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Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.

5 Things You Can Repurpose Into Homestead 'Mojo'

Repurposing building materials is at the heart of sustainability and mojo is what you build with. I’ve tried many ideas at my homestead and here’s the tips I’ve found are the most affordable, brings that homestead mojo to work for you, and instead of filling up the landfill you’re helping save the planet.

1. Tiki Statues

Why: A Tiki statue brings mojo to your place and a fierce Tiki scares away rascals.

Source: An old log that has grown “legs” when turned upside-down; cool looking rocks.

How To: A) Use a chainsaw to cut a log in half lengthwise into halves, with two legs on each half. B) Draw a face on the log halves and chisel indentations for eyes and teeth. C) Use silicon to glue stones into the indentations and use duct tape to hold the stones in place while the silicon cures. D) Paint the Tikis as needed. E) Attach each Tiki statue to the wall on either side of your door and have a Tiki party!

Tiki Statues

2. ‘Jerry’ Gas Can: Metal Ash Can for the Woodstove

Why: ‘Jerry’ cans are the perfect shape for use around a woodstove because it can fit between the stove and the wall; it can hold hot ashes and/or a set of fire pokers. 

Source: Get a used ‘Jerry’ can at a garage sale, cheap.

How To: A) Rinse out and let the empty can dry until no detectable gas fumes remain; B) Warning — do step (A) before proceeding — then remove the top of the can with a metal cut-off wheel, above the welded seam, and discard the top portion with the spout. C) Smooth the cut edge with a file or grinder. D) Drill a hole near the top center of each of the two short sides and insert a wire handle from a plastic bucket

Jerry Can Buckets  

3. Vinyl Fencing for Greenhouse Benches

Why: Benches are often made of wood and eventually rot.  Vinyl fences slats won’t rot.

Source: Cheap or free at RE Stores or discounted where fencing is sold.

How To: Replace wooden bench tops with the vinyl slats or make a new bench with plastic buckets for support and vinyl fence slats on top.

Greenhouse Benches

4. Office Desk as Kitchen Counter Top

Why: Repurposing an office desk is quicker and less expensive than building a custom countertop. The average office desk is 30 inches deep and 60 inches long — it’s a good size for kitchen counters.

Source: Cheap or free at used furniture store or garage sale. Get an office desk with a top that is thick press-board with Formica top and edging.

How To: A) Unscrew or unbolt the legs, drawers, etc. and remove the top of the desk. B) Mount the desktop onto your kitchen cabinetry and make a cutout with a scroll saw where your sink goes.

Desktop Countertop 

5. Operable Window with Broken Frame and Two Fixed Windows

Why: Operable windows are expensive and broken frames are hard to fix. It’s easier to make a new, fixed window frame, and use the window glass from the broken frame.

Source: ReStore is a great source for windows; much of what they have is operable windows with broken frames. Price is usually $5 per window from a broken frame. 

How To: A) Build a custom frame for each fixed window with cedar fence boards, 4 inches or 6 inches wide, to match your wall thickness. B) Cut sticks of wood about ½-inch square to secure the window into the frame, mounting the window towards one side of the frame so that there will be a deeper sill inside. C) Use calking to seal the window from outside moisture. D) Mount the window into the wall with stick framing and flashing methods.

 Window Frame Detail

More ideas for your homestead are in Christopher James Marshall’s holistic guide, Hut-Topia: How to Create Sustainable Small Homes and Homesteads. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Know Your DIY Limits: Safety on the Homestead

East Hawaii, the windward side of the Big Island, is a bastion of do-it-yourself practitioners. This widespread spirit of self-sufficiency and body of DIY expertise are two of many factors that drew us to this rock when we decided to break from our conventional lives and white collar jobs on the mainland to develop a homestead.

For additional context, let me just mention that during our two years here our family members have rubbed elbows with folk who have personally, and by hand, converted their vehicles to biodiesel and now propel themselves 'round the island using only old kitchen grease scrounged from local eateries.

