate cooking technology and sustainable cooking fuels.

Mercy Corps’ East Timorese stove program imports stove components from China and trains locals to make and sell completed stoves as a business opportunity, and as a way to improve health and air quality and reduce deforestation.…

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.…

Testing the Limits – Adobe Heaters in Argentina

I have recently built three single-skin masonry heaters in Argentina using unfired bricks and would like to share some thoughts and an account of the experience.  All three were based on the design presented by Alex Chernov at the 2012 MHA Annual Meeting at WildAcres, with minor modifications to accomodate brick sizes, hardware, and site considerations.

I have spent the past 4 years living in the Patagonia region of Southern Argentina.  Natural gas is cheap and widely distributed, but many people here, and in neighboring Chile, continue to live with wood fires as part of daily life for much of the year.  Unfortunately, Patagonia has virtually no culture or technology related to efficient wood-burning.  There are random kachelofens or grundofens to be found in the aging mansions of European immigrants and a few rocket heaters in the newly built homes of the sustainable-living bourgeoisie, but the vast majority of wood-burners in the Southern Cone of South America are using iron cookstoves (“cocina economica”) or artisanal woodstoves (“salamandra”) made from gas-tanks and scrap metal.  Frightening, in my opinion, is the fact that when these folks do “upgrade” to a fancy stove it is invariably to one of the tight-sealing “slow combustion” stoves that are taking the market by storm with glossy brochures and hollow buzz words like “double combustion” and “healthy heat.”  They beam with pride as they tell you how they can make the fire smolder all night long.…

Cob + Firebrick = Masonry Heater Experiment

When I was 27, I moved back to my hometown in northern Minnesota to start a small organic vegetable farm. I sold produce to the wife of a stone mason, and he was looking for help in the winters. I told him I didn’t know anything. “Don’t worry,” he calmly replied, “I’ll train you.” I learned, of course, that hauling an endless supply of block and stone from one place to another doesn’t take much training. But he also handed me a copy of David Lyle’s history of masonry heaters. Three years later I was working for Albie Barden, building heaters for Maine Wood Heat Company, and dreaming of small things, simple things, handmade things.…

Recent Research on Rocket Mass Heaters (and Bell Design)

There appears to be a huge amount of traffic and discussion through different internet forums about rocket mass heaters and reports from the authors on sales of the book on the subject confirm this incredible surge in interest. I am quite certain that this excitement stems from the tangible possibility that the rocket mass heater concept offers to individuals and families to build their own affordable efficient wood-fired heating system. I thought it would be interesting and useful to offer the following synthesis of recent research I have been directly involved in and links to information that others have provided to feed more fuel to the fire of this interesting global conversation.…