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How a Maine Wood Heat mason apprentice designed and built a masonry cooker/heater in a 30 year old yurt in our own backwoods.

Inspiration for innovative masonry heater design can happen just about anywhere¦ in the heart of a home, or even a portable yurt.

During the summer and fall of 08, we were joined by a fine young mason from Pennsylvania and Colorado named Matt Helike. After a month or two of Matt tenting in our woods, we reacquired a twenty-foot portable yurt about thirty years old. We picked it up with our empty flat bed trailer after Matt, Arthur and Albie completed a huge six sided stone masonry heater with soapstone heated bench and caps in the Adirondacks last summer.

The yurt had started its career here when Peter and Trish Glasson were part of a metal stove building team that had their workshop in our garage building the Sunshine Stove, many of which are still in use today. Peter and Trish took the yurt with them when they moved away but it came back for a second stay when John Fisher, now a well known masonry heater and oven builder living in Sweden, apprenticed with us for a bit for more than a year and set the yurt up on stilts in a little hollow wet run in the woods.

Matt chose a new spot further into the woods in a little flat spot surrounded by hardwood trees not yet ready to blow down on something. He dug deep holes and gave it a beautiful foundation of pressure treated posts and joists to support the deck panels. He also added a nice hatch cover insulated root cellar accessible from inside the yurt, but his even more ambitious accomplishment was a large masonry footing and foundation dead center below the yurt on which Matt designed and built a second generation three foot by two foot clay tile masonry cooker/heater. He used the last clay tile of the three I bought many years ago and also used recycled brick and firebrick we had on hand. He wanted to avoid buying a fancy metal top and baffles so he spent hour after hour scratching his head and designing a highly efficient and attractive wood heating system from our own materials.

For a full history of how we discovered and began experimenting with clay tile masonry, click here.

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Maine Wood Heat