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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Build an Outdoor Stove, Grill or Smoker, DIY Backyard Butchering

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

For Independent Minded People!

ISSN 2161-5543


"If we can just pass a few more laws, we could all be criminals!"
-- Vinnie Moscaritolo
American computer security expert


From The Smiling Dog Saloon Files



In This Issue:

1.       Build an outdoor stove, grill or smoker, DIY Meat Butchering

2.      What Big Data collects on you

3.      DIY Tiny, tiny house

4.      How to profit from our Food Stamp Nation



Build an Outdoor Stove, Oven, Grill and Smoker
From MOTHER EARTH NEWS, by Owen Geiger

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors and I wanted to design a highly efficient, multi-purpose stove that uses little firewood (or charcoal) and retains heat for baking and cooking. So, we included a thick insulation layer of lightweight perlite/cement between the firebox and surrounding concrete block, and we included a removable door. This design holds the heat in the firebox where it’s needed. (Perlite is the porous white stuff often found in potting soils. You can buy this mined mineral product at garden centers.)

You can build the
outdoor oven in stages, a few hours at a time. (You’ll need a few days between some steps.) Check local building codes before you start building. The oven is made from materials you can buy at local hardware or building stores. You may be able to find some of the materials at a salvage yard, too. Even if you only use it to bake bread, you can save enough money in one year to more than pay for the $300 cost.

Ideally, the stove is built to a comfortable height with
concrete countertop space on each side, plus a roof to protect against the elements. Having an outdoor sink and storage space nearby is also convenient.

outdoor oven requires a fire in the firebox for about 45 minutes to one hour to reach a baking temperature of 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, if you want to grill, you can start in less than half an hour.

Another key design element is the firebox size. Properly sized fireboxes heat up quickly, have improved combustion, produce less smoke and stay hotter longer. We measured cookie sheets, bread pans, medium and large
roasting pans, canners and baking dishes to arrive at our optimal firebox size of 13 inches wide by 28 inches deep by 13 1/2 inches high.

If you like to cook, you’ll love this stove. Our favorite cooking technique involves cooking foods in rapid succession at dinnertime. We like to start out with pizza when the oven is about 500 degrees. The pizza bakes in about three minutes. After that, the oven has cooled to 350 to 400 degrees — perfect for baking bread. (The temperature of the air in the oven drops momentarily when you open the door, but the brick is still hot and maintains temperature.) Sometimes we throw in some potatoes at this stage if we want baked potatoes. When the bread is done after about an hour, we bake various combinations of veggies (and sometimes dessert). You can bake a lot of food from one firing. Another efficient method is to grill meat and veggies before the baking phase.

In addition to all the other cooking options, you can cook in a Dutch oven placed inside the firebox. Dutch-oven cooking is ideal for stews, chili, roasts, certain types of breads and rolls, beans and some desserts. It’s more efficient to use the Dutch oven inside the outdoor oven than outside on a campfire because it requires fewer coals.

After you’ve selected and cleared your site, build a foundation to support the stove. A low-cost rubble trench foundation is recommended for most situations. The specifics will vary due to climate and soil conditions, but a rubble trench is usually 18 to 24 inches deep and filled with gravel, or gravel and stone. If you’re building the stove in a harsh climate with strong freeze-thaw cycles, add a French drain (a small valley filled with stones) to remove moisture. Raise the building site if necessary to avoid moisture problems.

For our rubble trench foundation, we used chunks of recycled broken concrete, also known as “urbancrete,” instead of stone. Concrete chunks from flatwork slabs, such as sidewalks and driveways, work best. They can be recycled and stacked like stone. Stack these up in layers to the top of the trench. Fill gaps with gravel and then tamp solid.

On top of the rubble trench, pour a 3 1/2-inch by 40-inch by 40-inch concrete pad. This will create a strong, level foundation for your stove. Make sure the pad is level and square.

The next step is to build a concrete-block base two courses high with ladder reinforcement (a wire mesh designed to add strength and prevent cracking) between each course. Use 4-inch by 8-inch by 16-inch blocks with a few half blocks as needed. Be sure to lay the block as perfectly plumb, straight and square as possible. Allow to dry for two days or so to gain strength.