We have come to know an individual who, by himself and in the later years of his life, like a modern-day Grizzly Adams, built a two-story cabin (that we stayed in for some time) using only hand-powered tools. We have gotten acquainted with contemporary settlers who have designed and hand constructed multi-room compost toilets that exhibit design elegance, efficiency, and functionality (not to mention no smell) that would have left Leonardo DaVinci in awe.

Wild guava saplings hand hewn and woven into a fence on our property.

Learning the Limits of DIY Acumen

This said, we have also come to realize that not everyone who has the time and inclination for DIY projects should necessarily engage in said endeavors, at least not on every level. We have witnessed self-done projects that had function and form, some that exhibited neither, and some that were outright dangerous.

We have learned, too, that some DIYers are more motivated by innate rebellion against "The Man" than a desire for sustainable living — not that this is necessarily wrongheaded. ("Permits? We don't need no stinkin' permits!")

For our part, we long ago acknowledged and learned to manage our personal, relatively low-level of handiness. Screw together 2-by-8s and attach PVC segments to create net-covered raised beds? No problem. Homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut, shampoo, and toothpaste?  Piece of cake. Install or repair our own plumbing or electricity. Not at this juncture.

Since deciding to more fully embrace the path of the homesteader, have we moved to learn new skills? Sure. In the past 2 years, our family members have learned to butcher both sheep and cows, vaccinate pets against local life threatening plagues, can everything from jams and jellies to fresh caught tuna, and inoculate natural growing media with mychorriza to propagate mushrooms.

That said, we know what we are good at and we are perfectly comfortable trading those skills (or coin earned for said skills) for the expertise and experience that are prudent to have when executing some other things not only well, but safely (and sometimes legally).

Working Smart Over Working Hard

Put another way, we like to learn new things, and we enjoy a bit of toil, but — in our estimation — it sometimes boils down to working smart over simply working hard (instances of economic necessity not withstanding).

Undoubtedly, there is pride to be had in self-reliance. We have tasted that on some levels. It is also true that maiming and death, of self or others, at the hands of your own creation tend to meter pride. We'll happily trade or pay for some goods and skilled services, as necessary, to better manage such risks and still acquire what we need.

So, must you do everything yourself to be a real homesteader, a practitioner of sustainable living, a good steward of the earth? Of course not. Even pioneers of old traded what they could produce well for goods and services of those who were able to do or make other things better. (Some home-brewed fruit vinegar for your handcrafted cheese? A bit of ironmongery in exchange for some carpentry help?)

Also, as alluded to above, not everyone has the same motivation to homestead. We have watched several renegade DIY practitioners, in the name of self-reliance, beam with pride while engaged in construction projects that they were not qualified (or legally permitted) to carry out, at risk to themselves and family, who also import GMO corn and soybean feed for their turkeys, dust their cooped up chickens with toxic miticides, and burn their plastic recyclables in open fires. Sustainability, stewardship, and homesteading are much more than DIY, in our estimation.

John and Esther Atwell and their four kids’ journey into sustainable living, organic food, and homesteading began while living in the San Francisco Bay in the 2008-2010 timeframe. Their current grand life experiment — detaching from a fast-paced, conventional, urban lifestyle to establish a sustainable, organic homestead, homeschool their kids, and become more involved in community and church — began in earnest in early 2014. The couple, graduates of Duke University and the University of Virginia, have homeschooled their four children — two of whom are now in college — and Esther previously ran a tutoring business focused on hard sciences and math up through calculus.  Find them online at Sojourn Chronicle and read all of John's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

5 Easy Options for Restoring Old Furniture

Refinishing your worn out furniture not only saves you money but is also saves many more resources than buying new. Don’t know what furniture refinishing is?

In general terms, refinishing refers to the act of repairing or reapplying a wood finishing coat on a furniture object. Refinishing can be applied to a variety of surfaces or materials, including metal, plastic, wood, glass with the help of varnish, lacquer, paint or wood finish. Here are five options for refinishing furniture in your home.


