Part II: Level, you elusive devil.
In The Book, there is a mere few sentences about starting on a level surface. Of course, it is common sense. The stack and burn tunnel need to be straight and smooth, so, level.
However simple the idea, the task was in no way easy. Our floor started out level, tamped drain rock. Then we made cob and built walls in there. Over time, globs of cob fell and built up. We walked over them and stomped out cob on top of them, forming little hills and valleys that had to be scraped level without disturbing the drain rock below. Not easy.
So, I am dedicating this entire post to the topic The Importance of Being Level.
We dumpster dive for chunks of granite and marble. Laid out with mortar, this one-inch marble will collect heat under the stove and lend it to the floor.
Kind of a shame this beautiful stuff will be below floor level. (The floor will be a cob floor with a beeswax finish.)
We mixed small batches of mortar in one of Nathan’s water drum troughs, usually used for soaking clay. Mortar is made of strained construction sand and clay. The sand needs to be sharp and fine, aka masonry sand.
Nathan used an old kitchen strainer he scored at a thrift store.
We used the course sand to set the marble slabs.
And spent hours trying to get them level.