ScrapHappy September 2022 – Fire brick offcuts – one woman’s waste is another’s wonder

It would appear I only have photos combining the woodburner with a cocktail 🙂

We installed a woodburner back in 2018. A DEFRA approved one, obviously. It replaced the open fire in the front room that was standard when our home was built in 1936. This has the extra benefit of reducing the draught (and dirt!) whistling down the chimney and retains the spirit of the house*.

Because we’ve had an open fire since 2001 when we moved in, I’ve employed a number of chimney sweeps, before settling on our current one. It’s a joy to finally have someone so clean, organised, thoughtful and informative. She always checks through everything carefully and explains all the reasoning which means that after every sweep and inspection I’m left a little more knowledgable and reassured without that creeping feeling of idiocy that’s often what happens when I speak with an expert. Did you know that a decent Sweep can tell what type of fuel** you are burning from the soot? And that they ought to share that feedback with the householder? I do now 🙂

Jo knows that I’m a jeweller, with an enthusiasm for reusing and reducing waste so back in the summer she asked if I’d like the offcuts of the fireproof bricks / sheet that line stoves.

These bricks usually only last a couple of years of intense heat within a stove before they need replacing, and because she’s all about paring costs to the bone and being economical in every area, she buys large sheets of the material, cutting them precisely to fit each stove as and when necessary. This gives her customer an exact fit for their stove and saves them some money but of course gives her an element of waste.

Jo’s magic box of firebrick offcuts, plus our replacements – look at the attention to detail in the edges of the ones for instal

She’s been saving them up for me, so when she came for this year’s check and sweep, she left me the offcuts for both our bricks and some in a variety of shapes, sizes and depths, from the other stove liners she’s replaced. She wouldn’t accept any payment for them either, so I could only trade with homemeade allotment PiccaGilly (this is a double win for me)

What do I want these pieces for I hear you ask?

Well, soldering props of course.

When soldering silver it’s crucial to have a flush and clean join. The whole piece usually needs to be brought close to the melting temperature of the solder, which means that any earlier joints are at risk of melting – obviously rarely a good thing.

Over heating – either too hot or too long with the flame – is also a bad thing, as that produces fire-scale / fire stain which is a struggle to remove and results in much language my mother doesn’t approve of, and usually I have to remake the whole piece

So it’s really helpful to set up the pieces that need joining in a way to minimise torch time and intensity.

A variety of props to appease thesoldering gods

I do this by utilising all sorts of things as little rests for the metal to sit on – stacking stuff up as a wall or tower for something to lean on, or making a little bridge so I can direct the torch flame upwards, heating a bezel from below, for example.

Often I’ll use a penny or an offcut of copper – usually when I want the prop to do double duty as a heat sink – absorbing some of the heat from the silver resting on it, which helps to even the odds if soldering something tiny (such as an ear wire) to something larger, or a 6mm diameter fine silver bezel setting in this instance

Sometimes though I can’t afford to drain the heat, I want simply to support something, which is where firebrick offcuts come in. You can see I’ve used some of them to make a bridge for a tieslide, which enables me to get the flame in beneath the larger piece of metal, which in turn will even up the intensity so the smaller piece is less likely to melt.

Here’s the finished slide, complete with it’s full UK and Platinum Jubilee hallmark (currently available in my Etsy shop)

Woodstore in the potting shed #MRG built onto the side of our large shed

*It’s only tiny, and we use it occasionally, in place of the regular heating. We are careful with our wood, sourcing it from a local tree surgeon who stores and drys it for a good period before delivering it by the trailer load. We then store it in a very dry sun-baked greenhouse, effectively kiln drying it for another long period. The logs we’ll be burning this winter are from the 2019 delivery.

**and therefore how responsible a firestarter one is. I delegate all and any tasks I find unpleasant, such as sourcing logs, emptying bins, to #MrG*** so he was delighted with the 10/10 score he received for the standard of his soot

*** I warned him this would happen.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials.

It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join.

We welcome new members.

You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of them know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every month, but their blogs are still worth a visit).

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

About DawnGillDesigns

Finally able to make stuff and get paid for it!!! How cool is this?! Find me and my shinies on www.DawnGillDesigns.com and as @DawnGillDesigns on social media
This entry was posted in Law, Hallmark, processes, ScrapHappy, silver, Tech Tip, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to ScrapHappy September 2022 – Fire brick offcuts – one woman’s waste is another’s wonder

  1. katechiconi says:

    Oh, I do like this one! So lovely to see a really useful end result for scraps other than yarn or fabric, and I really look forward to the times when you have something to show.
    Your firebricks took me on a nostalgia trip: I do love a wood burning stove, and had a fabulous one when I lived in northern NSW. It was called The Wombat, so called because it was long, stocky and short legs, rather like the eponymous animal. Pic here: (https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=837793932985141&set=pcb.837796059651595). I warmed the house, cooked, boiled the kettle and dried the laundry around that stove, and it sat on a huge concrete slab that looked very much like your firebrick chunks. I miss it even now, 10 years later, despite the fact that I’d never light it in this climate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love joining in with ScrapHappy, and I’m very grateful to ahave found you and been invited. Thank you. Your stove looks magnificent. We’ve been thinking we should get a kettle / teapot to sit on ours, to make the most of the radiant heat, but it’s properly tiny as the fireplace is only wee. And TBH we mostly light it of an evening, by which time we aren’t drinking caffeine. It’s so very cheeryuppy

      Like

      • katechiconi says:

        I had a heavy-based whistling kettle which lived on the hotplate. It had a melodious organ-like Whoooo sound rather than a shrill scream. I still have it in case of cyclone-based power outages!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Going Batty in Wales says:

    That is a brilliant scrap happy! What a brilliant chimney sweep you have too. When my new stove was installed the fitters told me they knew I was drying my wood properly because there was so little soot in the liner they took out which was very reassuring. Nothing like a woodstove to cheer up a dreary evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. claire93 says:

    brilliant reuse – rather than seeing these firebricks turned to rubble!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susan Nixon says:

    I learned things about fireplaces that I didn’t know here, but at least I knew about the soot. A fireplace is the one thing I didn’t get in this house that I wanted. My last house had one of those heat vents in the fireplace, and we used it on some winter desert nights. I know, desert, but nights can drop 30-40 degrees from those pleasant winter days!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. great post and so interesting to learn about a very different craft. Lovely to hear about recycling scraps that I never even knew about

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It sounds like you have a gem of a chimney sweep! It is interesting to see how you use the brick offcuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. acflory says:

    Every time I read one of your Scrap Happy posts I get a rush of nostalgia for the workshop I no longer have. I miss making dolls houses our of odds and ends, like match boxes. Maybe one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We are just awaiting a woodburner to replace our defunct gas fire… I’m so looking forward to having it.
    That is such a great use of scraps.

    Liked by 1 person

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