Friday, March 7, 2014

Masonry Heater Workshop April 18-24, 2014

The Masonry Heater Association of North America will present a masonry heater, bake oven, and masonry skills workshop at Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina April 14 – 20, 2014. 

Masonry heaters are site-built wood-burning appliances that radiantly heat a home with wood.  They are very efficient and use relatively small amounts of wood heat without the use of electricity, gas, fans, or ducts. Wood is burned in a firebox, which connects to channels inside a large thermal mass.  After the fire is out the appliance gradually radiate heat to the living space for many hours without causing large temperature fluctuations or drafts.

The annual meeting and workshop will include hands-on training for a Kachelofen (tile) heater with Jessica Steinhauser and Mario Zauner; A Five Run Masonry Heater with Testing Demo by Doug Hargrave and Norbert Senf; A Finnish Heater for Beginner Masons by Marty Pearson and Jeff Owens; A Bake/Pizza Oven by Pat Manley; a Small Guastavino Vault Demo by Tony Bioundo, a Bricklaying Clinic by Tom Trout and Pat Jenkins, a Grundofen J Loop Masonry Heater with Domestic Hot Water by Eric Moshier, Dan Givens, and Joe Copeland; and A Brick Hammer and Trowel Only: 36” Diameter Clay Brick Dome Oven by Alex Chernov and David Moore. 

Classroom seminars include Google Sketch-up Clinic with Boris Kukolj; What Does it Mean? By the Technical Committee; A Unique and Challenging Heater Built by Jerry Frisch, Masons on a Mission Presentation by Pat Manley, and Untold Stories and Ooops that Confront a Masonry Heater Builder.  The Heater Mason Education and Development class will be held throughout the week.

The annual Design/Build Contest for masonry heaters, bake ovens and masonry will be judged during the week and trophies will be awarded at the final meeting.

An auction will be held on Thursday night, and the Pizza Party, where participants can sample pizza from the wood-fired ovens is held on Friday afternoon.

For more information on how to join the MHA or attend the workshop contact Richard Smith, Executive Director, at 520-883-0191, e-mail or visit

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free and easy way to keep glass door clean on heater

One of the best things about having a cozy warm fire is watching the flames dance around, but if the glass doors are not clean it takes away from the experience. Glass doors on masonry heaters and wood ovens get blackened with soot, and need to be cleaned periodically.

An old tried and true method that my grandfather used can solve the problem, allowing homeowners to once again enjoy their fire.

There are stove glass cleaners on the market that work well, but if you want to save some money and a trip to the hearth store left over wood ashes work fine.

To clean glass doors with ashes:
  • Wait until the glass is cool before cleaning
  • Get a damp paper towel or soft cloth
  • Dip the cloth into cold fireplace ashes and scrub the cold glass thoroughly
  • Wipe with a clean damp cloth

Marge Padgitt is the president of HearthMasters, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.  She is a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep and NFI Wood-burning Specialist, and writes articles for national magazines and blogs. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

New Facebook Group for Wood-Fired Ovens

There is a new Facebook page just for Wood-fired ovens.  The page is open to anyone interested in designing, building, or cooking/baking in wood-fired brick, cast, or cob ovens.  Members may post photos of their oven projects, finished ovens, or foods cooked in the ovens. 

Many chefs and home cooks are interested in restaurant and outdoor wood-fired ovens due to the unique flavor it imparts to the food. For the best pizza or bread, chefs prefer wood-fired ovens and they are making a resurgence in the United States and Canada. Brick ovens are the most popular due to their high heat retention properties.  Brick ovens can obtain and sustain temperatures of 700 degrees or more, which is best for pizza.  Breads and other foods cook at a lower temperature. 

Skilled craftsmen who specialize in brick oven construction are available across North America.  Many are listed at the Masonry Heater Association Website at  The new Facebook page is also a resource for oven builders as well as the Yahoo chat list.  To join the Yahoo chat list visit and request to join.  You will need to provide some information about why you wish to join so the moderator will know you are not a computer spammer.  

To join us on Facebook go to Facebook and do a search for "Wood-Fired Ovens" then request to join and I'll add you to the group.

Marge Padgitt
HearthMasters Oven Builders


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Brick ovens to be introduced at World of Masonry

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is hosting an introductory wood-fired brick oven building workshop at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry Conference in Las Vegas, NV January 20-24, 2014.

Then workshop is for masons who wish to learn more about brick oven building techniques and methods. Site-built brick ovens are increasingly popular among professional chefs and home cooks, who find that wood-fired cooking imparts a unique flavor to breads, pizza, and gourmet foods. The addition of oven building to a portfolio can greatly increase income for professional masons.

