Horizontal Rocket Stove

Even tinkerers have heroes. One of mine is Pekka Leskela. The soft-spoken Swedish stove designer and builder embodies much of what I aspire to be. innovating, inventing, experimenting…. you know, tinkering. All in the service of inspiring others to do their own designs.

The concept for this project comes from one of Pekka’s designs that can be seen on this this YouTube video Pekka has a YouTube channel that is awesome. A tinker’s delight.

Horizontal Rocket Stove

I have long been fascinated by the concept of the rocket stove. The principle of these stoves is simple, by insulating  the firebox – often by surrounding it with mass – a hotter fire and more complete combustion can be achieved. Many of the designs out there are so efficient that you can cook a whole meal with just a handful of wood.

Unfortunately, many of the small “camp stove” designs suffer from the same drawback: namely that the only way to utilize the heat from the stove is to place your pot or pan over the opening where the exhaust gasses escape – in essence on top of the chimney.

Anyone who has ever Had to deal with a sooty pot knows what a hassle it can be. Thus I am drawn more to designs that use rocket stove principles but provide an actual stove top on which to cook.

Several of Pekka’s designs tackle this problem. By building a stove where the hot burning gasses circulate under a stove top before exiting up a flue Pekka creates stoves that don’t require you to stand with your head over the chimney to cook your meal.

In diagram it looks like this:


The design I came up with centers around a curiously shaped piece of stainless steel that I thought would make a good cooking surface.

I drilled a hole for a 4 inch stove pipe and then put together the rest of the stove to fit this cooktop assembly. The sequence went as follows:

ceramic tile base.

burn chamber

Metal plate

Top Cooking plate

So that’s the design. Will it work? Stay tuned.

Quick Sawhorse/ Bench

Need a sawhorse in a hurry? Why not use a pallet?

Today’s project was born out of frustration. The last several projects I have done have required me to bend over, squat down and kneel on the ground, all because my work surfaces were cluttered and my saw horses were all in use.

Clearly I needed some sort of quickie work surface that I could drag around outside, that I didn’t care if it got nicked or trashed. But it had to be easy to build…. and inexpensive…. and not require yet another trip to the hardware store.

Looking around the shop I saw a pallet, some old 2x4s and some lag screws. Perfect. Cut the pallet in half, cut the 2x4s at 10 degrees, drill some pilot holes and lag 8 screws into it and presto! Instant saw table.

Sometimes the best designs are the ones you don.t agonize over.

Back Of the Napkin Plans:



E-Z Turn composter

One of the things I have been involved with this year is teaching classes in how to make “hot” compost. A hot compost pile is one which is constructed to create the ideal environment for thermophilic bcteria which can break down organic material is as little as one month.

The downside to hot composting is that in order for the thermophilic bacteria to thrive, they need an oxygen rich environment. Normally this means you must turn your pile… a lot.

Wet steamy compost is very heavy. Thus, after several bouts of sore muscles, and even tendonitis, I began to think of ways in which oxygen could be introduced with as little physical labor as possible.

This is my first attempt at a solution: A drum composter that sits on the ground and is simply rolled along. Tumbling the drum, turns the pile and aerates the compost. Voilá! Better faster compost with less work.



Composter Plans

Finished design.

Easily filled

Easily rolledcover to keep in heatStarting temp.

24 hours later. Temp starts to rise…

update: 48 hours in, temp. At 130 degrees. (No camera, you’ll have to take my word for it. 😎

Dreamer’s Dilemma

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a great idea? A stunning invention. A better mousetrap. Or maybe just an insight that you hadn’t realized during the day that you wish you could share with the world?

This is my site for these midnight musings. A place to not only document all my “brain on fire” ideas but, also to share my attempts to bring these ideas to reality. Some of these experiments may soar on gossamer wings. Some may fly like lead ingots. But hopefully, the journey will be humorous, informative, and entertaining.