Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Woodkiln I

I have written in the past about my attempts to fire home made crude pots in the garden of my mother's house in Paloumba. The time has come to finally make the woodkiln that I have been investigating and planning for the past seven or so years. I have signed up to the woodkiln list on yahoo and I have bought a few books on the subject. The plan is to follow as much as possible the plans for the simple kiln on the Rosser site ( with modifications to take into account the fact that the bricks I have are not standard western house bricks (6:3:2) and are not all the same size. The other problem that I have is that not all the bricks I have are likely to stand up to any sort of thermal shock. The plan is to put these non-special bricks in the ashpit and the firebox, the reasoning being that the real heat will follow the airflow into the chamber and out of the chimney. The bricks I have are either standard fine-ware building bricks which are 18 x 8 x 6 and will probably collapse spectacularly when the fire is kindled and some proper firebricks which are 22 x 11 x 4 - a ratio of (6:3:1.09).

The plan was to modify the plan on the Rosser site, to take into account the two different brick sizes.

On the first day, I made a mock-up of the kiln proper - layers 6-14 out of firebricks, repeating layers 8, 9 and 10 to take into account the shorter brick height. This went very satisfactorily indeed and was a very big boost to morale in the planning process. One thing that came to light was the need for leveling the ground a little before starting the next day. Everything else looked good.

The next day we went shopping with a friend living in the village called Kalinikos who knows about bricks. Going down to the river which separates
Arcadia from Elis we bought a hundred of the standard bricks despite the protestations of the seller that they were wholly unsuitable for use in making an oven.

With the bricks in the back of the Panda, we returned home and put them in the garden ready for today's building effort.

Today, day three:

I cleared an area about the right size with the pick - to get all the grass and other plants up, then laid down a layer of the normal brick down to be my base. This layer was 10 brick widths long - to correspond to the 9 brickwidths of the firebrick which would be the length of the finished kiln. I did not take into consideration that 10 lengths of the short brick is shorter than 9 lengths of the firebrick. I then went on happily building row on row of the normal brick to make up the ashpit and firebox. I used the firebrick for the firebars just to keep some idea of the size of the firebrick superstructure in mind.

When the time came to put into place the first of the firebrick layers, the kiln floor - level 7 in the plan, I noticed the first major flaw in my work. I say major, because I don't consider the lack of horizontality in the brick courses to be such a large problem. As I was counting out the bricks to make my kiln floor, I got closer and closer to the edge, but there seemed to be no way to complete the placing of the bricks in the space I had set out. I had set out too few bricks in the lower courses and I was one half brick short of the planned kiln length.

Now, the plan is to take apart the front edge of the kiln, then flatten the ground in front of the kiln and relay bricks to allow the kiln to be made to the size in the original plan. This, for tomorrow, then.

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