Next Step – more rocks

Since that last attempt to work on my oven went so poorly, I put things off awhile, and then I asked for help. A friend with an SUV kindly drove me to and from Home Depot, pushed the unwieldy cart that begged for human blood (maybe it only seems like that to me), and helped stop me from dithering endlessly when I couldn’t find exactly what I was hoping to.

Having a friend with me also forced me to focus on a shopping list – there’s a MILLION things I could buy at Home Depot, probably 50 of which I could argue I actually need. But ¬†because this was a trip to get the next steps on my oven, I focused in on exactly what the next things I could use were – and just “could use” but needed to do the very next steps.

Part of what is making it hard for me to just relax and follow the book’s instructions are that they are such relaxed and imprecise instructions!!! (I know. In case you can’t tell – if no one else is imposing structure, it’s gonna be me.) I went over the few pages of actual instructions and ended up writing 3 pages in a notebook, including a flowchart and a diagram.

I had that one ring of cinder blocks – that was the initial base. I want the oven to not be ridiculously low to work at, and it feels safer having the fire a little more separated from the ground. I got enough cinder blocks to fill in the bottom level and make another ring on top. (Each block is 8 inches tall, bringing my base to 16 inches above the ground.)

But IN THAT BASE, as I read over the instructions, I realized I need to have an insulate layer, a mud floor layer, and then sand, and then the firebricks.

I filled the bottom layer with crushed rocks to keep everything kind of in place. The insulating layer is going to be: a layer of glass bottles packed in half oven mud, half insulating material. The book suggested sawdust, pelite, or pumice for the insulating material. I’m planning to ask a local hardware store for some sawdust, but my friend saved the day when I said pumice and found some red lava rock that I can include.

Oven mud is dirt from my yard (uhm, I have two boxes of dirt. This is “normal”.) plus water plus sand. What are the proportions? NO ONE KNOWS. It depends on the clay content of my soil. There’s a chance my soil is completely terrible and I’ll need to buy clay.

So next up is making some mud. Hopefully I’ll have a sunny day to play with it soon. I also don’t feel like it has to be perfect for the insulating layer, so that’s actually a nice chance for me to get used to working with it before shit gets more real. Whether I get the sawdust or not (I could still use it for the insulating layer between the two clay oven layers.) I feel like I’m ready to put in the insulating layer as soon as I get at least an hour of sun. It’s happening.

9.5 cinder blocks and 100 lbs of crushed rock later

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