The workshop will be presented by the MHA Wood-Fired Bake Oven Committee, whose members are professional masons specializing in residential and commercial brick oven building. The committee is currently working on changes in codes and standards, professional oven building training, public awareness, and an oven portfolio focusing on dome and arch brick ovens, squirrel tail ovens, and cob ovens. The portfolio will be available to professional masons.

The World of Concrete Conference is the largest international event dedicated to professional contractors. The event will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109. To register for the World of Concrete Conference visit

For more information about the MHA Bake Oven Committee contact chair Marge Padgitt at 816-461-3665 or
The media is invited to attend and take photos of the event.

The Masonry Heater Association of North America is a non-profit organization with members worldwide. The MHA sponsors workshops throughout the year. The next annual meeting and workshop will be held April 14-20, 2014 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.
For more information on how to join the Masonry Heater Association of North America, or media scheduling contact Richard Smith, MHA Executive Director, at 520-883-0191 or e-mail or visit

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wood Stove Decathalon to prove wood stove efficiency

Competitors are finishing up the first ever Wood Stove Decathlon at the National Mall, 12th and Jefferson Drive SW in Washington, DC.  The Decathlon, held November 15 - 19 challenged teams to design and build wood stoves that are highly efficient, produce low emissions, and are innovative and affordable.

The event is sponsored by the Alliance for Green Heat, the U.S. Forest Service, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and industry groups seeking to improve the efficiency of wood-burning appliances.

The 14 finalists are Dragon Heater, Firemaster, Helbro Stoves, HWAM, Intercontinental, Kimberly, Mulciber, Ofenbou and Feurerstellen, Smartsove, Travis, Tulikivi, Walker Stoves, Wittus, and Woodstock Soapstone.   These companies entered high-efficiency wood stoves, hybridt stove/rocket heaters, and masonry heaters, as well as retrofits to modify existing wood stoves to improve efficiency.

According to Dragon Heater their Helix stove is a hybrid of traditional wood stoves and rocket heaters. It utilizes a traditional firebox with horizontal feeding of the wood including a glass door for viewing the fire. Then, it uses the turbulence and an internal stack or secondary burn chamber from rocket heaters to produce very hot, optimized burns.

Soapstone stove by Tulikivi
Jason Stewart invented the IntensiFire, which is a new downdraft retrofit for wood stoves. He said that  Downdraft brings the benefit of more complete combustion up to 60% more for the same amount of wood. It will bring the benefits of secondary combustion air to older stoves that don't have this function. Baffles are no longer required and the cost of the IntensiFire is around the same as the cost of a replacement baffle.

A team from the University of Maryland created the Mulciber Wood Stove, which includes heat recovery and smart ventilation and burning systems.  It has automatic systems to control air flow in order to maintain the ideal burning conditions and thermoelectric generators provide power to circulate stove heat throughout the home.

Tulikivi introduced their Hiisi 4 hybrid heat-retaining fireplace using soapstone which releases heat more slowly.  The Hiisi 4 uses cord wood or pellets without electricity to operate, and is designed to meet the world's tightest emissions standards set for 2015.

The winner of the contest will be announced on November 19, 2013.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

MHA Design/Build Contest 2013 Winners Announced

The following are the winners of the MHA Design/Build Contest 2013

Members of the Masonry Heater Association of North America competed in the annual Design/Build Contest, which has been hosted by the MHA since 2008.  Categories are Masonry, Masonry Heater, and Bake Oven.  All projects must be designed and built by the entrant. 

Judges were veteran masonry specialists and past board members Pat Manley, Glen Overk, and Gary Hart. The judges did not know who did the work – they looked at photos and descriptions only. The entries were judged on the following: Skill in Craftsmanship, Aesthetics, Creativity, and Overall Design.  The scoring was very close, and in some cases only one point separated a winning entry from a non-winning entry.  All of the contest projects are posted.

