Guest Professional: Kris ‘Fantastic Fab’ Perry

Today marks two weeks since I’ve been back from the SEALS Bike America Trip. The frosts at night have kept me anxiously motivated to finish the brick and mortar portion of the oven as soon as possible (the mortar needs 24 hours before it can hold up to freezing temperatures.) I’ve gotten around that to some extent by building elaborate blanket warming huts around the oven overnight (pizza hut, for real). But the cold also generally makes work more difficult. I was telling Sara today about learning that I don’t cope well with cold while working– I’d take hunger and sleep deprivation any day. So there is cause for celebration tonight! In addition to successfully negotiating the door jam/door/vent/chimney conundrum, I was able to place the final keystone brick at the top of the dome, sealing the oven chamber. And all before snow flies. But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The focus of this post will have to do with overcoming the first condundrum: the j/d/v/c conundrum. And what does this have to do with the grinning, gliding apparition pictured above?

Part of my design approach for this project has been to leave unanswered questions open to improvisation once I’m in the thick of the building process. While it has been stressful at times, there is often a spur of the moment spark that leads to good ideas. One of the more nagging questions has had to do with finishing the transition from oven floor to door to entryway to outer stone cladding. I really didn’t want to have to build complex concrete forms for casting around existent structure. I also didn’t want the unfinished angle iron and cinder block and concrete to be exposed. Kris Perry of Fantastic Fabrication to the rescue (see apparition above). He generously agreed to work with me to build a metal structure that would solve all of theses problems. I drew up some preliminary plans and then he invited me into his Hudson shop where I assisted with some of the basic surface prep and cutting.

The piece is pictured here without it’s door, which will fit snugly against the jam unhinged. There are two arms above the doorway that will serve as resting spots for the door when someone is using the oven. I had Kris use the leftover Fiber board insulation inside the door, so when it is closed it should seal in the heat exceptionally well. Thanks to Kris’s meticulous work habits and hard work, we finished this in about three days of work. His shop is in a bay of an old furniture warehouse down by the river, strategically placed within walking distance of the best coffee in NY: Strongtree.

The only treatment of the metal is with vegetable oil. On all non-exposed surfaces, there is a fine layer of rust primer and BBQ (high heat) paint. When Kris sprayed the inside of the flue, some of the overspray came out the other side. I am so excited to see real smoke coming out of there.


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