Refinishing an Old Dressing Table

Who doesn't love an old, antique dressing table? However, the wood used to create the dressing table tends to go lose its shine and protective layer over a period of years. To refinish an old dressing table, you can start by scraping off the old paint with the help of a scraper and a heat gun.

When you are done with completely scraping away old paint, apply the primer, followed by two coats of paint. You can try using Shellac (commonly known as French polish) for the drawers of the dressing table.

Do not forget to sand the edges of the table for the final touch. Your brand new, yet refinished dressing table is ready to use!


Refinish a Couch

Removing the old upholstery and refinishing a couch can be a tedious task. However, trying the entire process is definitely worth it in savings.

A majority of furniture, including couches, is designed to be re-upholstered. Just because the fabric on the couch has become old doesn't mean that the couch altogether should be considered a piece of junk.

Start by taking the different parts of the couch apart. First, take off all the fabric from the bottom, followed by its back, arms and the deck. If the old fabric is still well and fits the sofa, use it as a reference to cut the new fabric. Also inspect the cushions for filling material. While cheap foam breaks down easily, consider using high-quality foam.

To assemble the new upholstery, start by cutting out the fabric by taking reference from the size of the removed fabric. Next, sew the fabric to fit the couch. Make sure to use heavy thread and needle. You can use a gun to staple the sewed fabric to the couch.

French Polishing for Wooden Furniture

French polish, or Shellac, is a furniture-polishing technique that results in a highly glossy surface. The technique involves the application of several layers of Shellac dissolved in alcohol. The polish is applied with the help of a rubbing pad dipped in oil.

Shellac is used for two primary reasons – appearance and protection. Wooden furniture often needs protection against moisture, sunlight, humidity and everyday wear and tear. In addition to protection, Shellac enhances the appearance of the wooden or timber furniture.

Shellac application leaves the wood with a sheen and luster. It’s like the wood is brought to life altogether. Shellac is also used to change the color of the wood, repair the damaged surfaces and hide any form of marks. It helps improve the appearance of the wood dramatically.

Refinishing Metal Furniture

The primary reason to refinish metal furniture is because of damage done by rust, which is a form of iron oxide formed by a reaction between oxygen and iron in the presence of water or moisture. Surface rust gives metallic things a flaky appearance and stops protecting the inner metal from external damage. This is the primary reason why it should be removed by refinishing the metal furniture.

Metal furniture can be refinished by scraping and sanding off the rust with a brush. Next, you need to clean the scraped off furniture with a solvent and then applying primer. Once the primer is applied, paint of suitable color can be sprayed on furniture to give it a brand new look.


Refinishing an Old Door

With time, old doors start to make creaking sounds while opening and closing. The irritating sound of the doors calls for refinishing of the door. It might also require a refinishing in case of faulty hinges and some other problems associated with the door opening and closing.

You can try refinishing an old door by first removing the old door from its joints. Next, stripe off the old finish from the door and clean it properly with the help of the sanding process. Once cleaning and sanding are done, stain and finish the door and hang it back again.

Refinishing Outdoor Furniture

Furniture placed outside the home is specifically exposed to harsh conditions related to the environment. For example, rain, dust, moisture, humidity and direct sunlight can affect the quality of the furniture placed outside. Therefore, such furniture required special care, maintenance and attention on a regular basis.

Start by sanding down the furniture properly and then spraying a paint of your choice. You can choose to use a cardboard stencil to spray on a name of the chair owner or anything else that you want. End the process by wiping off the stains and you chair is ready.

Refinishing an Antique Chair

Pieces of furniture that has lived for many years often have a great sentimental value associated with them. Antique chairs are one such piece of furniture that is passed down to different generations within the same family.

However, with time, such pieces of furniture lose their splendour. This is the primary reason why antique furniture like a chair needs refinishing over a period of time.

To refinish an antique chair, start by checking the chair for the presence of woodworm. Check if there is dust falling off from the chair, which is an indication of woodworms. Next, check for the sturdiness of the chair. Is the chair comfortable? Is the armchair sound and sturdy?

Check the joints of the armchair. You might want to dismantle the joints and attach them back again or you can use a clamp to push the joints back. Next, check the status of the seat rail.

