The wood-fired stove is not only versatile, but easy to construct. Follow these detailed instructions on how to build the stove, and in about two weeks, you
ll be ready to start grilling,cooking, baking and smoking.
Choosing the right location for your stove is important for convenience and optimizing its use. Putting it near your indoor kitchen will save lots of steps, but consider the direction ofprevailing breezes so smoke doesn
t blow toward your house or outdoor dining area. Face the stove door downwind for optimum results. Also, consider privacy, ambience, adequatedrainage, and space for wood and fire starting supplies. Optional considerations could include adequate space for a cover (highly recommended), dining space, additionalcountertops and any other extras you might want.
ve selected and cleared your site, build a foundation to support the stove. A low-cost rubble trench foundation is recommended for most situations. The specifics will varydue to climate and soil conditions, but a rubble trench is usually 18 to 24 inches deep and filled with gravel, or gravel and stone. If you
re building the stove in a harsh climate withstrong freeze-thaw cycles, add a French drain (a small valley filled with stones) to remove moisture. Raise the building site if necessary to avoid moisture problems.For our rubble trench foundation, we used chunks of recycled broken concrete, also known as
instead of stone. Concrete chunks from flatwork slabs, such assidewalks and driveways, work best. They can be recycled and stacked like stone. Stack these up in layers to the top of the trench. Fill gaps with gravel and then tamp solid.On top of the rubble trench, pour a 3 1/2-inch by 40-inch by 40-inch concrete pad. This will create a strong, level foundation for your stove. Make sure the pad is level and square. (Wepoured an entire concrete floor for our outdoor kitchen instead of a just a small leveling pad, but the concept is the same.)
The next step is to build a concrete-block base two courses high with ladder reinforcement (a wire mesh designed to add strength and prevent cracking) between each course. Use4-inch by 8-inch by 16-inch blocks with a few half blocks as needed. No cuts are required in the base if you follow the plans. Be sure to lay the block as perfectly plumb, straight andsquare as possible. Allow to dry for two days or so to gain strength.Fill the base with gravel or a mixture of sand and gravel. Fill the base with two 6-inch layers, tamping each layer gently. Go easy on the tamping so as not to strain the concrete block joints. All you
re trying to do is settle the materials.Complete the base by pouring a 4-inch layer of lightweight cement level with the top of the block base. This creates a strong, insulated layer under your firebox. Perlite is perfect forhigh-heat applications such as this. (According to the Perlite Institute, perlite is used to make gas fireplace logs.) Perlite mix for base: 1 1/3 bags cement, 13 pounds perlite andwater. This cement-rich mix is strong enough to support the heavy load of firebricks and countertop, yet also insulate the firebox from the mass below. Let the concrete cure for four tofive days.
After about five days, the lightweight concrete should have cured sufficiently and you can begin building the firebox with firebrick. Place a half-inch layer of fine, clean sand on top ofthe lightweight cement. We screened our own sand (one two-gallon bucket) through fine mesh. Use a straight edge to make it as level as possible. Precise leveling is a critical stepthat determines the accuracy of the firebox.
The first layer of firebrick creates the hearth. Standard firebrick size is 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches by 9 inches. The
front row of firebricks
is perpendicular to the other firebricks and
extends 2 inches beyond the concrete block. This makes it easy to sweep coals and ashes into a bucket. We added half-inch concrete board shims under the front edge for stability,where sand would fall away.All firebricks are placed without mortar so they are free to expand and contract. The placement technique involves carefully sliding each firebrick straight down
one against theother
into place to avoid gaps. After the first course is set, use the end of your hammer handle to tap on any high spots until all firebricks are flush with each other.Measure the front of the base and find the center, which should be about 20 inches from either side. Start the first layer of firebricks by placing two bricks on either side of the center of
the base, making sure that the brick hang over the front about 2 inches. (The first layer of firebricks should be 8 1/2 inches from the back and 11 inches from the side of the base —
ifyou follow the diagram instead of the photos.)I made a last-
minute decision to lengthen the firebox by 4 1/2 inches (one firebrick width). In hindsight, this probably wasn’
t the best choice because now we have minimal insulationon the back of the firebox. My advice is to use one less row of firebricks than shown in the photos. So the hearth will have 14 firebricks, not 16 as shown in the photos. The drawingshows the recommended approach, and the materials list below is based on this smaller firebox.
Continue stacking firebricks for the sides of the firebox. These are
stacked on edge as shown. The firebox is easy to build and the bricks can be stacked in about one hour. You mayencounter a few firebricks that are not perfectly sized. Buy a few extra so you have spares. It
s important to keep everything plumb, square and level, and all firebricks flush with eachother, with no gaps.
If you don
t have experience welding and cutting metal, you might want to have a machine shop make the metal pieces for you. Otherwise, you
ll need a welder and a cutting torch forthis step.
At this point, you can put the
(lintel for chimney) in place. It measures 14 3/4 inches by 18 inches by 1 1/2 inches (the sides are 1 1/2 inches high) and is made of quarter
inch steel. The most important measurement is the inside width, which for our shelf was 14 1/4 inches. This allows
firebricks to fit perfectly
without being cut. The steel parts are
joined with six spot welds: three per side, on the bottom so they don
t interfere with placing the firebrick. With a cutting torch, cut a 6-inch diameter hole in the center for the stovepipe.With the steel shelf in place, flush with each side, set the remaining firebricks in place to form the chimney base.
To form the outside of the oven, set the remaining two courses of concrete blocks (with ladder reinforcement between courses), being careful not to bump the firebricks. Around thefirebox opening (where the concrete blocks meet the firebricks), leave an eighth-inch space to allow for expansion and contraction. We stacked CEBs (compressed earth blocks)temporarily inside the firebox to keep them in place. Bricks would work just as well. Let the block dry for two to three days.You
ll need a right angle grinder or wet saw to cut a few concrete blocks around the front of the firebox. Both tools will do the job, but my preference is a right angle grinder because ofits low cost, ease of use and versatility. (You also might be able to rent one for this project.) We used it to cut CEBs for the wall behind our kitchen, steel reinforcement, tile andconcrete blocks. We even used it to grind and sand our wood poles for the cover and to grind the edges of our concrete countertops and griddle. It paid for itself on this one job.
You can now fill the area between the firebox and concrete block with lightweight cement. We used a higher ratio of perlite for this to maximize insulation around the firebox(compressive strength is of less concern on this part). Perlite mix for upper half: two bags cement and slightly less than 26 pounds perlite. (We saved a tiny amount for the insulateddoor and chimney base.) Allow to dry a few days before proceeding.