Masonry Heater Contest
First place:
Chris Prior
Adirondack Chimney Co.
Middle Grove NY
Prior1 (2)Prior1 (3)_____________________________________
Second place: Matthew Helicke
Lefthand Masonry, LLC
Fort Collins CO
Helicke1 (2)
Third place: Jean-David Moreau
L’Esprit d Lieu / Spirit of Place Masonry Heaters
Val-David, QC J0T 2N0 Canada
Spiritof Place (1) Spiritof Place (2)
Bake Oven Contest
First place: Western Masonry, Inc.
Western Masonry Inc.
Woodinville, WA
WesternMasonryOven (2)WesternMasonryOven (3)____________________________________
Second place: Jessica Steinhauser
Stonehouse Pottery
Guelph, ON N1H 3V2  Canada
Steinhauser (2) Steinhauser (3)________________________________
Second Place (tie): Hendrick Lepel
Coolibah, Belgooly Co. Cork Ireland
Bakehus1 (1) Bakehus1 (2)____________________________________
Third place: Dan French
French Masonry
Imperial, MO
French (4) French (6)__________________________________________________________
Masonry Contest
First place: Jeffrey Owens
JTO Masonry
Allen Park, MI
OwensMasonry (1) OwensMasonry (2)__________________________________
Second place: Jon Santiago
Santiago (2) Santiago (1)
Third place: Dan French
French Masonry
Imperial, MO
French (2) French (1)
* Note: contest entrants without websites have their e-mail links above.
The following are the rest of the contest entries:
Albie Barden
Maine Wood Heat Co.
Skowhegan, ME
Barden1 (1) Barden1 (2)
Barden2 (1) Barden2 (2)
Marty Pearson
Stone Comfort Fireplace Gallery
Plainville, MA
Pearson1 Pearson2__________________________________________
Western Masonry, Inc.Western Masonry Inc.
Woodinville, WA
WesternOven Westernoven2
WesternMasonry (1) WesternMasonry (2)
Gene Padgitt
HearthMasters, Inc.
Kansas City, MO
5312012gene-061web Gene110212 127
Ira Glick/Mike Wurzbacher
Squirrel Tail Ovens
Red Lion PA
GlickOven (1)GlickOven (2)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finalists Announced for International Stove Competition

Finalists Announced for International Competition to Build Cleaner Wood Stove

Pool of inventors, universities and manufacturers will compete in first-ever Wood Stove Design Challenge

Judges announced today the 14 finalists for the Wood Stove Design Challenge, the first international competition to build an affordable, cleaner-burning wood stove for residential heating. The finalists' stoves will be tested and judged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in November 2013. The winner will receive $25,000 cash.

The Wood Stove Design Challenge was launched by the Alliance for Green Heat, an independent non-profit, to bring more innovation to a popular, widely used renewable energy device. In selecting finalists, judges looked for designs that could produce ultra-low emissions, high efficiency, in addition to innovation, affordability, and marketability.

[quote from Nathan Russel]

Among the 14 designs are stoves controlled by microprocessors and connected to smartphones, as well as ultra-efficient stoves based on 17th century Scandinavian designs and several state-of-the-art hybrid stoves that are already on the market. Six are from Europe.

Judges examining testing equipment last week at Brookhaven National Lab 
The nine judges
met last week at DOE's
Brookhaven National Laboratory and include leading experts fromPopular Mechanics, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), the US Forest Service, Washington State Department of Ecology, DOE BrookhavenNational Laboratory, The Biomass Thermal Energy Council, the Osprey Foundation, the Masonry Heater Association and UC Berkeley.

The EPA requires most new wood stoves to be far cleaner than the unregulated stoves of the 1970s and 80s, which were notoriously polluting. Even so, the wood stove has not been embraced as a clean energy technology by most policy makers or the public, in part because low emissions are only achieved if consumers operate the stove correctly. Many don't.

"We need stoves that incorporate best practices in combustion engineering to maximize efficiency and drastically reduce particulates and carbon monoxide. Then, wood stoves will be able to meet even more of our residential heating needs," said Mark Knaebe, one of the judges and a Natural Resource Specialist at the USDA Forest Service.  

The 14 winning teams are: Dragon Heat, The Firemaster, Helbro Stoves, Hwam, Intercontinental, Kimberly, Ofenbau & Feuerstein, SmartStove, Travis Industries, Tulukivi, University of Maryland, Walker Stoves, Wittus and Woodstock Soapstone. 

"The competition brings together innovators - whether established manufacturers or backyard inventors  - to improve America's most widespread residential renewable energy device, the wood stove. We've seen how technologies like oxygen sensors and catalysts have made today's automobiles far less polluting. We're excited to help encourage a similar technological revolution in wood stoves," said Jim Meigs, judge and Editor-in-Chief ofPopular Mechanics.          

Most of the teams represent established wood stove companies, but five are independent inventors and engineering students who have never brought a stove to market. Some are looking to sell their inventions to manufacturers and others are looking for recognition so they can ramp up production.

The Grand Prize and second and third place winners will be selected during the Wood Stove Decathlon, held on the Washington National Mall and open to the public in November 2013.

For more information,