Fill the base with gravel or a mixture of sand and gravel. Fill the base with two 6-inch layers, tamping each layer gently. Go easy on the tamping so as not to strain the concrete block joints. All you’re trying to do is settle the materials.

Complete the base by pouring a 4-inch layer of lightweight cement level with the top of the block base. This creates a strong, insulated layer under your firebox. Perlite is perfect for high-heat applications such as this.

After about five days, the lightweight concrete should have cured sufficiently and you can begin building the firebox with firebrick. Place a half-inch layer of fine, clean sand on top of the lightweight cement. We screened our own sand (one two-gallon bucket) through fine mesh. Use a straight edge to make it as level as possible. Precise leveling is a critical step that determines the accuracy of the firebox.

The first layer of firebrick creates the hearth. Standard firebrick size is 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches by 9 inches. The front row of firebricks is perpendicular to the other firebricks and extends 2 inches beyond the concrete block. This makes it easy to sweep coals and ashes into a bucket. We added half-inch concrete board shims under the front edge for stability, where sand would fall away.

All firebricks are placed without mortar so they are free to expand and contract. The placement technique involves carefully sliding each firebrick straight down — one against the other — into place to avoid gaps. After the first course is set, use the end of your hammer handle to tap on any high spots until all firebricks are flush with each other.
Measure the front of the base and find the center, which should be about 20 inches from either side. Start the first layer of firebricks by placing two bricks on either side of the center of the base, making sure that the brick hang over the front about 2 inches.

Continue stacking firebricks for the sides of the firebox. These are stacked on edge. The firebox is easy to build and the bricks can be stacked in about one hour. You may encounter a few firebricks that are not perfectly sized. Buy a few extra so you have spares. It’s important to keep everything plumb, square and level, and all firebricks flush with each other, with no gaps.

At this point, you can put the steel shelf (lintel for chimney) in place. It measures 14 3/4 inches by 18 inches by 1 1/2 inches (the sides are 1 1/2 inches high) and is made of quarter-inch steel. The most important measurement is the inside width, which for our shelf was 14 1/4 inches. This allows firebricks to fit perfectly without being cut. The steel parts are joined with six spot welds: three per side, on the bottom so they don’t interfere with placing the firebrick. With a cutting torch, cut a 6-inch diameter hole in the center for the stovepipe. With the steel shelf in place, flush with each side, set the remaining firebricks in place to form the chimney base.

To form the outside of the oven, set the remaining two courses of concrete blocks (with ladder reinforcement between courses), being careful not to bump the firebricks. Around the firebox opening (where the concrete blocks meet the firebricks), leave an eighth-inch space to allow for expansion and contraction. We stacked CEBs (compressed earth blocks) temporarily inside the firebox to keep them in place. Bricks would work just as well. Let the block dry for two to three days.

The next step is to build the countertop.We were looking for an inexpensive way to make concrete countertops and came up with a pretty good solution at a fraction of the cost of custom made countertops — about $20 instead of $2,000. (This cost is for 12 1/2 lineal feet of 25 1/2-inch countertops.)

We used 100 percent scrap materials for forming, about a half bag of cement, some quarter-inch rebar, and baling wire, sand, gravel and iron oxide pigment. Forms consisted of leftover eighth-inch cement board and scrap wood. We placed rebar in a grid pattern and then poured concrete on top. Create an eighth-inch space between chimney and countertop with a removable shim to allow for expansion and contraction.

Building the chimney is straightforward. There is a damper within easy reach to control air flow and save firewood; open it up when starting fires, and close it down when baking so all the heat doesn’t shoot up the chimney. A cap on top of the stovepipe keeps out rain and snow, and a boot (or collar), along with some silicone, seals the connection on the roof. The stovepipe is in sections to facilitate removal and cleaning. The gap between the stovepipe and chimney base is filled with lightweight cement.

All you need to turn your outdoor oven into a smoker is a grill grate (or typical oven grate) about (midheight) in the firebox. Simply drill four holes in the firebrick lining the firebox, insert steel pins in holes and add the shelf. You can also suspend a drip pan from the grate with wire.

