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One of our greatest pleasures here at Maine Wood Heat is seeing a new house become a home. Being invited to take part in that transformation is why we chose masonry heating as our life’s work.

This spring, we met a couple that recently purchased their first log home together. They were looking for a wood burning soapstone masonry heater “ it was right down our ally¦

A few years ago, we had designed and built a large six-sided split faced wood burning soapstone heater with a black granite base, heated bench and cap slabs as a centerpiece in a new home in Manchester, Maine for Sheri and Eric Stram.

Friends and business partners of the Strams, Sharon and Chris Mahoney, who had spent many delightful evenings sitting with them near or on their masonry heater in Manchester, found a wonderful piece of farmland, not ten minutes from the Augusta state capitol buildings.

A relatively new log home already resided on the property, of which Sharon and Chris chose to keep but decided to radically open up the inside and add an addition and garage to the front. Included in the cathedral ceiling living room was an enameled wood stove on a stone hearth with a stone veneered chimney behind it. The stone veneered chimney was not well built.

After talking with us and visiting some other projects, the Mahoney’s decided to have us remove the original chimney and foundation and start over with a large, double downdraft split faced soapstone masonry heater with heated benches.


Several years earlier, Scott and Albie Barden and Arthur Frechtling had built a large see-through split faced masonry heater with polished soapstone benches for Roger and Ann Kay of Farmington, Maine.

We worked on the Kay wood burning heater on site during a terrible ice storm that put most Maine homes out of power for a week or longer. We built the heater with generator power and a workshop set up in their basement and a plastic hut in their living room while the Kay family lived around us. We carried the ten thousand pounds or so of soapstone across their snow covered yard on sleds into the heated basement. Much of the shaping of the bench stones was done outdoors by Arthur under a deck with a strong wind coming across the lake. All of the veneer stone had been cut into six inch high strips at a Maine saw shop and Scott and Albie had hand split most of each piece on four edges back to a uniform 60 mmm thickness at home in Norridgewock.

The Mahoney’s visited the Kay heater and fell in love with its style so Albie designed an oversized double downdraft Finnish style masonry heater for them with polished soapstone benches, bench supports and cap slabs.


For a full step-by-step documentation of the Mahoney’s wood burning soapstone masonry heater design and installation, visit our project diary¦


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • John says:

    What a beautiful heater! How did you split all the soapstone? How thick is the soapstone? Who’s the dead guy on top?

    • amyclark says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your positive feedback! Great questions. We handsplit this soapstone with a broad chisel to get nominal thickness. Each slab is 2-3/8 inches thick. The guy on top of the heater is one of Maine Wood Heat’s founders, Albie Barden and he is actually very much alive here, enjoying the warm radiant heat of the newly built heater.

      To learn more about the design and installation of this specific soapstone heater, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (207) 696-5442. You can also read more in our project diaries.

      Thanks for reading and for your feedback, John!

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