Do you add water to the sand and fireclay mixture under the cookng surface bricks to make a paste or is this just a dry mix to level the bricks.
You add water to make a weak mortar
The idea is to make a weak mortar; strong enough to hold the bricks in place while you build the dome, but weak enough to allow swelling once the floor bricks get hot and start to expand.
As the plans say:
"The underfloor is paste, the texture of a sticky mortar, comprised of 1 part fine sand and 1 part fireclay (photo 2). Spread the underfloor using a notched trowel as the ridges will make it easier for you to get your floor perfectly level (photo 3)."
I did this just yesterday, as a matter of fact, and it worked quite well. Be sure to use a 1/4" X 1/4" notched trowel and have a rubber mallet on hand to tap each brick into place.
I too did this yesterday! I found that I had to make the paste much wetter than I thought to get it to go through the notched trowel. I also needed much less than I made. I had to figure out how to throw away a big sack of wet mortar. I must have 20 lbs of fireclay leftover as well.
Only 20 lbs left over. You're a wonder. That's a very good percentage for a start up. Not kidding.
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