A Kachelofen Heater Comes to Holliston: Part 2 – Construction

After months of planning, this unique oven / heater takes shape and warms a farmhouse on Fiske Street.

Left – Two days into the construction of the kachelofen as viewed from the living area.
Right – Four days into construction the kitchen side of kachelofen takes shape.
After six days the kachelofen has a presence in the room.

Raw clay is formed into a kacheln and then bisque fired in a kiln. Jessica then decorates several of the kacheln with a traditional pattern by hand using a technique called slip trailing. A glaze is then applied to the kacheln, and they are fired in the kiln a second time.

A casual lunch break.

A view inside the kachelofen reveals the 3 flues going in different directions. The mortar used to hold everything in place contains just sand and line. Cement is never used. Jessica explained that the kachelofen expands and contracts enough during the heating and cooling cycles that a cement-based mortar would crack.

Day 8 as viewed from the living space.

Mario examines the final assembly on day 8, before the tiles are grouted. The two small openings allow access to the flues. They will be covered with special removable kacheln so that the flues can be cleaned about every 8 to 10 years.

Day 9 from the kitchen side.
Left – Just about complete. The small cove below the fire chamber door is for storing wood.
Right – Closeup of the main heating chamber and damper on the right.
Left – The surface of the cooking oven. Jessica said that inner steel plate it will turn black over time. The outer portion and the railing is made of stainless steel.
Right – Last day and ready for test fires.
Left – Once in regular use the recommended way to start a fire in the kachelofen is seen in this image from Jessica’s phone. More on that in the video at the end of this post.
Right – A proper fire burned down to coals will look like this just before the damper is closed.
Left – Jessica and associates always celebrate with a toast after a successful first fire.
Right – Mark Dellicker was invited to join in recognition of his contribution to the project.

In this short video Jessica explains the proper technique for lighting a fire in a Kachelofen:

To see more of Jessica’s kachelofens, each one a masterpiece, check out her website STONE HOUSE KACHELOFEN: www.SHKO.CA


Paul Saulnier