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spazio 11-18-2009 07:24 PM

New builder, some new tips, and a question
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My wife's been bugging me for years to build her a beehive dome, and got me the FB plans, so I launched into it. So far it's doing pretty well, I'm up to about the fifth course and it's looking good. Using Heat Stop 50 which seems to work really well (I wanted to add sand, but the bag said not to). No forms so far, but I did build a 1/4 round "jig" that hooks onto a piece of rebar that fits into a hole in the central brick that will eventually take a thermocouple. I found that for splitting lots of bricks in half for the dome a cheap hand pumped log splitter works great, not a super straight surface but neat enough for something that won't show and will be mortared over and then immersed in perlite (enclosed dome). I found mine in a junk pile and had to get a new jack for it, but you can get them at Harbor Freight or such for about $100. When you're done building the oven, you can use it to split your wood! Figured out another trick: if you want to hold a small piece of brick to do some fine cutting with a circular saw with a masonry blade, fill something like a cat litter pan with about four inches of wet sand and bed the piece of brick down into it and wail away.
Question: should I do the initial curing before I enclose the dome in the insulation? I've been leaving the dome covered at night (it's down in the upper 30s here at night) with a heater running inside, and there is a LOT of moisture coming out of this thing. Seems I'd like that to escape into the atmosphere and not into the insulation. Speaking of which, there is a place here in the Lehigh Valley (Bethlehem/Allentown area) called Pennsylvania Perlite that has all different grades, big bags, cheap, no silicone. 800 473 7548.
Mike Space
BTW, the gentleman with the camera tripod gave me a good laugh mentioning Whitworth fittings, since I've got a bunch of British cars. Figures we'd be the type building ancient technology like brick ovens.:rolleyes:

Ken524 11-21-2009 12:58 PM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
Hi Spazio,

Welcome to the forum! Looks like you are doing a really nice job on your oven.

You definitely don't need to add sand to the HeatStop50. It comes ready to go and is just about perfect the way it is.

The log splitter is a great idea. I never would have guessed it would work!

There are two theories on curing with or without insulation. I vote for putting on your refractory blanket then curing. Unless you see some really, really ugly cracks after curing, the blanket stays on and you continue finishing out the build. It's very rare that anyone has to remove the blanket to make repairs. You'll get a few hairline cracks here and there (normal) but that should be it.

Keep up the nice work and keep the pictures coming!

Neil2 11-21-2009 04:30 PM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
"I vote for putting on your refractory blanket then curing."

I agree with Ken. If you are using a vermiculite/portland insulation layer then put this on first before curing.

ThisOldGarageNJ 11-21-2009 06:46 PM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
Im with these guys... I put on my blanket and vermicrete,, waited then fired....

Great work its looking good....


spazio 11-21-2009 09:13 PM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
4 Attachment(s)
I may do the curing with just the blanket. My rationale is that I'd rather have the moisture escape into the atmosphere than get trapped in the insulation (loose perlite fill) where it will be more difficult to get rid of, especially since it's getting to be winter soon.
Ok, so I was working on the lintel the other day. I did the angle iron idea, and it was a pain; I would rather have done intersecting arch/dome. Fortunately I'm a pretty ok welder, and made up a double lintel with clips to hold the inner bricks (see photos). It's up a couple of courses from this by now, I'll post new pix soon. Wonder if I should jump this to another thread?
So there I was just getting everything lined up and mortared in place, and the CD in my boombox starts to skip. And skip. And skip. It's driving me nuts, but I can't stop to shut it off. I did, however, have a stack of bricks real handy...
But the cinder block really finished it off.
Poor boombox.:(

ThisOldGarageNJ 11-22-2009 02:40 AM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question

Time for a new boombox... everything else is looking good... many people have cured their domes without the insulation and have had no bad effects.... I cured everything for 28 days before my first fire, If you go ahead with the fire,, go low and slow.. now is not the time to rush

Cheers and nice work

spazio 11-22-2009 05:12 AM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
My wife has a pizza party planned for January 2nd, and I hope to have the dome closed in today, if the new jig I woke up with in my head works out. Then I'll be going away and leaving it with a small heater running inside it. Probably be about ten days before I start firing it and in the meantime I'll build the enclosure.

trockyh 11-22-2009 05:35 AM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
Mike looking good. Had a good laugh about the boom box, sounds like something I would do.
I've always done my own work/projects, but rarely wake up thinking about them. Building this oven has me thinking about it all the time. Fun project, the chicken coup we built this spring wasn't as fun, but the chickens sure like it. :)


spazio 11-24-2009 08:00 PM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
3 Attachment(s)
It's done! (at least the dome). Amazing how quickly it starts going once the hole gets small, though you do spend a lot of time cutting the bricks to fit, which didn't need to be done before. The "cap" took a few hours, but once I had finished fitting the bricks, I took the form away and everything was a "tap fit" and held itself in place. Then I took it apart, mortared everything and cleaned up. I'll be away for a few days, and when I come back I'll finish the chimney and start some curing fires.
BTW, that's the form I made up to hold the top rows in place while I set them. I think my MIG welder was one of the most useful tools I had at my disposal

ThisOldGarageNJ 11-25-2009 03:07 AM

Re: New builder, some new tips, and a question
hey mike... Looks great.....
Hope you dont mind if i go a bit off topic ??? Are you a welder ??? Im lookin to buy a mig welder and learn to weld.. Is Mig/arc a good place to start and is it difficult ??


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