Lastly, look at the actual sculpting of the chair. You can infill to bring the actual splendour of the original chair.

Nicholes Ammons is a veteran in furniture refinishing and a connoisseur when it comes to picking the right kind of furniture for use. He has extensively studied furniture over the significant time he’s spent working at Austin Furniture Repair as a Production Worker.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Make Your Own 'Chillbilly' DIY Air Cooler

I’ve been accused of being a lot of things: a cheapskate, a hermit, a used car salesman, and one lady thought I was dead country singer Keith Whitley’s ghost, but I’ve have never been accused of being someone who would buy something new and expensive  when I could either make one myself, splice a few old gadgets together, or do without. DIY is my thing, y’all.

But you know what? It gets hot here in Texas. So hot that sometimes the fire hydrants chase after dogs. Nobody wants to sit around all day for 127 days in a row in the 100-degree heat, and that, my friends, is how air-conditioning was invented.

People in Texas, the desert Southwest, Mexico, and recently just about anywhere with climate change making our average temperatures a few degrees hotter every year, we want to cool off when we go inside.

Off-Grid Air-Conditioning Options

If you live off-grid like I do, or you worry your animals are getting too hot outside, or you work in your shop or barn all day, getting the air conditioned — or cooled — can be a challenge, unless you want your electric bill to jump up 100 percent by using central air or window units to cool off your outbuildings. But that isn’t an option for me.

I run my cabin and farm on batteries, solar panels and a homemade wind generator, so cranking up traditional air-conditioning is really too much of a drain on my small 12-Volt electrical system. I’m trying to use less juice, not more. But when July rolls around here in the northern territories of Hell, I’m looking to cool off just like the next guy, or a hot bunch of hens.

Fortunately, I do have a freezer, and in that freezer you’ll find at least a dozen gallon jugs of ice. I hardly ever buy ice when I’m going on the road for work or to a party or on a trip, opting for a cooler with a couple of old milk jugs full of frozen water inside.

I had so many in my freezer that one night when it was still 100 degrees at 8:00 pm, I thought I’d put a few in with the chickens to see if it would cool them off a bit. When I peeked in the coop later that night, they were all sitting within a few inches of the milk jugs, or right above. Chickens are smart. They know Ginger Zee wasn’t joking when she said it would be hot today, tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow night, and for eternity it seems around here in July and August.

Well, I’m not a rocket surgeon, but I figured if I could cool of the chicken coop I could cool off my “tiny home” made of straw bales, earth plaster, and an old string of oil field tubing. It’s only 15-foot by 24-foot with a 15-foot-high peak, and the suction fan upstairs draws the accumulated heat out while a box fan in an opposite ground floor window brings in fresh air. That fresh air can get up to 95 degrees in the shade around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, so I came up with a cheap, efficient, and low-voltage way to cool off my cabin.


How to Make 'The Chillbilly' Air Cooler

I call it “The Chillbilly” for the simple fact that it is so backwoods, off-grid, and dirt cheap I couldn’t resist. I’ve also been called a hillbilly on occasion, but what the hell do people from Dallas know anyway?

The Chillbilly doesn’t bring the temps inside down to 65 degrees in the middle of the afternoon, but it cools off the house for approximately 5 hours with one batch of ice jugs, and down into the 70s or low 80s when it’s 110 outside during the hottest part of the day. Giving it a try will cost you all of 20 bucks, so even if it won’t cool off your big house or barn, it’ll cool off a cabin, shed, or a coop full of happy hens long enough to survive the dog day afternoons.

Here’s a parts list of what you’ll need, the tools, and instructions on how to build one for yourself and your feathered or furry friends.


