masonry heaters maine

Maine Masonry Craft
4 Mills Road PMB#19
Newcastle, Maine 04553

Phone: (207) 557-4486

About Maine Masonry Craft

Through my Scouting adventures to Eagle Scout I fell in love with fire. Something began to grow from that experience. My High School and College summers were spent working for a few General Construction Companies, so I began my journey. The experience contributed to a strong knowledge of the construction field.

After college I moved to Maine to pursue an apprenticeship with Albie Barden, Maine Wood Heat. Through the apprentice I learned there are many traditions of masonry heaters being built around the world. I thank Albie, Cheryl and Scott Barden for their care and love they shared with me in my time there.

I wanted to learn more and attended the annual North American Masonry Heater Conference in North Carolina in 2008 where I met many talented masons. One in particular, Alex Chernov, stood out to me with his work on designs of "Free Gas Movement Theory" (FGM). Alex apprenticed with Igor Kuznetsov who was also in attendance at the workshop. The FGM was developed in Russia in the early 20th century and Igor was an engineer who continued the FGM work in the 1960's. The Professor V.E. Grum Grzhimailo worked out the primary basic theory. His successor, Doctor of technology I.S. Podgorodinov, continued his work. Over the last four years Alex has been able to use digital equipment to experiment with different firebox layouts and it has paid off. His innovation in a new fire box design that changed grate locations cut down on emissions and construction time and has made great strides in firebox design and efficiency. If you are interested in more in depth explanations you can visit Alex Chernov's website He has done a great job with explanations.

For me, the true test came after building a Contra-Flow heater and a Free Gas Movement system we call a Double Bell, a Russian design, at the conference that year. Both units were fired with wet wood and the most distinguishing factor was that the Russian never smoked; the gases burned very clean. The double bell firebox design was very unique as to add secondary air into the firing chamber and new grate placements in the firebox. The contra flow burned with more visible emissions for the majority of the firing. The double bell core can weigh as much as 40% more in the same general footprint. With the amount of heat created the extra weight gives the Russian design a clear advantage in heat storage and transfer.

Through my inquisitive nature, I began to research and acquire the skills needed to decipher the masonry heater world. In the end they all work and are worthwhile. My choice to work with Alex Chernov was for the clear advantages of versatility in design, efficiency, affordability and the principle philosophy behind double bell heater construction.

While working with Maine Wood Heat I had many questions, one that kept coming up was the expense of construction. My mission was to design a heater that performs well and affordable. After attending the masonry heater conference in North Carolina I saw how Alex Chernov principle design would help create a product that is superior in quality, efficient and affordable with flexibility for innovation in design for a variety of unique layouts. I then and there decided that the Russian design was what I was looking for. My mission to create a product with a reasonable pay back has become a reality! This then began Maine Masonry Craft's place to create the opportunity for a higher efficiency masonry heater and affordable option.

Features about Russian heaters that stand out are longevity, ease of material availability, and reduced chimney costs. I use commercial firebrick to hand build units. There are no precast units in hand builds. There are chances of fast deterioration if not properly precast. To tool up makes precast expensive therefore driving costs up for my clients. I have very good faith in commercially made materials, the firebrick I use are of the highest quality. Another feature is that the channels in a masonry heater are considered Class A chimney, I can come off the top of the unit with Class A stainless steel chimney, which is already eight feet in the air. Typical installs range from twelve feet of chimney flue for a one story and 18 to 25 feet for two story homes. This can drastically reduce the costs compared to a masonry chimney. Stainless Steel chimneys are significantly less expensive with no maintenance compared to a traditional brick chimney and come with a lifetime warranty.

To create longevity in a masonry chimney we recommend that you have it washed and sealed with water based sealer every three to four years. This can provide a lifespan approaching one hundred years or more of use. The weather that a masonry chimney cycles through is tremendous. And maintaining a chimney properly will avoid costly repairs down the road.

As I continue to build masonry heaters I communicate and continually participate in workshops with masonry heater builders from around the world to learn about their experiences and work. Through my graduate work I have learned that innovation grows through sharing of knowledge and experience over a good brewed beer. I continue to ask questions and experiment with different ideas so that I can continue to bring cutting edge innovation to my products and designs.

I welcome any comment or feedback that you have for me. I enjoy the opportunity to discuss ideas with folks about the power of fire!