Life With Mother's Woodburning Stove

A reader reports on the varied pleasures that resulted from using her woodburning stove for cooking and baking.

| September/October 1980

  • 065 woodburning stove
    Adding a cooktop and inserting a small drum oven into the stovepipe enabled the Rogers family to use their woodburning stove for food preparation.

  • 065 woodburning stove

As an interim step between the hectic pace of apartment life and owning our own farmland, my husband and I moved into a small rural rental house. The home and its three surrounding acres have provided us with welcome relief from the parking dilemma, the neighbor's stereo, and other city hassles ... but it soon became obvious that the old, uninsulated dwelling was a veritable wind tunnel.

With the blizzards of '78 in our home state (Ohio) still fresh in our memory, we decided to supplement the building's oil-burning furnace with a wood stove. (What better way to get some practice for using such a heater on our future homestead?) And, in order to conserve dollars for the acreage we still hope to buy for ourselves, we chose MOTHER EARTH NEWS' woodburning stove as our first project. Joe dusted off his old welding talents—acquired in his days as a member of the Future Farmers of America—and soon he had created "Pig," as we nicknamed the homemade unit.

Profitable Spinoffs

We did run into a few minor problems, such as a scarcity of old electric water heaters ... and ended up spending $18 for a nondescript tank from a local salvage yard. Spinoffs from the stove's construction, however, amounted to some fine barters. For example, while Joe was working part time for a nearby farmer, his boss was kind enough to let us borrow a welding outfit  ... and when "Pig" was finished, the job Joe had done was impressive enough to land him two months' worth of millwright and welding jobs during the fall.

Not to be outdone, I went to a local construction company for gravel to fill the wooden box at the stove's base. I took along a back issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS and used pictures of the woodburner to explain what I wanted. The construction company owner was so enthusiastic about the stove's plans that he swapped me the gravel for the magazine's address ... and had two workmen sack and load it for me, free of charge!

A Little Innovation

"Pig" fit perfectly into our dining room decor and comfortably lifted the chill of fall mornings. The warmth alone might have satisfied most people, but I couldn't forget MOTHER EARTH NEWS' "you can even cook on it" claim, and went right to work exploring the stove's culinary uses.

I soon found that the appliance's 3/8"-thick top required a long heating-up period ... in fact, the dining room was so warm by the time lunch was ready that we were forced to retreat to the living room to eat! In below-zero weather, this problem became less serious of course, but—before resigning myself to using the electric range in all but the dead of winter—I was determined to try a minor modification.

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