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.…

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!…

A Beautiful Spoon

Friends Charlene and Richard in Forest Grove let me sleep in their Garden while I was attending Aikido Summer Camp. They have converted their one-acre suburban lot into a beautiful permaculture garden and food forest that not only feeds them (and a local Latino family that uses part of it for their own market garden), but has also given them the means to develop an interesting educational program. They had talked to me about teaching spoon carving up there, so one evening they showed me their collection of spoons and kitchen utensils. One jar of spoons they had gotten from a friend who had traveled the world collecting beautiful things.…

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.…

For a Hand-Made Education: Build your own Sustainable Shelter, & More

Make a sustainable, yurt-style shelter, by hand, with materials your can find and harvest yourself. Come June, Kiko Denzer will lead a week-long intensive natural building project to perfect a design for a simple, affordable, efficient and beautiful yurt made of sticks, string, and mud (6/9-15, Aprovecho Inst., Cottage Grove, OR; information and registration here. For design description and photos, click here.)

If you’re interested in a full year learning opportunity in natural building, home heat (ovens, rocket-stoves, and masonry heaters), traditional green woodwork, basic blacksmithing, tool-making, gardening, compost toilets, livestock (maybe) and more. Directed by Kiko Denzer (affiliated with the North American School of Natural Building, Aprovecho Institute, Primitives Skills communities, etc.) Labor for rent trade includes possibilities for long-term collaboration.…

Bottle insulation for a yurt floor

Rusty Orner, of Quiet Creek Farm, in PA, took the idea of insulating an oven floor with recycled beer bottles and applied it to a yurt he was building as a classroom and bunk space for students and interns.

On leveled ground, they made a rubble trench, covered with gravel bags and capped with mortar and slate, to support the lattice walls of the yurt. They filled the thirty foot diameter donut with packed shale, a thin layer of sand, and then 5,000 beer bottles. The empty bottles provide four inches of insulation and a thermal break to keep cold from migrating into the floor.…