One edge of our hearth bricks came out higher than the rest. As a result the fire brick does not come up to the hearth brick height on that edge. Step 6 says it is crucial they be the same height. How do I fix this?
It would help to know at what stage you are at. But in general…
The crucial-crucial thing to get level is your hearth. If you still have a flat top (no arch) make sure first and foremost that your hearth bricks are level. If they are not, and they cannot be corrected with taps from your rubber mallet, take them out and level your sand once again. You do not want to have gravity pulling food to one side or the other. Do not “correct” the hearth bricks by inclining them to meet the high side of the frame.
Again, if you still have a flat top and your hearth is level, correct it with your first course of barrel bricks if the high side of the frame bricks runs down one side. Lay enough mortar on the low side to even up the course. Use your 4 foot level to get those courses on either side absolutely, positively level to each other using mortar. This is your one chance to fix it before you compound the error, so take your time. Plan on letting that one course on each side set up and cure before you proceed.
If it’s the rear, same general idea. You would normally wait to do the rear wall until your barrel is constructed. In this case, though, you want to lay one course at the rear first, using the instructions that tell you to lay from center to edge. Make a ⅜ inch bed, no more. Make absolutely sure it is level from center to edge using your 4 foot level. Then start a course down each side, using enough mortar to bring that course up to the top surface of the rear wall brick. And yes, take your time and use your level to make sure you have corrected the problem. Do not continue laying the rear wall until you finish your barrel and chimney.
I know you know it would have been better to have the frame level all around, but the barrel and rear wall intentionally overlap the hearth, so this will fix it as long as you take your time and pay excruciatingly close attention to that little bubble. Once these corrective courses are laid, you’ll be back on track and can continue following the instructions.
Best of luck to you, and keep us posted on your progress. You’ve got this!
Thanks for the info and quick response. You told me exactly what I expected so my plan for proceeding matches what you are saying.
To let you know where we are, the whole firebricks are down and pretty level ready to start cutting and filling in the edges. The edge bricks that are high are on the right side so we will begin by building up the left side with extra mortar. There is obviously lots of work remaining cutting the firebrick edges before starting on the dome. I just wanted to make sure we could correct the issue before proceeding.
Even at 66 years old we are really enjoying this build since we’ve never built anything like it. I will keep you posted on the progress.
What I really find fascinating by the overall design is how forgiving it is. There are a number of small “oops” points in my own build that I would never tolerate if a professional were building it for me. My approach is to do the very best I can, and then not obsess over small flaws because subsequent steps allow me to correct or cover them. The final product may have a little visual “vibration” in it but it’s indisputably my own labor that made it!
And (offered in the spirit of encouragement), those little triangles will go more quickly than you’d expect. I cut most of them out of two firebrick, and it took about an hour to get them all in place.
Same here! (Okay, you’ve got 2 years on me.) There is something very satisfying about building a structure like this that will definitely outlast me.