Dirk Thomas “The Woodburner’s Companion”

ISBN 0-911469-28-1. “The Woodburner’s Companion – Practical Ways of Heating with Wood” by Dirk Thomas published by Alan C Hood & Company, Inc in 2006 (3rd Edition). You get 163 pages including Foreword, Introduction 8 Chapters, three Appendices, Bibliography, Sources and Index. The sub-sub-title is “From the lore of an ancient art to the science of 21st century woodburning technology” which should give you an idea as to the modus operandi of this book. Probably the only reason this work should grace your bookshelf is out of utter desperation – there are so few books out there on the topic that you assume anything is better than nothing. This book barely qualifies, barely better than anything. Its major failing? This has to be one of the most North American-centric books I have ever read. The US seems to be so much like northern Europe in so many respects. However this book serves to expose only the differences. The homes described in this book are not the ones you will find in Britain. So its relevance is often questionable. The second disappointment is how poorly the author explains what he is babbling on about. This is largely a problem of the poor illustrations. The pictures that there are appear to be culled from numerous sources so all appear to be of different styles – from the roughest hand sketch to neat three-quarter artworks. Like other works on this topic it is written by a chimney sweep who makes the entire matter of burning wood so complex and fraught with danger that one wonders how mankind ever mastered fire in the first place. One does tire if the dire warnings about creosote. The author does voyage into interesting and novel territory such as how to design a house to be heated by wood or how the fire-wood business economy works. However these remain of academic interest only. Most of it is simple common sense. There is a lengthy section explaining how to sweep your own chimney! No doubt most of us would skip that but it hold intriguing possibilities for the DIY enthusiast. This is a relatively easy and short read (being in quite BIG font) but it is ultimately extremely frustrating. If you need a book on using your own wood stove at home then you can’t go far wrong with Chris Laughton’s “Home Heating with Wood” published by CAT Publications 2006 (ISBN 1 90217 527 1) or Andy Reynolds’ “Heating with Wood” published by the Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) 2008 (ISBN 978-0-9549171-5-9). These cover the basics for the UK.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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