• plastic tub, or a plastic or styrofoam ice chest large enough to fit six gallon milk jugs
• 12-volt fan: preferably a high velocity rocket fan, often used by truckers, or any small diameter fan
• used vents from car air-conditioners or home floor vents, small enough to fit in the small end of your tub or cooler
• towel or pad for the bottom to prevent sweating getting thru onto your floor, table or stand


• 4-inch hole saw to match the size of your fan’s diameter, or a drill and very sharp knife or saw
• duct tape
• roofing tin screws


1. Drill, saw or cut a hole in one small end of your tub which fits the size of your fan’s outer case as closely as possible. Drill, saw or cut a hole in the opposite end of your tub which closely fits the size of your vent.

2. Place the fan in side the hole with the air flow going into the tub. Secure the fan to the tub with screws, duct tape, or roofing tape. Place the vent in the hole at the other end with the adjustments (if included) to the outside of the tub. Secure the vent with screws and/or duct tape.

3. Place frozen jugs of water inside the tub, and replace the lid.

4. Plug fan into 12-Volt electric source and turn it on. Voila! The fan blown air flows through the tub, cools off from contact with the jugs of ice, and flows out the vents into your cabin or coop, depending on who you plan on spoiling first.

5. When the ice is all melted and the day is over (hopefully), replace the jugs in your freezer overnight for use again the next day, or keep extras to trade out with the spent ice jugs and keep ‘er runnin’ all night. 

The Chillbilly is another of several homemade gadgets I came up with out here in BFE to make life a little easier. Living like the king, off the grid, on the cheap, and self-sufficient. Now if I could just find a queen to feed me some frozen grapes, I’d be the Hillbilly King of Cool.

RD Copeland lives off-grid in north Texas on his farm where he raises grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, organic vegetables and fruits. He is building an off-grid weekend B&B retreat in Texas with straw-bale and earth-plaster cabins, fresh organic meals, permaculture instruction, workshops and more! See his bio page for contact info, and click here to read all of RD’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Many Benefits of Refinishing Old Furniture

Photo by Minimilisti

Scrapping the urge to buy new furniture or presupposing that you’d be able to create something even better from what is left of your old antique is often the first options people turn to when they are on the market for new furniture pieces. This is one major reason why, despite the prevailing economic recession, the furniture industry was able to pull in a whopping $101 billion worth of sales in the year 2013.

What Does it Mean to ‘Refinish’ Furniture?

Refinishing furniture is typically done to improve or restore an object. In addition, the restorer or artisan may even aim to achieve a renewed finish. In Britain, refinishing is also known as “repolishing,” when it is just about woodwork or wooden furniture.

In context of furniture, “refinishing” refers to applying a protective coating to a furniture item that has lost its original or previous protective layer. A typical furniture refinishing involves sanding, staining, sealing, and application of protective layers.

There can be two approaches to furniture refinishing: to sand down everything unwanted and apply new finish until the piece of furniture looks completely new, or to clean just the unwanted things and keep with the remaining good.

5 Benefits of Refinishing Furniture

Just Because You Love It

When you have a piece of furniture in your home for so many years, you become used to see it every day. Watching a beloved piece deteriorate over a period of time becomes hard to witness.

People often have sentimental values attached to a certain piece of furniture, especially the antique ones and something that has been passed on for generations. Restoring and refinishing sentimental pieces saves them for continued use and enjoyment.

They Don’t Make It the Way They Used To

Modern furniture pieces are not of the same quality as the old furniture pieces. The quality has deteriorated over the past several decades, and the highest quality wood is not used anymore except for very specific (and expensive) applications.

The inexpensive plywood used today does not last for many years, thus warranting the need to refinish old furniture, which helps furniture lasts longer. Consider restoring antique, high-quality pieces for resale as a cottage business.

Environment Benefits of Furniture Restoration

Due to the energy intensity of furniture-making, it produces much more carbon dioxide emissions to create new furniture pieces than to restore the old furniture. Compounded by issues of deforestation and land degradation, refinishing old furniture keeps trees standing.

Avoid Extra Investments and Cost

Refinishing furniture helps give a new look to your home at less additional costs – usually much lower than what purchasing new furniture demands.

Restoring and refinishing hidden furniture gems can be an inexpensive, but effective way to update a home.

