The Mini-Masonry Heater


A while back my friend Coenraad of House Alive! natural builders got me in touch with Max Edleson of because I was playing with the idea to build some sort of cob masonry heater. After talking with Max and sharing what I was looking to do, he directed me to a set of plans for his “Cabin Stove”, a mini masonry heater, on his website. I shared this with my friend and collaborator Weston last year and he set out to build one. It performed so amazingly well that we decided to follow his lead and make one in our place this past summer. Also, another neighbor made a third stove just recently so, as Max put it in a recent email, we are on the cutting edge of mini-masonry heater development. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

With this article I hope to share our combined experiences including performance, mistakes, and ideas for improvements. has great pics along with step-by-step directions so it’s best to check out their site to get the full idea if you’re interested in building one of these little marvels. I should also mention, as people read and learn from this article, that we live without electricity and fossil fuels so our needs and wants differ some from regular folks.


Masonry heaters in general weave exhaust channels through masses of stone or brick to maximize the absorption of heat before it goes out of the chimney and into the open air. They are touted for much greater efficiency, cleaner burns, and lovely radiant heat. They are also often huge (weighing several tons), expensive, and require a professional to install. The mini-masonry heater keeps all the good and eliminates the bad.

The Cabin Stove Model

These heaters are made of firebrick and have a central burn chamber. Once lit, the smoke and heat travel in a short loop around a channel of brick and exit to regular 6-inch stovepipe. Our top is covered with a large steel cooktop. For a door, Weston fabricated one out of steel for his and ours.

10/30/2018 11:50:35 AM

Greenvan, if this is done right a masonry stove will burn hot enough to melt that box stove.

10/30/2018 11:50:34 AM

Greenvan, if this is done right a masonry stove will burn hot enough to melt that box stove.

12/5/2014 2:48:12 PM

Do you know anyone who has built a unit like you describe, but using a small box stove (cigar burn type) as a firebox, with a masonry "J" chamber around it for heat storage?

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