The door is the key feature needed for baking. We built a 2-inch-thick insulated door of sixteenth-inch steel filled with perlite. This is another firewood saving feature. The front piece of the door forms a lip that hangs over the firebox opening about half an inch to help reduce air leaks. The large wooden handle doesn’t get too hot to touch and enables the door to be installed and removed with one hand. There are no hinges; the door wedges into place. We added an adjustable vent to control airflow and spray painted the door with heat paint. Based on our experience, a 1 3/4-inch hole in the door seems to be the perfect size. If you’d prefer a simpler method for building the door, make a thick hardwood door with a piece of metal on the inside, allowing about a quarter-inch air gap between wood and metal. You could rabbet the edges for a tighter seal. Also, a thermometer built into the door would be a nice feature.

Wait a few days for the tile to cure before firing up the stove for the first time. We started with a small fire and gradually, one fire per day, built increasingly larger fires in order to drive out any remaining moisture.

Excerpted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, the Original Guide to Living Wisely. To read more articles from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, please visit or call (800) 234-3368 to subscribe. Copyright 2013 by Ogden Publications Inc.

Read more




PM’s Roundup of Useful Resources…


DIY Backyard Meat Butchering Resources

Butchering a deer can be a messy and time-consuming process. This is especially true if you have no knowledge on what steps to take first or which parts you would need to pay close attention to. Butchering a deer is almost the same as processing other animal meats. You just need to be careful at identifying the parts of the animal and using your tools to cut through the meat. Once you are familiar with all these things, butchering can be a lot easier to accomplish.

Read more:


 What Specific Information is "Big Data" Collecting About You? Find Out Now!

Some people are creeped out by the amount of information being collected about us, usually for marketing purposes. Now, one of the big data warehouses is letting you peek inside to see what information they have amassed about you. They also give you an opportunity to correct errors, or to opt-out of targeted marketing that uses that data. The catch: you have to provide personal information about yourself in order for them to make sure they are delivering YOUR record to you rather than someone else's.


Finding matches to start bartering
read more here


DIY Tiny, Tiny House to Build - This is the first tiny house we have built, so it was enough of a challenge to build that the documenting side was let slide to a fair extent. Regardless, I will walk you thorough what we did, and how we did it to the best of my ability.
We used as many natural, unprocessed, and re-used materials as possible, which made it less expensive but much more time consuming than buying everything from the lumber yard.


The Nanny State-We love our government






The Parting ThoughtNot to worry in the land of the free!

Dear Unconcerned Citizen…

A NASDAQ article entitled, “How to Profit From ‘Food-Stamp Nation’,” (which noted a 70% increase in the number of college graduates, some with advanced degrees, working for minimum wage in this country), explained: Wherever there’s a societal or business trend in the making — however troubling — chances are someone stands to benefit.

The megabanks and megacorporations have totally incentivized the food stamp program in this country, as Breitbart has reported: …companies that administer EBT cards like J.P. Morgan and Xerox are incentivized to get as many people on the program as possible. Schweizer noted J.P. Morgan has contracted with 26 states and has taken advantage of the “loosened requirements concerning food stamps” after the stimulus program. “As food stamp rolls expand, so do corporate profits,” Schweizer said, noting that is why corporations like J.P. Morgan lobby the Senate Banking and Agriculture Committees, which have oversight over the food stamp program. Food stamps are actively being promoted all over the country, not discouraged.

The government is spending millions on food stamp outreach programs instead of actual food, to get more and more people enrolled. California is in the process of passing a bill that would simplify the food stamp application to expand the rate of participation in the program. The government is even giving EBT cards to kids now. The employment gap between America’s richest and poorest is the widest since data tracking on it began, with unemployment for the lowest-income families above 21%.

 For all the Obama Administration’s attempt to make it seem like unemployment is dropping, the actual evidence suggests the figures our government releases are fudged. For the first time in American history, the number of full-time private sector workers in this country has been overtaken by the number of food stamp recipients. July’s jobs report showed that only 47% of U.S. adults even have a full-time job anymore.

Many people are being forced to work multiple part-time jobs just to make ends meet. So many people have fallen out of the workforce, the number has dropped to its lowest level since 1978. The main reason? A lack of decent-paying jobs: “We know there’s a lot of hardworking people that want to be productive, we just don’t have work for them to do,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

- See more at:

Almost 50 million Americans are now on food stamps as nation plunges into widespread poverty

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escapeartist said...

Wowee Zowee-love your stuff!

Maverick said...

Always a useful read - I tweet each issue!