Maintain the Pristine Condition of Your Furniture

Furniture refinishing can help make damaged, worn-out pieces with bumps and scrapes pristine again. In addition, it helps antique pieces of furniture regain their value. It can also be used as a tool to match the other things that you have in the room.

For example, furniture reupholstery can be used to replace old fabric with a new that matches the interiors of the room. It can also be used as a technique to improve the functionality of a piece.

Nicholes Ammons is a veteran in furniture refinishing and a connoisseur when it comes to picking the right kind of furniture for use. He has extensively studied furniture over the significant time he’s spent working at Austin Furniture Repair as a Production Worker. Now, he’s using the time and knowledge he’s acquired to learn even more through writing about the same.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Homemade Soap for Laundry and Gifts

Homemade Soap For Gifts

I used to think of soap-making as one of those cool things I’d love to try someday, but for a long time it seemed too complex and intimidating to actually take the plunge. Then, one day it so happened that I had all the necessary ingredients — namely, a box of lye crystals and a bottle of non-food-grade oil I had absolutely nothing else to do with. I took a deep breath and dove in. I was going to try making my own soap.

Find a Simple Soap-Making Recipe

I hunted up the simplest recipe I could find and played around with it a bit. I will admit straightaway that I cheat and don’t really weigh my ingredients. I take my measurements in cups and tablespoons, using 2 tablespoons of lye per 1 cup of oil, and always prefer to err on the safe side and add a tiny bit less lye. This isn’t very professional or scientific, but it works for our personal use. Hey, people used to make soap in their kitchens using leftover cooking fat combined with water seeped through wood ashes, right?

This is the beauty of making soap: The basis is a relatively simple, straightforward chemical reaction, but all the rest is incredibly versatile. You can make your soap as simple or as fancy as you like, combining various oils and fats, adding essential oils to make scented soap, using different molds, etc.

Safety First

Lye is an incredibly corrosive substance. Never touch lye or raw soap with your bare hands. Never dissolve lye crystals or mix your soap in an aluminum pan. When mixing the lye and water, make sure to work in a room with an open window, or better yet, outside to avoid the heavy fumes. Do this well away from small children.

Allow your soap the full time it needs to cure properly. This is hard to do when you can’t wait to try out your first batch, but believe me, the wait is worth it. Properly cured soap is milder, more effective, and easier to handle.

Practice Soap Making with Laundry Soap

Since my first soap bars turned out somewhat lumpy, I decided to experiment with them as laundry soap. There are plenty of recipes for homemade laundry detergent out there, but I simplify even further. I either grate up a couple of tablespoonfuls of soap flakes and put them in my washing machine, or I take a bit of soap, put it in a little mesh bag, and throw it in together with the clothes. This method won’t remove heavy stains, but it works just fine for light everyday wear.

The first time I did my washing this way, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how soft the clothes came out – without adding any fabric softener. This makes natural homemade soap ideal for washing baby clothes. Newborn babies don’t crawl in the dirt or smear mashed vegetbles all over themselves, so their clothes don’t often get really messy, and all they need is a mild wash.

Not long ago, a friend of mine had a new baby, and when I came to visit, I brought along some homemade soap flakes, packed in a pretty jar with a note of instructions on using them in laundry. I think this is going to become my regular standby gift for new mothers.

I have no doubt I will spend many more rewarding hours making soap, enjoying the fruit of my labors, and sharing the results with family and friends.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Connect with Anna on Facebook, find her as SmallFlocksMom on Earthineer, and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Chimney Pipe Installation for Wood Stoves Through a Flat Ceiling (with Video)


Installing a freestanding wood stove requires installing chimney pipe to vent the wood stove. This step by step guide will explain the typical chimney pipe and stove pipe installation when venting through a flat ceiling. Every installation varies, so if you have questions about your particular installation we're glad to help; please contact us with any questions you may have on your wood stove setup.

How to Install a Class A Insulated Chimney Pipe

Below, we will explain in full detail how to install Class A insulated chimney pipe and black stove pipe to vent your wood stove through a flat ceiling. After reading, you will see how simple the installation is and know the basics for how to install your own. We've also included an installation video for a visual reference.

1. First, locate the center point where the chimney pipe will penetrate the ceiling. You can mark this with a marker. When using single wall black stove pipe, you must be 18" away from combustible materials.

2. Once the center point is found, use the ceiling support box to mark the ceiling to make your cut. Trace the outside of the ceiling support box on the ceiling.

3. Following your mark, use a sawzall to cut the opening in the ceiling.

4. The ceiling support box will come with two brackets to mount to the ceiling joists. From the attic, slide the ceiling support box through the opening and attach the support box to the ceiling joists.

5. Now that we have penetrated through the ceiling, we will need to mark the hole to penetrate the roof. By sliding a section of single wall stove pipe through the support box with a level attached to it, you are able to mark where the center-point of the pipe will be on the roof. Running a screw through the roof deck will make it easy to identify from the roof where the center of the pipe will run through.

6. Moving on to the roof, take your adjustable roof flashing and center it around the screw you just put in the roof deck. An easy way to mark the hole is to use the flashing as a stencil and spray painting the inside on the roof shingles where you will make your cut.

7. Once the hole is marked on the roof, use your sawzall and cut the hole through the roof.

8. In order for the flashing to slide underneath the shingles, you must cut the nails on the top half of the circle. Using tin snips, cut the shingles 2" back on the top half of the circle. This will allow the flashing to slide underneath the shingles.

9. Next, apply a healthy amount of high temperature silicone to the back of the chimney pipe flashing. Slide the adjustable roof flashing under the top half of the roof shingles that you cut.

10. Screw the roof flashing to the roof deck using stainless steel screws. Silicone all of the screw heads and the area where you slid the flashing underneath the shingles, this will create a weather-tight seal.

11. Now it's time to put together our Rock-Vent Class A insulated chimney pipe. Locate the end of the pipe that has the insulation recessed down. This is the male end of the pipe. To make the transition from Class A insulated chimney pipe to single wall black stove pipe, we will be using the universal pipe adapter. Attach the pipe adapter on the male end of the chimney pipe with the provided hardware.

12. Once you have the universal adapter connected, lower this first section of chimney pipe through the flashing and through the support box. The bottom portion of the universal chimney pipe adapter will come through the support box.

13. While you're still on the roof, attach the storm collar to the chimney pipe. Be sure to put a bead of silicone around the storm collar where it meets the chimney pipe. This will create a weather-tight seal.

14. The Class A insulated chimney pipe should protrude above the roof at a minimum of 2 feet and it should be 10 feet away from the roof line. Attach the needed lengths of pipe for your installation using the included hardware.


15. Now we will attach the chimney pipe rain cap. Using a 5/16 nut driver, attach the chimney pipe rain cap to the top piece of chimney pipe. The chimney cap will keep water, debris & animals from entering the chimney pipe as well as keeping sparks away from the roof.

16. We are completed on the roof line, let's go back inside and install the single wall black stove pipe to the insulated chimney pipe. We chose to use a telescoping stove pipe for the first section of pipe since it eliminates cutting the pipe and gives you the perfect length. Attach the female end of the telescoping stove pipe to the male end of the universal pipe adapter with the included hardware.

17. Connect the remaining lengths of pipe needed for your installation and connect to the last section of pipe to the collar on the wood stove. You can use a level to make sure the pipe is straight.

18. To finish the inside pipe installation off nicely, you will want to install the trim collar around the support box. With the provided hardware, anchor it to the ceiling.

19. Congratulations! We have completed our wood stove chimney pipe installation through a flat ceiling!

Here you can find the Rock-Vent Class A insulated chimney pipe and Rock-Vent single wall black stove pipe used in this wood stove installation video. As always, please comment or contact us with any additional questions - we're here to help you do-it-yourself and save.

Jaquelin White is a Web marketer near Ann Arbor, Michigan. From helping local businesses increase their web presence to working for Rockford Chimney Supply serving the U.S. and Canada, Jaquelin loves the always-changing ways of the web, because there is always something new to learn and try. Read all of Jaquelin’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 

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